5 Things to Know About Bleach in the Kitchen

updated May 1, 2019
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Bleach! You know it’s super powerful and that it has a strong odor to it. You also know that it can make whites whiter and that it kills germs. But did you know these other fun facts?

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

1. Bleach doesn’t mix.

It may seem like the perfect ingredient to concoct a super-powered kitchen cleaner, but you should never, ever mix household bleach with other kitchen cleaners, especially ones that contain ammonia or acid. Doing so can release toxic fumes that could lead to coughing, nausea, chest pain, and more. You can find ammonia in some glass and window cleaners, paints, and urine (so be careful using bleach on toilet bowls, diaper pails, or pet messes). As a general rule, just don’t ever mix bleach with anything except water.

2. Bleach expires.

As with most cleaning products on the market, the active ingredient in bleach breaks down little by little over time (how quickly this happens depends on many factors including your storage conditions or if you leave the cap off for extended periods of time). This is actually good news for the environment: Given enough time, bleach eventually becomes a mix of mostly salt and water, with the remainder of the solution easily broken down in regular sewage treatment facilities.

(Image credit: Bleach Bottle: Design56)

3. Bleach can be used in the kitchen.

We know a lot of you love to hate on bleach in the kitchen, but when used properly, the chemical can safely sanitize kitchen surfaces. Just know that most surfaces need to either air-dry or be wiped with water after using bleach on them. (If you’re worried, Clorox has a good guide on how to properly use bleach on your kitchen surfaces.)

4. It can disinfect drinking water.

After a natural disaster, that is. (Seriously, do NOT start using bleach on a daily basis instead of your Brita!) According to the CDC, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water. Mix it up and let it stand for 30 minutes before you drink it.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

5. It can help cut flowers last longer.

Got some fresh flowers? Lucky! If they didn’t come with one of those preservative packets, you can make your own: Add a tablespoon of sugar and two tablespoons of lemon juice per quart of water. A 1/2 teaspoon of bleach will further prevent bacterial growth.

Now tell us: Do you use bleach in the kitchen?