When you think of an easy way to clean and sanitize, you probably think of bleach. In addition to killing all sorts of disgusting things, it is known for reducing water impurities and killing bacteria in water to make it potable. Having this ability makes bleach a valuable asset, but there are some things you should know about bleach before deciding to use it freely.
Even though bleach was not created with human consumption in mind, it can be used to purify water in the absence of a heat source and the ability to boil. The amount of bleach needed to purify a gallon of water is about eight drops; bleach must be unscented and free of other chemical additives as well. You can also use it in stock tanks to kill algae and mosquito larvae but be warned that livestock may be put off of their water by the smell, as their sense of smell is much more sensitive than that of a human. Do note that bleach is a common additive in tap water and chances are you\'ve consumed some already in your life. Speaking of bleach being added to water, the water found in swimming pools is treated with a much higher amount of bleach than drinking water. It is unsafe for consumption and should not be considered potable. Never use pool chemicals to disinfect drinking water.
Bleach is good for cleaning and disinfecting items such as dishes. All it takes is a tablespoon added to a tub of water to make a sanitizing rinse, although that must be rinsed off as well before dishes are allowed to dry. Bleach can also be used as a pesticide, to clean trash cans, to kill mold and mildew, and to disinfect countertops and cutting boards. It can also be used to kill roof algae but that might come at the expense of making your shingles brittle and susceptible to breakage.
Having bleach alternatives in mind is useful due to the fact that bleach does expire and lose effectiveness. Because of this, you might want to consider adopting the use of water filters, both in your home as well as portable ones. When it comes to the bleach that you do store, be sure to rotate your stock in accordance with expiration dates. Don\'t just buy a bunch and pack it away somewhere; use and replace it as needed. Expired bleach is not entirely useless, but it is not reliable for anything you intend to consume, so stick to using it for sanitation purposes only, such as in restroom areas as opposed to surfaces off of which you might eat.
Another important thing to remember is that bleach is essentially a poison. That is why it works so effectively in killing pests as well as mold and mildew. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite and too much contact with this can be toxic to you. It is also very hard on eyes and skin as well as air passages and can aggravate asthma conditions. Handle it with gloves and avoid contact with eyes in addition to using it in well ventilated areas. When using bleach, make sure to never mix it with ammonia as the result is a toxic gas that can be fatal if inhaled.
If bleach sounds like a product that is too risky to use, there are other options available to you. Water purification tablets can be purchased and are small enough to carry in your BOB. They kill bacteria to make water potable. For the purpose of cleaning, you can use vinegar, baking soda, and/or hydrogen peroxide instead of bleach as these items work as disinfectants. The most important thing to take away from this is not only the dangers associated with using certain chemicals, but the fact that you will have to find means to clean up after yourself somehow. If unsanitary conditions are present, illness will take hold and run amok. Preventing this by whatever means necessary is key, and if you choose bleach, be sure to use it correctly to get the outcome that you need.