Five things to ‘avoid’ cleaning with bleach – ‘not even effective’

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Bleach is a fantastic household cleaner that can be used both commercially and in homes for cleaning, disinfecting and laundry purposes. But did you know that there are various items that you should never clean with bleach as it is too powerful for them. Cleaning product manufacturer Trichem has shared the top five things you should never clean or do with bleach.

1. Wooden surfaces 

Timber worktops, furniture, cutting boards and wallboards should never be treated with bleach, as it can weaken the structure.

The cleaning experts explained: “Wood is a porous material. Using bleach on it results in stains and warps the wood.”

Instead, they suggested using products on wooden items and surfaces that are specifically designed for them as this “will protect and nourish your wood”.

The cleaning pros added: “Bleach is also not even effective at killing mould spores which can discolour wooden surfaces even though it will lighten them, giving you the illusion that you have killed the mould off.

“Therefore, avoid using bleach on your butcher blocks, work-tops, wooden tables and cutting boards in the kitchen. Do not use it on panelling, timber, fabric and other paper products found in and around buildings.”

2. Metal surfaces and items

This high-shine material can quickly appear worn and tarnished when wiped down with harsh bleach.

Sodium hypochlorite is the key ingredient that should always be avoided while cleaning stainless steel as it can oxidise the metal.

When the sodium reacts with carbon dioxide in the air, the passive layer is compromised which causes the chlorine gas product to attack the metal.

The experts warned: “Using bleach on metals, such as copper and even stainless steel will result in discolouration and corrosion. 

“Instead, apply products that have been approved for use on metal surfaces. Do not use bleach to get rid of rust as it makes it into a more resistant and harder to remove compound.”

For a streak-free finish on steel surfaces, dilute white vinegar with water before gently buffing it onto the metal.

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3. Granite and marble worktops

The high-quality finish of granite and marble worktops is unmatched, but using bleach to clean them could compromise their luxurious appearance.

Just like wood, granite and marble have a porous surface that “can be damaged” and “chemically changed” by using bleach and “causes stubborn stains”.

The cleaning pros added: “Unless advised by your supplier you should not use bleach on them. Use warm soapy water as a cleaning agent instead and if this does not work, use a product that has been specially developed for the type of stone you are cleaning.”

As another alternative homeowners can use white vinegar and water to spritz their surfaces and wipe them over. Finish with lemon juice and essential oil spray for a fresh fragrance and antibacterial cleanse.

Also, always avoid using abrasive substances like baking soda or salt to treat stubborn dirt on granite and marble countertops.

4. Cleaning drains or toilets

According to the experts, bleach should never be used to clean toilets, especially those who have a septic tank.

They urged: “When you have a septic tank, don’t use bleach as a drain cleaner or toilet bowl cleaner, as it kills the beneficial bacteria that helps break down your septic waste. 

“Your septic tank may clog up and smell which will destroy the effectiveness of the system. This may even make you think pouring more bleach down the drain will make it better – it won’t it will make things even worse.

“Additionally, when bleach is blended with other chemicals it can cause bursts in pipes. Instead, source a product that is friendly to your septic tank bacteria.”

5. Never mix bleach with any other chemical for cleaning purposes

The cleaning gurus warned: “Never mix bleach with other household cleaning products for cleaning purposes as it may create toxic fumes and could possibly lead to an explosion.”

Most importantly, properly ventilate the area you are cleaning with household bleach and ensure bleach products are being stored safely and securely – and out of the reach of children.

The experts continued: “Although it may seem like a good idea to kill off more bacteria and germs, mixing bleach with other cleaners may kill you off.”

In particular never mix bleach with the following:

  • Vinegar – mixing bleach and vinegar creates chlorine gas. Chlorine gas causes eye irritation and breathing issues.
  • Ammonia – mixing bleach and ammonia creates chloramine gas. This is a similar gas to chlorine gas. Chloramine causes the additional symptoms of shortness of breath and chest pain.

The cleaning pros added: “Always, dilute your bleach cleaning product properly, as advised by the manufacturer so that it is at its most effective bleach solution for killing bacteria and germs and only use undiluted bleach as directed.”

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