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Bleach and the environment: The truth about bleaching agents

Bleach is an incredibly useful cleaning ingredient, but is bleach safe to clean with? What does bleach do to the environment? We have the answers here.


truth about bleach

Key Tips

  • 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.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a pretty good chance you’re already a little bleach savvy. Even so, the dangers of bleach and questions about bleach ingredients are hot topics for safety and eco-conscious men and women who want to know more about keeping their home clean and sustainable. We at Cleanipedia wanted to know more about the ingredients, uses, and concerns about bleach and bleaching agents, and we thought you’d be interested, too.

As always, none of our information or suggestions come without safety concerns, 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.

Safety Warning

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

Has your cleaning regime changed during the Covid-19 lockdown?

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! You may find it useful to know that sodium hypochlorite rapidly breaks down, forming salt and water. Environmental protection agencies have tested the impact of bleach over time and maintain that it’s safe for bleach to go back into the environment through appropriate use and safe disposal.


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!


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Bleach uses

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.

The line from Domestos is a great example 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.

Why should I use bleach?

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