One Thing in Your Kitchen You Should Never Clean with Bleach

updated Jun 1, 2021
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We used to be a bleach-free household. But with the combination of the pandemic, kids who are older and less likely to get into things, and a really high cabinet in the laundry room in case they try to, I’ve had bleach around and I’ve used it more this year than I have in the last several.

Bleach is a powerful solution, and if you’re going to use bleach to clean your home, you should be following the right protocols: Always dilute bleach with water — ½ cup of bleach per gallon of water works almost anywhere. But never mix bleach with anything else (like ammonia or vinegar). And you should mix bleach only as you need it: A bleach solution breaks down relatively quickly and should therefore be used within one stint of cleaning rather than stored for later use.

With that in mind, when I mix up a bleach solution in a bucket or cleaning tub, I want to get the maximum use out of it. So I might decide to, say, clean my baseboards (overkill, by the way) or wipe down high touch surfaces in the kitchen before I dump my bleach solution out.

But there’s one thing that should never be disinfected with bleach, and this was news to me: anything made of stainless steel.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

What makes stainless steel “stainless” is the protective layer of chromium oxide that forms when the chromium in stainless steels comes into contact with oxygen. When this layer is compromised with abrasions or harsh cleaners like bleach, the stainless quality of stainless steel is compromised and rust or pit marks can form — and they can spread rapidly.

So when you clean the front of the fridge with bleach, or fill your stainless steel sink with a bleach bath to disinfect your water bottles, you might start to notice rust or pitting.

Of course it’s important to clean your stainless steel appliances, especially surfaces like fridge and microwave handles, but opt for a less harsh method. One option for effectively cleaning stainless steel is good, old-fashioned soapy water, followed by a polish with stainless steel cleaner or a tiny bit of oil. Save the bleach for grubby shower grout and keep that chromium oxide layer — and your stainless steel — intact.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: There’s One Thing In Your Kitchen You Should Never Clean With Bleach