Bleach – Our Reliance On It Is A Mistaken Belief

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Bleach products must be the most commonly found cleaning products in households, and offices complexes are not far behind. Go into most household toilets and you will probably find a bleach product. Go into office toilets which are only cleaned by contract cleaners once, twice or three times a week and you will probably find a container of bleach of some description nestling either on the window sill or by the toilet bowl, especially in the ‘ladies’ toilets. Males do not seem to have the same reliance on bleach, or they simply do not think about clean toilets

What is this fascination that we seem to have with bleach not as a whitener but as a cleaner? Is it effective as a disinfectant? Yes, because the alkaline nature of the bleach plus the small amounts of chloride ions produced are both effective at killing bacteria and viruses. Is it effective as a whitener? Yes, because on contact with water it produces free oxygen radicals that will oxidise some coloured pigments. Hence the bleaching effect. Oxygen radicals are also effective disinfectants so aid in destroying harmful organisms.

However what are the cleaning properties of bleach? They would appear to be minimal. Does bleach remove dirt? Does bleach remove staining in toilet bowls? The answer to all these would seem to be no it does not. What the bleach is in fact doing is rendering the stain or the dirt transparent. It is bleaching it. It is still there but not visible

So householders quite happily soak there toilet bowls with bleach. This gets them clean with the minimum of effort and has the added bonus that they smell ‘clean’. The porcelain will certainly look clean and shiny but in reality it is not you just cannot see it any more as it has been bleached

I believe we rely so much on bleach because of past usage by our parents and grand parents and it gives the effect of looking clean and most importantly it smells clean. Psychologically we see it clean, we smell it clean and all the nasty ‘germs’ have been killed so it must be clean. In reality it is a trick, the dirt or the stain is still there we just cannot see it, and whatever odours were around are being masked by the smell of chlorine, the clean smell. Like mould that has been treated with bleach they will return

Further articles on our fascination with bleach will be appearing shortly.