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Is bleach bad for the environment? The truth about bleach

Bleach is a useful ingredient when it comes to cleaning, but is bleach safe to clean with? Is bleach bad for the environment? Find the answers with our easy-to-follow guide.


By Cleanipedia Team

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Bleach is a common household cleaning product, used for everything from disinfecting surfaces to unblocking drains. But is bleach dangerous to use in the home? Is bleach bad for the environment? This guide aims to answer all your questions surrounding the dangers of bleach and whether or not bleach is safe for the environment.

Key Steps

  • Bleach is safe for the environment when used according to the label – but don’t forget to read it!

  • Always use products as directed: sprays should stay in their bottles, but bleach-based floor cleaners may need to be diluted before use.

  • Use as directed for germ-fighting results, especially in toilets.

Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

 As always, none of our information or suggestions come without safety considerations, so be sure to heed the directions on any product you choose to use in conjunction with whatever you read here. Got it? Good, let’s talk bleach.

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What is the active ingredient in bleach?

Sodium hypochlorite is the active ingredient in bleach, the superman of disinfectants. It is revered for being fast-acting, powerful, and attacking the widest range of microorganisms. This isn’t propaganda – it’s science. Bleach plays a major role in keeping families and homes clean and healthy around the world.

Even at low concentrations, bleach means business when it comes to germs, stains, and odours. Not a regular bleach-user? According to the Center for Disease Control, most water treatment systems in the US and Europe have used a form of bleach to purify drinking water for nearly 100 years, so we have all benefited at some point!

The Poll

When buying dishwasher tablets, which of these is most important to you?

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Is bleach bad for the environment?

With all the chemicals involved in bleach, you may be wondering ‘is bleach environmentally friendly?’ Well, sodium hypochlorite rapidly breaks down, forming salt and water. Environmental protection agencies have tested the impact of bleach over time and, when answering ‘is bleach eco-friendly?’, maintain that it’s safe for bleach to go back into the environment through the appropriate use and safe disposal.

Is bleach safe?

So, now we’ve answered, ‘is bleach bad for the environment?’, but is bleach toxic to use in the home? The answer is simple: yes, as long as it’s used correctly. The dangers of bleach lie in misuse and incorrect storage, so it’s important to always read the label before use.

Here are some top tips for using bleach safely:

  • Always store it out of sight and reach of children and pets.

  • Wear thick, rubber gloves while handling the substance and be sure to avoid contact with skin and eyes.

  • If you apply bleach to a substance make sure to rinse it thoroughly.

  • It’s good to know what to do if someone accidentally ingests bleach or gets it in their eye, so head on over to this guide to find out what to do in a bleach emergency.

When you’re using a product like bleach, it makes sense that such an effective chemical comes with some precautions, so please protect your skin and eyes. Bleach fumes can be dangerous, so proper ventilation is also necessary. The product label really is useful!

Why should I use bleach?

A lot of companies make use of sodium hypochlorite because it provides an unbeatable way to destroy a wide range of unwanted microorganisms. In fact, bleach is considered a biocide because it has properties able to kill bacteria, viruses, and mould. The most common benefits come in the form of surface cleaning, toilet maintenance, and bleaching white clothing. 

Domestos have a great range of surface cleaning products containing our dear friend bleach as a key component. Their spray is so safe, you can clean your kitchen countertops with it (after spot-checking first, of course!).

In addition, Domestos is also the only homecare brand in the UK to be accredited by The Royal Society for Public Health. They have some great bleach products for cleaning and maintaining all of your bathroom nooks and crannies. Finally, you can give your white clothing a boost of brightness and cleanliness with bleach. Following the directions is paramount here to avoid damaging any of the whites in your wash, so be sure to spot-check and use the recommended amount. Check out our guide to washing white clothes to find out more.

There is no ingredient as versatile and effective for sanitation as bleach. We encourage the proper use of bleach because hygiene plays a key role in health and safety all over the world. Bleach is safe, sustainable for the environment, and a great way to keep you and your family healthy in your home (except for unintentional bleach stains, but we have a guide for that, too!).

For more information on the ingredients in products mentioned in this tip, visit What’s in Unilever Products here.

Originally published