People have been using chlorine bleach to clean their homes and clothing since the 1950s. For many, the smell of bleach is the smell of clean. But is it really clean? Today we’re discussing why you shouldn’t clean with bleach.
New research conducted on over 9,000 European children, ages 6–12, found that this popular cleaning solution was actually associated with a higher chance of illness. Children from bleach-using households were found to have 20% greater incidence of influenza, a 35% increase in tonsillitis and 18% increase in general infections.
Chlorine bleach fumes can be enormously irritating to the respiratory system. Children are at particular risk because of their underdeveloped lungs and lower size and weight. To make matters worse, mixing bleach with other common household chemicals, such as vinegar and ammonia, can produce deadly – even explosive – results.
Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Irritated eyes, nose and throat
- Chest pain
- Fluid in the lungs and pneumonia
- Severe breathing difficulties
- Permanent damage to the lungs and air passages
The poison can also be absorbed through the skin, causing pain, inflammation and blisters.
Why you shouldn’t clean with bleach
Bleach might not even be as effective a cleaner as some think. Most people don’t know that it loses its effectiveness over time and when exposed to heat, light and oxygen. Even if stored undiluted in a cool, dark place, it only has a shelf life of about six months. A bleach solution loses its disinfecting power after one day.
Bleach can be a useful cleaning agent. You need a fresh, potent bleach solution (about one part bleach to nine parts water). Spray it on and leave it in contact with the surface you’re cleaning for 30 seconds to 10 minutes to kill all the bacteria. If you have small children you know 10 minutes is plenty of time for the worst to happen. Children are curious and get into everything. They’re fascinated with whatever the grownups are doing (especially when they’ve been told not to touch).
Be careful when cleaning with bleach, even if you’re not mixing cleaning solutions. For example, don’t use a bleach-based product to clean your cat’s litter box. It can mix with ammonia from the cat’s urine and give off toxic fumes. Other cleaners can be just as powerful and deodorising, without the risk.
Safe alternatives to bleach
Luckily, there are non-toxic cleaning options. Rubbing alcohol will kill germs, and hydrogen peroxide can be used to disinfect household surfaces, too. Baking soda and white vinegar are cheap, non toxic and easy to use. Use essential oils to add nice smells and an extra antibacterial kick.
If you’re not a do-it-yourself type, Hello Charlie stocks a full range of safer cleaning products for your household, for laundry, dishes, floors and surface cleaning.
- Abode is an Australian brand with an extensive natural cleaning range.
- Ecostore is a New Zealand brand that has a full range of natural cleaning products and personal care products. If you’re looking for a product that will whiten clothes, check out their Laundry Soaker & Stain Remover.
- Ecover is a Belgian brand with a full range of cleaning products. I love their Stain Remover – it’s so popular we have trouble keeping it in stock!
- Organic Clean is an Australian brand that is ACO certified organic, with a small range that will still cover your household cleaning.
- Resparkle is another Australian brand, with a good range of natural cleaning products. I love the Nursery & Toy Cleaner – what a great idea!
- And if you’re looking to get rid of mould, try the Vrindavan Mould Solution Surface Spray. It’s naturally antifungal and antiseptic, and uses clove essential oil to kill mould spores.
Check out the full range of bleach free, natural cleaning products here at Hello Charlie.