Is bleach really a safe disinfectant? While it has long been touted as an effective disinfecting solution for your home, it often causes more harm than good. 

Though it may kill bacteria, viruses and other germs, you also need to consider how it may impact the surfaces you spray it on – and the people and pets that come in contact with those surfaces.

Today we’re covering things you may not know about bleach. And, if you don’t use bleach, you may also be surprised to learn that it is a main ingredient in many traditional household cleaners.

5 Reasons why you Shouldn’t use Bleach to Disinfect Your Home

You may wonder why so many cleaning solutions contain bleach if it’s not a safe disinfectant. Well, it technically does the job of killing harmful microorganisms, but it’s not a safe option for use around humans, animals, other cleaners and some surfaces, such bathroom surfaces, remote controls and textiles.

1. Bleach Negatively Interacts with Other Household Cleaners

Bleach is a chemical, and so are other types of cleaners, like ammonia. When certain chemicals interact with each other, they can create toxic fumes, making for a decidedly not safe disinfectant.

Bleach and ammonia are an example of this. 

When bleach and ammonia come into contact with each other, they create chlorine gas. This gas is hazardous to humans and animals and will cause cellular damage to nasal passages and the lungs. The amount of chlorine gas produced will vary depending on the amount of exposure between bleach and ammonia. But when enough gas is produced in enclosed spaces, it can be fatal. 

Ammonia isn’t the only cleaner that creates this reaction with bleach, though. Acidic cleaners like vinegar have the potential to form chlorine gas when exposed to bleach. Other household cleaners like dishwasher detergent, drain cleaner and window cleaners can also react to bleach, but they aren’t quite as hazardous as chlorine gas.

2. Bleach can Harm Your Health

Bleach doesn’t need to be in a cocktail of home cleaning supplies to cause damage. Even on its own or in a diluted water mix, the fumes from bleach can irritate the skin, lungs, and eyes, causing permanent tissue damage.

This reaction is usually worse for those with allergies or asthma, as they will have a higher sensitivity in their lungs. When using bleach to clean indoor surfaces – especially in small spaces like bathrooms – these fumes can quickly build up and become irritating.

Beyond breathing in the fumes that bleach creates when being used as a household cleaner, direct contact with your skin can be dangerous. 

A solution simply isn’t a safe disinfectant for your home if you must wear protective gloves and take extra measures to avoid excessive exposure to it.

3. It is Dangerous for Children and Pets

If you use bleach while cleaning and disinfecting the surfaces in your home, such as countertops, sinks, bath tubs, floors and more, there will likely be a thin film or some residue left on the surface. It could range from slightly hazy to completely invisible, but it is present. And, if a child or an animal were to come into contact with that surface directly, they in turn will be coming in direct contact with the residual bleach. 

The adverse reactions could range from skin rashes to stomach discomfort, such as if a pet were to lick the floor or eat food directly off a surface that was disinfected with bleach.

Even when you aren’t using it, bleach is a hazard. We all know the curious nature of children and pets. While most pets will avoid getting into bleach or knocking over the bottle due to the strong smell, not all will. And children may not know any better.

Because it is not a safe disinfectant, bleach should be stored up and out of arm’s reach, ideally in a locked cabinet. Ingesting bleach in any amount should be addressed as a medical emergency by calling the poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222).

4. Bleach is an Environmental Hazard

Bleach is good at killing most of the things that come in contact with it. So, it should come as no surprise that it is not a safe disinfectant when it comes to the environment. In fact, it’s toxic.

Many manufacturing processes result in water that’s been contaminated with bleach. The waste run-off and disposal of this water then causes bleach to seep into clean bodies of water. 

Once the bleach is released into the environment, the bleach will react with other chemicals present and will change the pH of the water that surrounds it. This leads to the formation of dioxins that put local plant and animal life at risk. 

Bleach has the ability to linger for years – and even small amounts can be detrimental to an area’s environment and ecosystems.

5. It has a Short Shelf Life

The last downfall of bleach is that it has a short shelf life. 

According to most manufacturers, bleach should be used within 3 months of being purchased. Its effectiveness to kill germs declines after that point, and the solution becomes irregular.

Although it will likely disinfect to a certain degree, it will be far less effective than when you initially purchased it. 

What is a Safe Disinfectant?

Since so many cleaners and disinfectants contain bleach, it is hard to find a safe disinfectant that is effective at killing harmful germs and preventing the spread of future growth. 

That’s why we created a safe disinfectant spray that can be used to disinfect household surfaces without any of the hazards of bleach. MicroGold® Multi-Action Disinfectant Antimicrobial Spray is an antimicrobial disinfectant that is safe to use in your home. It is non-abrasive, phosphate-free, bleach-free, alcohol-free and has been tested and proven effective to kill the COVID-19 virus in 3 minutes when properly applied to hard non-porous surfaces.