The truth
about bleach

It's time to clean up the confusion about bleach.

The truth about bleach

Myth #1: Bleach products are also pesticides.

Some bleach products are EPA registered disinfectants, which means they are classified as pesticides — along with agricultural pesticides — even though it is primarily a public health disinfectant. It can be confusing because of public perceptions relating to the term "pesticide".

Clorox® is working to educate the public regarding the differences between traditional agricultural pesticides and public health pesticides. Products that claim the ability to control microorganisms in the United States must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. This requires formulation and manufacturing to comply with regulations regarding raw materials, processing, label strength, shelf life, usage safety and product efficacy. All Clorox® disinfecting products containing bleach are EPA-registered.

Myth #2: Bleach harms the environment.

Household bleach begins and ends as salt water in a fully sustainable cycle. There's a significant difference between "bleaching" — the name associated with the manufacturing of paper products — and household bleach. During consumer use and disposal, bleach quickly breaks down primarily to salt and water. Bleach does not contaminate ground water because it does not survive sewage treatment — either in municipal sewage treatment plans or in septic systems.

Myth #3: Bleach causes cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing the International Agency for Research on Cancer, concluded that hypochlorite salts, including sodium hypochlorite (bleach), are not cancer-causing.

Myth #4: There is free chlorine in household bleach.

The concerns about chlorine have extended to household bleach. Even though bleach has an entirely different chemistry — it is derived from sodium chloride (common table salt) and there is no free chlorine in the final product — bleach is commonly referred to as chlorine bleach. It's wrong to call household bleach chlorine bleach because it has an entirely different chemistry.

Household bleach is derived from sodium chloride — common table salt. During household use, Clorox® Bleach breaks down to mostly salt and water.

In 2011, Clorox completed its transition of all U.S. bleach manufacturing operations from using chlorine to high-strength bleach as a raw material. The transportation of chlorine has now been eliminated from our end-to-end U.S. supply chain. High-strength bleach is a water-based solution of concentrated sodium hypochlorite that we dilute down to specific levels for household and industry use. This decision was driven by our commitment to strengthen our operations and add another layer of security to our operations.

Myth #5: Bleach harms aquatic life.

Everyday consumer and commercial use of bleach as directed in laundering clothes or in disinfecting surfaces around the home or public places such as schools and hospitals does not produce harmful effects on the environment. Bleach degrades primarily into salt and water and the remaining 2 percent to 5 percent is effectively treated by municipal waste water treatment plants or septic systems. No bleach gets to the environment.

Myth #6: Clorox® bleach damages equipment and surfaces.

The majority of Clorox® bleach products contain anticorrosion agents and, when used as directed, are safe for use on a variety of hard, nonporous surfaces, including stainless steel, plastics, glazed ceramics, glass, porcelain and other materials. Use bleach with confidence to clean and disinfect countertops, floors, toilets, sinks, trash cans, keyboards, phones, light switches and desks.

Myth #7: Bleach forms dioxins.

When used for cleaning and disinfecting, bleach cannot form dioxins. This is supported by several independent studies, including those by European environmental agencies. To form a dioxin, you need the type of organic building blocks that are typically found in the pulp bleaching process, which are not found in a household setting.

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