Bleach safety: How to handle bleach safely – the DOs and DON’Ts

Bleach does a fantastic job of killing germs, removing tough stains and whitening clothes. On Thursday night last week, White House officials shared a predictable finding, explaining how the common cleaning product can kill a virus within minutes when applied to different surfaces. But the US the president took the news to another level, with an incredibly dangerous comment. Donald Trump said: “I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute!

“And is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.”

Disinfectant firms have come out in their masses to warn customers not to inject or ingest bleach – as this is incredibly dangerous and potentially fatal.

Following the press conference, the manufacturer of Lysol issued a statement, saying: “Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).

”However, bleach can be used around your home while cleaning. Coronavirus is spreading, and it is important to know how to effectively and safely disinfect and protect your home from unwanted germs.


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Some tips to follow for handling bleach are:

  • Always check the manufacturer’s label and never use on surfaces other than those directed on the bottle
  • When handling with bleach, always wear household glovesDo not mix bleach with other cleaning products
  • All bleach products or solutions should be kept out of reach of children
  • NEVER eat or drink bleach

Dr Lisa Ackerley, a Chartered Environment Health Practitioner with more than 30 years experience, provides all the tips and tricks on how to safely use bleach.


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The dos and don’ts of handling bleach

Bleach is an essential cleaning agent, and amid the coronavirus pandemic, is one of the best ways to disinfect and protect your home.

Dr Lisa Ackerley told “It is important to remember that coronavirus will only enter our homes when someone comes in who is infected, is carrying it on themselves, or when an item you or they bring in is contaminated.

“Coronavirus can last on surfaces for a few hours or a few days, depending on the type of surface.That’s why regular and proper hygiene practices are so important.

“But cleaning more doesn’t always mean cleaning better. The key is cleaning smarter.”

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On the home surfaces you should clean with bleach, Dr Ackerley advises thinking about the surfaces that are most frequently touched, either on entry to the home or by members of the family.

These surfaces can often include:

  • Front door handle
  • Internal door handles
  • Staircase bannister
  • Fridge handles
  • Cupboard handles
  • Counter tops
  • Kettle handle
  • Bathroom taps
  • Kitchen taps
  • Toilet flush handle or button


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To treat these surfaces, Dr Ackerley recommends using a method of targeted hygiene.

Dr Ackerley explained: “Targeted hygiene is an effective way to clean smarter and help to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus, focusing on disinfecting the surfaces that you and your family most frequently touch.

“Research has shown that trying to deep clean your entire home will have little or no impact on combatting the virus – targeted hygiene is much more effective.

“When practicing targeted home hygiene, first clean away visible dirt and then apply diluted bleach to the surface to kill germs.

“When it comes to which surfaces to clean, think about which are those that you and your household touch most often.”

Handling bleach safely

Bleach is a hazardous substance, but can be a powerful cleaning agent when using accordingly.

Dr Ackerley said: “Bleach is proven to kill coronavirus. I recommend a 1:9 solution of bleach and water when practicing targeted hygiene.

“That is equivalent to 450ml water and 10 teaspoons of bleach to create 500ml of bleach solution – enough to gill a medium-sized bowl or spray bottle.

”Bleach must be diluted in order to be properly effective and safe for use as a cleaning solution.”

To safely dilute bleach, it is recommended that you:

  • Wear household gloves, placing a measuring jug in the sink and mix nine parts cold water to one part bleach as outlined above.
  • Place the solution in a labelled container and wear household gloves and use a clean cloth to apply.
  • Replace the solution on a daily basis.

How does bleach work?

An oxidising bleach works by breaking the chemical bonds of chromophore – which is part of a molecule that has colour.

This process changes the molecule so that it either loses its colour, or reflects no colour outside the visible spectrum.

A reducing bleach works by changing the double bonds of a chromophore into a single bond, which changes the visual properties of the molecule, rendering it colourless.

While most bleaches are oxidising agents, there are other processes that can be used to remove colour. Sodium Dithionite is a powerful reducing agent that can be used in place of bleach.

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