Bleach uses: How does bleach work?

Wondering how bleach works and how to bleach safely? Read on for our top bleach tips that explain how to use bleach to magic your home clean.

Updated

cleaning spray on white sheets

Key steps

  • Most household bleaches have sodium hypochlorite as their active ingredient.
  • Bleach is used to sterilize and kill germs.
  • Apply bleach to get rid of mould on a non-porous surface.
In the world of household cleaning, bleach is a miracle chemical. However, remember to use in a well-ventilated area, carefully read and follow the instructions on the bottle, and wear rubber gloves.

What is bleach?

Bleach is defined as any chemical that performs bleaching: the capacity to whiten and sterilize materials. However, when it comes to settling on a bleach definition, it’s important to note that there are many different types of bleach - including chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach.

So, what is the bleach you use for household cleaning? This is chlorine bleach, or sodium hypochlorite. Household bleach is a mix of sodium hypochlorite and water in a 5.25% solution.

Bleach definition: Is bleach an acid or a base?

Sodium hypochlorite is alkaline but when it is dissolved in water, two substances are created: hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. This leads to the question: is bleach an acid or a base? This all depends on the active ingredient each different type of bleach uses. Some bleaches will be a base, some will be acidic, whilst others act as oxidizing agents.

Most household bleaches, such as Domex, have sodium hypochlorite as their active ingredient in the bleach solution. The active ingredient in the bleach is responsible for killing all the germs and removing stains.

Bleach uses

The most common bleach uses are as a disinfectant and stain remover but there are plenty of other bleach uses.

  • How to use bleach to sterilise second-hand items: Soak items in a solution of water and a few drops of bleach. This will help remove any bacteria - you don't need to soak items for very long.
  • How to bleach white porcelain: To give white porcelain items that extra sparkle, put some bleach on a paper towel and wipe over the surface. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth.
  • How to use bleach to disinfect rubbish bins: Mix bleach with a drop of dishwashing liquid, dilute with water, and use to rinse out the inside of rubbish bins.
  • How to bleach a mouldy wall clean: Bleach is great for removing mould on any surface. Mix one part bleach with ten parts water and apply to a non-porous surface affected with a spray bottle, cloth or sponge. You don’t need to wash the bleach off afterwards.

How to use bleach safely?

As with any strong chemical, it’s important to know how to store and use bleach safely as ingestion or contamination can have harmful side-effects. 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, rinse it away thoroughly. Always carefully read the bottle for advice on how to use the product.

Bleach is a useful household cleaning agent that can be used in some pretty unexpected ways. From cleaning your toilet and helping you get rid of maggots, to preventing germs from infesting your home, there are loads more ideas for how to utilise this powerful liquid and get your home beautifully clean. It’s always best to keep a household bleach, such as Domex, in stock at home.

Originally published