How to Use High Strength Bleach
Chlorine bleach—popularly used for whitening and destroying germs in the laundry and on hard surfaces—is now available in a “high strength” form. The same disinfecting power of chlorine chemistry is now delivered in a smaller container, reducing the amount of bleach required for each task and cutting down on packaging waste. The smaller container also means more open space on your storage shelf. But just as many laundry detergents now come in smaller containers and you use less for a load, the same is true for the new high strength bleach.
Concentrated bleach is an 8.25 percent solution of sodium hypochlorite, up from the “regular bleach” concentration of 5.25 percent. The bottom line for consumers is that they will need to add about 1/3 less bleach to water than they used before for laundry and household disinfection. For example, if you normally added one tablespoon of regular bleach to a gallon of water to disinfect food-contact surfaces in the kitchen, you may now use just two teaspoons of high strength bleach in a gallon of water to accomplish the same task just as effectively. The table below provides conversions between regular and high strength bleach dilutions for some common disinfection chores.
Converting between Regular Strength and High Strength Bleach
Note: Make bleach solutions fresh daily as they break down over time. Never combine ammonia-containing products with bleach and keep all cleaning and disinfecting products out of the reach of children.
Regular Strength Bleach in 1 Gallon of Water
High Strength Bleach in 1 Gallon of Water
|Cleanup/disinfection following vomiting or diarrhea on a porous surface (e.g., wood)||1 2/3 cup||1 cup|
|Wall and floor disinfection following flooding||¾ cup||½ cup|
|Laundry disinfection and whitening (for a full load of laundry in a washing machine)||½ cup||1/3 cup|
|Disinfecting nonporous surfaces (e.g., vinyl, ceramic tile, porcelain) against norovirus (“the stomach bug”)||1/3 cup||¼ cup|
|Disinfecting the diaper changing area; disinfecting hard surfaces against flu transmission||¼ cup||2 ½ tablespoons|
|Disinfecting kitchen cloths||3 tablespoons||2 tablespoons|
|Routine disinfection of food-contact surfaces||1 tablespoon||2 teaspoons|
Working with Bleach
Although high strength bleach is more concentrated than the old formulation, the same safety precautions apply, and there is no significant increase in risk associated with exposure to high strength bleach.
Bleach is safe when used as directed on the product label. Always keep bleach and all cleaning products out of the reach of children.
Bleach products have a shelf life – check the date on the bottle to make sure your bleach will be effective when you need it.
Linda Golodner is President Emeritus of the National Consumers League and Vice Chair of the Water Quality & Health Council.