For many, bleach is commonly used as a household staple. Whether it is used to disinfect your bathroom, whiten your laundry or is an added ingredient to other cleaning products, it’s important to know the facts about using bleach in your home.
- Bleach can be dangerous for children.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information states that “over a 16-year period just under 270,000 U.S. children (<5 years of age) were injured by household cleaning products.” Bleach made up 37% of those injuries and it was usually due to ingestion. Unlabeled or unsafe containers may have played a role in this accident for young children. Additionally, the respiratory effects of using bleach around kids are just as harmful, if not more, because irritation or asthma symptoms may occur.
- Bleach interacts with other household chemicals.
Bleach on its own is not inherently harmful if kept out of contact with the skin, but you must be extremely careful if making your own cleaning supplies. Avoid mixing bleach with ammonia or toilet bowl cleaners. Together, they’ll release a chlorine gas. Chlorine gas is especially harmful and can cause severe damage to the respiratory system, even being fatal. If there’s any doubt… better to not mix bleach at all.
- Bleach can be harmful to your pets.
Animals can be much more sensitive to the fumes from bleach than humans can. If using bleach to clean animal cages, dilute it with water and then rinse thoroughly with plain water afterwards. Bleach should never be used to clean amphibian or fish tanks.
- Bleach is a disinfectant but not a cleaner.
Bleach is commonly used to disinfect surfaces and can be done safely. However, bleach contains no wetting agents so it loses its effectiveness if there is dirt or grime on a surface. If dirt is present, you must first use a cleaner to remove it, then you can use bleach to disinfect.
- If splashed or spilled, bleach damages.
We have all seen bleach stains on clothes, furniture or carpet where bleach has splashed or spilled. Be extra careful when using bleach because you can permanently damage surfaces such as wood, textiles and fabrics if it accidentally comes in contact with them.
- Bleach alternatives can be just as effective.
Considering all of the risks of using bleach in your home, do they outweigh the rewards? Maybe not. Many cleaners on the market disinfect as well as bleach, have no harsh smell and are non-hazardous to your health. You may find that using an alternative will do the job just as well without all the risks.