A Safer Bleach Alternative

| 10/22/2008 5:44:47 PM

Tags: simple living, recipe, cleaning,

Peroxide and Lemon Juice

Many of us grew up in the largest generation: the Clorox generation. Our earliest memories of cleaning usually involved using bleach and water. The use of bleach defined cleanliness for us – the stinging nostrils, burning cuticles, and noxious fumes – and yet, no one ever seemed alarmed at its use. Of course, bleach isn't all bad. A bottle of bleach means clean drinking water in many parts of the world, good times in swimming pools, and very white clothing. So, why all the fuss?

Bleach is kryptonite for allergy and asthma suffers. Bleach also mixes with common household cleaning products to create some dangerous situations. Examples? Oh, I got plenty of those!

Mixed with ammonia ... bleach releases a gas that can cause your lungs to stop functioning. Where is ammonia lurking that bleach often mixes with it? Toilets. Urine contains ammonia, right?

Mixed with dish soap ... bleach produces mustard gas. That's right, the stuff from World War I that caused severe chemical burns, conjunctivitis, temporary blindness, bleeding and blistering within the respiratory system, and (in some cases) cancer. Not cool, folks.

Mixed with organic matter ... bleach produces chloroform. Chloroform? Yep. Inhaling chloroform vapors depresses the central nervous system of a patient, causing dizziness, fatigue and unconsciousness. Prolonged exposure can harm necessary (and kind of super-important) organs like your liver, kidneys, and skin. Chloroform is also a cancer-causing toxin.

8/3/2015 3:14:11 AM

Hello , I was so disappointed when i read how harmful is the bleach. Thank you for the post. I am going to use only lemon for now on. Best regards! http://actoncarpetcleaners.org.uk/

4/9/2013 2:05:19 AM

I think you need a basic introduction to chemistry.Mixing bleach and soap does not make mustard gas. Mixing bleach and ammonia is dangerous, so don't do it, but there isn't enough ammonia in urine to cause that reaction in any meaningful way. Bleach can be used to make chloroform by mixing it with acetone—a chemical in nail polish remover. How many times have you come close to doing that? Again, small amounts of these chemicals coming into contact with one another is not serious. Ammonia is also found in the human gut. It's just not found in the same quantities as in your cleaning supplies. Chlorine is a major chemical for living cells to function, but it can be toxic if you eat it. This is all about the size, concentration, and exposure. You've been fed a bunch of bleach myths. FINALLY: You should know that since lemon juice is a stronger acid than hydrogen peroxide, you're making an acidic solution that's slight weaker than lemon juice and slightly stronger than hydrogen peroxide. Neither is a basic solution (like soap, ammonia, bleach), so it's not really a bleach substitute you're making.

heather hansen-hauffen
8/9/2012 5:19:15 PM

I've been using it for 2 weeks, it's amazing! Used it to clean the oven with some baking soda (for scrubbing power) and scrubbing sponge and it worked BETTER than oven cleaner! Plus it's so easy to make! I'm about to make more because I am almost out!

heather villa
8/8/2012 1:47:13 PM

Thank you so much! I will make this. Looks easy and I like that it's safe.

heather hansen-hauffen
7/25/2012 2:35:57 PM

I would think that since lemon juice naturally contains citric acid (1.44 grams per oz.) that it would not need additional citric acid. The juice itself should serve as a preservative, I would think.

theresa garrett
4/27/2012 12:44:24 PM

I love your homemade cleaning recipes. I'm moving to the country and will have a septic system and I'm wondering if they are all safe for septic systems. Being new I know I have to be careful what goes into it. Thanks

renee larsen
4/19/2012 5:21:07 PM

Would adding a little citric acid prevent the lemon juice from going rancid?

2/21/2011 12:03:34 PM

Can I subsitute essential oil for the lemon juice?

1/10/2011 3:17:21 PM

Thanks. I like this recipe. I do have a technical question, though. Would white vinegar work as well as citrus fruit juice? I keep a lot of that (vinegar) on hand, but am sensitive to citrus, so...

9/8/2010 11:46:49 AM

My friend’s pediatrician told her to put a capful of bleach in her kid's bath water to prevent a reoccurring skin infection. The kids are young and tend to drink the water for the split second mom isn’t looking, so I think it’s a really bad idea to put a toxic chemical in the bath water of young children. I’m looking for an economical alternative and wonder if the peroxide and lemon juice recipe will do the job. If so, how much is required for a bathtub filled 1/4 to 1/3 of the way.

razor family farms
8/30/2010 12:07:32 PM

I see no need to refrigerate the solution. If the mixture changes color or starts to smell bad -- throw it out. I've never had a problem with the mixture spoiling but then, I don't make up large batches and I use it regularly for white loads (sheets, towels, socks, etc.). Hope that helps! -Lacy

8/30/2010 10:01:35 AM

Yes, I would like to know if this needs to be kept in the refrigerator also. What is the shelf life? Do I need to refrigerate it with a warning that this is not food?

lisa _1
6/25/2010 5:29:35 PM

Do you need to keep it in the refrigerator? Won't the juice make it turn rancid otherwise? How long will it keep?

jan humphrey
5/13/2009 3:24:59 PM

Need lots of information about common stuff not found on manufacturer's labels.

1/27/2009 11:59:31 AM

Doesn't the lemon juice "spoil" and smell bad after awhile?

12/19/2008 12:24:27 PM

Oh wow! Thank you for this info! I just recently developed a temporary allergy to bleach, and I was looking for a cost efficient alternative. :)

10/26/2008 7:14:43 PM

Great post, Lacy! I hate bleach.... Only use it if I must!

10/25/2008 3:33:42 PM

What a great idea. It is wonderful to have safe cleaners especially when kids are using them.

10/24/2008 1:12:34 PM

Lacy, thanks for posting this, I love this idea. I hate, hate, hate chemicals, so anytime I can find a gentler solution I'll take it.

10/24/2008 7:44:53 AM

Great tip Lacy! I do like thats its a healthy cleaner-but I love the cheap part too!

cindy murphy
10/24/2008 5:57:52 AM

Hi, Lacy. I've used a mixture of lemon juice, baking soda, and water as a laundry pre-wash bleach-alternative soak in the past, but did not realize lemon juice could be used with hydrogen perioxide as a sort of all-purpose beach-alternative cleaner. Thanks for the tip!

razor family farms
10/23/2008 2:46:21 PM

Commercial antibacterial dish soaps, toilet bowl cleaners, rust removers, dishwashing detergents, laundry detergents, and other soaps can contain ingredients ranging from trisodium phosphates and ammonia to phosphorus compounds and chromic acid. Bleach should not be mixed with ANYTHING except water. I've witnessed people (even smart people) mixing bleach with vinegar, ammonia, dish detergent, and household cleaners. Many of the mixtures actually hinder the cleaning ability of the bleach -- but all release damaging fumes. Chlorine gas is formed when ammonia and bleach are mixed. Mustard gas, which can be made many ways, can from when bleach is mixed with certain soaps. Bleach used in the laundry (used according to package directions) is diluted enough to be safe when mixed with detergent. Never use full-strength bleach. Dilute with water according to the direction on the bottle if you choose to use bleach in your home. These facts come from the MSDS sheet for liquid bleach and the warning labels from commercial bleach. Please call a poison control center or a doctor if swallowed or if you have been silly enough to mix bleach with anything other than water and have inhaled potentially deadly fumes. Blessings! Lacy

aly in ga
10/23/2008 12:54:08 PM

Lacy sent me too. What a wonderful find this is. Living in GA, I can attest to the red clay conundrum. Thanks for a safe solution! Peace & Blessings.

10/23/2008 11:57:18 AM

I don't know what kind of dish soap you use, but it's AMMONIA and BLEACH that create a chlorine-like gas. :) And mustard gas is actually a little bit different than what this makes, but close enough for our purposes. Sorry.

razor family farms
10/23/2008 9:34:02 AM

Hi Crossview! I gotta tell you -- this stuff works well on Georgia clay. I know that you know what I am talking about when I say that Georgia clay is a breed all its own. Wow -- is it ever hard to get out of clothing! I used to use oxiclean on the clay stains and found that it worked but also discovered that oxiclean was too expensive to use on every stained article of clothing to enter my laundry room. This works! Blessings! Lacy

razor family farms
10/23/2008 9:31:19 AM

Hi Julie! I am so glad that you will be linking to this post! GRIT.com is such a useful site! I use this bleach alternative instead of Oxiclean, too! Works great on everything! Blessings! Lacy

10/23/2008 9:23:18 AM

What a great idea! And it makes sense since both are great for cleaning.

julie at elisharose
10/23/2008 9:03:56 AM

Awesome. I will totally have to try this. Thanks, Lacy! I'm going to have to link you on this one.

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