What is Bleach?


Bleach is a solution made of chlorine gas, caustic soda, and water that results in the formation of sodium hypochlorite. While it’s extremely effective in fighting against germs and bacteria, bleach can also pose some human health problems, such as skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. Plus, it releases dioxins, which can be harmful environmental pollutants.

Want a hot take? Make sure to use bleach with caution - in particular, never mix it with ammonia or chloroform because the result can be deadly.  

Is Bleach “sustainable”?

Not quite. While many people reach for products with chlorine bleach to clean, we actually recommend steering clear of the stuff. Chlorine bleach contains harmful environmental pollutants called dioxins, which are emitted during manufacturing. They poison waterways and animals, and sometimes make their way into our bodies through food. At high levels of exposure, dioxins can cause hormone and immune imbalances, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, allergies, and even cancer. 

Is there a better alternative?

Hydrogen peroxide is widely regarded as the safest oxidant imaginable. We adore the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, and Green Chemists have endorsed hydrogen peroxide as a green solvent and green reagent for more than 20 years. It is even called “the ultimate ‘green’ reagent”. While some find chlorine bleach to be a more effective stain remover, we’ll opt for hydrogen peroxide any day. 

What kind of products are made with Bleach?

Bleach is effective at removing organic stains and whitening, which is why it’s present in many surface cleaners, laundry detergents and stain removing products. Bleach is also used by many paper towel, toilet paper, and menstrual pad and tampon brands to give their products that bright white sheen, but keep in mind that bright color doesn’t necessarily mean the products work better. 

Are there certifications I should look out for?

To our knowledge, there are no certifications that exist to tell one bleach from another. Instead, look out for PCF (processed chlorine free) and TCF (totally chlorine free) labels to ensure you’re supporting companies steering clear of chlorine bleach.

Still want to learn more? Check out some of our favorite references: