Bleach is one of the most widely available and affordable disinfectants on earth. Clorox® brand liquid bleach was introduced in 1913 and has played a critical role in helping to protect public health by killing germs that cause illness.
(Disinfectant Bleach-Water Ratio Listed Below)
Bleach is commonly mixed with water for use as a disinfectant to kill germs that can make people sick, including MRSA, Staph, and Norovirus (among others!).
Germs and viruses can thrive in the kitchen, bathroom, baby’s room, laundry room, especially around toilets, sinks, faucets and bathtubs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – recommend the use of bleach for controlling the spread of pathogens that can cause infections and other health threats.
Here is the recommended bleach to water ratio for disinfection of non-food surfaces and food contact surfaces:
Clorox Bleach to Water Ratio For Disinfectant
For cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting surfaces such as bathtubs, sinks, faucets, tile, plastic toys, potty chairs, high chairs, changing tables, floors, appliances, countertops, garbage cans, walls, light switches, etc..
½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach / GALLON water
(This is a ~2500 ppm chlorine mixture using today’s concentrated 8.25% REGULAR bleach)
(This is a dilution bleach to water ratio of 1:30)
(Informational sources listed below)
1¼ teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach per cup of water
Pre-wash surface with detergent and water, then apply the sanitizing solution of bleach and water. Allow solution to contact surface for at least 5 minutes for optimum effectiveness. Afterward, rinse and-or air dry.
Bleach to Water Ratio For Disinfectant
(FOOD CONTACT SURFACES)
For cleaning food handling equipment and food contact surfaces such as plastic cutting boards*, stainless cutlery, dishes, glassware, pots and pans, stainless utensils, pet bowls, teething rings,
2 teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach / GALLON water
(This is a ~200 ppm chlorine mixture using today’s concentrated 8.25% REGULAR bleach)
(This is a dilution bleach to water ratio of 1:392)
(Informational sources listed below)
1/8 teaspoon Clorox® Regular-Bleach per cup of water
Pre-wash surface with detergent and water, then soak with the sanitizing solution of bleach and water. Allow solution to contact surface for at least 2 minutes for optimum effectiveness. Drain and air dry.
*Plastic cutting boards may be sanitized with a stronger 600 ppm solution (2 tablespoons per gallon or 3/8 teaspoon per cup), stand for 2 minutes, rinse.
Cutting Board Soap
NOTE: This is NOT the formula for drinking water purification. Rather it is much stronger for disinfecting surfaces. For drinking water purification, read the following articles:
Make Drinking Water Safe With Bleach
Bleach – Water Ratio For Drinking Water Purification
NOTE: Do not mix Clorox® Regular-Bleach with other household chemicals, since toxic fumes could result.
NOTE: Bleach formula breaks down after awhile. For health care, day care, it is commonly recommended to make new formula in 24 hours.
NOTE: Bleach solutions may discolor fabrics (your clothes, carpets, etc..).
NOTE: For disinfecting Ebola virus, read: “Ebola Virus Disinfection With Bleach”
UPDATE: Clorox has been phasing out their old Regular Bleach formula and have introduced “Concentrated Clorox® Regular Bleach”. It the same Clorox bleach product, just more concentrated. The concentration of sodium hypochlorite has increased from 6% to 8.25%. The formulas in this article relates to the current production Concentrated Regular Bleach containing 8.25% sodium hypochlorite (look for concentration on the label).
What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?
Cleaning removes dust and debris from a surface. Disinfecting kills a variety of germs including bacteria such as Staph, Salmonella and E. coli, the viruses such as influenza (the “flu” virus) and rhinovirus (one of the causes of the common cold) and the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. Disinfecting hard, nonporous surfaces is one of the most reliable ways to help lower the risk of spreading these germs from surfaces by touch.
Are disinfectants harmful to the environment?
No. During normal household use and disposal, bleach breaks down primarily into salt and water. Bleach does not contaminate ground water because it does not survive sewage treatment – neither in municipal sewage treatment plants nor in septic systems.
Why is bleach disinfectant so extremely important during a survival situation?
Without access to healthcare, an infection, if bad enough, can quickly kill you. During a disaster or survival scenario, you are more vulnerable to cuts and injuries, any of which could become easily infected from the environment. If the environment around you is clean, an infection becomes less likely. Prior to the days of antibiotics and disinfection, many people commonly died from infection. Be sure to have an adequate supply of bleach in your supply of preparedness items, and remember that it has a shelf life of about 1 year.
Following is a list of organisms that the proper Clorox Bleach to water ratios can kill
Staphylococcus aureus (Staph.)
Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep.)
Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli)
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Trichophyton mentagrophytes (can cause Athlete’s Foot)
Candida albicans (a yeast)
Rhinovirus Type 37 (a type of virus that can cause colds)
Influenza A (Flu virus)
Hepatitis A virus
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
HIV-1 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)*
Herpes simplex Type 2
Adenovirus Type 2
Oklahoma State University; Food & Agricultural Products Research & Technology Center
University of California; UC Food Safety; PublicHealthOntario
(This article has been updated to include additional bleach-to-water ratios)