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Since I was a little kid I always thought bleach smelled odd. Whenever I entered a commercial kitchen, public restroom or a home where bleach was being used I didn’t want to stay around for long. I could never stand the smell of it. After being involved in the health, wellness and eco-friendly world for several years now I can understand why.

I remember the first time a neighbors friend was telling my brother and I how she would clean with bleach and then have trouble breathing, and have redness and swelling in her throat and feel horrible. We didn’t even know much about bleach at the time, this was quite a few years ago but we said then stop using it completely! She was having a reaction to breathing the fumes as you’ll soon find that anyone can have even unnoticed while still being harmful.

Bleach is a common household and commercial cleaner used mainly to kill germs, but there are many replacements as i’ll get to in a bit. It’s primary ingredients (at least from main brands like clorox brand) are:

Sodium Hydroxide:

This ingredient is toxic and hazardous. Although it is not a known carcinogen (yet, I haven’t found much research to see if it actually is) people have had horrific experiences coming into contact with this toxic chemical. A kid in a high school was dared to drink this chemical, he drank approximately 1 ounce or so and ended up in the emergency room. The teacher said that if someone drank this they would die. He had just enough to damage his body to the point where he can no longer drink carbonated or hot drinks, eat any spicy food, and he has to be careful with everything he eats beyond that. He was in tremendous pain and the ambulance had to pick him up at the school right after the incident. The lesson? Don’t drink this chemical (or bleach) because it contains this chemical! That’s a given though right? You can read that full story on reddit here.

Beyond that, what about breathing in the fumes? or coming into contact with your skin. It may not be as detrimental as ingesting it but your body will still be damaged from this. This explains why my friend had trouble breathing and her lungs felt pressure and swelled up. This ingredient is definitely toxic and harmful to inhale the fumes or come into contact with the skin.

Other bleach ingredients include:

  • Sodium c10-c16 alkyl sulfate: This chemical demonstrates corrosive effects to rabbit skin and severe eye irritation with permanent corneal effects. Toxicity of this influenced the Liver with effects such as increased relative weight, hepatocyte hypertrophy (abnormal cellular reactions), and elevated liver enzymes.
  • Disodium distyrylbiphenyl disulfonate: Has been found to irritate the skin and eyes.
  • Myristamine oxide: Irritates skin and may induce allergies. Bad for the environment.
  • Hydrodgen Peroxide: This ingredient is a-ok and could be used solely in the place of Bleach. It’s H202 meaning it’s 2 parts hydrogen and 2 parts oxygen.
  • Chlorine: Chlorine is a corrosive agent. It can be found in certain bleach brands. Chlorine in contact with the skin causes the skin to dry out and may cause itching. Ever wonder why pools have chlorine? to kill bacteria, but it also comes at a risk to your health. The more chlorine on your skin the more your body ingests causing your skin to age faster and corrosion (wear and tear, aging) of your flesh to occur more quickly. Marywood University confirms that long-term exposure to chlorinated pools can cause symptoms of asthma in swimmers
  • Sodium Carbonate: Symptoms such as breathing problems, eye swelling, coughing or eye irritation and redness are commonly associated with sodium carbonate.

You may say but David, I’m not drinking or massaging these chemicals onto my skin! Well, are you breathing while cleaning or using any form of bleach? I bet so! then your inhaling the fumes, and if it get’s on your skin in even the smallest amount it will enter your bloodstream. A little bit here and there will damage your health over time.

When I lived in Costa Rica several years ago I had a maid who cleaned our apartment (I know, I was blessed and very grateful) she would come once a week to clean the floors and dishes. Initially I didn’t like it because she used some sort of chemical cleaners that contained bleach and possible ammonia too. I could tell by the smell. Every single time this maid came she had an absolutely terrible cough. She would cough two or three times a minute for 5 seconds or so each cough. I had never seen anyone have such a bad cough unless it was smokers cough. She worked directly with bleach every single day and I felt so bad for her.

I finally ended up making a natural cleaner in a plastic container made with lemon and limes, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide and a little bit of salt all mixed together.  I used google translate to tell her to clean with this cleaner everything from now on.

Important Note: Additionally you should know that you should NEVER mix Ammonia and Clorox (or any brand) Bleach. Doing so creates a toxic gas (known as chloramine) which are extremely toxic to the body. This can cause immediate difficulty breathing, respiratory issues, skin rashes and burning or much worse. 

So what is the point of using bleach? to clean and kill germs? There are PLENTY of ways to clean and kill germs without having something dangerous to inhale (how do you not breathe around these products?), irritating of skin, eyes and corrosive. You can use any variety of natural cleaners by searching (here’s a list) as well as make your own. Or simply use hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, lemons and limes or even essential oils such as lemon, peppermint or tea tree oil to still kill germs and bacteria but add a great scent! These ingredients can be used individually or together depending on the type of cleaner you want to use.

It’s hard to think that these common products are toxic, dangerous and even hazardous. We wouldn’t think that a trustworthy company like clorox (that’s a joke) would create products that could harm us. Chemistry is a multi-billion dollar industry and they want to protect their profits. I highly recommend creating your own cleaner or getting natural toxic free cleaners.

There are also multiple bleach warning labels that describe it’s hazardous contents, how it irritates the skin and eyes and multiple warnings such as keep out of reach of children:


Message me on facebook here for questions!