Bleach is a commonly used disinfectant. Bleach is used in labs, animal shelters, clinics and in the home environment. Bleach was once considered a kill-all, no knowledge cleanser. Today we know that this couldn't be further from the truth. Assuming that bleach works in any condition or any dilution against disease can be dangerous advice for using bleach properly. There is so many misconceptions about bleach.
Bleach is for sure the cheapest and most effective disinfectant when applied to a clean surface. However, keep in mind that bleach also has the reputation of being dangerous when diluted or applied improperly. Keep safety and effectiveness in mind when using bleach.
Bleach is Diluted
It was once believed that hot water was necessary to provide accurate disinfection. To the contrary, bleach has been found to release much more toxic smell and decompose at a much faster rate when hot water is used for dilution. Bleach needs be diluted properly with water to break up the bleach from its self in order to work.
Bleach is diluted at a 1:32 ratio for standard cleaning and a 1:10 ratio for disinfecting against ringworm. Not diluting bleach can cause a serious problem for smell and render the disinfectant useless. Diluted bleach is actually stronger than straight bleach from the jug and saves money. It is also possible to dilute bleach too strong which could also prevent proper disinfection.
Warnings About Bleach
Bleach starts to degrade after six months. Bleach can become 20 percent less effective each year that it is not used and kept in storage. Bleach should not be mixed with ammonia. Bleach and ammonia can create very toxic gases that can cause breathing problems and headaches at the very least.
Bleach is heat sensitive and light sensitive. This should be an important consideration when determining the best place to store one gallon bottles of bleach.
Bleach can burn the pads of an animal's paws if bleach is not rinsed properly. Use water to thoroughly rinse bleach from all surfaces and completely dry before returning animals to their cage or run.
Important Facts and Tips
Diluted bleach is good for one whole day. Generally bleach is made fresh each morning and the old is tossed out. An even better protocol is to mix bleach 2 times a day if bleach is used often for disinfecting against dangerous disease such as parvo.
While bleach can be sprayed, the recommended way is to apply bleach via a rag and bucket technique. This technique can prevent aerosolization of the disease further and making the air hard to breath for both people and animals.
Mixing bleach with dish soap is a very bad idea. Dish soap can deactivate the properties in bleach that disinfect against disease. However, bleach can be mixed with quat products to make a cleansing and disinfecting product. Bleach has no cleaning properties at all so this tip can be helpful for one step disinfection.
And remember the most important thing… bleach can literally eat a hole through stainless steel if the bleach is diluted too powerful or if the bleach is allowed to sit for longer than 10 minutes. Bleach diluted too strong can also harm animals and people. Safety and attention to detail is what makes a knowledgeable shelter worker.
Label bleach each day with the initials of the individual that prepared the solution. This is to track proper dilution and application of the bleach solution.