Bleach is amazing. There’s nothing like it to do a clean sweep of even the hardest-to-move mould and stains and all manner of household cleaning, disinfecting and laundering.
Make no mistake however, chlorine bleach is a powerful chemical – you may have seen the damage bleach can cause to hair if not used correctly to lighten your locks. As such, bleach should be used with care to avoid accidents and damage to some surfaces and other items around the home.
Here are 7 common mistakes people make when using bleach in the home:
1. Using bleach on wooden surfaces
Unless it’s your intention to lighten the timber, chopping boards, benchtops and dining tables should all be kept well clear of bleach or products that contain it as a cleaning agent. Even when diluted, using bleach can leave stains and raise the grain of the timber. Instead, use natural or specialised wood cleaners that contain ingredients to nourish and protect the timber surface.
2. Using bleach on stainless steel
Bleach can be corrosive to some metals, including stainless steel, and repeated or prolonged use of it to clean benchtops and surfaces can result in pitting and staining. Instead, clean your stainless steel benchtop regularly with warm soapy water and wipe dry afterwards. To remove stubborn marks, drop dishwashing liquid directly onto the mark and use a soft, wet cloth to soak, then rub away. Dry with a soft cloth.
3. Using bleach to clean granite or stone benchtops
Being a natural surface, stone benchtops are susceptible to stains and marks. Bleach is not the answer, however. Worse is the use of a corrosive brush or scourer together with bleach, which will result in more damage to the surface. Instead, clean regularly with warm soapy water and for tough stains and the occasional deep clean, use a speciality stone cleaner.
4. Using bleach to clean or sanitise food
Liquid bleach is too strong a chemical to use on fresh food as a disinfectant. Wash fresh produce before storing it by running under cold water and wiping clean. If you feel the need for a more thorough clean, a solution of baking soda and water will do the job.
5. Mixing bleach with other chemicals
We’re all for making your own cleaning products – the results can save money and make for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly household. Never mix household bleach with other chemicals however. In particular, chemicals that contain ammonia, such as window cleaner, toilet cleaner and many all-purpose cleaners. Acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, as well as rust remover are also dangerous and could produce poisonous and even explosive gases. Instead, dilute liquid bleach with a ratio of nine parts water to one part bleach for a solution that is most effective for killing germs.
Above all, use proper ventilation when cleaning or disinfecting with bleach and store it safely and secured out of reach of children.
Tips for Using Bleach in your Laundry*
1. Read the Label
Check the garment label before laundering; some fabrics cannot be washed using liquid household bleach (sodium hypochlorite). If liquid household bleach is not recommended, you can use a colour-safe (oxygen) bleach to help remove stains and odours. Also read the cleaning product label. Some detergents have colour-safe bleach or bleach alternative built into the product. However, remember that these products do not disinfect.
2. Test first
Dip a cotton swab in the bleach/water solution and dab on an inside seam. If the fabric colour remains, then you should be safe.
3. Start small
Lay the stained section of the garment flat and be sure there not layers of fabric or anything underneath that can be affected. Work from the outer edge of the stain in, rinse with fresh water when the stain is gone.
4. Bleaching the whole load
Read the label on the bleach product to determine the amount to use when adding bleach to an entire load of laundry. Consult your washing machine user manual to see if you should add the bleach to the drum or to a special dispenser drawer or section.
*Provided by the American Cleaning Institute
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