What Is Bleach – And How Much To Use For Disinfection?

Last updated on December 30th, 2016


What is bleach?

According to Dr. Laundry on the Clorox website, “The active ingredient in household bleach is sodium hypochlorite, which is derived from salt.”

In fact, Clorox is headquartered in Oakland, California because they started making bleach there by running electricity through salt water from San Francisco Bay. So household bleach begins and ends as salt and water.

For example, during the laundering process, about 95 to 98 percent of household bleach quickly breaks down into oxidized salt.

Did you know that bleach can also be used to disinfect water of harmful organic contaminants, and do you know how much to use?


Regular Bleach To Disinfect Water For Drinking

To disinfect water for drinking, you can use ‘Regular’ household bleach.
This is a ~1 to ~2 ppm chlorine mixture using today’s concentrated 8.25% REGULAR bleach.

NOTE: The following numbers are ’rounded’ to the nearest ‘drop’
NOTE: You’re better off to have used extra ‘drops’ than not enough 😉

1 Quart water, 1 drop bleach
1 Gallon water, 5 drops bleach
5 Gallons water, 3/8 teaspoon bleach (or three 1/8th teaspoons)
10 Gallons water, 3/4 teaspoon bleach
50 Gallons water, 3.5 teaspoons bleach

Note: Stir the mixture and then let it stand for 30 minutes or longer before drinking water. Why? Because it can take that long to destroy Giardia Protozoan (common cause of diarrhea).

Note: Cloudy water w/ organic contaminants may take longer to disinfect, and may require more bleach to end up with enough residual ‘free chlorine’ to be effective. Rule-of-thumb if you barely detect a hint of chlorine smell afterwards, then you’re good to go…

Note: Typical municipal water supply measured at home is ~0.2 to ~0.5 ppm chlorine.

Note: According to the EPA, the maximum allowable concentration of of chlorine bleach in drinking water is apparently 4 ppm (parts per million).


Regular Bleach To Disinfect ‘Food Contact’ Surfaces

This is a ~200 ppm chlorine mixture using today’s concentrated 8.25% REGULAR bleach.

1 Gallon water, 2 teaspoons bleach


Regular Bleach To Disinfect ‘Non-Food’ Surfaces

This is a ~2500 ppm chlorine mixture using today’s concentrated 8.25% REGULAR bleach)

1 Gallon water, 1/2 Cup bleach

Note: Apparently, and generally after one year bleach may degrade to approximately half strength (although I’ve heard that it may be less than that) (Need to test this one day…).

Tip: Since bleach loses its potency over time, mark your newly purchased bottle with month/year, so you’ll know…

Tip: Always keep Bleach and Ammonia separate from each other.

Taylor Residential Water Test Kit



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