Bleach is a trusted cleaner for removing the toughest stains around the house. That’s why no cleaning cabinet is complete without it. It can be used in all kinds of situations, from scrubbing grout on floor tiles, to cheer up white shoes. In fact, as long as you don’t make this mistake when cleaning with bleach, it is arguably one of the most versatile and effective cleaners.
But, before you’re happy with your bleach trigger, it’s worth remembering that it’s a very strong chemical cleaner, and there are areas and items that you should avoid getting into. clean with this product – you could do more damage than good. Here we break down where you shouldn’t use bleach and what to use instead.
1. Stainless steel
Stainless steel is one of the most common areas people make the mistake of cleaning with bleach. Bleach is corrosive to metals and can eat away at the surface, causing permanent damage. Keep this in mind when cleaning your appliances or anything that contains metal, like your dehumidifier. For this reason, you should also never clean copper or chrome with bleach.
Use a dedicated metal cleaner instead, such as Brasso Multi-Purpose Metal Polish ($2.98, Amazon). Follow the instructions provided by your cleaner and clean in the direction of the grain. Also see our guide on how to clean stainless steel.
Because it has a porous nature, wood will absorb any bleach you clean it with, resulting in discoloration and warping. Once applied, bleach also cannot be removed effectively, so the surface will not be safely disinfected. This is the case for all wooden surfaces, from hardwood floors to dining tables. Bleach is also ineffective at removing mold from wood, even if the surface appears shinier.
Use a cleaner designed specifically for the job, such as Weiman Wood Cleaner and Furniture Polish Spray ($11.98, Amazon). If you want to use dish soap and hot water, be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area first. We have covered how to clean hardwood floors if you need step by step guidance.
3. Granite or marble countertops
While you might assume that stone countertops are as tough as they come, bleach can also cause damage here. Stone surfaces such as granite and marble are porous, which means bleach can damage and stain them. Even diluted bleach can leave a stone countertop looking dull and discolored.
To avoid this costly repair, you should follow what the manufacturer recommends in terms of cleaning. Some allow basic dish soap and water, while others require a dedicated cleanser, like the Weiman Disinfectant Granite Daily Clean & Shine ($6.37, Amazon).
As our phones are known to be one of the most germ-infested items we own, it’s important to disinfect them – but you should never do that with bleach. Bleach can damage the screen’s protective coating, seep through an opening, and break your phone completely.
Check with your manufacturer for advice, but most brands recommend using alcohol or disinfectant wipes. Care Touch Lens Cleaning Wipes are a good option ($13.95, Amazon).
4. Pet Toys
Anything our pets play or use can get gross pretty quickly. Whether the object in question is covered in drool, or your pet had an accident in it, you want to clean it as efficiently as possible. However, bleach is definitely not the answer to this problem. You don’t want your pet accidentally ingesting bleach; even a small amount can be life threatening. So don’t clean any pet products with bleach – that goes for toys, food bowls, litter boxes, and just about anything your pet comes into contact with.
Instead, use mild dish soap and water, and make sure the soap is completely rinsed off before returning it to your companion.
6. Toys for children
For the same reason, avoid using bleach to clean children’s toys. Bleach is very difficult to completely rinse off, and if any residue remains on the toy, it can pose a threat. This is the case with all kinds of toys, from soft toys to plastic bath toys.
If you must clean plastic toys, use dish soap and hot water. For stuffed animals, these can be machine washable if you check the care label. Just be sure to protect them with a laundry bag such as GOGOODA 7Pcs Mesh Laundry Bags ($9.98, Amazon).
It may sound logical, but we have to say it: don’t wash your food with bleach. You may think this is the best way to sanitize it, but you’re unlikely to remove all of the residue, and bleach is extremely dangerous if you ingest it.
To keep your food as clean as possible, make sure it’s stored at the right temperature, whether in the cupboard or the fridge-freezer. You can also rinse fruits and vegetables under cold water to remove any dirt before eating them.