Don’t make this mistake when you clean with bleach

A bucket filled with cleaning equipment
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to cleaning, bleach is one of the most replied-upon household products. Not only is it ideal for whitening, sanitizing and disinfecting, but can be used all over the home for all kinds of chores. But, are you using it correctly? There’s actually one very common mistake which most people will make when it comes to cleaning with bleach. 

This mistake is as common as using fabric softener on your towels — this big laundry mistake could be ruining your towels. And even if you use bleach to clean the best washing machines or the grouting in your bathroom, this habit will render this cleaner ineffective. Are you guilty of making this error? Read on to find out.

What is bleach?

Bleach is produced from a combination of chemicals and contains sodium hypochlorite as an active ingredient. It’s predominantly used for stain removal in laundry, and it does this through a process of oxidation. It will essentially break down the molecules of the stain to help lift it from the fabric. 

Disinfecting and sanitizing is also possible through the active ingredient of sodium hypochlorite, which is effective at killing bacteria, fungi and viruses. Bleach is often used to keep whites white when it comes to laundry as well — it will strip the color from dyed material, leaving a brighter result. This is by no means the limitation of bleach, it can be used around the home for countless chores, from scrubbing the grouting, to shifting mold and mildew. If you often dilute bleach for cleaning, there’s one method you must avoid however. 

Someone wearing gloves removing the lid from a bottle of bleach

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hot water and bleach 

If you dilute your bleach with hot water, you’re rendering it pointless. It might seem like a good idea — hot water is better for cleaning than cold, right? However, hot water will actually decompose the sodium hypochlorite ingredient, meaning the bleach won’t disinfect or clean as well as it could. So, you should stick to using cold or tepid water for the best results. 

The CDC recommends diluting one cup of bleach to five gallons of water if you’re cleaning household surfaces, such as sinks and floors. If you’re removing mold, it suggests diluting one cup of bleach to one gallon of cold water. If you need to stock up on bleach, we recommend Clorox ($17.29, Amazon). 

Other tips for cleaning with bleach 

  • When diluting, add the bleach second to the water, so it mixes better. Otherwise it will sit at the base and won’t combine.
  • Always wear protective gloves, goggles and a mask, even when you’re using a small amount. Bleach can irritate your skin as well as your airways. Don’t wear any clothing which is precious as well in case it splashes.   
  • Open the windows and doors when you use bleach to allow for better ventilation. Don’t breathe in the fumes as it can lead to shortness of breath, and in extreme cases, death. 
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia as it will release a toxic chloramine gas.   
Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.