5 Mistakes You Keep Making When Cleaning with Bleach

When it comes to fighting stains, bacteria and germs, bleach can be one of the most powerful tools in your cleaning arsenal—as long as you avoid these common mistakes.

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BleachPhoto: ZikG/Shutterstock

Mixing Bleach With Other Cleaners

Cleaning with bleach? It may seem like it would only help the fight against bacteria and germs, but mixing bleach with other cleaners can cause serious problems. The Association of Residential Cleaning Services, International (ARCSI) says bleach should never be mixed with the following:

• Vinegar: When bleach and vinegar are mixed together, the combination creates chlorine gas which can cause eye irritation and breathing problems. (Never clean these things with vinegar.)

• Ammonia: Bleach mixed with ammonia creates chloramine, a gas which is similar to chlorine gas. Additional symptoms from exposure to chloramine are shortness of breath and chest pain. (Check out these clever uses for ammonia all around the house.)

• Pine-Sol: If you mix bleach and Pine-Sol in large amounts, it will create chlorine gas.

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stainPhoto: TanyaRozhnovskaya/Shutterstock

Using Too Much Bleach in the Laundry

Bleach can fight stains and whiten your whites, but there is such a thing as too much bleach when it comes to doing your laundry. When you over-bleach your laundry, it can impact the strength and quality of the fibres over time. The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) offers these tips for using bleach in your laundry:

• Read the care label as some fabrics cannot be bleached. Also, some detergents have colour-safe bleach or bleach alternatives built in. However, these products do not disinfect.

• Do a test. Dip a cotton swab in the bleach/water solution and dab on an inside seam. If the colour remains, you should be safe.

• Start small by laying a stained section of the clothing article flat and be sure there are not layers of fabric or anything underneath that can be affected by bleach. Work from the outer edge of the stain, and rinse with water when the stain is gone.

• When bleaching a whole load of laundry, read the label on the bleach container to determine the amount to use. You should also consult your washing machine manual to see if you should add bleach to the drum or to a special dispenser.

This product will whiten your laundry without bleach—and it's probably already in your fridge!

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Dumping Bleach Down Drains

If your home has a septic system, you shouldn't pour any type of bleach down the toilet or drains. According to Rapid First Plumbing, a residential plumbing company in California, bleach kills the beneficial bacteria that helps break down your home's septic waste. "Without the breakdown of solids in your septic tank, your waste system may clog or fail to drain in your yard properly. You may permanently damage your septic system," the company notes on its website. In addition, bleach can mix with other agents in your sink drains and contaminate the air in your home and even cause your pipes to burst.

Need a solution for a smelly drain? Find out how to get rid of odours using everyday items from your pantry!

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Using Bleach on Metal Surfaces

When cleaning with bleach, keep in mind that it shouldn't be applied to copper or stainless steel appliances. That's because the corrosive chemicals in bleach can react with metal and leave behind stains and even corrosion, according to ARCSI. "Always use approved cleaners on metal surfaces. Also, never use bleach or ammonia to eliminate rust. This will set the stain and make it more difficult to remove," the ARCSI warns.

Find out 25 more cleaning tips that actually work.

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Not Diluting Bleach Enough

More bleach doesn't mean a better clean. ACI notes the only advantage to using more bleach than prescribed is if the surface is soiled. When using bleach to clean floors, sinks, appliances, certain dishes and countertops, ACI says, "Do not use more than one cup of bleach per gallon of water."

Next, save time, money and effort with our most brilliant laundry hacks of all time.

Originally Published on The Family Handyman