Bleach has been a popular cleaning and disinfecting agent for generations, despite its highly corrosive nature and the fact that it has been linked to many adverse health effects, including respiratory damage. At Vital Oxide, we believe there is a better way. Below, you’ll find four reasons to ditch bleach – and a better, bleach-free alternative that you can use for a variety of applications.
What is Bleach?
Although the term “bleach” is often used as if it only refers to one substance, it refers to a group of compounds that are used in various ways. The most popular type of bleach is household chlorine bleach, a water-based product that contains a chemical called sodium hypochlorite. Another common type of bleach is oxygen bleach, which contains hydrogen peroxide or other compounds that release peroxide when mixed with water. Bleach also comes as a powder in the form of a chemical called calcium hypochlorite.
Here are just a few reasons why it’s time to ditch bleach, for good:
1. Bleach Loses Efficacy Within Months
It’s a common belief that household bleach lasts for years, but it actually has a relatively short shelf-life. In fact, sodium hypochlorite, or ordinary household bleach, starts losing its efficacy after only six months from the manufacture date.
2. Bleach is Highly Reactive
It’s well-known that harsh cleaning products can be dangerous when mixed, but it’s essential to be especially careful with bleach. According to chemist Alexander Lu of Dong Research Group, "The primary ingredient in chlorinated bleach is sodium hypochlorite, which reacts with a variety of chemicals to produce toxic gasses; in general, cleaning products will fall into one of these three categories, so it is a bad idea to mix any cleaning products with bleach."
Since bleach is not an all-in-one solution and cannot tackle every job, homeowners or businesses that use bleach for cleaning or disinfection purposes often use other products in conjunction. As a result, dangerous chemical reactions involving bleach often happen as an accident because many standard cleaning products contain chemicals that are highly reactive with bleach. Bleach can also leave behind residues unless thoroughly rinsed after use, resulting in dangerous reactions. Additionally, homeowners and businesses will often pour bleach down their sinks and tubs to clear drains without realizing that it’s a dangerous practice, as bleach can interact with other substances and result in hazardous fumes.
Here are a few combinations that should always be avoided:
- Bleach and Vinegar: Vinegar is a ubiquitous kitchen pantry staple that has become a popular base for DIY household cleaning solutions in recent years. However, the key thing to know about vinegar is that it has a low pH and is highly acidic. When vinegar comes into contact with bleach, toxic chlorine gas is produced. This toxic gas was used as a chemical weapon in World War I, and is known to cause damage to the eyes, nose, and lungs.
- Bleach and Ammonia: This is a combination that commonly occurs by accident because many conventional cleaning products contain ammonia. Mixing bleach and ammonia results in toxic chloramine gas, which can burn the eyes, throat, and respiratory system and can lead to internal organ damage. In the right quantities, this combination can be fatal.
- Bleach and Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Household bleach is often used to clean the bathroom, along with an ammonia-based cleaner for glass and a specific cleaner for the toilet. Different brands of toilet bowl cleaners contain other acids and alcohols, which, when combined with bleach, can create toxic gasses and fumes that can be very dangerous to the people and pets that breathe them in. Your best bet to avoid this combination is to stick to an all-in-one solution.
3. It Doesn’t Kill Mold
A common misconception is that spraying mold with household bleach will eliminate it. Unfortunately, this is false. Spraying bleach on mold doesn’t kill the mold. Instead, it simply discolors the mold and leaves spores behind. And worse, removing mold with a solution of bleach and water can allow mold to regrow even faster. Not to mention, prolonged exposure to bleach only worsens indoor air quality and could cause symptoms like respiratory irritation, blurred vision, watery eyes, and nausea, among others.
4. Bleach is Highly Caustic
Bleach is corrosive, which means it can irritate or burn your skin, eyes, and respiratory system. It can also corrode metals, degrade grout, and etch natural stone surfaces like marble or granite. Household bleach is also known to form noxious gasses and produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). One recent study found that bleach can react to produce VOCs and contribute to Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA) indoors. The study also concluded that cooking just before cleaning with bleach significantly increased SOA due to the uptake of bleach-related VOCs onto cooking aerosols. SOA exposure has been shown to result in lung cell death and the formation of reactive oxygen species that can lead to adverse health effects.
Children and pets are even more susceptible to the damaging effects of bleach fumes because they are often much closer to surfaces cleaned with bleach, and they have smaller lungs that can quickly fill up with the fumes. People who have allergies or respiratory problems, such as asthma or COPD, should always avoid using bleach as it can trigger an asthma attack or irritation. There is a better way!
The Solution? Reach for Vital Oxide
We know how difficult it can be to find a cleaning product that you feel good about using – and that gets the job done. We’re proud to have created our revolutionary disinfectant cleaner that is powerful enough to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria without harsh chemicals, noxious fumes, or alarming safety ratings. Here are some fast facts on why Vital Oxide is an excellent alternative to household bleach:
- Vital Oxide is shelf-stable and has a shelf life of up to two years (unopened) and up to one year (opened).
- Vital Oxide is non-corrosive and produces no VOCs.
- Vital Oxide inhibits mold on hard and soft surfaces.
- Vital Oxide is a multi-tasking, no-rinse, every day, multi-surface solution that is ideal for use in households, schools, healthcare settings, businesses, and more.