How To Understand Why Bleach Is Bad

Bleach has been used around the house as a cleaning agent for years now. People have been putting it in their laundry, using it to disinfect, and cleaning all sorts of surfaces. In more recent times the use of bleach has become even easier with chlorine (bleach) being used as part of toilet, tub, shower, all purpose, bathroom, and kitchen cleaners. But in reality it is a dangerous product that shouldn't be used.

Step 1

Health issues. There are a number of different health issues that can be associated with bleach or household cleaners that contain bleach. These include respiratory problems, burned skin, and damage to the nervous system. In many cases, the use of bleach and cleaners with chlorine irritate problems that people have including allergies and asthma. These are caused as a direct result of the product itself and can be potentially serious.

Step 2

Potential chemical reactions. Often times the direct physical health issues aren't caused from the product itself, but rather the results of chemical reactions. With bleach there are lots of different reactions that can cause a lot of dangerous situations.

  • Chlorine easily mixes with ammonia and urine which contains ammonia. This can happen when mixing cleaners (on purpose or accident) and even while cleaning the toilet. The results is a toxic gas which can and sometimes does cause the lungs to stop functioning. Usually the fumes are noticeable, but sometimes people don't even notice that they are breathing in a potentially life threatening gas.
  • Mixing chlorine with dish soap produces mustard gas, the same gas used to kill many people during World War I. Many people mix chlorine with dish soap while cleaning the kitchen (both on purpose and on accident).
  • Chlorine also mixes with organic matter creating chloroform. This is a toxin and a known carcinogen. This happens in the house while cleaning the kitchen, the toilet, washing the laundry, and cleaning up food, blood, or other organic messes. This is dangerous to the inhabitants of the house. However, chlorine also mixes with organics in the environment building these toxins up all over the planet. 

Step 3

Toxins. While chlorine isn't toxic to the body, the chemical reactions that often happen with chlorine produce a number of very toxic elements. Most of these are known as carcinogens, build up in the body as it is exposed to them, and get into the food chain through the water. Doing your share may not seem like it will help, but every little bit can help make it safer for your family, starting at home.

Step 4

Accidents. There are a large number of accidents that happen with household cleaners. In 1997 there were 217,989 calls to poison control for household cleaner accidents. Of those, 54,453 were directly related to bleach and 7,570 were from household cleaners that contain bleach. That means that 28% of household accidents involving cleaners were from bleach alone. Going green can help prevent accidents from household cleaner and bleach from happening in your home.

Step 5

Pets. Pets are particularly affected by the fumes of bleach and chlorine based cleaners. They take in less air and can die from a lung-full of chemical filled air. Birds in particular are susceptible to the dangers of bleach.

Step 6

The environment. If personal dangers, dangers to your family, and pets are not enough then there are the environmental dangers to consider as well. Toxins produced as a result of bleach use build up in the environment, cause dangers to the water supply, kill fish, harm animals, and get back to people through the food chain.

Bleach is dangerous. It is as simple as that. Using household cleaners without it sometimes means using a little more "elbow grease" but in the long run it is worth it. There are also safe options that will kill germs, mold, mildew, and help fight stains (hydrogen peroxide is one of them).

If that doesn't convince you, then maybe this will: stay-at-home wives have a 54% higher chance of getting cancer than women who work outside the home. It is believed that this is because they are exposed more to chemicals released by household cleaners, including dangerous items such as bleach. Now is the time to go green for safety, health, and a better future.


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Thank you Danelle, for this well written article. I have not used anything with chlorine in it for years because of the health and environmental dangers, yet is still advertised as a viable option to keep our kids safe from germs. Even people who agree that it is harmfull still use it "sometimes" to whiten their clothes. Personally, I would rather have a nontoxic world than to have my clothes sparkling white.

By Pat McGuire

Well-rounded analysis of the problem.

By Melissa Howard