Bleach replacement?
June 8, 2007 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Is there a substitute for bleach? I am neurotic and don't feel like things (showers, floors, sheets) have been sanitized if I don't use bleach, but bleach bothers my asthma. What can I use that will satisfy both my health and OCD issues?
posted by birdlady to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Any of the sodium percarbonate products (Oxi-Clean, Trader Joe's generic equivalent, etc.). The powder dissolves to form a hydrogen peroxide solution, much stronger in proper ratios than the wimpy ones you buy at the drug store.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:53 PM on June 8, 2007

Vinegar, borax and hydrogen peroxide products (see Mayor Curley) are all considered alternatives to bleach that shouldn't be as nasty to your health.

There are stronger disinfectants similar to bleach (ex. quaternary ammonium products) that can be purchased at janitorial supply companies but they can have even more associated health risks - especially if used at higher concentrations than recommended.

Many people associate certain scents with cleanliness regardless of the actual validity of the product (pine or orange are two common "clean" scents, and "air fresheners" are an example of products that do nothing to remove odors yet people love them) . Maybe you could retrain yourself to use a less harmful/corrosive product but associate a clean smell with it that would satisfy your compulsion.
posted by rosebengal at 3:54 PM on June 8, 2007

In the laundry, I've had good results using borax and hydrogen peroxide as bleach substitutes.

For surface disinfections, products containing thymol (thyme essential oil) have been approved as disinfectants by Health Canada. I've used Benefect and Nature Clean's thymol disinfectants. They have a pleasant, herbal smell.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:50 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

We LOVE this line of products - Mrs. Meyers Clean Day

They're earth-friendly, don't contain bleaches or phosphates, are concentrated so you use less, and they release the most wonderful scent when you do the laundry, run the dishwasher, or clean the kitchen. They work better than any earth-friendly cleaner we've ever tried. They carry an Oxy-Clean equivalent.

Otherwise, I second Oxy-Clean or the Trader Joe's equivalent.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 5:00 PM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes, Hydrogen Peroxide for your OCD needs.

1) For laundry, etc you can use any of the "Oxy" type products which make their own peroxide when mixed with water.

2) The regular dilutions (usually 3% peroxide) you get in the brown plastic bottle are just fine for disinfecting - that's why it's used as a disinfectant.

And geez, it's $1 for a half-liter and you can get it anywhere, even at a gas station mini-mart for when you have a real OCD moment in the public restroom. Just make sure you use it up pretty soon after opening the bottle. It reacts with air and turns from H2O2 - hydrogen peroxide - to H20 - just plain water.

SO it's cheap, biodegradable (except for the plastic bottle) and will do whatever bleach will do. eg: I have a tiny poorly ventilated bathroom that gets mildew easily. If I kill it with bleach, I can't get back into the room until the bleach fumes fade hours later. But if I mix the brown-bottle stuff half and half with plain water and use that to sponge off the mildew, it's gone with a wipe and stays gone for a month or so. Without all the fumes.

Just don't do your shopping in a chemical supply house - undiluted peroxide can be used for rocket fuel.
posted by bartleby at 5:07 PM on June 8, 2007

I also recommend hydrogen peroxide. It foams up when it disinfects something too, it's really cool.
posted by Melsky at 5:18 PM on June 8, 2007

Totally agree with posters who recommend hydrogen peroxide. It works wonders, and watching it foam is a cheap thrill. Plain vinegar is great for various chores, although I don't consider it a disinfectant. I use from a half-cup to a cup in laundry, especially our sweaty clothes after we've been bicycling, and on sheets and pillowcases.
posted by Smalltown Girl at 8:51 PM on June 8, 2007

posted by kmennie at 9:44 AM on June 9, 2007

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