Bleach to water ratio for disinfecting – A comprehensive guide

Bleach is a powerful biocide with its main constituent being the 3-6% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) solution. It is adored as a modern convenience, for its ability to kill all types of bacteria and mold there is in such a short amount of time, on such an industrial scale. 

However, the product also comes with various hazards for the users as well as any objects it is used to clean with. In most circumstances of household usage, bleach has to be diluted; on one hand, we want to reduce as much as possible the volume of this powerful, yet toxic product being used; but on the other hand, we don’t want to over-dilute bleach to the point that we compromise the biocidal effect we desire to achieve.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the bleach to water ratio for a disinfecting solution made from bleach and water

Gather your supplies

For a bleach diluting operation, you will need to get ready the following items:

  1. Protective gears: Chlorine gas and vapor are corrosive and irritant if let in contact with the skin or the eyes, and can be extremely dangerous if inhaled. For dilution as well as any other cleaning operation using bleach, you should equip yourself with protecting gears like a respirator, rubber gloves, protective goggles, and long-sleeve clothes. Also, it is imperative that the space used for the operation must be well ventilated, typically by opening the window.
  2. A bleach, for example, Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach
  3. A bucket
  4. A measuring cup
Cleaning-supplies
The supplies you need to clean with bleach (Source: Internet)

Making bleach solution for your specific cleaning goal

As we have got all the supplies needed for the job, the next step would be to concoct a cleaning solution that contains enough bleach to achieve your desired cleaning goal.

How-to-make-a-bleach-cleaning-solution
How to make a bleach cleaning solution (source: Verywell)

The first note is, NEVER mix bleach with any other cleaning agent because it is almost guaranteed that would produce lethal chlorine fume. The best method is always to mix it with water.

For different cleaning goals, you will have slightly different chlorine concentrations that you need to achieve with your concoction and, hence, a different bleach-to-water ratio in the making of such a mixture. 

In this article, we will quote the suggestions from Clorox – one of the most famed manufacturers of bleach and bleach-based cleaning products. But if you use bleach products from a different manufacturer, always make sure to check the manufacturer’s guides for the best results. However, the generic bleach products shouldn’t be too much different from one another.

How to make a 1500 ppm solution for general disinfecting

A bleach solution of 1500 ppm in bleach concentration is suggested for general disinfecting. This 1500 ppm concentration can be achieved by mixing water and bleach at a ratio of 48:1, with 6 minutes of contact time required. The volume of water and bleach can also be adjusted based on your different cleaning requirements. Here’s how to achieve this ratio using measuring tools:

 Amount of Cool WaterAmount of BleachContact Time
Ratio48 parts1 part 
Five Gallon Bucket1 gallon1/3 cup6 minutes
 2 gallons2/3 cup6 minutes
 3 gallons1 cup6 minutes
40 oz. spray bottle5 cups5 teaspoons6 minutes
32 oz. spray bottle4 cups4 teaspoons6 minutes
24 oz. spray bottle3 cups3 teaspoons6 minutes
16 oz. spray bottle2 cups2 teaspoons6 minutes
Measuring-bleach-using-a-measuring-cup
Measure your bleach solution with the help of a measuring cup (Source: Internet)

According to Clorox, this is also the water to bleach ratio sufficient for killing mold. To kill mold with this solution, spray the molded surface and let the solution sits for 10 minutes before beginning scrubbing.

How to make a 2000 ppm solution to kill additional organisms

An upgrade to a higher bleach content of 2000 ppm in your bleach-based cleaning solution will empower it to kill a wider range of harmful organisms. These include dangerous pathogens like Strep, Bordetella, Listeria + Herpes, MERS, Ebola + Athletes Foot Fungus. 

Measure-bleach-precisely-for-more-effective-cleaning-solutions
Measure bleach precisely with a measuring cup to produce your desired cleaning solution (Source: Internet)

This 2000 ppm bleach concentration can be achieved by mixing water and bleach at a ratio of 36:1, with 5 minutes of contact time required. The volume of each ingredient can also be adjusted based on your different cleaning requirements. Here’s how to achieve this ratio using measuring tools:

 Amount of Cool WaterAmount of BleachContact Time
Ratio36 parts1 part 
Five Gallon Bucket3/4 gallon1/3 cup5 minutes
 1.5 gallons2/3 cup5 minutes
40 oz. spray bottle4.5 cups5 teaspoons5 minutes
32 or 24 oz. spray bottle3 cups4 teaspoons5 minutes
16 oz. spray bottle1.5 cups2 teaspoons5 minutes

Steps to disinfect using bleach

Once having finished concocting the bleach-based cleaning solution suitable for your cleaning goals, you may proceed to the cleaning. Here are the steps to disinfect any part of your home using bleach:

Step 1: Safety measures

As we have discussed earlier, bleach contains very potent chemicals that could easily release hazardous products under the right (wrong) conditions. So the first thing you should do is to take steps to make sure that you are fully protected from the potential hazards.

The safety measures include equipping yourselves with protective gears and ventilating the space where the cleaning is done. For bleach- or any chlorine-related works, you should equip yourselves with you should equip yourself with protecting gears, such as a respirator, rubber gloves, protective goggles, and long-sleeve clothes. To ventilate the area, open the windows, or turn on the exhaust fans in case there is no window.

Another thing you should check is whether or not bleach is safe to use on the surfaces you wish to clean. For surfaces that bleach may corrode, such as metal, plastic, granite, etc. use another cleaning agent.

Step 2: Apply the bleach solution

You can apply the bleach solution to the surface either by spraying, sponging, or mopping it on the surface. Then you will have to wait for a certain amount of time for the bleach to take effect. Depending on what you are planning to clean with the bleach solution, consult the manufacturer’s guide as well as the cleaning guide you are using to find the suitable wait time to both achieve your cleaning goals and preserve the surfaces you wish to clean.

Step 3: Scrub the surface

After the recommended wait time, the bleach would have broken down the stains, the mold, or any other type of buildup you need to clean enough so that it could be scrubbed away. Scrub the surface to remove the buildup.

Step 4: Rinse the surface

After finished scrubbing, rinse the surface thoroughly with water to clean up any leftover debris as well as the bleach residual. You don’t want to leave any bleach residual on the surface because, given enough time, it can corrode even some of the more chemical-resistant surfaces.

Frequently asked questions

This section will be dedicated to answering some frequently asked questions regarding the use of bleach in cleaning.

How long does a bleach and water solution last?

Bleach and water solutions need to be used within the day it’s made because the solution would break down quickly into salt and water. Ready-to-use commercial products, on the other hand, are formulated with measures to prevent this breakdown, and would typically have a one-year shelf life when stored properly in a cool place, away from direct sunlight in a cool.

What solution should I use for mold and mildew?

For mold and mildew, the 1500 ppm solution would be sufficient. Saturate the solution on the surface you wish to clean, then let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.

I bought my bleach from a brand that’s not Clorox®. Can I use it instead?

Firstly, you should check to make sure that the bleach product is sodium-hypochlorite-based disinfecting bleach. Sodium hypochlorite bleach products from most brands are similar and typically comes with a uniform sodium hypochlorite concentration of 3-6%, so they should be viable for interchangeable use.

More cleaning tips and professional cleaning services

Love these tips for cleaning with bleach? Sparkling and Beyond have even more cleaning tips and guides in our cleaning tips library for you to explore. We also provide professional and affordable cleaning services for any other part of your living room, as well as any other part of the house, for any degree of need. We are proud to be of service in keeping your home sparkling clean and healthy.

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