Can I Mix [cleaning product] with Bleach

Dear Home Ec 101,
I love your site! Love the 50’s look!
I want to mop with bleach once a month to help keep our grout white, but mopping with bleach and water does not seem to clean the floor well. Your site came up when I googled which cleaners/soaps can safely be mixed with bleach? In other words, can I mix chlorine bleach and Fabuloso or Pinesol or Simple Green?
Signed,
KABOOM

Heather says:

No.

Never mix chlorine bleach with other general purpose household cleaners.

How to Use Bleach Safely

This is a practice that can have deadly results; I cannot emphasize this enough. Chlorine bleach is a fantastic disinfectant and has many safe and useful applications around the house, but you must use good judgment.

You may mix chlorine bleach with laundry detergent but this isn’t great for your purposes.

Why?

Cleaning action is created through four different mechanisms:

  • Heat – the hotter your solution the more dirt can be in the solution -think of how salt dissolves better in hot water
  • Agitation / Physical – scrubbing (yay) removes dirt particles from the surface they were stuck to
  • Chemical – different chemicals can increase the number of particulates that can be suspended in a solution
  • Time – chemical reactions are not always instantaneous, and sometimes different solutions need time to work. Keep in mind that this can be both your friend and your enemy. For example, if you soak a stain in a detergent, the chemicals can do their job on the stain, but if given too much time they may also damage fibers and not just the stain.

Chlorine bleach is great for disinfecting and of course bleaching. However, as you have noted, it’s not that great at cleaning. Bleach can clean, but the molecules are quickly used up if the solution is used to remove organic matter -a nice way of saying dirt and filth.

Sometimes cleaning is best done in a two-step process.

This two-step process is crucial if you are looking to sanitize or disinfect a surface, such as with cutting boards and food preparation areas in the kitchen. First, you want to get rid of the organic matter (dirt) by washing, and then you want to deal with the stains or possible lingering bacteria.

I also want Home Ec 101 readers to understand that bacteria does not have magical abilities to cling to surfaces. If a surface has been thoroughly washed, it’s usually not necessary to go back and disinfect, unless we’re discussing a food preparation surface or dealing with compromised immune systems.

As far as your specific question about tile:

While sealed ceramic tile will generally not be damaged by MOST household cleaners, the grout is more easily damaged. Grout and the sealant that protects it from staining can be damaged by acidic or caustic (like bleach) cleaners.

If your grout is stained, clean it thoroughly and then stain and reseal your grout. The sealant will protect your grout from future stains.

Related posts:

What Can You Do to Fix Stained Grout

How to Scrub a Tile Floor 

How to Use Chlorine Bleach Safely

Good luck, be careful and thank you for the compliment!

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



6 Comments

  1. HeatherSolos on February 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Can you expound on what exactly you are looking for. Are you looking for alternatives to chlorine bleach for disinfecting? Or are you looking for the effectiveness of chlorine bleach itself? I can certainly help you out, I just need to know what direction you were thinking.

  2. christy on February 19, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Where can I find more information about disinfecting and proper use of household chemicals? I actually found your blog when trying to figure out how to be sure that I had rid my house of pink eye. It seems like there isn’t much good information available, just lots of conjecture. Are there some academically backed resources that you recommend?

  3. christy on February 19, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Where can I find more information about disinfecting and proper use of household chemicals? I actually found your blog when trying to figure out how to be sure that I had rid my house of pink eye. It seems like there isn’t much good information available, just lots of conjecture. Are there some academically backed resources that you recommend?

  4. HeatherSolos on February 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    You know, I’m looking at the Dawn website and it looks like they no mention the original Dawn. I think all of their dish detergents have additional active ingredients, except possibly the clear one, but I’m not sure. Thanks for the heads up and to play it safe I’m going to remove dish detergent.

  5. Lucy on February 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Just a heads up: my bottle of original blue Dawn dish detergent has warning against mixing it with bleach, so not all dish detergents may be safe to mix.

  6. sandyspeed on February 15, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    We had a neighbor who cleaned her tiled bathroom floor by mixing bleach and ammonia. Her only daughter cam home from school at 8 years old and found her dead on the bathroom floor. Never mix ANYTHING with bleach, as the fumes can kill you. We are still mourning our neighbor and it’s been 37 years.

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