How effective is bleach as a disinfectant?


Christmas of 2018 was awful.

Everyone in our house got sick with the stomach flu, and it was not pretty. 

This winter Mandy and I were determined not repeat that nightmare and so she cracked open a bottle of bleach.  This was a big deal - we never use bleach to clean our house - but it's the most effective way to kill germs.

Or so we thought.

Now that we're in the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Mandy's been away with the kids and I was all set to clean our house from top to bottom... with bleach.

That is until this quote from a National Geographic article popped into my newsfeed:

Using bleach “is like using a bludgeon to swat a fly,”...

"...says Jane Greatorex, a virologist at Cambridge University. It can also corrode metal and lead to other respiratory health problems if inhaled too much over time.

“With bleach, if you put it on a surface with a lot of dirt, that [dirt] will eat up the bleach,” says Lisa Casanova, an environmental health scientist at Georgia State University. She and other experts instead recommend using milder soaps, like dish soap, to easily sanitize a surface indoors and outdoors."

Dish Soap is as good as bleach?

Who knew?  Clearly not me, and the embarrassing part is that we actually make Dish Soap
There's just something about Bleach that seems so powerful. Is it the harsh smell that gives it the appearance of strength or maybe it's years of marketing?  Either way, I think we all have it in our heads that bleach, lysol and other disinfectants are the best or only choice.

Maybe it's time we challenged our assumptions of what makes things clean?

Here's what that National Geographic article had to say:
"Soap works so effectively because its chemistry pries open the coronavirus’s exterior envelope and cause it to degrade. These soap molecules then trap tiny fragments of the virus, which are washed away in water." (Sarah Gibbons, National GeographicMARCH 18, 2020)
So there you have it, dish soap may actually be as effective (and nicer smelling) option to rid your home of the Coronavirus. 
Guess I'll have to stop procrastinating, crack open another pod of dish soap and start cleaning... or maybe not.
Want to check out our Dish Soap? - CLICK HERE.

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  • What about using Vinegar to spray down counters and door knobs etc.?

    Patty Kirby on
  • Washing should always come first, if possible. A dilute bleach solution is excellent for after you use soap, in high-touch areas. This is what hospitals use, for good reason!

    Vodka is not tested for this use; alcohol (ethanol or isopropanol) needs to be at least 60%, i.e. 120 proof. That said, distillers and brewers are turning alcohol production towards sanitizing.

    Wash first, use soap!
    And then wipe with the dilute solution, leaving it on for the directed period of time (see the label; the strength of the bleach concentrate matters). Wipe off with clean water.

    Hand sanitizer, at least 60% alcohol content, is for when you absolutely cannot wash.

    David Keldsen on
  • I have been saying this for years! I also recommend cheap vodka, and peroxide! Bleach works as an accelerant, if you leave a spore of mildew or mold, using bleach will make it come back with a vengeance.

    Audra E Frank on
  • Hi
    Ok so I asked my doctor who is also a holistic doctor and regular MD he said that high touch areas like a public door handle disinfectant is best because it kills the virus low touch areas like just your family and no one else soap and water is best on surfaces etc and washing your hands is best if your grocery shopping then gloves then throw away in the garbage before you get in the car wipes are good in the car because it’s a high touch area or was

    Susan Brown on
  • Excellent article. I’m just waiting for my soap order to get here. I’m using thieves cleaner at the moment

    Joy Miller on
  • I use a mixture of dish soap and vinegar, an essential oil of choice and some water in a spray bottle. It really cleans well for me!

    Diana Drew on
  • I use straight cleaning vinegar undiluted from a spray bottle for surfaces, door handles, etc. I use Dawn, and etee soap for dishes and hand washing.

    Guerry McConnell on
  • Bleach is a great disinfectant, but there is a very short shelf life once its diluted. Very good info in this article. I find H2O2 to be a good alternative to bleach & the smell of it, but everyone’s preferences are different.

    Laura on
  • I am unconvinced. To be effective, soap needs to be washed away with lots of water – as your National Geographic reference says. This is fine for hands, and for sinks, and other surfaces that can take lots of water, but what about my doorknobs, light switches, stair rails, etc.? Should I pour a bucket of water over them? Impractical at best.

    Diana on
  • Thank you for doing the research. I agree soap is more effective that bleach. I have used it for years and not have been sick during the entire time. The research makes sense.
    Again Thank You!

    Linda Connolly on

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