In the following blog, Adrian Gee-Turner explains the advantages and disadvantages of bleach as a disinfectant.
The active ingredient in household bleach is sodium hypochlorite; a low cost chemical that has been used to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi since the nineteenth century. The main advantage of bleach is that it is a cheap broad-spectrum disinfectant. The main disadvantages are that it is an irritant so has to be used with appropriate precautions, and is mainly used on hard (unpainted) surfaces.
Ever since the association between microorganisms and infection was established, bleach has remained a powerful tool in infection prevention. However, it is very important that its limitations are understood and that it is stored and used under appropriate conditions. The disadvantages of bleach are highlighted when compared with Nemesis eH2O, which is an electrolysed solution of salt and water producing hypochlorous acid, a weak acid but a powerful natural oxidant and disinfectant. See Table 1.
As an irritant to skin, bleach can cause burns and serious damage to eyes. Inhalation of its fumes can also harm the respiratory tract, and it is important that the correct concentration of bleach is used to achieve effective disinfection. Gloves, eye and face protection are recommended when using bleach. Most bleach manufacturers claim 99.9% kill of harmful micro-organisms. In contrast, with 99.9999% kill, Nemesis eH2O is one thousand times more effective. This means that bleach with 99.9% efficacy (3-log) could be expected (in the right conditions) to reduce a colony of 1 million colony forming units (CFUs) to 1,000 CFUs whereas a 6-log sanitiser (such as Nemesis eH2O) would be expected to reduce the same size colony down to just one CFU.
In summary, bleach is suitable for the low cost disinfection of non-porous surfaces, following cleaning. Nemesis eH2O is suitable where greater efficacy is required and where it is also necessary to disinfect hands, skin and porous surfaces such as bedding, furniture or clothing.
Bleach is great for surfaces like toilets, and along with soap and water has an important role to play, but for more effective disinfection on a much wider range of surfaces, click the links on our Contact page to buy Nemesis eH2O.