Though chlorine bleach was discovered over two hundred years ago, it wasn’t until the early 1920s that it became an affordable and readily available chemical for households. Throughout that time, bleach has remained a popular color removing agent for everything from clothing to hair, as well as for disinfecting homes and businesses. More recently, however, bleach’s danger to both users and the environment has sparked a movement to promote the use of safer alternatives for cleaning.
What Makes Bleach Dangerous?
While the fact that bleach is such a cheap and common product available at your grocery store may lead to you believe it is safe, that is unfortunately not the case. Bleach is a corrosive agent and can have a negative impact on your health. Inhaling bleach can cause irritation to your nasal cavities, throat, and lungs. This can cause breathing difficulties in even healthy individuals and can trigger attacks for those with asthma. If some accidentally spill on your skin, it may cause a rash or even a chemical burn if not washed off quickly enough. In extreme or persistent bleach exposure cases, people have experienced headaches, migraines, muscle weakness, abdominal discomfort, esophageal perforation, nausea, vomiting, and even damage to their nervous system. Children and pets are especially susceptible to the ill effects of chlorine.
In addition to these health risks, bleach is also known to be bad for our environment. Runoff from household use, as well as use in facilities like hospitals, water treatment plants, and paper mills, all, contribute to an overabundance of bleach in our waterways. Too much chlorine in water supplies has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer, as well as a decrease in the plant, fish, and frog populations.
Keep your Laundry Fresh Without Fabric Damage
While you may love how bleach leaves your whites bright and clean-looking, bleach will cause damage to your fabrics over time, not to mention pollute the environment. For an all-natural alternative, try adding ½ cup of baking soda to your machine before you put in your dirty clothes to leave them whiter and brighter – with no risk to your colored fabrics. For tough stains or smells, presoak your clothes with 1 part white vinegar to 6 parts water, and let them sit overnight before washing.
Bleach Alternatives for Around the Home
There are many different all-natural products you can use to clean surfaces around your home. Citric acid is a great disinfectant and has the added bonus of a light and refreshing smell. Juice a lemon or two and mix it with water in a spray bottle. Then, spray the lemon mixture on areas you need to disinfect, such as sinks, counters, cutting boards, or even your toilet.
Another alternative to bleach is tea tree oil, which is derived from a plant that grows in Australia. A natural disinfectant, tea tree oil can be mixed into a spray bottle with water. Just a few drops goes a long way! Tea tree oil has a very strong but pleasant smell and is just as effective at cleaning as bleach.
Perhaps the most popular all-natural home cleaning product is plain white vinegar. Used for hundreds of years to clean around the home, vinegar is totally natural and poses no health risk to people or the environment. Simply dilute 1 cup of vinegar to 1 cup of water in a spray bottle to clean anything in your home. For a little extra cleaning power, add a few drops of tea tree oil to this mixture and see how well you can cut through grease and grime to leave your home sparkling clean. As an added bonus, the tea tree oil helps to mask the smell of the vinegar for those who are sensitive.
The next time you’re looking to buy some all-natural cleaning supplies, check out our wide selection of white vinegar! From 5% concentration for simple around-the-house tasks to 30% for tough oil or grime, we have everything you could need to help keep your house clean – without any of the harmful effects of bleach.