Should I use bleach?
Ah, the smell of it! Growing up, you always knew when it was your mom's cleaning day because of the smell of bleach. A lot of the products she used (and that we still use) contain chlorine bleach. There's Lysol, Ajax, Comet and many others. But these are not the kind of products that a professional restorers use. Why?
1. Chlorine is lacking detergency. In other words, it contains no wetting agents to allow it to penetrate soils so surfaces must be pre-cleaned before chlorine will effectively kill germs. This is a two step process that requires more time.
2. Chlorine is very caustic to human tissue. It can burn skin and eyes.
3. Chlorine can react with other chemicals to create toxic byproducts and gases. It's notably incompatible with products that contain ammonia, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid and acetic acid (vinegar).
4. Chlorine bleach fumes can be very unpleasant or irritating to workers or people in surrounding areas.
5. Chlorine may emit carcinogenic gas if it comes in contact with formaldehyde or is hyper-chlorinated by hot water.
6. Chlorine bleach should never be used in mold remediation. The goal in killing mold is to kill it at its "roots", which bleach fails to do.
7. Chlorine is extremely corrosive to metal surfaces and can permanently discolor countertops. It can also damage floor finishes, requiring them to be stripped and recoated, which is an expensive process.
8. Chlorine will discolor fibers and colored surfaces. Carpets, entrance matting and clothing are just a few of the fibers that may be damaged.
9. The disinfectant power of chlorine bleach is rapidly inactivated by contact with organic matter, i.e. blood, saliva, tissue, urine, feces, dirt, etc. Chlorine is also inactivated by sunlight.
10. Diluted chlorine bleach will quickly relinquish its effectiveness, is unstable and can lose its disinfectant qualities very rapidly, compared to most quat-based disinfectants, which are very stable.
Although bleach products may be a bargain, you owe it to yourself to use a product that truly cleans, thoroughly disinfects and is safe to use.