The TRUTH About Clean: Bleach
Household bleach is a 3-8% sodium hypochlorite solution. It demonstrates broad spectrum antimicrobial activity which is why it is widely used for disinfection of surfaces. Sodium hypochlorite uses oxidation to bleach, clean, and deodorize. It is this strong oxidation mechanism that results in the corrosive effects of bleach. Chlorine bleach can release toxic fumes when mixed with other household cleaning agents.
By this point in the blog, many of you are checking out or disappointed that you have learned nothing new. Hang in there for just a few more minutes because you might be as surprised as I was about the truth about bleach.
Bleach does not kill fungi and requires several minutes to kill bacteria and viruses. Let that sink in for a moment. Are you questioning everything you’ve learned about cleaning and disinfecting? Or are you wondering why that even matters? Consider the following:
Bleach does not kill mold and mildew. Spraying bleach on mold spreads mold spores. When a bleach solution is sprayed onto mold, it kills the root system releasing microscopic spores into the air and dispersing them, resulting in more fungal colonies. Why does mold seem to disappear when sprayed with bleach? The root system is what carries the color of the mold. The color is “bleached out” when the root system is damaged.
Bleach products must use wording like “remove” mold because it doesn’t “kill” it. Spraying a bleach solution on mold can make colonization of mold easier. Some symptoms of the most common types of mold can cause:
- Allergic reactions (from cough, congestion, and eye irritation to serious anaphylactic responses)
- Infection (especially in those with weakened immune systems)
- Sore throat
- Headaches and dizziness
- Joint pain
- Respiratory problems (wheezing, difficulty breathing)
- Sinus infections
- Possibly cancer
A bleach solution must stay wet on the surface for 5 to 10 minutes to be effective against bacteria and viruses. The length of wet contact required depends upon the concentration of bleach. Even the strongest bleach product offered by one of the most popular brand on the market requires a wet, standing contact time of six (6) minutes. To disinfect or eliminate the percentage of germs that the product claims, directions state that you must pre-wash a surface before allowing the bleach solution to stand for several minutes, then rinse well.
Wipes are often bleach-free, depending upon quaternary ammonium compounds to disinfect and sanitize. These products still must remain wet for four (4) minutes and are intended for use on hard, non-porous surfaces. They pose hazards to humans and domestic animals and skin should be washed thoroughly with soap and water after contact. A study found on Infectious Disease Advisor found that spores of the dangerous C difficile bacteria were retained in the wipe then dispersed over large surface areas. This is called cross-contamination. Wipes also dry out upon use making it impossible to follow directions that require wet contact of at least four minutes.
Are you shocked? Are you ambivalent? When I learned the truth, I was frustrated. Good thing I don’t like reporting an issue unless I have a solution!
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