You probably know that bleach is great for getting stains out of your soiled white laundry, but did you know there are many other uses for bleach? In fact, it is an item you should consider adding to your inventory of emergency supplies.
Here are seven reasons you should stockpile bleach (sodium hypochlorite).
1. Make water safe to drink. When boiling water is not an option available, and there is no other means of purifying water, bleach is an option.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends using about eight drops of bleach for each gallon of water for emergency water purification. Wait at least 30 minutes after adding the drops of bleach before drinking the water.
If you do not have a dropper, you can dip the corner of a piece of paper into the bleach, allowing it to form drops on the end. Then, shake the drops into the water.
Do not use scented bleaches for water purification purposes. These bleaches contain additional perfumes, dyes and additives that can be poisonous.
2. Sanitize surfaces and containers for food preparation and food storage. You can disinfect contaminated surface areas with a solution of one teaspoon of bleach per one gallon of water.
Use the bleach solution whenever any surface has been exposed to any raw meat or raw poultry to prevent the transferring of bacteria to other foods.
Also, use the same bleach solution to clean and deodorize plastic coolers and thermoses. Pour the solution into a cooler, washing the side and corners and letting the solution soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse well and then drain the solution. To clean a thermos, pour the solution into the thermos and let it soak for about 10 minutes before rinsing well.
3. Clean fruits and vegetables. In an emergency, fresh fruits and vegetables can become contaminated by flooding and by standing water. Clean the food’s outer layer by soaking it for 30 seconds in a solution of one teaspoon of bleach per one gallon of water. Rinse well with clean water and let the fruit or vegetable air dry.
4. Kill mold and mildew. Dangerous molds and mildews can grow quickly during many weather emergencies and/or power outages in hot weather.
To kill mold and mildew, mix together one cup of bleach with one gallon of water. Then spray or sponge the solution on affected areas. Let the solution work for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing the area well.
5. Clean clothing and bedding. In many crisis situations, there is the danger of the spread of disease. You can clean and sanitize clothing and bedding with a bleach/water solution ratio of 1 to 100.
6. Sanitize hard surfaces. You may also use the one teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water solution to kill germs on any hard surfaces that you frequently touch in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.
7. Disinfect toys. Kill germs on children’s hard, non-porous color-safe toys by soaking them in a solution of one-half cup of bleach per one gallon of water for five minutes. Then rinse with clean water and let the toys air dry, preferably in the sunshine.
Using bleach can be dangerous, so you do need to take some precautions. First, bleach works as a contact agent, so avoid spraying bleach into the air. Not only will it be ineffective in killing airborne viruses, but you will run the risk of getting bleach droplets in your eyes or on surfaces that could be damaged by the bleach.
Do not mix bleach with other cleaning solutions such as white vinegar or ammonia. You can create poisonous fumes by mixing these chemicals. Be aware that anyone who suffers from asthma or other breathing-related difficulties should stay clear of bleach.
Bleach is a dangerous, corrosive substance. Dilute it with water for most jobs, and wear heavy rubber gloves, eye protection and a facemask when working with bleach. Open windows to provide ventilation in any area in which you are using bleach.
Did you know bleach has an expiration date? Yes, bleach loses its potency after about six to eight months, so you will want to rotate your supply. You needn’t dispose of your expired bleach; it still can be useful for some cleaning purposes.
Here some other uses for bleach in and around your home:
- Kills slippery moss and algae on unpainted bricks, patio stone and cement.
- Kills weeds.
- Destroys insect eggs in standing water.
- Cleans and disinfects trashcans.
- Removes mildew stains from shower curtains and rubber shower mats.
Because of its corrosive power, bleach should not be your first option for daily cleaning. However, in a heavy-duty emergency, you will find that bleach can literally be a lifesaver. Plus, it is inexpensive and readily available at your local grocery or hardware store, often as inexpensively as $1 a gallon.
What are reasons you stockpile bleach? Share your tips in the section below: