6 Bleach-Cleaning Tips That Won’t Ruin Your Home Goods | Architectural Digest

6 Bleach-Cleaning Tips That Won’t Ruin Your Home Goods | Architectural Digest

Bleach: The household staple across the land. Yet bleach cleaning can get dicey, especially if you think it’s the cleaning cure-all. Yes, it does wonders in the washing machine and will make sure your toilet bowl is sparkling clean, but if you don’t know how and when to use it, you could end up doing more damage than good. “Many homeowners consider bleach a miracle disinfectant that can be applied to almost anything, but this is untrue,” says Sam Wasson, a cleaning expert with House Method, an online guide dedicated to all things home. “Bleach is considered an abrasive cleaner and can erode or degrade many materials.” Porous vintage tile, for one, can actually get discolored if you get too happy with sodium hypochlorite. The main thing you need to know about bleach is that its superpower comes from its disinfecting properties, not necessarily from surface cleaning prowess.

Here, six ultimate bleach-cleaning facts so you won’t yellow, stain, or damage countertops, tile, and other home goods and materials. 

Do use it as a disinfectant

Wasson says that you should think of bleach as step two in a cleaning “one-two punch.” “After a surface has been cleaned, homeowners can further disinfect it with bleach, killing any stray bacteria or other harmful pathogens that remain,” he says. “To that end, bleach is incredibly fast acting, only requiring 10 to 60 minutes of contact to kill organisms.”

Emma Glubiak, the senior social media manager of The Spruce, a home resource site, agrees and emphasizes that bleach is not a cleaner. “If you have a stain on your counter, bleach may not remove it, but it would kill any bacteria or viruses on the surface,” she says.  

Don’t use it on countertops

Most bathroom and kitchen countertops are either laminate or stone, both of which bleach can erode, discolor, or damage, according to Wasson. For laminate countertops, bleach will eat through the protective coating, and, if left to sit, discolor or damage the laminate paper underneath. For most stone countertops—including marble, granite, and quartz—bleach will eat away the sealants protecting them, leading to dulling, pitting, and potentially discoloration. 

Do dilute 

Mary Gagliardo, the in-house scientist and cleaning expert for Clorox, says that the biggest misconception with bleach is that you can use it straight from the bottle, but bleach should always be diluted with water first. “When not used correctly, a surface  that would otherwise be safe for bleach can end up damaged,” she says. Another misconception: Bleach solution can be saved for another day. Don’t save your leftovers, they won’t disinfect properly. A bleach solution needs to be made fresh for each use.

Don’t use on porous materials

Bleach cleaning can be safe on some surfaces like glazed ceramic tile, plastic cutting boards, painted wood, and sealed granite, Gagliardi says. But you’ll want to skip marble, aluminum, silver, copper, chipped enamel, or anything electronic, Glubiak adds. When used on metals it can react negatively and stain the materials. Also don’t use bleach on porous surfaces, such as wood, or soft surfaces, such as upholstery or carpet. “Chlorine bleach is corrosive and will harm these areas,” she says.


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