5 Tips for Using Bleach at Home and at Work

As we begin to think more seriously about disinfecting and cleaning our work and home spaces, it’s important to remember that many cleaning products—especially bleach—pose some serious health hazards. Understand how to safely use bleach with these five tips.

There’s no question bleach will kill most bacteria and harmful pathogens, if we need to know how to safety use it—especially with recent calls for better cleaning protocol in workplaces and homes. There is a difference between bleach and other substances, like vinegar, so make sure you know how to use them.

One article from The Zoe Report reminds us that there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Disinfecting is about killing viruses and bacteria, which is the category bleach falls into (as does alcohol-based sanitizer).

Here are the five tips recommended for dealing with bleach, from medical professionals as well as the CDC:

  • Protect yourself. When using bleach, make sure the area you’re in is well-ventilated to let harmful fumes disperse. Always wear gloves and wash your hands after handing.
  • Use only on hard surfaces. Bleach can seriously ruin fabrics and clothes, so use it only on hard surfaces.
  • Start with soap and water. First, clean the area with soap and water, and follow up with bleach as a disinfectant. Soap will remove dirt and grime, and bleach will kill viruses and bacteria.
  • Dilute with (only) water. Always dilute your bleach, and only do so using water. Other compounds (like ammonia or vinegar) can cause chemical disasters and health concerns.
  • Allow for proper contact time. The surface you are cleaning should remain wet the entire time (or the recommended contact time) for the product to be effective. Do not dry the surface immediately after treating it with bleach. Usually, contact time for bleach is 10 minutes.

As we clean our houses and workplaces, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, bleach is an effective, but dangerous, method of virus-control. Make sure you are using it safely.

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