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?
Never mix chlorine bleach with other general purpose household cleaners.
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 judgement.
You may mix chlorine bleach with laundry detergent but this isn’t great for your purposes.
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 amount 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.
Good luck, be careful and thank you for the compliment!
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