We’ve seen a lot of questionable advice circulating online that recommends bleaching your dishes to sanitize them. In reality, bleaching dishes is more dangerous than you might think.
Let’s find out why.
1. Bleaching dishes can harm your eyes.
Bleaching dishes puts your eyes at risk.
Even a small splash of bleach that lands in your eye can cause a chemical burn—creating blurry vision, pain, redness, and swelling, perhaps even causing permanent damage.
If you do get chemical splashes from bleach in your eyes, the Mayo Clinic suggests you immediately flush your open eyes with the cleanest water available for at least 15 minutes, and remove contact lenses.
You should then visit an eye doctor immediately. Without treatment, a splash of bleach can harm the cornea (the external part of your eye that you see through) or develop into an ulcer, a.k.a. an open sore.
Eye injuries from bleach are usually followed by weeks of doctor’s visits and medication.
Because bleach can splash so easily, the University of Michigan urges that you should only ever use it while wearing protective lab goggles.
If you’d rather not risk your ocular health and don’t want to wear goggles while washing dishes, then it’s best to avoid bleach as a method for sanitizing your dishes. (We’ll explain a better alternative below).
But that’s not the only reason why you shouldn’t bleach your dishes.
2. Bleaching dishes harms your lungs.
How often do you wash dishes? Three times a day? Once a day? Probably at least more than once a week, right?
Then you should pay attention to a recent Harvard study that discovered the detrimental effects of using bleach regularly.
It turns out that bleach is a harmful indoor air pollutant.
The Harvard study warns that using bleach even once a week increases the chance of developing lung disease by a whopping 32%.
In the UK (which has a population of approximately 68 million), over 1.2 million people are affected by lung disease, which causes 25,000 deaths annually.
Just imagine how dangerous it is to bleach dishes after every meal.
There’s no reason why you should expose your lungs to that kind of damage—especially when safer alternatives exist!
Unfortunately, that’s not all that bleach does…
3. Bleaching dishes can harm your skin.
The skin is the most important protective layer of the human body.
While it does a great job keeping out unwanted microbes, it quickly reaches its limits when exposed to harsh chemicals.
That’s why you should avoid allowing bleach to come in contact with your skin.
Due to its high alkalinity (pH of 12.5), bleach rapidly dissolves the oils and dead cells on your skin. That is how bleach cause significant burns so quickly.
Since the typical online instructions for bleaching dishes instruct you to dilute the bleach in a lot of water, it might be tempting to believe that the diluted version is safe.
You might feel even more confident if you take the additional step of wearing rubber gloves while using the bleach-and-water solution.
But even that carries a certain level of risk.
Think about it: it takes just a tiny tear in your glove for bleach-laden water to seep inside. It takes only a drop to fly around the edge of your glove, or to slide down your arm under the glove’s cuff.
When even a tiny bit of water-and-bleach solution gets inside a rubber glove, the glove traps it next to your skin – giving you prolonged chemical exposure.
According to a Swedish study, the longer your skin is exposed to bleach, the more bleach it absorbs.
This can lead to mild irritation, but since washing up is a household task you do on a regular basis, the danger of exposing your skin to bleach while bleaching the dishes is too high.
4. Bleaching dishes means you'll eat some of that.
Think about it: you lather up your dishes. You rinse.
Then you dip them into your bleach-and-water solution and re-rinse.
But how can you be certain that you’ve cleaned off all the bleach?
What if, after a long day and a pile of dirty dishes, you missed a few spots because you were tired or got distracted?
That bleach residue will remain on the dishes and mix with your next meal or beverage, and enter your body.
That’s no good!
5. Accidental chemical reactions from bleach
When you’re preparing to wash your dishes, how much thought are you giving to the ingredients in your dish soap?
Unless you’re a devoted label-reader with a background in chemistry, you might be putting yourself in danger.
Conventional dish soap contains many harsh chemicals. When you’re bleaching dishes, there’s a danger that you might trigger an unwanted reaction.
If you find ammonia on an ingredient label you should be particularly careful.
This is why the most widely used dish soap in the US even comes with a warning on the back of the bottle to never mix it with bleach.
6. Environmental danger of bleaching dishes
Whenever you use bleach inside your home, it releases chlorine gas into the air.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chlorine gas can cause severe irritation to the eyes, the upper respiratory tract, and lungs.
Chlorine gas is so toxic, it was used as a chemical weapon in World War I.
Such indoor air pollution is particularly harmful to human health if a home isn’t aired out sufficiently.
That’s not the only environmental danger. When you bleach your dishes, bleach-tainted water runs down the drain.
Bleach works precisely because it is toxic; it kills life-forms, including aquatic life.
And if your home has a septic system, bleach adds an extra dimension of bad news.
The term “septic” means “infected with bacteria” and a septic system only works by allowing bacteria to break down whatever you flush down the drain.
When you send your dishwater containing bleach down the drain and into your septic tank, you’re inhibiting that process.
And the result will be smelly.
When you kill the bacteria in your septic tank in large numbers, the tank will quickly overflow. (You do NOT want that!)
But it gets even worse.
7. Bleaching dishes can create superbugs
Here’s the issue with using disinfectants like bleach in your home.
Bleach doesn’t kill all dangerous bacteria. Some of the really tough ones get away – and over time they become antibiotic-resistant.
Those are the ones you hear about being referred to as “superbugs”. Chlorhexidine, an active ingredient in bleach, is partly to blame.
A Scottish study revealed that the more certain bacteria get exposed to bleach, the more resistant they become to it.
And the scary part is that new medicine isn't being developed fast enough to prepare for the rise of these superbugs.
In short, unnecessarily over-using disinfectants like bleach – including by regularly bleaching your dishes – can actually help to supercharge the kind of harmful microbes you were trying to eliminate.
Now you know the danger of bleaching dishes.
If everyone in your household has a relatively normal, healthy immune system (i.e., not immunocompromised), and if no one in your home has a highly-infectious disease, bleaching dishes simply isn’t necessary.
For the vast majority of households, using bleach is far more likely to harm your family’s health than to help it.
Most people are best-served by washing the dishes with dish soap (which removes most microbes just fine), and then rinsing thoroughly.
With that being said, in the case of bleach, we have just seen that germs are not the only things that can harm our health. The wrong kind of chemicals can, too.
That's why you should look for natural dish soap made from ingredients that are 100% safe, like this one.
Comes in different scents:
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Yes, you can get sick if you wash dishes with bleach. When used for washing dishes in soapy water, bleach provides an additional layer of disinfection. However, since bleach contains toxic and harmful chemicals like sodium hypochlorite solution, it can be dangerous to your health.How long can you leave dishes in bleach? ›
Bleach can be used as a sanitizing solution. A maximum of one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water is an effective sanitizer. About two minutes of contact is required, so items must be soaked in the solution for that time, or surfaces wet and allowed to air dry.What are the hazards of 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 is the do's and don'ts of bleach? ›
DON'T mix bleach with other cleaning agents, especially vinegar or ammonia. This can lead to a dangerous chemical reaction. DON'T wash fruits, vegetables or other food products with bleach. DON'T use bleach to clean or disinfect hands or bare skin.Do you rinse dishes after soaking in bleach? ›
All you have to do is sanitize your dishes in a bleach solution after washing and rinsing them. Just be sure to use the correct amounts of bleach and water to make the sanitizing solution.How long does it take for bleach to disinfect dishes? ›
If instructions are not available, leave the diluted bleach solution on the surface for at least 1 minute before removing or wiping. This is known as the “contact time” for disinfection.What is the most sanitary way to hand wash dishes? ›
The better way to hand wash your dishes
Use a plastic or silicone brush. Brushes tend to stay drier when they're not used, and they don't have as many deep crevices as sponges where water and bacteria can grow.
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.Is bleach poisonous or toxic? ›
The toxicity of bleach depends on where it is applied. It causes significant eye irritation and irritates the mouth and throat but is fairly benign when ingested.What happens if you get bleach in your mouth? ›
Bleach is an irritant to the skin, the mucous membranes, and the gastrointestinal tract. Accidental ingestion of 1-2 mouthfuls can cause minor mouth and throat irritation, stomach upset and vomiting. Brief contact of household bleach on the skin can cause minor redness and irritation.
The reason for this is that although bleach can kill 99.9% of bacteria on contact, it is also highly poisonous to humans and the risk of contaminating food with bleach products is almost unavoidable when bleach based solutions are used to clean cooking utensils and kitchen work surfaces.What should you avoid after bleach? ›
Avoid heat styling
Right after bleaching, your hair is especially dry and vulnerable to heat styling damage.
No Heat Styling Tools or Chemical Treatments
Another important step in prepping for bleach is avoiding heat styling for at least a week before treatment. Most experts recommend skipping the flat iron and other heating tools for as long as you possibly can in advance of a depigmentation treatment.
The Common Sanitizers: The two common sanitizers used in restaurants are Chlorine and QUAT.How long do you let bleach sit before washing? ›
Minimum soaking time is 30 minutes; longer, as much as overnight, may be necessary. If bleach is safe for the fabric, follow the tips below.Does Dawn sanitize dishes? ›
Like hand soap, dish soap does not kill bacteria, but it lifts them off surfaces so that they can be washed away by water.How much bleach should I use in dishes? ›
Mix 1 cup (240 mL) of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Wash surfaces with the bleach mixture.Is it OK to put bleach in dishwasher with dishes? ›
The first thing you need to know about putting bleach in a dishwasher is that it's completely safe. What is this? It doesn't cause any harm to your dishes, utensils, or appliances. The only potential downside is that if you use the wrong amount of chlorine bleach, it could damage your dishwasher and even ruin it.What is the healthiest way to clean dishes? ›
- Use Hot Water and Dish Soap to Remove Food and Grease.
- Always Wash the Cleaner Items First.
- Cleaning and Sanitizing Are Not the Same Things.
- Opt for Air Drying When Possible.
- Sanitize Your Sponge or Brush Regularly.
While you can wash dishes in cold water and soap to get them relatively clean, especially if you efficiently scrub them, in general it is better to use hot dishwashing water. Among other benefits, hot water can clean and sanitize dishes better than cold water can.
Wash "in order," starting with lightly soiled items. This usually includes glasses, cups, and flatware. Washing these items first followed by plates/bowls and serving dishes.Is bleach still toxic after it dries? ›
Say, for example, you're mopping the floor with a bleach solution and leave the room for a moment. Your dog or cat may lick the wet floor, or even take a drink from the mop bucket. 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.Can you drink water with bleach in it? ›
"The answer to your question is yes! Chlorination has long been used as a way of making water safe for drinking, and chlorine is produced by the active ingredient in household bleach, sodium hypochlorite. Household bleach is therefore very useful to include in any kit for emergency situations.Is bleach harmful after it dries? ›
In fact, it's important you continue to disinfect non-porous surfaces to stay safe from COVID-19, and if you do it with properly-diluted and properly-applied liquid chlorine bleach the dried residue should pose no issues for your AR / FR. Bleach is effectively inert in its dried form.Can inhaling bleach 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.What surfaces should not be cleaned with bleach? ›
- Don't use it on wooden surfaces. ...
- Don't use it to clean most metals. ...
- Don't use it on granite countertops. ...
- Don't use it to clean or sanitize food. ...
- Never mix it with other chemicals.
Glass doesn't absorb bleach, making it a unique material. Using bleach to clean glass is safe and effective.Can you wash cutlery with bleach? ›
As with any chlorinated product, bleach can damage stainless steel through a reaction known as "pitting corrosion": in the event of contact, small holes will rapidly form that will make your utensil unusable. Any chlorinated cleaning products, including bleach, should never be used to care for your stainless utensils.What should you do immediately after bleaching? ›
- Wash your hair less often. ...
- Condition more. ...
- Use a hair mask. ...
- Dry your hair gently after washing. ...
- Keep brassiness at bay. ...
- Add a hair oil into the mix. ...
- Skip the heat styling. ...
- See your stylist for a hair gloss treatment.
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.
Chlorine poisoning is a medical emergency. If a person swallows or inhales a chlorine-based product and shows symptoms of poisoning, contact the emergency services or go to the hospital immediately. In the United States, a person can also contact the National Poison Control helpline on 1-800-222-1222 for advice.What should I know before bleaching? ›
- It might be difficult to reach your desired shade. ...
- You'll need to ease up on the heat styling. ...
- You might need to adjust your make-up look. ...
- You won't need to wash your hair as often. ...
- Consider using products for colour treated hair. ...
- It can be costly.
Use a pre-bleach cream
Bleach from high-end brands come with a bleaching cream or serum which should be used before bleaching the face.
It's recommended to avoid washing your hair just before bleaching it. That's because your hair's natural oil, or sebum, protects your scalp during the process. The oil will help minimize scalp irritation and hair protein damage.Can you leave bleach in too long? ›
What happens if you leave bleach on your hair for too long? 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 bleach something for too long? ›
Allow the clothes to soak for about 10 minutes. Bleach can weaken or damage your fabrics if you soak for too long.Can you soak moldy dishes in bleach? ›
Yes, bleach is a potent biocide that can be used to kill mold. The active ingredient in bleach, sodium hypochlorite, reacts with water to form hypochlorous acid, which kills mold by denaturing proteins, inactivating enzymes, disrupting nucleic acids, and destroying other cellular components.What happens if you don't wash bleach off? ›
Household bleach will irritate skin, and prolonged contact can damage skin, he says. Wash your skin immediately if bleach gets on it, and do the same if it gets in your eyes, advises Clorox.How do you know when to rinse bleach out? ›
Rinse out thoroughly in lukewarm water once you've received your desired level of lift, or after 45 minutes to ensure the safety of your hair. Once you've rinsed the bleach out with lukewarm water, apply shampoo and wash it the hair thoroughly, but gently.Can bleach permanently damage? ›
Bleach damage is as cumulative as it is permanent, and your ends will be less equipped to survive it every time. Avoid excess brushing and harsh shampoos.
Never Pour Bleach Down Your Household Drain
And these uses won't present any risk. Just like cooking oil, bleach is one of those things you shouldn't pour into your sink. You should also never use bleach to unclog your drains. Doing so can even burst your drain pipes, and you'll be left with a nasty and expensive mess.
Can bleach burn skin? When used as directed for medical purposes as a topical wound treatment, sodium hypochlorite is unlikely to cause significant toxicity. However, bleach can cause poisonous effects, including burns and tissue damage, when it is swallowed or injected into skin and soft tissues.What kills mold better bleach or vinegar? ›
Is Vinegar More Effective Than Bleach? Vinegar truly is better than cleaning with bleach when it comes to killing mold. The EPA does not recommend using bleach to kill or remove mold, except in special circumstances. In most cases, “a background level of mold spores will remain” after the application of bleach.What kills mold permanently? ›
Bleach kills virtually every species of indoor mold that it comes into contact with including mold spores which leaves a sanitized surface making it resistant to future mold growth.Should I throw away moldy dishes? ›
Should I throw away moldy dishes? You should throw away moldy dishes if there's mold in the openings, cracks, or grooves of your dishware. It's impossible to remove mold spores from those areas, and it would be dangerous to continue using them.