How to Disinfect with Bleach

So, you’ve got a moldy or super dirty surface you want to get clean. No problem. You can just reach for the handy container of bleach and clean it up, right? Not so fast! While bleach can be a highly effective cleaning and sanitizing solution, it’s also a really potent and potentially dangerous chemical. Don’t worry though. As long as you follow the proper safety precautions, like making sure to dilute the bleach first, you can use bleach to sanitize and disinfect a variety of surfaces.


[Edit]Using Bleach Safely

  1. Open up windows to increase ventilation. Whenever you’re diluting or using bleach, always work in a well-ventilated area to avoid breathing in the toxic fumes. Open up some windows to increase the air circulation in the room before you use the bleach.[1]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 1.jpg
    • You can also turn on some fans in the room.
    • Another option is to dilute the bleach outside so you don’t breathe in the vapors from the concentrated bleach.
  2. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection. Bleach is highly corrosive, which means it can burn your skin and eyes. Always put on a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands when you’re using bleach. Additionally, wear safety glasses or safety goggles to protect your eyes from bleach getting splashed into them.[2]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 2.jpg
    • You could also wear pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Bleach can damage and discolor clothing, so make sure you wear something you don’t mind getting stained.
  3. Avoid mixing bleach with other household chemicals. Never mix bleach with any other cleaning solutions. Combining bleach with common household chemicals such as ammonia can produce chloramine gas, which is highly toxic and can be life-threatening if it’s breathed in. The only thing you should ever mix bleach with is water to dilute it.[3]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 3.jpg
    • If you do accidentally mix bleach with another chemical, leave the area and get outside into fresh air immediately.
  4. Store bleach in a cool, shaded, out-of-reach location. Bleach has an expiration date and will become much less effective once it expires. It can also become less effective if it’s exposed to sunlight and heat, so keep it somewhere cool and dark like a storage closet. Place the bleach somewhere high or out of reach of children.[4]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 4.jpg
    • Make sure the cap is tightly sealed as well.
    • Once the bleach is expired, dispose of it and use fresh bleach to sanitize. Check the expiration date printed on the bottle.

[Edit]Sanitizing a Surface with Bleach

  1. Choose regular unscented 5%-6% bleach to disinfect and sanitize. Household bleach can come in a range of concentrations and scents. Use an unscented 5%-6% concentration so you can safely and easily dilute it and it won’t leave any residual smells. Make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area.[5]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 5.jpg
    • Scented bleach products are often used for laundry.
  2. Clean the surface with dish soap and warm water. Bleach is a great sanitizing and disinfecting solution, but dirty surfaces need to be cleaned first. Use warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Scrub the surface with a sponge or washcloth to remove dust, dirt, and debris from it.[6]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 6.jpg
    • Use a scrubbing brush to remove stubborn stains and gunk from the surface.
  3. Rinse the surface with clean water. Use a hose or a cloth soaked in clean water to rinse the surface before you use the bleach. Make sure you remove any traces of the soap so there isn’t any that could potentially react with the bleach.[7]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 7.jpg
    • It’s really important there isn’t any soap left on the surface. Some soaps may have ingredients that can produce a toxic gas if they’re combined with bleach.[8]
  4. Mix of bleach with of cold water. Fill a bucket with cold, clean water. Measure out the bleach into a measuring cup and carefully pour it into the water. Use a stir stick to stir the solution so it’s fully combined.[9]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 8.jpg
    • Never use undiluted bleach to disinfect surfaces.
    • Hot water decomposes the active ingredient in the bleach, making it useless. Whenever you’re diluting your bleach to use it to sanitize and disinfect, always use cold water.
    • Be careful not to stand over the solution to avoid breathing in the fumes.
  5. Wipe floors, sinks, and household surfaces, then let them air dry. If you’re using the bleach to sanitize and disinfect household surfaces, use a brush, mop, towel, sponge, or washcloth in the solution and wipe the surface. Leave the bleach to air dry and fully sanitize the surface.[10]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 9.jpg
    • It takes at least 10 minutes for the bleach to fully disinfect a hard surface, so don’t rinse it away. Just let it air dry on its own.[11]
    • Bleach is safe to use on hard surfaces like floors, sinks, toys, and walls.
  6. Soak cleaning tools in diluted bleach for 30 minutes, then rinse them. If you used a brush, mop, towel, sponge or wash cloth to sanitize the surface, they need to be fully disinfected. Soak them in the bucket of bleach for half an hour and then rinse them with clean water.[12]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 10.jpg
    • Make sure you’re wearing gloves when you’re submerging and removing the tools.
  7. Use diluted bleach within 24 hours. Once the bleach is diluted, use it while it’s still fresh and strong enough to sanitize your surfaces. The diluted bleach begins to break down and is less potent after 24 hours, so discard it the next day.[13]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 11.jpg
    • You can label and date the solution to be sure it’s still fresh.

[Edit]Getting Rid of Mold on Hard Surfaces

  1. Use bleach to kill mold on floors, countertops, and hard surfaces. Bleach can be used as an effective way to kill mold on hard surfaces. Use it to get rid of mold on floors, countertops, walls, tile, concrete, and any other hard surfaces around your home that may have mold on them.[14]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 12.jpg
    • Don’t use bleach to get rid of mold on fabrics or porous surfaces like wallpaper because it can damage or discolor them.
  2. Mix of 5%-6% bleach with of cold water. Fill a bucket with cold water, not hot, since hot water will make the bleach ineffective. Carefully measure out the bleach and add it to the bucket. Use a stir stick to mix the solution together.[15]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 13.jpg
    • Be careful not to breathe in the fumes. Wear a mask and work in a well-ventilated area.
    • Killing mold requires a stronger bleach solution than simply disinfecting surfaces.
  3. Scrub rough surfaces with a stiff brush before you apply the bleach. If you’re cleaning a rough wall or floor that has mold on it, take a stiff brush and give it a good scrubbing to help break up the mold.[16]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 14.jpg
    • Breaking up the mold will help the bleach penetrate it more effectively.
  4. Wash the moldy surfaces with the bleach mixture. Use a sponge or washcloth and soak it in the bleach solution. Wipe the bleach over all of the moldy areas to start killing the mold.[17]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 15.jpg
    • Soak the sponge or washcloth to add more bleach as needed.
    • Wear gloves and eye protection to keep yourself protected.
  5. Rinse the bleach away with clean water and let the surface air dry. The strong bleach solution can damage and discolor surfaces if it’s left on them for too long. Use cool, clean water to rinse the surface well so all of the bleach is gone. Then, let the surface air dry on its own.[18]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 16.jpg
    • Turn on some fans to help increase circulation and speed up the drying process.
    • You can spray the surface with clean water or wipe it down with a clean cloth soaked in clean water.
  6. Discard the diluted bleach after 24 hours. Diluted bleach begins to break down and become less effective. Use the bleach solution as soon as you mix it together. When you’re finished, or the next day, discard any leftover bleach.[19]
    Disinfect with Bleach Step 17.jpg


  • Use a gentler disinfectant if you can, like Borax or disinfecting soap. Bleach is harsh and should be used as a last resort.


  • Never bathe in bleach. Household bleach will irritate your skin and could cause long term damage.[20]
  • Do not gargle or drink bleach, even if it’s diluted. You could cause serious burns and it doesn’t take much bleach to cause serious health problems or become life-threatening if you swallow it.[21]
  • If someone accidentally ingests bleach, contact your local poison control immediately.

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

[Edit]Sanitizing a Surface with Bleach

  • Dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Stir stick
  • Brush, mop, towel, sponge, or washcloth

[Edit]Getting Rid of Mold on Hard Surfaces

  • Bucket
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Stir stick
  • Scrubbing brush (for rough surfaces)
  • Sponge or washcloth


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