Cleaning & Organizing

5 Mistakes You Might Be Making When Cleaning With Bleach

Keep windows open when using bleach.

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Bleach is a powerful disinfectant. However, improper use can reduce its effectiveness and it may even pose health risks. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when cleaning with bleach:

1. Mixing it with vinegar

Bleach and vinegar are two strong and effective disinfectants—but they shouldn’t be mixed together. “Together, they produce chlorine gas, which even at low levels, can cause coughing, breathing problems, and burning, watery, eyes,” warns Carolyn Forte, Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, in a feature on Good Housekeeping. Additionally, bleach should never be mixed with ammonia and rubbing alcohol.

2. Forgetting to open windows and doors when disinfecting with bleach

Properly ventilate your room to avoid inhaling the fumes. Doing so will also protect your eyes from irritations.

3. Diluting it with hot water

Hot water decomposes the active ingredient of a bleach, which makes it ineffective. That said, it’s best to use cold or lukewarm water when diluting this household cleaner. 

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4. Rinsing the bleach right away

This is the common mistake people make when disinfecting. Once applied to the surface, let the bleach sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the solution to work before rinsing it off.

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5. Using expired bleach

According to the The Scripps Research Institute, bleach can last up to six months. Beyond that, its active ingredient will gradually deteriorate. “Even in its original bottle, bleach becomes 20 percent less effective as each year goes by.” Keep track of its expiration date by labeling the bottle, and store it away from direct sunlight. 

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