How Bleach Has Changed and What You Need to Do About It

Household bleach is an inexpensive and effective way to sanitize around the house and to disinfect emergency drinking water.

After a disaster, germs are your enemy. Getting back to normal is the priority, and getting sick isn’t on the plan. Bleach kills germs. So bleach is your friend–your caustic, “handle with care,” friend.

Here are things that you can consider doing with bleach:

  • Sanitize containers for bottling emergency water
  • Sanitize food preparation surfaces
  • Disinfect water
  • Clean mold and mildew from damaged homes

To get all the benefits from this handy, multipurpose chemical you need to use the unscented stuff–bleach without any extra additives. Also, household bleach has recently been super-sized–well, sort of. It is now sold in “concentrated” form with more active ingredient. That means you may use just a bit less of it when using it to sanitize things or purify water. Make sure you know if you have regular or “concentrated” bleach.

Sanitizing Water Containers

  • Clean the bottles first if needed
  • Make a solution of 1 teaspoon of un-scented bleach and 1 quart (32 ounces or a liter) of water.
  • Pour the bleach solution it to the bottle, shake well and let sit for 30 seconds so the bleach can do its thing. Make sure to coat the bottle threads, too.
  • Rinse the bottle and threads with clean water

Disinfecting Water

Yes, we know that you know to have 3-14 days of water per person in your home emergency kit, but it is possible you may not have easy access to it. In that case you may need to disinfect water. The chlorine in regular household bleach is pretty darned effective, though it can’t kill some kinds of parasites, such as Cryptosporidium. Boiling is the most thorough way to disinfect water. And there are special treatments that work very well. However, household bleach is great because most everybody has it at home.

Available ChlorineDrops per Quart/Gallon of Clear WaterDrops per Liter of Clear Water

1% 10 per Quart – 40 per Gallon 10 per Liter

4-6% 2 per Quart – 8 per Gallon (1/8 teaspoon) 2 per Liter

7-10% 1 per Quart – 4 per Gallon 1 per Liter

If the water isn’t clear to begin with it may need to be strained in advance. Cloudy water take may extra bleach.

Check the EPA or The Red Cross for details.

The caveats: Anything that can hurt germs can hurt you, too, if you don’t follow directions. That is as true of boiling water as it is of bleach. When using bleach, wear gloves and eye protection. Rinse off any spills on skin immediately regardless of whether you feel a burning sensation. Mixing bleach with other cleaning agents is also not recommended. Check the bleach bottle for more safety instructions.

Boiling water is also a great way to make water safe for drinking which is why we highly recommend owning one of the best survival stoves so that you don’t loose access to heat for cooking and drinking water.