Bleach, are you kidding me?

Many people shy away from bleach but it’s safe, most chlorine bleaches break down harmlessly into salts and water and the environmental authorities regard the effects of chlorine bleach upon water systems as negligible.  I’m an advocate of bleach used safely for tasks around the house and was recently approached by White King to share my tips with Australian families.  Here are my top 12 applications for this cheap and very effective cleaner.

1. Sterilize second hand items Remember Mum saying, “Put that down. You don’t know where it’s been”? She had a point — especially when it comes to toys or kitchen utensils picked up at thrift shops and yard sales. Just to be on the safe side, take your used, waterproof items and soak them for 5-10 minutes in a solution containing 3/4 cup bleach, a few drops of antibacterial dishwashing liquid, and 1 gallon warm water. Rinse well, then air-dry, preferably in sunlight.

2. Clean off mould and mildew Bleach is useful for removing mould and mildew both inside and outside your home.

3. Clean butcher block cutting boards and countertops Don’t even think about using furniture polish or any other household cleaner to clean a butcher block cutting board or countertop. Rather, scrub the surface with a brush dipped in a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach diluted in 2 litres water. Scrub in small circles, and be careful not to saturate the wood. Wipe with a slightly damp paper towel, then immediately buff dry with a clean cloth.

4. Brighten up glass dishware add a teaspoon of bleach to your soapy dishwater as you’re washing your glassware. Be sure to rinse well, and dry with a soft towel.

5. Shine white porcelain In a well-ventilated area on a work surface protected by heavy plastic, place several paper towels over the item (or across the bottom of the sink) and carefully saturate them with undiluted bleach. Let soak for 15 minutes to a half hour, then rinse and wipe dry with a clean towel. Note: Do not try this with antiques; you can diminish their value or cause damage. And never use bleach on coloured porcelain, because the colour will fade.

6. Make a household disinfectant spray Mix 1 tablespoon bleach in 3.5 litres of hot water. Then fill a clean, empty spray bottle and use it on a paper towel to clean countertops, tablecloths, lawn furniture — basically, wherever it’s needed.

7. Disinfect trash cans Even the best housekeepers must confront a gunked-up kitchen garbage bin every now and then. On such occasions, take the bin outside, and flush out any loose debris with a garden hose. Then add 1/2 to 1 cup bleach and several drops of dishwashing liquid to 3.5 litres warm water. Use a long-handled scrub brush to splash and scour the solution on the bottom and sides of the container. Empty, then rinse with the hose, empty it again, and let air-dry.

8. Increase cut flowers’ longevity Freshly cut flowers will stay fresh longer if you add 1/4 teaspoon bleach per litre of vase water.

9. Clean plastic lawn furniture Before you place your lawn furniture curbside, try washing it with some mild detergent mixed with 1/2 cup bleach in 3.5 litres water. Rinse it clean, then air-dry.

10. Kill weeds in walkways Pour a bit of undiluted bleach over your weeds. After a day or two, you can simply pull them out, and the bleach will keep them from coming back. Just be careful not to get bleach on the grass or plantings bordering the walkway.

11. Get rid of moss and algae To remove slippery and unsightly moss and algae on your brick, concrete, or stone walkways, scrub them with a solution of 3/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon 3.5 litres water.

12.  Antibacterial wipes These are a must for any small cleaning task around the house.

Is bleach safe?

Most chlorine bleaches do break down harmlessly into salts and water. Dangerous compounds such as dioxins can be produced in an acid environment – but this does not usually occur in domestic locations. The environmental authorities regard the effects of chlorine bleach upon water systems as negligible.