The Use of Bleach
Bleach is a strong and
effective disinfectant. Its active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite,
denatures protein in micro-organisms and is therefore effective in killing
bacteria, fungus and viruses. Household bleach works quickly and is widely
available at a low cost. Diluted household bleach is thus recommended for
the disinfection of facilities.
As bleach irritates mucous
membranes, the skin and the airway, decomposes under heat or light and
reacts readily with other chemicals, caution should be exercised in the
use of it. Improper use of bleach may reduce its effectiveness in
disinfection and also lead to accidents which can be harmful to health.
Overuse of bleach or using a bleach solution that is too concentrated
results in the production of toxic substances that pollute the environment
and disturb ecological balance.
Before cleaning, get all necessary tools
and equipment ready. Cleaning tools, cleansers/disinfectants, measuring
tools and protective gear will be needed.
Brush, mop, towel, spray can and
Tablespoon and measuring
Mask, rubber gloves, plastic apron and
of Preparing/Using Diluted Bleach
- Keep windows open when diluting or using bleach to ensure good
- Put on protective gear when diluting or using bleach as it irritates
mucous membranes, the skin and the airway.
- Cold water should be used for dilution as hot water decomposes the
active ingredient of bleach and renders it ineffective.
- Bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite should be diluted as
follows (demonstration short):
- 1:99 diluted household bleach (mixing 10ml of bleach with 1litre
of water) can be used for general household cleaning.
- 1:49 diluted household bleach (mixing 10ml of bleach with 0.5litre
of water) is used to disinfect surfaces or articles contaminated with
vomitus, excreta, secretions or blood.
- Make adjustments to the amount of bleach added if its concentration
of sodium hypochlorite is above or below 5.25%.
- Calculation: Multiplier of the amount of bleach added = 5.25
concentration of sodium hypochlorite in bleach
- For example, when diluting a bleach containing only 5% sodium
hypochlorite, the multiplier is 5.25 5=1.05. That means 10 x 1.05
=10.5ml of bleach should be used when preparing a bleach solution.
- For accurate measurement of the amount of bleach added, a tablespoon
or measuring cup can be used.
- Rinse disinfected articles with water and wipe dry.
- Cleaning tools should be soaked in diluted bleach for 30 minutes and
then rinsed thoroughly before reuse.
- Finally, wash hands with liquid soap, then dry hands with a clean
towel or disposable towel.
- Avoid using bleach on metals, wool, nylon, silk, dyed fabric and
- Avoid touching the eyes. If bleach gets into the eyes, immediately
rinse with water for at least 15 minutes and consult a doctor.
- Bleach should not be used together or mixed with other household
detergents as this reduces its effectiveness in disinfection and causes
chemical reactions. For instance, a toxic gas is produced when bleach is
mixed with acidic detergents such as those used for toilet cleaning.
This could result in accidents and injuries. If necessary, use
detergents first and rinse thoroughly with water before using bleach for
- As undiluted bleach liberates a toxic gas when exposed to sunlight,
it should be stored in a cool and shaded place out of reach of children.
- Sodium hypochlorite decomposes with time. To ensure its
effectiveness, it is advised to purchase recently produced bleach and
- For effective disinfection, diluted bleach should be used within 24
hours after preparation as decomposition increases with time if left