Is Bleach an Effective Way to Kill Germs and Viruses?
In the fight against COVID-19, the use of better and more effective cleaning solutions is more important than ever. Amid the many household products touted for their ability to kill germs and viruses, bleach tops the list. Household bleaches are a part of everyday life and can be found in most Australian homes. The question is, how effective are household bleaches in killing microorganisms like bacteria, germs, and viruses?
How Bleach Works
The use of bleach as a medical disinfectant was first recorded in 1847 at the Vienna General Hospital in Austria. Since then, many industries have used bleach as a strong disinfectant that can kill a vast majority of microorganisms. This is due to its main ingredient, which is also what makes it a great stain remover—sodium hypochlorite.
Sodium hypochlorite acts as an oxidising agent, and when it comes into contact with viruses, bacteria, moulds, and fungi, a chemical reaction occurs. It oxidises molecules in the cells of the germs and kills them, especially when you use chlorine bleaches. Scientists also believe that the hypochlorous acid that forms when sodium hypochlorite is added to water can break down the cell walls of some germs. Non-chlorine bleaches can also act as disinfectants on some surfaces, but they are less potent than chlorine bleach.
How to Use Bleach to Disinfect Surfaces
Contrary to popular belief, bleaches aren’t effective at cleaning surfaces in the way that detergents and cleaning products are. They are designed to disinfect surfaces, especially those that are prone to germs and bacteria. Since bleach is quite a strong disinfectant, careful preparation is required as it can be quite toxic if not used properly. Here’s a simple procedure you can follow when using bleach to disinfect:
Keep windows open to ensure good ventilation before using bleach.
Put on protective gear like gloves, masks, and bleach-resistant aprons. This is to protect you from the strong fumes that could irritate your skin and mucous membranes.
Use cold water for dilution as hot water decomposes the active ingredient of bleach, rendering it ineffective.
Mix one cup of bleach and five gallons of cold water together in a bucket.
Use the solution to scrub rough surfaces with a stiff brush.
Air dry for 10 to 15 minutes. Again, be wary of the toxic fumes. If you’re experiencing blurred vision, difficulty breathing, and headaches while disinfecting, seek medical attention immediately.
After air drying, rinse disinfected articles with water and wipe dry.
Soak all your cleaning tools in diluted bleach for 30 minutes, and then rinse them thoroughly with water after soaking.
Finally, wash your hands with liquid soap and dry them with a clean towel.
Follow these steps to make sure you disinfect surfaces thoroughly without risking your health and safety. Remember not to mix bleach with other household detergents as it can reduce the effectiveness in disinfection or cause an unwanted chemical reaction. If possible, use detergents first and rinse thoroughly with water before using bleach for disinfection.
Bleach can be a potent weapon in the war against COVID-19. Even hospitals and medical facilities are using this common household product as part of their safety protocols. By understanding how bleach works and the correct way of using it, you can effectively protect yourself from the spread of diseases through proper disinfection.
Trust Reliance Chemicals to provide high-quality hospitality cleaning solutions for all your needs. We have more than 25 years of experience in formulating and manufacturing cleaning detergents and chemicals for a wide range of industries. Get in touch with the Reliance team today!
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