9 Reasons Not to Use Bleach to Prevent Mold After an Appliance Leak - Fleet Appliance (2023)

When an appliance breaks, sometimes water damage is the ultimate result. Even after you repair the appliance, the damage to the floor, walls, and nearby materials from flooding water comes with its own challenges. As appliance repair pros, we know a lot about dealing with the aftermath. Water damage can have devastating effects on your home, from rotting the materials to allowing mold infestations.

The worst part about mold after an incident of water damage is that even after you dry the home out and restore damaged materials, mold can still linger anywhere it found moisture to thrive. If you can smell or suspect mold, it’s common to look up ways to get rid of it. The internet suggests a wide range of solutions ranging from essential oils to old fashioned bleach.

Most of us are familiar with bleach as a cleaning product. Our parents used it, and you probably have known at least one person who uses bleach to clean everything. While bleach is a powerful disinfectant and it does kill mold, it can also do serious harm to your family and your home in the process. Bleach is a very harsh chemical that is barely safe to use in very low concentrations.

Today, we’re here to highlight nine of the biggest risks that come with using bleach to fight mold in your home.

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1) Skin Burns and Eye Damage

The reason bleach can be used to fight mold is because of its corrosive nature. It is a powerful base that eats away at all living tissue, whether that’s a mold fungus or your own skin. Undiluted or under-diluted bleach can cause real physical harm if it comes into contact with skin or eyes. Bleach causes chemical burns that can burn the skin of you, your children, and even your family pets.

Bleach is also incredibly dangerous to expose to the eyes. If bleach is dripped or rubbed into eyes, the same corrosive effect will cause burning in addition to temporary or permanent damage.

2) Lingering Headaches

The dangers of bleach aren’t limited just to contact with the substance. Bleach also gives off powerful fumes that are almost as harmful as liquid and powder bleach alone. The fumes from bleach can cause eye-watering, stinging, and burning sensations. Those exposed to open containers of bleach can begin to experience headaches as a result of damage going up through the nasal passages toward the brain.

Even cleaning with bleach can leave a residue on the surface that gives off a continuous pollutant of fumes. These fumes cancausesubtlehealth problems. throughout thefamilyincludinglingering andconstantly returning headachesand watering eyes.

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3) Exposure to Children

Parents often have to come face to face with a mold problem while also keeping their children safe from the solution. Cleaning mold with bleach is the least child-safe option available because it is a toxic chemical that no parent should expose their children to. Bleach in a bottle can be consumed or simply cause skin and eye burns if children come in contact with it.

Bleach used to clean surfaces doesn’t always wash away completely. Even residual bleach can harm children if they touch bleach or put a bleached object into their home. Minor ailments in children cannot be ignored when bleach has been in their environments.

4) Consumed by Pets

Bleach can even be harmful to your pets. Pets will not voluntarily eat bleach or lick a bleach-covered surface, but carpets and floors that have been cleaned with bleach can leave a chemical residue on the fur of your pets. Dogs and cats then lick themselves to stay clean or to relieve the itching that the bleach chemical has caused. As a results pets have gotten sick in the past from being exposed bleach used to clean the home.

Very young and very old pets are at a much higher likelihood of taking permanent damage from bleach fumes or ingesting bleach residue. Just like humans, pets can get chemical burns, have their eyesight damaged, and get very sick.

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5) Unexpected Bleach Stains

Most people think of bleach as a cleaning chemical that removes stains, but it can also damage any fabric or material it is exposed to that is not already perfect white. Bleach when used at home often splashes around a little. Tiny droplets of bleach or even diluted bleach then act to leech out pigments and corrode organic cells. Even without the harmful health effects, bleach is a danger to all pigments in your house and can cause unintentional bleach stains.

Be careful when wielding bleach in your home. You can accidentally bleach droplets of your favorite jeans and t-shirts, your carpet and upholstery, and even bleach little drops in furniture stain and flooring.

6) Spontaneous New Allergies

Bleach is associated with illnesses from the corrosive chemicals and fumes, but few people are aware that bleach’s volatile nature can also triggernew allergies. and wedon’t mean allergies to bleach itself. When bleach fumes and exposure damage a person’s nasal passages, it has a chance of triggering new allergies that the victim had not experienced before.

When bleach is used regularly in a home, the family has an increased likelihood of developing new allergies to things they had not been allergic to in the past. Bleach used in homes of young children can result in the children growing up to have more allergies than they would have naturally.

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7) Cracked & Dry Skin

Bleach is a highly corrosive base that must be diluted. But even diluted, it is a powerful soap that dries out your hands and skin along with any other organic material it is exposed to. If you clean with bleach on a regular basis, you may quickly begin to notice that your hands become dry and begin to crack at the creases. This is very common for bleach cleaning and one of the many reasons why it’s worth your time to seek more natural remediations to mold rather than constantly scrubbing with hand-destroying bleach solutions.

8) Breathing Trouble & Asthma

Bleach is also associated with higher instances of childhood asthma and a return of asthma symptoms that had gone into remission. This is likely because bleach is harmful to the esophagus and lungs when breathed and the fumes can cause internal damage to the respiratory system over time. Children in bleach-cleaning households are more likely to develop asthma at a young age and adults with asthma may experience a return of symptoms.Even for individuals without asthma, bleach can cause both short-term and long-term breathing problems a result of inhaling the fumes from open bottles or residue on cleaned surfaces.

9) Reaction to Other Chemicals

Even if you are ultimately carefully with your bleach, always wearing rubber gloves and diluting carefully, it is still a dangerous and volatile chemical to keep in your home. The problem is that bleach can respond dangerously when mixed or even exposed to other very common cleaning substances. Bleach and ammonia, for example, react together to form Chlorine Gas, a harmful and corrosive chemical weapon that can cause blindness, respiratory damage, andeven death. Homeowners andchildren have been killed in the past by accidentally combining these chemicals and releasing the gas into their homes.

Bleach can have a similar response when it comes into contact with other acids like vinegar and even old urine that is to be mopped up. This is the primary reason why bleach is a terrible hazard in the home. Fortunately, fighting mold after appliance-related water damage doesn’t require bleach. There are several brands of natural-ingredient mold cleaner and stain remover as well as reliable restoration services that can help get your kitchen or utility room back into ship-shape after an appliance flooding fiasco.

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Does bleach lose its potency when exposed to air? ›

"There is some gradual reaction with oxygen in the air, and some gradual reduction in potency by loss to the atmosphere. Bleach might lose up to 20 percent of its potency in a year, so if your bleach is older than that you need to use more to make a disinfecting solution."

What are some ill effects of improper use of bleach in households cleaning? ›

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.

What does bleach do to eyes? ›

Once the chemical comes in contact with the sensitive tissues of the eye, it immediately leads to inflammation of the conjunctiva. Over time, bleach will penetrate well past the eye's surface to damage internal structures. It only takes 5-15 minutes of direct bleach (alkali) exposure to cause irreversible damage.

How do you prevent bleach fumes? ›

A great way to lower your risk of these fumes is by using proper ventilation when cleaning with the product – fans, open doors and windows, and ventilation systems are key to safety. In order for bleach to be a safe product to use in facility cleaning the instructions MUST be followed accurately.

Is bleach toxic after drying? ›

And even after the floors have dried, your pet may still get sick from licking it; bleach residue is still toxic even when it's dry. While small quantities of diluted bleach aren't usually fatal for pets, they are certainly irritating.

What does bleach leave behind when it dries? ›

Answer. The crystals you are observing are salt crystals. That's because the sodium hypochlorite active in Clorox® Regular Bleach2 breaks down into salt and water (a big part of what makes it so environmentally friendly).

What is a good alternative to bleach? ›

Top 7 Bleach Alternatives For Your Home
  • Vinegar. Vinegar is great for a lot of things, and one of those includes replacing your bleach. ...
  • Baking Soda. If you want a great whitening agent, baking soda will do the job. ...
  • Hydrogen Peroxide. ...
  • Lemons. ...
  • Tea Tree Oil. ...
  • Castile Soap. ...
  • Sunlight.
11 Jul 2019

What 2 things should never be mixed with bleach? ›

Don't mix bleach with ammonia, acids, or other cleaners.

Mixing bleach with common cleaning products can cause serious injuries. Be sure to always read the product label before using a cleaning product.

Why does bleach say not for household cleaning? ›

Bleach can also lead to eye and respiratory irritation when mixed with acids commonly present in other household cleaners, including vinegar and even some glass cleaners. In higher concentrations, the fumes produced from these combinations can be equally deadly.

What happens if you don't dilute bleach? ›

Household bleach is no more effective in disinfecting at higher concentrations than at those recommended by the manufacturer, according to Laumbach. “You should dilute it to prevent irritation of skin, eyes and the respiratory tract. Higher concentrations are potentially harmful overkill.”

How quickly does bleach poisoning set in? ›

For the majority of cases, which involve household bleach that has been diluted in water, symptoms begin within minutes. These include heavy drooling (especially in cats) and redness and irritation on the skin and in and around the mouth.

Can bleach fumes cause brain damage? ›

Chlorine bleach exposure was associated with impaired neurobehavioral functions and elevated POMS scores and symptom frequencies. Alternatives to chlorine should be used.

How long does bleach stay active on a surface? ›

every 24 hours.

Bleach rapidly degrades in the presence of light and when mixed with water.

Can bleach fumes ignite? ›

Chlorine itself is not flammable, but it can react explosively or form explosive compounds with other chemicals such as turpentine and ammonia.

Should I wear a mask when cleaning with bleach? ›

Eye protection and a face mask are highly recommended when using bleach given the toxicity of the fumes, but gloves are mandatory, as bleach corrodes skin on contact (it actually breaks skin down and begins to form chemical burns – that's why you might think your skin feels oily after coming into contact with the ...

Why you should stop using bleach? ›

The undiluted bleach is very strong. It can irritate your skin and eyes as well as your lungs. There are also health effects from using bleach in a spray bottle. When you use diluted bleach in a spray bottle, you create small droplets that can be inhaled into the lungs by the staff and children nearby.

How long is bleach toxic for? ›

After a shelf life of six months, bleach starts to degrade. Even in its original bottle, bleach becomes 20 percent less effective as each year goes by. Bleach mixed with water at a 1:9 ratio (i.e. 10 percent bleach) is potent for about a day (it's more unstable in its diluted form).

What should you avoid after bleach? ›

9. Avoid heat styling. Right after bleaching, your hair is especially dry and vulnerable to heat styling damage. Cut back on how often you blow-dry, curl, or straighten your hair with hot tools in the weeks after a bleach.

Is it better to bleach twice or leave it on longer? ›

Bleach is a very harsh chemical and should not be used more than once in a 24-hour period. Serious damage can occur to the hair if it is applied more than once in a day. This includes breakage or severe damage that may cause permanent colour loss.

What happens if bleach sits too long? ›

Most importantly: don't leave the bleach on for too long. Doing so could cause irreversible damage, which results in brittle strands. If you need more advice on how to bleach your hair at home, you can always speak to a hair professional.

What happens if you leave bleach on a surface too long? ›

Leaving bleach on a surface for an extended period of time can alter the color, so don't soak something in bleach overnight unless you're trying to alter the color of something (like bleaching your laundry). In addition, Johnson says there's no added sanitization benefit to leaving bleach on a surface for 8+ hours.

What do hospitals use instead of bleach? ›

Currently, there are five main EPA-registered chemicals that hospitals use for disinfectants: Quaternary Ammonium, Hypochlorite, Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide, Phenolics, and Peracetic Acid.

What kills mold Besides bleach? ›

There are several products that can be utilized to kill and remove mold. Some effective products that kill mold are:
  • Bleach.
  • Borax.
  • Vinegar.
  • Ammonia.
  • Hydrogen peroxide.
  • Detergent.
  • Baking soda.
  • Tea tree oil.

Does vinegar work as well as bleach? ›

However, it's important to remember that while vinegar does work as a disinfectant to some degree, it is not as effective as bleach or commercial cleansers when it comes to killing germs. If you are going to use vinegar as a cleanser, it's important to decide whether your goal is to clean, or to disinfect.

What 2 chemicals should never be mixed? ›

Take a look at chemicals you should never mix together:

Ammonia and bleach: This combination is dangerous, producing vapors that can cause severe damage to your respiratory system. Vinegar and bleach: If you add a weak acid to bleach, it creates vapors of toxic chloramine and chlorine.

What happens when you mix bleach with vinegar? ›

Mixing bleach and vinegar creates potentially lethal chlorine gas. If you notice a pungent smell after mixing household cleaners, you should immediately leave the area and try to breathe in fresh air.

What can happen if you mix bleach with anything other than water? ›

Mixing bleach with other substances can also create harmful situations. Adding ammonia to bleach creates chloramine, another toxic gas. Bleach plus hydrogen peroxide creates oxygen gas so violently, it can cause an explosion. “One should not mix household cleaners as a general rule,” Langerman says.

Why do hospitals not clean with bleach? ›

Bleach can damage important equipment.

Unfortunately, bleach can corrode metal and damage electronics. Plus, patient rooms often contain plastic items, including storage containers and chairs. If bleach is used to clean them, it can actually damage the plastic over time.

How do I disinfect my whole house? ›

To disinfect, use an EPA-registered disinfecting product or a stronger bleach solution. Clean the surface with soap and water first. Always read the label of disinfecting products to make sure the products can be used on the type of surface you are disinfecting (such as a hard or soft surface).

What household item should bleach never be mixed with and why? ›

Bleach + Ammonia

Bleach and ammonia produce a toxic gas called chloramine. "It causes the same symptoms as bleach and vinegar — along with shortness of breath and chest pain," says Forte. Many glass and window cleaners contain ammonia, so never mix those with bleach.

Where should you not use bleach? ›

5 Things You Should Never Clean or Do with Bleach
  1. Don't use it on wooden surfaces. ...
  2. Don't use it to clean most metals. ...
  3. Don't use it on granite countertops. ...
  4. Don't use it to clean or sanitize food. ...
  5. Never mix it with other chemicals.
1 May 2019

Can you put a little bit of bleach in the water? ›

Each gallon of water should be treated with 4 – 5 drops of liquid chlorine bleach or 16 drops of liquid chlorine bleach if the water is cloudy. This is just under ¼ of a teaspoon per gallon. One teaspoon of bleach disinfects 5 gallons of water.

Can you drink water with a little bleach in it? ›

But in terms of safety, all of us are evidence that low concentrations of bleach are safe to drink. The United States first started chlorinating tap water in 1903, and the practice has resulted in no documented health risks, despite rumors that it can cause cancer.

Is bleach a carcinogen? ›

The Myth: "Isn't bleach a carcinogenic chemical?" The Fact: No, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that bleach does not cause cancer.

How long does bleach last after activated? ›

An effective disinfectant solution of bleach and water at a 1:4 ratio will last for approximately one week before the active ingredients begin to break down.

Can bleach get into your bloodstream? ›

Although your skin doesn't absorb chlorine, it's still possible for some to pass through. Too much chlorine in your bloodstream can be toxic. It's also possible to have an allergic reaction to bleach on your skin.

Can bleach cause neurological problems? ›

The duration of chlorine exposures was from a breath or two to several hours, and exposures were associated with impaired neurophysiologic and neu- ropsychologic functions. Impairments appeared insidiously, were noted 1 to 48 mo after exposure, and persisted. Such functional losses must be prevented.

How long does it take for bleach to air out? ›

It typically takes bleach anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to air out. The time depends on how well you diluted the bleach, where you applied it, and how much was applied to various surfaces.

Why does my head hurt after using bleach? ›

Bleaching products contain harsh chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide, persulfates, and alkalizing agents. Because of this, it's possible for bleaching to cause chemical burns on your scalp.

At what temperature does bleach become ineffective? ›

Storing at temperatures much higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit could cause the bleach to lose its effectiveness and degrade more rapidly. However, if you require 6% sodium hypochlorite, you should change your supply every 3 months.

What is the guidelines in using bleach? ›

Below are the most important safety guidelines when using sanitizing products:
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.
  • Wear rubber or other non-porous boots, gloves, and eye protection.
  • Try not to breathe in product fumes. If using products indoors, open windows and doors to allow fresh air to enter.

Does bleach eventually go away? ›

After a year, you can expect bleach to become 20 percent less effective. Eventually, it will degrade entirely and become salt water.

What happens if you mix bleach and boiling water? ›

Cold water should be used for dilution as hot water decomposes the active ingredient of bleach and renders it ineffective.

Can too much bleach cause a fire? ›

Chlorine is not combustible, but it enhances the combustion of other substances. Chlorine reacts violently with many organic compounds, ammonia, hydrogen, and finely divided metals, causing fire and explosion hazards. The agent may ignite combustibles (wood, paper, oil, clothing, etc.).

How long does chlorine gas stay in your system? ›

Acute exposure

Most people with mild-to-moderate exposure recover fully in 3-5 days, although some develop chronic problems such as reactive airway disease.

Do you need to ventilate when using bleach? ›

Never mix household bleach (or any disinfectants) with any other cleaners or disinfectants. This can release vapors that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Make sure you have good ventilation while using bleach products indoors (for example, open windows and doors to allow fresh air to enter).

What do you need to be aware of when using bleach? ›

Bleach is corrosive, which means it can irritate or burn your skin or eyes. It can also corrode (“eat”) metals. When mixed with certain other chemicals or cleaners, it can produce toxic gases which can damage your lungs or be deadly. Always use caution and care when working with this product.

What happens to bleach if left open? ›

A: Though often sold in large containers that might lead you to believe it can last forever, bleach—a sodium hypochlorite solution—does expire over time, eventually degrading into plain old saltwater.

What happens if you use bleach in a closed room? ›

Inhaling Bleach Fumes Risks

As bleach is used in a home or other contained indoor environment it will create a strong, irritating odor in the air that is releasing chlorine gas, a gas that can be potentially harmful to human health, into the air.

Can bleach be airborne? ›

For generations, people have used chlorine bleach to clean and disinfect their homes. However, researchers have now discovered that bleach fumes, in combination with light and a citrus compound found in many household products, can form airborne particles that might be harmful when inhaled by pets or people.

Can you use bleach that's been left out? ›

If you leave powder bleach sit out, it will dry out and stop working. The peroxide will be exhausted, but the alkalinity will remain. Add fresh developer to the dried out bleach mixture and give it a go.

How long after bleach is it safe? ›

Avoid washing your hair for the first 48-72 hours after bleaching it. Give your hair ample time to seal in its new color. Because bleaching is such a volatile process, your cuticles remain open for longer immediately following a bleaching session.

How long does it take for bleach to dissipate? ›

When bleach and water are mixed together to create a cleaning or disinfecting solution, the solution is only good for 24 hours. The temperature of the water does not affect the cleaning or disinfecting abilities of the solution. After the 24 hours, the solution begins to lose needed disinfecting properties.

Do you have to neutralize bleach? ›

Bleach needs to be neutralized after it has accomplished its intended purpose and prior to sink disposal. Sodium metabisulfite (chemical formula Na2S2O5) is also called disodium disulfite, pyrosulfurous acid and disodium salt. It is often used in the de-chlorination of swimming pools, or to lower its chlorine levels.

What happens if you mix vinegar and bleach? ›

Mixing bleach and vinegar creates potentially lethal chlorine gas. If you notice a pungent smell after mixing household cleaners, you should immediately leave the area and try to breathe in fresh air.

Is bleach approved by OSHA? ›

OSHA recognizes that, although generic sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) solutions are not registered as such, they are generally recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for disinfection of environmental surfaces.

Should you wear a mask when cleaning with bleach? ›

Eye protection and a face mask are highly recommended when using bleach given the toxicity of the fumes, but gloves are mandatory, as bleach corrodes skin on contact (it actually breaks skin down and begins to form chemical burns – that's why you might think your skin feels oily after coming into contact with the ...

Whats the longest you can leave bleach in? ›

There's a misconception that bleach will work better the longer you leave it on. The maximum amount of time you should leave bleach on your hair is 30 minutes. Any longer than that and you run the risk of serious damage, including brittle strands.

Can you flush bleach down the toilet? ›

Can you put bleach in a toilet bowl? Yes, Clorox® Bleach is safe to add to the water in the toilet bowl. Always flush the toilet first before scrubbing, and then again when toilet cleaning is finished.

Can you bleach again after 24 hours? ›

Although you can go through it twice in one day, it is a good idea to wait at least 48 hours before applying the second round of bleach. This allows your hair time to recover from the first round and prepare for another chemical process, which further compromises the integrity of your strands.


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