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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  • Vicki, while I compliment you on your desire and effort to be responsible, dirty or wet paper towels are not recyclable! You may be better using a sponge and throw it in your microwave to kill germs.

    Brian Kaye on
  • I mainly use vinegar for things like mirrors or when dusting. In the bathroom I like to use H2O2.

    Sandra on
  • Infectious disease doctors are recommending using a solution of 4 t of bleach to 4 cups of water to sanitize a surface; leaving the solution to air dry. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the bleach. Scrubbing with soap and warm water for 20 seconds is definitely the best for washing our hands. Be aware of surfaces you touch or need to touch outside your home and sanitize your hands after, plus you could use a kleenex to open doors and hold onto railings disposing of it immediately after. Stay safe

    Eileen on
  • Yes Kim,like you I use white distilled vinegar too! It is so gentle, so clean, so effective, so healthy, smells fresh and cheap too.

    Geri Adams on
  • I’ve been working very hard at eliminating all the plastic containers and wrappings that I can in both my house and my food packaging. It used to be far more difficulty but has become quite easy recently. So, I use only vegan and eco friendly/biodegradable cleansers, including dish soap, that does not come in plastic. That said, steam is a pretty good choice for disinfecting surfaces. I’m absolutely terrible at keeping my hands out of my face as we have 8 rescued cats to which I am mildly allergic AND I’m immunosuppressed. .I have not suffered from much more than a single mild cold annually for 5 years. I’m glad to hear people are giving up the harsh and poisonous chemicals.

    Deb on
  • I’m worried that I’m not cleaning correctly or efficiently. For instance, how can I be sure that when I wipe a surface, I’m not just moving the contaminant around rather than actually getting rid of it? I think about that when I dry my hands. Should I use a new towel every time? And what about sponges? But I don’t want to use paper towels, either! I can make a roll of paper towels last several months, but right now I’m using a fresh one (with bleach) to clean my doorknobs and then throwing it in the recycling.

    Vicki on
  • I use vinegar and water.

    Kim on
  • Bleach is effective as long as you use household cleaning bleach and mix it one part bleach to nine parts water. I add a bit of other soap-based cleaners to the mix just for scent. This is a great mixture to use for surface cleaning.

    Liz on
  • I think you misunderstood the quote, dish soap isn’t a better sanitiser, it’s just as effective because bleach is stronger than you need hence bludgeon metaphor. They both kill bacteria and viruses and your sources don’t compare efficacy so it’s misleading to claim that the experts say dish soap is better. Granted, experts recommend a milder soap but that’s because it’s safer due to the harsher nature of bleach, but we shouldn’t misinterpret ‘recommend’ for ‘better’.

    Michelle on
  • I found a 7th Generation disinfectant using thymol. Trying that. Smells good, not harsh.

    Rahima on

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