So as with many things in life, I think it's best not to get radical. By all means, keep the bottle of bleach, but remember, it's your home you are cleaning, not a hospital. So don't over use the bleach. Remember that the best way to keep you and your family safe from bacteria is good old hand washing with warm water and soap!
But here are some safety tips if you decide to keep the bleach:
- Always avoid direct skin contact with bleach, wear gloves for goodness sake!
- Dilute as per the instructions and use the diluted solution immediately since diluted chlorine bleach loses its antibacterial properties after a couple of days.
- Never, ever mix anything else with bleach, especially ammonia based products. That goes for toilet bowl cleaners, wash away all traces of other cleaners before adding bleach to the toilet bowl and don't even think about making your own concoction of vinegar and bleach -it's lethal!
- Try to only use bleach around the toilet area and in your kitchen where necessary, and in the kitchen, make double sure you have properly rinsed off any traces of bleach with water.
- Avoid using bleach in confined spaces. The oven is one example, this is a space that is hard to ventilate, you would be better off with some bicarbonate of soda for that job.
- Don't buy scented bleach - on it's own it's nasty enough, it certainly doesn't need any extra chemicals to make it worse.
- ALWAYS ALWAYS store bleach, or any products containing bleach well out of reach of children and pets!!!
Now, if I've scared you enough with the talk of respiratory problems and headaches and you would like to give bleach a miss, there are some alternatives, although perhaps not as powerful. But once again, some hand washing will do more to protect your family than that bottle of bleach.
- White vinegar can help to keep surfaces clean and bacteria free.
- Hot soapy water is the best way to kill off salmonella and e-coli, so if you're washing your dishes in hot soapy water you're already doing a good job of getting rid of them.
- There are some non-chlorine bleach products out there such as from the Ecover range to use in and around the toilet bowl.
- Scrubbing sinks, tubs, and counter tops with a paste of baking soda and water effectively removes dirt rings and some stains (3).
- A steam cleaner effectively kills bacteria and is a wonderful device if you or any members of your family suffer from Asthma or allergies.
- Bacteria and mould grow in moist conditions, so use a used towel in the bathroom to dry off any surfaces after a bath or shower, and you'll hardly ever need to disinfect your bathroom again.