Q:

How can bleach be used as a disinfectant?

A:

Using bleach to disinfect is as simple as applying the bleach to the surface and rinsing it off. There are different concentrations to use for various surfaces and reasons for disinfecting to follow for safety purposes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bleach can be used to clean and sanitize. It can also be used as a normal, everyday cleaner in a weak solution and to clean after emergencies in higher concentrations. It is important to remember to use precaution with bleach and follow the recommended guidelines for various surfaces and uses.

The first thing to do is prepare for cleaning and sanitizing. Wear rubber gloves and use eye protection when working with bleach and other harsh cleaners. Remember to never mix bleach with any other cleaners — only water. Make sure the room is well ventilated and use only plain bleach — not scented. Before sanitizing with bleach, clean the surfaces with soap and water and rinse well. If the surfaces have labels, such as canned goods, remove the paper labels before washing with soap and water.

Prepare the bleach solutions for each area being cleaned and sanitized. Mark the bucket or container with the ratio so that the right one is used. The CDC recommends the following ratios for various areas:

  • Nonporous surfaces: This includes floors, tools, sealed floors and other surfaces that do not absorb water. The solution should be 1 cup of bleach for every 5 gallons of water. Do not rinse.
  • Food Surfaces: This includes baby bottles, nipples, countertops, dishes and any other nonporous surfaces that are used for eating. After washing with soap and water and rinsing, sanitize with a solution of 1 teaspoon per 1 gallon of water. Do not rinse. Allow to dry before using.
  • Food: Food that is canned can be sanitized using 1 cup of bleach per 5 gallons of water. Remove labels, wash and rinse cans, sanitize with the solution then allow to dry before opening.

Bleach is an excellent sanitizer for daily use and emergency use. However, it must be used in the right concentration in order to be considered safe.

Sources:

  1. cdc.gov
  2. nc.gov

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