The Potential Dangers of Cleaning with Bleach
It may surprise you how many household cleaning products contain bleach. Therefore, instead of grabbing any product you see on the shelves, it’s best to read the label carefully and be cautious of any harmful chemicals that may be listed on the back.
Despite bleach being a popular cleaning ingredient and stand-alone product, not everyone knows what it’s actually made of or what damage it may cause. To find out more about the potential dangers of cleaning with bleach, check out our article below.
What is Bleach?
Bleach is often talked about as being one specific substance when, in reality, there are several different types of bleach. The word “bleach” is simply the generic name to describe a series of chemical products that are used for cleaning or removing stains.
One of the most common household bleaches is liquid bleach (also referred to as chlorine bleach) which is made up of a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite.
Most bleaches, such as liquid bleach, have high bacterial properties and oxidizing agents which make it seem like an appealing cleaning and stain removal product. However, these properties are highly corrosive and can have a damaging impact on your health, the surface you’re cleaning, and create toxic fumes when mixed with other household products, such as vinegar.
With this in mind, do you really want to use such a toxic solution in your home? Or around your kids? Or around your pets?
What are the Potential Dangers of Using Bleach?
With the corrosive nature of bleach, there are several dangers that you must be aware of before deciding to use it in your home. Such risks include the effects it may have on your body, your children, your pets, and your overall household air quality.
Bleach Can Damage Your Body
We all know that drinking bleach can kill you, but what happens when you use it to clean? Well, each time you use bleach, you risk inhaling corrosive fumes that may damage your organs – particularly your lungs. Exposure to these fumes may also cause coughing, irritated eyes, a stinging nose, or lightheadedness. Individuals who have existing respiratory issues such as asthma are at higher risk of experiencing these adverse effects.
Similar to the impact bleach can have inside your body, it can also damage the outside. If you accidentally spill a bleach solution on your skin, it can result in burning or irritation. If the same were to happen to your eyes, it would sting and burn, and you’ll likely need to seek medical attention. Although you may think the chances of anything like this occurring are low, accidents can happen. So, it’s essential to be aware of the potential dangers before using a particular product.
The severity of any inhalation or contact damage depends greatly on the dilution of the product you’re using. A bottle of liquid bleach is far more toxic than a cleaning product that also contains diluted sodium hypochlorite. That said, both are corrosive, and you must be extremely careful when using them to clean.
For more information, about the dangers of cleaning with bleach on your health, read the NZ Herald article, “Cleaning the house as bad for women as 20 cigarettes a day, OK for men”.
Bleach Can Be Dangerous for Kids
As expected, cleaning with bleach can also be extremely dangerous for kids – if not, even worse.
Merely breathing in nearby fumes can be damaging, particularly for those children who have allergies or asthma. And keep in mind that children have smaller lungs than adults, which means they’re more likely to feel the impact of breathing in any trace of toxic chemicals. It’s also believed that frequent exposure to these fumes can lead to an increased risk of developing breathing difficulties.
Similarly, any remaining bleach that remains on cleaned surfaces poses a risk to your children’s health. Although you may try to rinse the product off thoroughly, it may be challenging to ensure that there have been absolutely no traces of toxic chemicals left behind. If there happened to be the product remaining, your child is at risk of being exposed and accidentally digesting or becoming irritated by the poisonous chemicals.
There’s also the obvious, and unthinkable danger of your child accidently swallowing liquid bleach or another toxic cleaning product. While most products are typically created with a child-proof cap, there’s always that small chance something could go wrong. Instead of risking your little ones finding and playing with a corrosive substance, it's best not to have it as an everyday cleaning product. Bleach and any other potentially toxic cleaning products should be kept well out of children’s reach.
For more information about how bleach can be dangerous for you and your kids, read the NY Times article, “Cleaning Your Home: Good. Accidently Poisoning Yourself. Bad”.
Bleach Could Harm Your Pets
Just as your kids could be put in harm's way when cleaning with bleach, so could your fur babies. Although it’s unlikely animals will intentionally approach a bleached surface due to the toxic smell, there’s still a possibility their fur or paws will be exposed to the chemicals– especially if you’ve used bleach to clean your bedding or the floor.
In this instance, your pet may lick their fur or paws and could experience bleach poisoning. Such a reaction could lead to the nightmare of seeing your pet have convulsions (fits), vomit, and in severe cases, they may potentially die. So, please, keep your pets far away from bleach.
For more information, these dangers, check out the News Mail article, “Household cleaning products could endanger your pets”.
Bleach Could Damage the Air Quality in Your Home
It may sound bizarre, but bleach can ‘pollute’ the air quality inside your house. The way this may occur is that frequent use of toxic cleaning products with little ventilation can gradually add chemicals into the air. As a result, it’ll put not only yourself, your kids, and pets at risk – but anyone who visits your home, particularly those who already have respiratory issues.
For more information, check out the Science Daily article “Cleaning with bleach could create indoor air pollutants”.
Bleach Can React with Other Household Cleaning Products
As if bleach wasn’t harmful enough on its own, there’s also a risk of it reacting with other household cleaning products. For instance, when liquid bleach is exposed to ammonia (which is found in many cleaners such as multi-purpose, oven, and glass cleaner), it can form toxic fumes that can damage your lungs and nasal passages.
Bleach can also react to create toxic gas when mixed with acids, such as vinegar. Therefore, the added stress of accidentally mixing bleach products with other ordinary household items becomes an added concern and increased danger risk. To be safe, you shouldn’t mix bleach with anything but plain water.
For more information, read the Environmental Working Group’s article “Tragic Accidental Death from Mixture of Cleaning Products a Cautionary Warning”.
Can Bleach Damage the Surface I’m Cleaning?
Not only does cleaning with bleach pose as a health risk, but it can also damage the surface you’re cleaning.
For example, if you use bleach to clean a wooden, metal, or granite surface, you won’t likely get the outcome you desired. Instead, you’ll be left with discoloured, stained, or damaged surfaces – that can’t be reversed.
When you think about it, bleach is known for removing colour and stains, so it makes sense that it wouldn’t be an ideal cleaning tool (especially when it can be dangerous too!)
Is there a Safe Alternative to Bleach?
There are many safe alternatives to bleach, such as Wet & Forget. All Wet & Forget products are made with a bleach-free, non-caustic, non-acidic solution that allows for a safe application and a natural cleaning process.
The Wet & Forget solution has an almost neutral pH of 8, whereas bleach has a high alkaline pH level of 11-13. By using a product with lower alkalinity, it means that it won’t risk damaging the surface you’re cleaning nor pose as a significant risk to your health, your kids, or your pets. That said, as Wet & Forget is still a cleaning product, you should always store it out of reach from children and keep your pets away from the sprayed surface until dry.
Another benefit of using a more neutral cleaning product means that there’s no need to scrub or rinse the solution, but instead, leave it to nature to do its thing. For more information about how this process works, check out our article, “How to Use Wet & Forget”.
And, good news, there’s a range of different products specifically suited to different types of cleaning jobs around the house. The variety of products includes outdoor, indoor, kitchen, bathroom, laundry, gardening, pests, car, and marine solutions. By having this array of uniquely designed products, it helps to ensure that you can clean as efficiently and safely as possible.
Want to Clean Safely?
We hope you now have a better understanding of what bleach is and the potential damages it can cause. Instead, of possibly damaging the surface or putting yours or your loved one’s health at risk, you may want to keep it safe and simple by using Wet & Forget.