Photo: To bleach or not to bleach

Bleach is commonly used for household sanitizing. (Credit: Christine Wainright)

Greta Mckenzie asks: I was wondering if you would be able to tell me how damaging using bleach is to our water source and anything else. I haven't used bleach in my cleaning or laundry for some time now, but there is the odd occasion where it may come in handy. Is it harmful?

You're right. For many people, keeping their whites sparkling usually involves bleach. Unfortunately, chlorine used to make conventional bleach is toxic to manufacture. Once it leaves your drain, it can form organochlorines which are highly toxic to fish. Instead, choose eco-friendly oxygen bleach — its chlorine free. An even more affordable solution, that I prefer, is adding half a cup of baking soda to your wash (even works great in your cold water cycle).

Read this story about how Greenpeace lobbied the Clorox Company to convert their U.S. factories to be much safer!

November 16, 2009

Post a comment


Jul 14, 2012
3:57 PM

In making laundry soap you start with soap flakes, what exactly are soap flakes and where can you buy them? Helen

May 15, 2011
8:41 AM

Love the Queen of Green and have already been using many of the alternate products to clean. Proctor & Gamble hasn’t make very much money off of my purchases over the last 37 years!! Baking soda is a staple in my house but never thought it would be a clothes brightener to replace the minimal amount of bleach that I use. Vinegar is my next main-stay product that is used in place of fabric softener. I use a great product, the Laundry Lift that I highly recommend to people who want to save on dryer use, etc.

Nov 30, 2009
4:32 PM

This is helpful to know as my husband keeps buying regular bleach and washing our whites with it. Can you suggest a safe way to dispose of the bleach or will I need to take it to a toxic round up?

Dec 03, 2009
11:50 AM

Disposal. Now we’re talking. One option is to finish the product, using it sparingly. If you want it out of your home ASAP, you may want to check what your city’s accepts as far as household hazardous waste goes. Each city is different. A good resource that I mention in our Sustainability At Home: a toolkit is

Good luck and congrats on taking the less toxic cleaning route at home. Lindsay, Queen of Green

The David Suzuki Foundation does not necessarily endorse the comments or views posted within this forum. All contributors acknowledge DSF's right to remove product/service endorsements and refuse publication of comments deemed to be offensive or that contravene our operating principles as a charitable organization. Please note that all comments are pre-moderated. Privacy Policy »