What is wrong with Bleach?

What is Bleach?

The most common chlorine products are aqueous solutions of 4% to 6% sodium hypochlorite, which are readily available as “household bleach”. Bleach has a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity, is unaffected by water hardness, is inexpensive and has a low incidence of serious toxicity. However, bleach has a host of drawbacks which should give any facility pause when choosing disinfectant, not the least of which is the fact that it is easily inactivated by organic material. Because of this, cleaning protocols must be perfect, or a facility can run the risk of using bleach solution well below stated protocol.
Bleach can also become less active under heat and light, making it problematic for many research facilities.

More Problems with Bleach:

  • Sodium hypochlorite at the concentration used in household bleach (4-6%) may produce
skin and ocular irritation or oropharyngeal, esophageal and gastric burns.
  • Hypochlorites can be corrosive to metals in high concentrations (>500 ppm).
  • Organic material such as feces or blood inactivate chlorine based disinfectants, meaning surfaces must be cleaned before their use.
  • Hypochlorites can discolor fabrics.
  • Hypochlorites can release toxic chlorine gas when mixed with ammonia or acid.
  • Chlorine based disinfectants diluted in tap water have a limited shelf life. After 30 days, such solutions stored in a polyethylene container will lose 40-50% of their concentration.
  • Chlorine-treated water can create disinfection by-products, including Trihalomethanes(THMs).

Want to learn more?

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