Friday, August 13, 2010

What's Wrong With Bleach?

I'm frequently asked why none of my cleaning recipes include bleach as an ingredient. There are a many reasons why I don't use or endorse bleach. I am not alone. Most hospitals in America no longer use bleach to clean. Instead, they use germicides. It kills the germs with irritating the patients. Here are my reasons for not using bleach.

1. Sensitive skin- I have never actually been sensitive to bleach. I am allergic to latex. Using bleach usually means wearing cleaning gloves which are made of latex. When my child was about 6 to 8 months old and wore nothing more than a onesie, he often entertained me by using his tiny little hands to scratch his chest. After about a month I began to realize it wasn't the detergent that was irritating his skin and giving him a mild case of eczema but rather it was the bleach. Bleach can not only irritate the skin but also it can cause new skin problems.

2. Fumes - The fumes from bleach can cause you to temporarily lose your sense of smell and even your sense of sight if you measure it improperly.

3. Chemical reactions- Most of the cleaning recipes I share are made with something that can actually cause a dangerous chemical reaction if it comes in contact with bleach. Ammonia and bleach makes mustard gas and you don't want that in your home. I like to save housewives money by encouraging them to make their own cleaning supplies. Switching from bleach based products like Clorox Bathroom Cleaner to Ammonia based products like Windex can cause a serious reaction in your home. It's best to eliminate bleach all together.

4. It's not a stain remover- Bleach uses chlorine to disinfect by chemically killing the germs and bacteria. It does not however cause those dead germs to be removed. Instead, it changes the color of the stain to make it appear to be gone. Take an old white t-shirt that has always been washed with bleach and hold it up in natural sunlight. You will see "ghost stains". The shirt may be clean but the stains were just whitened. Pour bleach in a toilet and you will see the stains "whiten" before your eyes. Pour some ACT pre-brush mouthwash into the toilet and you will see the waste is still there.

5. It's expensive- One bottle of bleach costs more than a bottle of ammonia, vinegar, a box of baking soda, and a bottle of peroxide. All of these chemicals are used for house cleaning.

6. It's not green- Bleach is more harmful to the environment than other bleaching agents.

7. It ruins- Bleach breaks down the fibers in fabrics over time. This is the reason for holes in your white shirts and socks.

The better alternative to bleach is Hydrogen peroxide when it comes to spot treatments. It doesn't ruin your fabrics. It actually breaks the bond of the germs and bacteria and stains causing them to be removed as the peroxide evaporates. It's safer for the environment, won't irritate your skin and is cheaper.

Another alternative is baking soda. It oxidizes the stain and causes it to release from the surface it clings to. This is why baking soda is a great alternative to toothpaste when you are in a pinch. Vinegar is an enzyme cleaner that works like baking soda. Use vinegar to remove blood rather than bleach so that the enzymes are killed and removed. Mature women everywhere know why this is important.

Check my post archives for non-bleach alternatives.