How To – Using Bleach As A Household Disinfectant

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    The next time that you are at the store and are looking for a bottle of disinfectant to clean bathroom, kitchen and other surfaces in your home you should take a closer look at what is really in the ingredients.

    Surprisingly you are likely to find that along with some possible soaps and fragrances the main active ingredient in most disinfectants is Bleach or chemically known as Sodium Hypochlorite.

    You will also find a listing showing the percentage of bleach in solution. Common household bleach that you buy in a 1 gallon container for about a dollar normally contains a 3% to 5% bleach solution while commercial counter cleaners may contain as little as .0095% bleach in solution.

    Basically what they are selling you is a pretty bottle full of water and a tiny amount of bleach.

    Making your own bleach sanitizer liquid

    Since you know the active ingredient in your commercial sanitizer is bleach it is pretty simple to make your own for just pennies. The most difficult part about making your own sanitizer solution is picking the correct percentage of bleach that you should use for the job you are performing.

    A 1 in 5 dilution of household bleach with water (1 part bleach to 4 parts water) is effective against many bacteria and some viruses, and is often the disinfectant of choice in cleaning surfaces in hospitals. The solution is corrosive, and needs to be thoroughly removed afterwards, so the bleach disinfection is sometimes followed by an ethanol disinfection.

    Even “scientific grade”, commercially produced disinfection solutions such as Virocidin-X usually have sodium hypochlorite as their sole active ingredient, though they also contain surfactants (to prevent beading) and fragrances (to conceal the bleach smell)

    When using higher percentages of bleach to disinfect food preparation surfaces and utensils it is important to wash the surfaces with water to remove the bleach before using them.

    As we said in our introduction some companies are selling a daily sanitizer with .0095 % Bleach in solution of water and those products may or may not suggest wiping or washing with water of surfaces before they can be used for food preparation. Normally these solutions are less then 200 parts per million or one tablespoon of typical household bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite, per gallon of water.

    Bathroom Sanitizers

    Typically where food is not prepared you can go as high as 2% solution of bleach in water to disinfect surfaces. If the bleach you purchase is 5% bleach then diluting one half gallon of bleach in a gallon of water should be enough for any serious cleaning.

    Remember that bleach is caustic and will damage metal and organic materials so rinsing after sanitizing is required.

    Keep the area wet for at least 15 minutes.


    For Standard Sensitization a 2% or weaker solution is normally your best bet however you may find that good results are found with a weak solution of .5% bleach which is 9 parts water 1 part bleach.

    Using a weaker solution will mean that you need to keep the area wet longer but it will give you control over the product and allow you to treat areas without bleaching out colors or causing caustic damage to metals.

    I would suggest that you find some commercial products that you like using and research their chemical makeup. Although you probably won’t be able to make an exact duplicate of your favorite product you can measure out the amount of bleach necessary to be just as effective.

    Remember no rinse disinfectants have very little bleach in them meaning they are probably not very effective. All others require rinsing of the bleach after disinfection.

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