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Author: Kevin Hensey
Chlorine bleach has been used as a general germicide for many years. In fact, some state health departments still recommend it as a sanitizer and disinfectant. Chlorine bleach is also much cheaper per gallon than hospital-grade disinfectant cleaners. With all this going for it, why doesn’t everyone use it?
Here are some facts you should consider before adding bleach to your arsenal of maintenance products:
Chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent. In recent tests, chlorine bleach was exposed to samples of commercial-grade copper, cold rolled steel, and alu-minum. The copper samples dis-colored in three hours and showed green corrosion in 24 hours. Aluminum showed signs of corrosion within 24 hours, and on the surface of cold rolled steel rust formed within 30 minutes.
Some grades of stainless steel also can be damaged from the use of products containing chlorine. A process known as “hydrogen embrittlement” may occur as the chlorine bleach attacks the stainless steel,trapping hydrogen gas in the pores of the metal. Over time, the hydrogen can be released, resulting in weakened metal. It is especially damaging to welded joints.
The American Concrete Insti-tute also cautions that sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) will slowly disintegrate concrete and portland-based mortars or grout.
Finally, many floorcare product manufacturers will not stand be-hind the performance of their floor polishes if they are main-tained with chlorine bleach.
Worker Safety – Chlo-rine is a strong irritant to human tissue. Violent reactions also can occur when chlorine bleach is mixed with amines. The reaction of chlorine and bowl cleaners containing hydrochloric acid can release deadly chlorine gas. Every housekeeper’s nightmare is a vision of the “new guy” keeled over, head first into a toilet bowl, after adding a little bleach to help the acid bowl cleaner brighten a little better.
Shelf Life – In just a short shipping and storage time,an industrial concentration of 12 percent can fall to 7 to 10 per-cent. Efficacy – Chlorine bleach works best in a slightly acid to neutral pH range. Alkaline soils must be removed prior to using the bleach to prevent the chlo-rine from losing effectiveness. In other words, the surface must be clean if the chlorine (hypochlor-ite) is to have any significant effect. The only way you can be assured of killing organisms you want to control is to experiment with different ages/concentra-tions of the product and test the surfaces after use.
Cleaning Ability – Com-pared to modern disinfectant cleaners, chlorine bleach does not compare in cleaning ability. If you are trying to clean and control germs simultaneously, consider one of the newer form-ula disinfectant detergents. With dilution rates as low as 1:256, proven efficacy, longer shelf life, and a less-corrosive nature, you might find the new disinfectant detergents are much better bargains than chlorine bleach.
About the Author:
Kevin Hensey speaks at business clubs regarding environmental awareness program. He has written articles regarding the safety
His e-mail is:
This is Deb — my company has the best alternatives to bleach – give me a call at 641-458-1114 and let’s have a conversation!