10 Tips for Safely Handling Bleach at Home

Bleach is the disinfectant par excellence in millions of homes around the world. Let's take a look at some tips on how to use it correctly.
10 Tips for Safely Handling Bleach at Home
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 09 October, 2022

Do you know how to handle bleach safely at home? This product is the most effective disinfectant when it comes to eliminating viruses, fungi, bacteria, and all kinds of germs present on household surfaces. It’s also inexpensive and readily available.

In particular, bleach is obtained by diluting sodium hypochlorite (NaCIO) in water. Its color is slightly yellow, and it has a very particular odor. Moreover, it can be found in concentrations of between 3% and 5% for domestic use, and 10% for use in swimming pools. Let’s take a look at some tips for handling bleach safely.

Tips for safely handling bleach at home

As explained in an article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, bleach should be used with caution since it’s an irritant. It not only causes respiratory discomfort, but can also affect the skin and mucous membranes. And that’s not to mention that it reacts easily when combined with other chemicals.

When used improperly, its disinfecting efficiency is reduced. In addition, it can give off toxic vapors. So, how can you use this product properly? Here are ten tips.

1. Wear gloves for safely handling bleach 

Never use bleach without gloves, as hypochlorite is very strong and can cause skin irritation and even burns.

 safely handling bleach with gloves
Wearing gloves when handling bleach prevents the product from irritating the skin on your hands.

2. Ventilate the environments

Whenever you handle bleach, you should do so in a ventilated environment since it gives off vapors that can irritate the nasal mucous membranes. Some of the symptoms that may occur are as follows:

  • Coughing
  • Mild difficulty in breathing
  • Tearing
  • Dry mouth
  • Burning eyes and throat

We think you may be interested in reading this, too: How to Clean Reusable Water Bottles and How Often to Clean Them

3. Avoid mixing bleach with other products

Bleach should not be mixed with other chemicals, especially ammonia. This is because such a combination creates chloramines and irritating, highly toxic gases. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be diluted with vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or other substances that can generate gas or harmful vapors.

4. Don’t dilute bleach in hot water

When chlorine comes into contact with hot water, it evaporates and thus loses its disinfecting properties. Therefore, if you are going to dilute it, dilute it with room-temperature tap water.

5. Don’t use it for cleaning

Bleach does not replace the detergent used to clean and degrease surfaces. For this reason, it should be used after cleaning in order to disinfect and not to remove the remains of dirt or grease.

6. Read the manufacturer’s label carefully when safely handling bleach 

As already mentioned, there are different concentrations of bleach. Therefore, it’s essential to know which one you are using. Also, you must read the label and follow the directions for use to the letter to ensure its effects.

7. Don’t use it for everything

Although bleach is a powerful disinfectant, this doesn’t mean that it’s multipurpose and that you can apply it to just any surface. For example, when it comes into contact with fabrics, it fades and ruins them. Likewise, it’s not recommended that you apply it on stainless steel, marble, chrome surfaces, and wood, among others.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Eco Friendly Methods to Clean and Disinfect the Fridge

8. Leave it to act

Once you wipe a surface with bleach, you should let it act for at least one minute before removing the excess.

9. Use just the right amount

Using more bleach than recommended, or using it more concentrated, will not guarantee better disinfection. You will be wasting product and even run the risk of intoxication.

In this context, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests a concentration of 0.1% or 1000 ppm, i.e. 1 part of 5% household bleach for every 49 parts of water.

10. Store it correctly

This disinfectant should be stored in opaque containers and away from the reach of children and pets. Remember that since it’s almost colorless, it can be mistaken for water. Its ingestion can cause serious damage to those who could drink it by mistake.

 safely handling bleach
It’s important to store bleach properly. Otherwise, household accidents can occur.

Final tips for safely handling bleach

As a commonly used product, it’s common to hear different tips and tricks when it comes to bleach usage. However, not all are correct. Not knowing the risks and care can be very dangerous to your health. Thus, the following should also apply:

  • Don’t ever use bleach to wash fruit or vegetables or to disinfect food.
  • Avoid cleaning face masks with the product.
  • Do not use this product in gargles or any similar remedy. It’s quite irritating to mucous membranes, as well as toxic.

For now, bleach is still listed as one of the most effective disinfectants. And although it’s used quite regularly, it’s still an irritant. It should therefore be used with care.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Infection Prevention and Control of Epidemic- and Pandemic-Prone Acute Respiratory Infections in Health Care. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2014. Annex G, Use of disinfectants: alcohol and bleach. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK214356/
  • León, J. M. (2011). Los peligros del cloro. MoleQla: revista de Ciencias de la Universidad Pablo de Olavide, (4), 17-18.
  • Equipo Vértice. (2011). Manipulación de productos químicos y de limpieza. Editorial Vértice.
  • Torres Menéndez, C. B. (2018). Causas de intoxicación en pacientes preescolares debido a la ingesta accidental de productos del hogar realizado en el Hospital de Niños Dr. Roberto Gilbert Elizalde en el período 2016-2017(Doctoral dissertation, Universidad de Guayaquil. Facultad de Ciencias Médicas. Carrera de Medicina).
  • Mencías, E. (2003). Intoxicación por cáusticos. In Anales del Sistema Sanitario de Navarra(Vol. 26, pp. 191-207). Gobierno de Navarra. Departamento de Salud.
  • Arroyo, C. Dióxido de cloro: los efectos adversos que no se discuten.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.