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How to Dilute Bleach for Cleaning and Avoid Residue

bleach pouring and mixing with water

Clorox Bleach is an inexpensive and effective disinfectant, sanitizer and cleaner. Here’s how to dilute bleach properly to avoid residue and odor problems.

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By Mary Gagliardi

Getting all the benefits that come with using Clorox® Bleach is as simple as mixing it correctly. With diluted properly, you can eliminate problems like strong bleach odors and residue left behind on surfaces.

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Follow the guidelines below to get the best results from your bleach.

Know your cleaning goal

Your cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting goal determines what concentration of bleach and water solution you need, so be sure to use the right dilution for your specific task. Using a high bleach-to-water ratio increases the likelihood of seeing surface residue after use.

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Always dilute Clorox® Bleach with water first

Properly diluting concentrated bleach ensures that it can be used safely. A little goes a long way, making it very economical. First measure out your water, then measure the bleach and add it to the water.

Undiluted bleach should never be used at full strength on any hard or soft surface.

Only use bleach on hard, nonporous surfaces

Surfaces like sealed granite, glazed tile, painted wood, plastic, vinyl, stainless steel, and porcelain can be easily and safely treated with our bleach and water solutions.

Do not use on aluminum, chipped or cracked enamel, copper, brass, silver or unsealed wood, marble, tile or granite.

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Rinse bleach from surfaces as directed

hand with sponge

Bleach and water solutions for cleaning and disinfecting should be rinsed off any surface with clean water before air drying. Make sure you rinse surfaces as directed, as proper rinsing prevents bleach residue.


The bleach and water solution used for sanitizing food contact surfaces is not rinsed away after use. When the food contact surface sanitizing solution is mixed correctly with the right amounts of bleach and water, there will be no residue when the surface has air dried.

Proper dilution reduces odor

Diluting bleach with water as directed reduces the bleach odor experienced while using the product. Using a stronger than recommended solution is usually the cause of strong odors, which can be eliminated simply with correct use.

Work in a well-ventilated area

Those with high sensitivity to bleach odor should always work in a well-ventilated area: open a window or use a fan to circulate fresh air.

open window with curtains

Use with confidence around kids and pets

This solution is safe to use in a home with pets and children—just be sure to keep them out of the area while you are working, until the surface has air dried.

Frequently asked questions

How long does a bleach and water solution last?

Bleach and water solutions should be made fresh each day you use them because the bleach combined with tap water breaks down quickly into salt and water. Ready-to-use products, on the other hand, are formulated with a one-year shelf life when properly stored away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry place.

Do I have to dilute Clorox® Clean-Up® Cleaner + Bleach, too?

Clorox® Clean-Up® Cleaner + Bleach is a ready-to-use product that is generally used at full strength and doesn’t require dilution except for specific light-duty cleaning applications. Food contact surfaces require a clean water rinse. Always follow the label instructions to be sure you use any bleach product correctly.