Cleaning Bathroom, No real ventilation
June 20, 2019 8:00 AM   Subscribe

I have a bathroom with that probably requires bleach to clean ('non toxic' is not working), but I have two ventilation options: A door and a ceiling vent that goes somewhere but has no fan. What are my options for fairly safe ventilation? Do I run a desk fan in/out of the door?
posted by sandmanwv to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Bleach isn't like ammonia. I mean you don't want to inhale a bunch of it, but at cleaning levels it won't hurt you. A desk fan and an open door are fine. Wear gloves.

(That said, I prefer Fantastik, it works a treat on everything.) But bleach in a dollar store spray bottle, sprayed on your surface and wiped off, isn't going to hurt you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:23 AM on June 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

Best answer: You can wear a face mask first. That should help a bit.

Whenever I ventilate something I use all available options. I open a window (even if it's far away, helps with general circulation) set up any fans I have, and try to leave the room every 45 seconds or so to catch my breath.

I will say, that some apartment ceiling vents have fans on the roof, so you can't really hear them. It's possible! Hold something very feathery (tissue paper, disposable shopping bag) up to the hole and see if there's ANY suction.

Last, if you're scared, you can you a non-bleach disinfectant. It might not work exactly as quick but it should be similarly effective with some elbow grease.
posted by bbqturtle at 8:24 AM on June 20, 2019

Agreed about the ceiling vent. If you're in an apartment building, the extractor fan is probably on the roof and sucks air out of multiple units at a time. Fire a match and blow it out, then trace the smoke -- I bet it is pulled through silently.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:39 AM on June 20, 2019

Bleach-based cleaners are perfectly safe to use without special ventilation (assuming you're not, like, concentrating them to inhale or something).
posted by praemunire at 8:43 AM on June 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you're really worried, point a fan into the bathroom. It'll keep the air moving and push fresh air in.

But just keeping the door open is sufficient. Bleach - especially the modern stuff - is not that volatile.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:47 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, hopefully you know this, but you shouldn't be using straight bleach. Diluted bleach works better - 1 cup per gallon water is about right (which equates to 1/4 cup per quart).

CDC bleach use guide for post-flood, but covers cleaning mold off surfaces, which I'm guessing is what you're doing.
posted by momus_window at 9:07 AM on June 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Bleach is usually a last resort. I prefer scrubbing bubbles, which is essentially an acidified soap. It's very effective as a disinfectant and removes scale as a bonus. Toxicity is comparable to bleach (it won't hurt you, but you might not feel well from breathing in fumes). I find it more pleasant than full-on bleach fumes.
posted by sydnius at 9:08 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Make sure the bathroom is quite dry, and plan to avoid it for 2-3 hours. Spray the bleach solution, close the door, and leave it alone until it dries. After bleach dries, it becomes relatively harmless and odorless.

I actually prefer it to the "Scrubbing Bubbles" cleaner.

I recommend recycling a used cleaner bottle for this, after rinsing the bottle and sprayer mechanism a lot. There seems to be a metal part (a spring?) in the spray bottles I've purchases, and bleach seems to cause that to rust -- so I get one or two uses, then the bottle is useless _and_ there's red stuff in the first two (weak) sprays. On the other hand, recycled cleaner bottles seem to spray well and uniformly, and I don't feel bad about throwing them out when it's time.
posted by amtho at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bleach is smelly but not at all dangerous in the way you're assuming. If you dilute it appropriately, you should be totally fine without any need for a mask or anything like that.

Frankly, things like scrubbing bubbles are made with varying ingredients---and a lot of ingredients---and I would be much more wary of those than I would be of plain old bleach.

You might also try a magic eraser, although it does damage some surfaces.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:36 AM on June 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding trying Scrubbling Bubbles. And once the bathroom's clean, put activated-charcoal dehumidifiers (example) in there.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:59 AM on June 20, 2019

Just a tangential tip, since you're dealing with a heavy duty problem: they make scrub brushes that go on your drill. They're *amazing*. But if you're using something like that with bleach or scrubbing bubbles or similar DO wear eye protection and something that covers your nose/mouth as it can fling spatters of cleaner etc.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2019

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