Bleach is a disinfectant, not a household cleaner. It should be used with other products (preferably after) to sanitize surfaces, not as your first line of defense.
Many homeowners mistakenly use bleach to clean up messes and tackle more serious household projects like mold removal, but this will never be the most effective way.
Mold can become a big problem given the right conditions. It can make you very sick, cause headaches and it can destroy walls, floors and many other home surfaces.
While bleach can remove mold from some areas of your home, it is not a one-and-done solution for all types of mold in all locations. Furthermore, it is not even close to the best way to remove mold from any of those places.
Some nationwide organizations still recommend bleach for cleaning/killing mold, but pay attention to those that are changing their guidelines…there’s probably a reason.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, have both revoked their recommendation of using bleach to clean mold off household surfaces. In fact, the EPA no longer even lists bleach as an antimicrobial agent.
Why Bleach is Bad for Mold
Bleach only works on impermeable surfaces, like glass, metal, and porcelain.
It is not effective on nonporous surfaces (which constitutes most of your home’s surfaces) like unvarnished wood, tile, and grout. Mold can get deep into these “soft” surfaces and spread roots there that spray bleach probably can’t even reach.
And as you can imagine, pouring bleach or bleach mixtures onto these surfaces is even worse, allowing for even more moisture to permeate the cracks and holes in these materials, however small they may be.
What you buy at the store is frequently a bleach mixture, containing up to 90% water.
The small amount of pure bleach evaporates quickly, leaving behind mostly water after you have cleaned and sanitized the surfaces. This makes it counterproductive since all that moisture can actually cause mold to grow. Most homeowners don’t have the right equipment to extract the excess moisture quickly and thoroughly enough to impede future mold growth.
While 10% strength may be enough to kill some germs and bacteria, it will be powerless against the high moisture content of store-bought bleach cleaners.
Bleach doesn’t remove mold.
A common misconception is that bleach removes mold, but this isn’t true. Bleach only takes away the color of the mold, which can be black, green or purplish, just as it will remove the color from your clothes, carpet and upholstery.
Mold has roots, and these roots remain even after the color is gone. The roots can grow and spread below the surface because they are largely untouched by household cleaning products. This will lead to an even bigger mold problem in the near future, since you will not be able to see the roots spreading, only the mold colony that finally emerges on the surface.
You will also never really know how severe your mold problem is if you just keep bleaching the surface without actually killing the organisms.
Bleach is harmful to most surfaces.
Chlorine bleach, the type of bleach in most household cleaners, can do far more damage to surfaces than the potential benefits it could offer.
Bleach is powerful in any amount, so even watered-down cleaners weaken wood and corrode metals over time. As you probably know, wood and metal are the backbone of most homes, so when these materials are compromised, the strength and stability of the entire home comes into question.
Bleach should only be used on non-porous surfaces that cannot be discolored. Because our homes are comprised of many different materials, it can be tricky using a product like bleach on one surface without getting it on a soft surface nearby, like your porcelain tub and nearby tile, for example).
Bleach is also dangerous to humans and animals.
And speaking of corrosion, bleach is highly corrosive and dangerous for use within homes without proper ventilation. As the chlorine bleach turns into gas, it can irritate the eyes and skin and damage the lungs. This irritation can make your eyes water and make you cough, but it can actually damage your eyes and lungs after prolonged exposure.
Many people notice a burning sensation in their nose or throat after cleaning with bleach. This is a sign that you do not have enough ventilation in the area.
Additionally, many people don’t know the dangers of mixing bleach with acids like ammonia, another common household cleaner. This combination creates a deadly gas immediately. Not only is the nitrogen trichloride produced when these solutions are mixed capable of killing anyone who breathes them, but it is also highly explosive.
The sanitizing effects of bleach are limited.
Have you ever read on your washing machine or the bleach directions that the bleach needs to be added to your laundry after the wash cycle is complete? That’s because bleach doesn’t sanitize unless it is used on already clean surfaces. So whether it’s your clothes or a solid surface, bleach will only sanitize a freshly cleaned surface.
Furthermore, bleach’s effects are not as long-lasting as you might think. Even if you still smell bleach, that doesn’t mean it’s protecting your home.
The chlorine in bleach actually evaporates very quickly. Once the chlorine is gone, so are the protective powers of your bleach cleaner.
You have many other choices.
Probably the best reason to choose something besides bleach to kill mold is that there are many proven antimicrobial alternatives.
You can check out the EPA’s website for the full list of recommended products. Many of these approved products are endorsed as environmentally friendly and offer the residual protection from mold that you actually desire from a bleach cleaner.
Ultimately, removing mold is a job that should be left to a professional unless it is on a solid surface like your shower or bathtub where it can easily and safely be wiped away. Pure Maintenance of Central Illinois is proud to provide mold inspections and mold removal in Champaign, IL and nearby communities. Our service features dry fog technology for safe, affordable results.