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Chlorine bleach is certainly effective in killing pathogens, but what if you need or want an alternative? This homemade bleach is effective for laundry, cleaning, and more!

In my quest to make my home as natural and non-toxic as possible, naturally I wondered whether I could make bleach at home. Chlorine bleach is rather nasty stuff, it tends to give me headaches when I use it, and I want to use it as little as possible in my home. And besides, some people are allergic to chlorine – might there be a decent alternative for them?

But the question is – homemade bleach is great for whitening laundry, as Jillee at One Good Thing and Robin at Thank Your Body have shown, but what about cleaning? Have I been wrong about chlorine bleach? Can a homemade version be as effective as chlorine?

The short answer – yes.

The long answer – yes, but laundry and cleaning require different recipes AND you have to be aware that, since you're making your own solution, you can make an educated guess, but not actually verify, which viruses and bacteria your solution is actually killing. (It's still effective though!)

Want an alternative to chlorine bleach but don't want to make your own? I often use this non-chlorine bleach in my home, as well as this powdered version for laundry.

 

WHY on earth would you want to make your own bleach?

To decide whether homemade bleach is right for you, first you should know your ingredients, both of regular chlorine bleach (aka sodium hypochlorite) and the homemade versions.

Chlorine bleach

Chlorine bleach is sodium hypochlorite, a solution of chlorine and diluted sodium hydroxide. That's interesting for two reasons:

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One, when exposed to the air, the chlorine evaporates as a gas from the bleach solution at a high rate, which is why there is such a strong smell associated with chlorine bleach. Honestly, chlorine inhalation is what bothers me most about having it in my home. Chlorine fumes can cause everything from mild headaches and dizziness to internal tissue damage of the nasal, pulmonary, and bronchial tissues, if the exposure is either severe or prolonged.

Two, sodium hydroxide is highly corrosive, and even though it has changed states here due to the chemical reaction with water and chlorine, the mixture is still corrosive. You may remember sodium hydroxide as the active ingredient in drain cleaner and the ingredient we use in soapmaking to convert oils into soap (it's also known as “caustic lye”). And if you've ever made soap, you'll know that you need to use extreme caution when handling the sodium hydroxide crystals.

However, despite those two hazards, chlorine bleach is relatively shelf-stable and has been widely tested and approved as effective against multiple viruses, microbes, bacteria, protozoa, and other pathogens on both hard and porous surfaces, as well as an effective whitening agent.

Homemade bleach

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be just as corrosive as chlorine bleach, depending on its strength, and it's more volatile at higher concentrations, yet hydrogen peroxide has been approved as an effective household disinfectant by the EPA since 1977.

Hydrogen peroxide can be found in multiple potencies. The kind typically available at a common drugstore is a diluted 3% solution.

However, it can also be found in industrial and food grade strength, which are all above 30% dilution. Of course, this will make a MUCH more potent cleaner, but it's also extremely volatile at that strength. It can burn your skin severely (ask me how I know…. ::sigh:: ), corrode certain materials (such as vinyl countertops), tarnish metal, and explode if stored improperly.

(Interesting side note: In its purest form, hydrogen peroxide even sometimes used to propel rockets because of its explosive nature! Cool, huh?)

However, at the concentrations we use here, the corrosive levels are very low and there is very little vapor vulnerability. In a nutshell, THIS is why I make my own homemade bleach.

Vinegar

Vinegar is easy to find, cheap to source, and can even be made at home (my book, The DIY Pantry, has a recipe for homemade wine vinegar, but it's strictly a culinary recipe – there's no way to ensure a homemade recipe consistently has sufficient acetic acid for efficient anti-microbial action).

Vinegar has been proven to inactivate certain strains of influenza, including H1N1, as well as other viruses (pdf), and according to an anecdotal quote from an executive at Heinz, pure 5% white vinegar will kill approximately 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of germs (their word, not mine) when used for cleaning.

However, as I describe below, vinegar is most potent when combined with hydrogen peroxide.

IMPORTANT REMINDER:

I am legally required to remind you that since you are making your own solution and I cannot be present beside you with testing kit in hand to verify your method, measure your exact ingredients, and test the potency of your finished solution, the recipes below are NOT guaranteed to kill coronaviruses or any other pathogens that enter your home. All the information here is listed strictly as guidelines for you to be able to do your own due diligence.

So, with that, let's get to the recipes!

 

Chlorine bleach is certainly effective in killing pathogens, but what if you need or want an alternative? This homemade bleach is effective for laundry, cleaning, and more!

Homemade Bleach for Cleaning

For cleaning, you want oomph, and a 50-50 blend of 3% H2O2 and water seems pretty standard by the scientific community to sufficiently deal with common household bacterias, viruses, and molds. Of course, I always like things a little more potent, so sometimes I skip adding the water altogether.

makes 1 quart

2 cups hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) – see where to buy hydrogen peroxide
2 tablespoons lemon juice OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid – see where to buy citric acid
2 cups water
10 drops lemon essential oil

Store in dark or covered bottles, as exposure to light will weaken the solution. Lasts up to 1 month in a clear bottle, 2-3 months in a dark bottle.

 

Here are a few ideas for keeping your solution in the dark:

Keep old peroxide bottles and kype a spray nozzle from another bottle.

Wrap the spray bottle in a brown paper lunch bag and secure at the top.

Cover the spray bottle with construction paper or wrapping paper and make it decorative – I'm not a crafty type, but those of you who are crafty at heart, feel free go to town!

 

Homemade Bleach for Disinfecting Surfaces & Washing Produce

Peracetic acid, which is formed when acetic acid (vinegar) and hydrogen peroxide mix, is a very potent cleaner against multiple viruses and bacteria according to the EPA, but it is very unstable and weakens quickly once mixed. (Source: CDC Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008)

It is even potent enough to be used for sanitizing some medical, surgical, and dental supplies, and is approved in the US for use on hard, non-porous surfaces in cheesemaking facilities, wineries, and other food service locales, again according to the EPA.

However, I have not been able to find any information regarding its effectiveness against protozoa and amoebas, so I cannot recommend its use against those pathogens.

To make homemade bleach for cleaning, keep two separate spray bottles on hand – one with standard 3% hydrogen peroxide and one with 5% or 7% white vinegar, then spritz them each on the surface to be cleaned – such as countertops, cutting boards, or fresh produce. (Source: Journal of Food Protection // “Control of pathogenic bacteria on fresh produce,” Peters, D., Sumner, et al. 1996)

Let the spray then sit to dry without wiping or rinsing. 

Because it weakens and loses its potency so quickly once mixed, there is no “recipe” for it beyond that, as you don't want to mix it up ahead of time.

I personally like to spray a bit heavier with the hydrogen peroxide, as peracetic acid + hydrogen peroxide is an even more potent disinfectant, but a 50-50 mix is certainly sufficient.

A Note about Fumes:

Since vinegar in particular is recommended so commonly for natural cleaning purposes, you may have run across mentions that vinegar should never be mixed with either chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide, as “toxic fumes may result.”

This is true, but at the concentrations we're working with, there is little cause for concern. Remember that the hydrogen peroxide typically found at the drug store is a 3% concentration – that means it's 3% hydrogen peroxide and 97% water. If you use a hydrogen peroxide above 10%, you may need to start paying more attention to fumes and to how it comes into contact with your skin, but with the ingredients as we have listed them here, there is no more cause for concern than you would experience if sniffing either the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide on their own – not comfortable, but not dangerous. (See more discussion on this topic.)

 

Homemade Bleach for Laundry Use

For laundry, you want something a little less potent – just so your colors actually stay, you know, colored. If you do use the cleaning recipe for laundry, use only 1/4 cup and test on light colored fabrics first!

The lemon juice is actually an important part of this recipe, so don't skip it. The citric acid acts as a whitener, a very mild disinfectant, and as a water softener (thus allowing stains to be lifted out more easily).

Makes 1 quart
(multiply everything by 4 to make 1 gallon)

1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (3% solution)
2 tablespoons lemon juice OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
3 1/4 cups water
5 drops lemon essential oil

Use 1 cup per load of laundry.

Results will definitely vary according to the hardness of your water.

 
 

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205 thoughts on “Homemade Bleach

    • Kresha says:

      I’ve used it for spot cleaning on some pretty heavy-duty soils without any problems, so, yes, that should be absolutely fine.

      HOWEVER, as usual, it’s always wise to test it on an inconspicuous corner of your fabric first. This is especially true if it’s going to be exposed to the sun while the bleach is still wet (lemon juice + natural sunlight has been used for centuries as a natural way to bleach fabrics).

      • Alanna Cosman says:

        Kresha, we are moving into our new house and of course, have a new well…I am wondering if I can use this instead of bleach to “shock” it?

        • Kresha says:

          These recipes are far too weak to shock a well – you would need pure hydrogen peroxide that is at least food grade. (“Regular” hydrogen peroxide from the drug store is 3%, while food grade is 35%.)

          The problem is I’m not sure what concentration you would need to effectively kill all algaes, bacteria, and other undesirables. One person at this forum purports that the standard rule of thumb is 8-10 oz of 35% hydrogen peroxide to 1000 gallons water to attain a reading of 30 ppm after application. However, that seems FAR too weak to me, so you’d definitely need to do some research.

          The good news, though, is that there ARE lots of people who shock their wells using hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine so it is possible! I’m just not experienced enough to be able to advise you accurately. πŸ™‚ Perhaps begin by googling “how to shock a well with hydrogen peroxide,” and then secondarily, find a company that MAKES food grade H2O2 and call to ask them directly.

          I hope that helps!

          • Becky says:

            I tried the cleaning surfaces recipe to soak my false teeth in overnight. What a difference !! It did not hurt the teeth ( yet ) I think if it were to be used maybe once a month to freshen and improve the color of your false teeth it would be great. I am taking my teeth to my dentist and have him look at them with his very strong magnifying glass to see if it has damaged the surface (that I can not see with my eye alone). I will let you know. Thanks for all your great ideas. God bless πŸ˜€
            todusty2@aol.com

  1. Jennifer Truel says:

    We work in 3rd and 4th world countries. Can either of these be used safely to soak our vegetables in for parasitical and amebic reasons? I have read that grapeseed extract may be good for this cleansing of fruits and veggies. Thanks in advance!

    • Kresha says:

      I have been told that, yes, this is fine, but let me do a bit of research before I answer with a more resounding “YES!” I have close friends and family who have lived and worked in the third world as well, and they certainly would have experience with this. Do you currently use chlorine bleach? I know that’s the usual protocol for many.

    • Kresha says:

      Jennifer,

      I have only been able to find ONE study that would support that the hydrogen peroxide + distilled vinegar would be sufficient for killing the nasty bacteria and pathogens that you are regularly exposed to in your produce (and I haven’t even found the abstract of the study itself, just several references to the study!).

      As for the grapefruit seed extract, I would advise against it, only because I haven’t been able to find any sources that convincingly prove its efficacy in this regard. The bugs and parasites you’re dealing with are nasty – you don’t want to mess with them! πŸ™‚

      So, unfortunately, I would recommend sticking with the chlorine wash or other “approved” washes you can find in your country until we can prove more definitively that the alternative versions will effectively deal with the ameobas and bacterias-on-steriods that typically exist in the developing world.

      I’ll continue researching and if I ever come up with anything promising, I’ll post it!

      • Kara says:

        Thanks for the update on this Kresha, I’ve been eagerly anticipating it. I’m disappointed that the home-made solution is probably not fool-proof for nasty bugs, but I’m wondering if it would suffice for taking care of nasty chemicals and pesticides, as that’s mostly what we’ll be dealing with where we’re headed. What do you think?

      • mad says:

        think I will go with Kara.. we existed for 20,000 years as human nods before chemical to clean food. I will stick to vinegar spray

        • Kresha Faber says:

          Actually, grapeseed oil is a culinary oil pressed from the seeds of grapes, but in this case we’re discussing grapefruit seed extract, which is a preservative & antimicrobial liquid that is mechanically extracted from the seeds and membranes of grapefruits.

          Did I misunderstand your comment?

    • Kelly says:

      I looked up parasites in my Modern Essentials book, and Doterra’a, certified pure therapeutic grade, oregano essential oil, which can be taken internally, removes blastocystis hominis, and their Lavender essential oil eliminates protozoal pathogens… hope this helps!

    • Bill says:

      Copper sulfate solutions are widely used on fruits and vegetables to disinfect their surfaces and leave a residue to deter microbial growths. It can be washed off using a weak vinegar solution or left alone, since all living things need copper in their diets/soils to have a healthy metabolism and vigorous growth,

  2. Melissa says:

    Hi Kresha,

    Thank you for your blog!!

    I was wondering what sort of hydrogen peroxide you use; are some brands better than others, without stabilizers and such?

    • Kresha says:

      Melissa,

      You’re so welcome. It’s a pleasure. πŸ™‚

      For this application, I don’t worry about stabilizers and other additives in the hydrogen peroxide, as they don’t make a noticeable difference. Also, I wanted the recipe to be easy to make and the ingredients frugal to buy, so it’s definitely advantageous to use whatever you can find at your local drugstore rather than trying to source “purer” brands.

      Also, the 3% variety that is common is just fine and I’ve chosen ratios of ingredients assuming that 3% hydrogen peroxide will be used. If you have 29% on hand, you can use it, but you’ll need to add a fair bit of water, as 29% is quite powerful and will burn your skin and corrode various surfaces on contact. So, again, the easiest source is the stuff from any drugstore.

      If, however, you ever embark on the journey to do an alternative therapy that uses hydrogen peroxide internally, then you’ll DEFINITELY have to source food-grade stuff without additives. But that’s outside the scope of this post – that’s a different subject entirely. πŸ™‚

  3. Kelly says:

    Thank you for the great info! I wanted to clarify something that’s not quite clear to me though-in the laundry recipe it says, “If you do use the cleaning recipe for laundry, use only 1/4 cup and test on light colored fabrics first!” and then under the actual recipe it says to use 1 cup. Either you’re suggesting to use just 1/4 cup to test and if no problems use a full cup, or you’re saying that if I choose to use the cleaning recipe on laundry to just use 1/4 cup. Would you please calrify? Thanks!

    • Kresha says:

      Sorry – that is a bit confusing! What I meant is this:

      If you use the CLEANING recipe for LAUNDRY (as opposed to the LAUNDRY recipe for LAUNDRY), then use only 1/4 cup of the CLEANING recipe, since it’s a more potent blend.

      Does that clarify sufficiently?

  4. Nancy says:

    Has anybody used tea tree oil in the bleach recipe, instead of lemon oil?? I’m especially interested in the laundry bleach …

    • Kresha says:

      You can definitely use tea tree oil in any of the recipes, including laundry. It works fabulously!

  5. Rebecca says:

    My experience with using it in my wash is that it keeps the white clothes white, but if the clothes are already dingy, it does not lighten them. Oh well. Maybe if I soaked them in a solution overnight they might, but I have not tried that yet.

    • suzi says:

      My whites are the last load of my washing for a purpose, I let them sit all day, and do the rest the next day or i put them in the machine at night and allow them to sit all night and wash the next morning. So nice!!

      • Shayne says:

        THAT is an awesome idea suzi! I hope I can do that once I move to my apartment! I am going to try this recipe as well as a homemade laundry soap and softner one I recently found

    • Val S says:

      Soak your clothes, then put them out in the sunshine, once dry, rewash. Should be very light/white. A solution similar to this +sunshine got yellow mustard out of the vinyl part of my daughters favorite shirt!

  6. Sabrina says:

    Oh what a great alternative to that ‘smelly’ chlorine bleach! Thanks soooo much for this recipe and post!

    • Kresha says:

      Well, a bit of both.

      Lemon essential oil does have potent antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which certainly makes the bleach more effective, but there are other essential oils that are potent in that regard as well. Clove, rosemary, grapefruit, tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender are good examples. I chose lemon because it complements the lemon juice, which IS an essential part of the recipe.

      Certainly feel free to mix it up according to your mood or preference! πŸ™‚

  7. Jeanette says:

    Very cool. I enjoy making laundry, cleaning and beauty products. Thanks for the bleach recipe. I had no idea that it could be made. BTY..I read on P\interest that old socks cut off and wrap\p\ed around spray bottles and jars will keep\ the light out. Another cool idea.

  8. Jan S says:

    I would like to know how important the Lemon Essential Oil is in both the cleaning and the laundry solution. I keep both lemon juice and peroxide around all the time for other things, I add peroxide into my dishwater etc to help kill germs and make a homemade carpet spot remover. But Lemon Essential Oil is something I don’t normally keep.

    • Kresha says:

      As I mentioned to another commenter as well, you are certainly welcome to use other essential oils that combat bacteria, viruses, fungi, and mold, such as clove, rosemary, grapefruit, tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender. A Five Thieves blend would likely work very nicely too.

      If you would prefer to skip the essential oils altogether, they aren’t absolutely required (so feel free to leave them out), but they certainly do give the bleach its effective punch for disinfecting surfaces. It’s not as true for the laundry – the lemon juice is more important in the laundry recipe.

      I hope that helps!

    • Kresha says:

      Hydrogen peroxide breaks down quickly and loses its potency when exposed to light (which is why it’s always sold in brown bottles). Thus, if you don’t have any dark bottles to store your homemade bleach in, you can just use a regular bottle and cover it with a paper bag, a sock (like one other commenter suggested), wrapping paper, or anything else to keep the light out.

      • Shayne says:

        Thats a great idea! “Wrap” the bottle in an old dark colored sock! It wont matter if it gets wet and easier to hold on to the bottle.

  9. Vikki says:

    I love your Blogs. Have you ever tried the stronger peroxide for hair color bleaching? it is stronger I have used it for bleaching my whites.

    • Kresha says:

      Thanks, Vikki!

      I haven’t tried it for hair bleaching, but perhaps someone else here has. Can anyone else give some insight? How well does this work?

  10. Penny says:

    I’ve used the peroxide/vinegar two bottle disinfectant for some years now, regularly around the kitchen, for produce, in bathroom, and as needed for ookey emergencies elsewhere – it is so simple to use, has worked extremely well, is safe, has no flashback to get in your eyes or lungs, and I love it! LIke you I “keep old peroxide bottles and kype a spray nozzle from another bottle”.

    Now I definitely have to try your laundry bleach! And probably your cleaner too – I assume the citric acid in this one is there to help lift dirtiness & stains? You didn’t state specifically.

    This is the first time I’ve seen your blog and I like it very much. Thank you so much for posting this!

    • Kresha says:

      Penny, welcome!

      Yes, you’re absolutely correct – the citric acid is there as a softener, disinfectant, and stain-loosener.

    • Kresha says:

      If you add it to the washer like you would with chlorine bleach, it should absolutely be fine – I’ve never heard of anyone having any issues. However, if you’re worried about a certain fabric or with the specific dye in one particular item of clothing, definitely do a spot test first.

      Any other readers have any experiences to share or words of wisdom?

    • Kresha says:

      Some health food stores carry it, cheesemaking supply stores, gourmet kitchen shops sometimes carry it in small amounts, wine and beer making shops, Amazon.com, and Cultures for Health all carry it. It can be a hard to find “specialty” item, but once you find a source, it’s fairly easy to stay stocked. πŸ™‚

  11. Shayne says:

    I love your recipes and words of wisdom Kresha! I would love to know if you think this would be safe to use on a pets coat? Our dog is a smelly one and all white?

    • Kresha says:

      I am NOT a dog groomer or a veterinarian or knowledgeable about pets in any other way. That said, I would think that regular use on a dog’s fur to combat smell would dry out the hair and make it a bit brittle. Occasional use might be okay.

      Since I really don’t know and I’m just venturing a guess, I’ll put the question up on our Facebook page and see if anyone else can help out! πŸ™‚

    • Cinder says:

      Shayne, defiantly do not use this on your pet! Drying out the dogs shin will make the problem worse!

      I highly recommend this and learned of it from my vet whom I trust. He suggest a eucalyptus and olive oil remedy for animals with shin problems or any animals that have regular flea infestations, He dose not believe in Advantage or Front line, as it burns your pet and cause drying of the shin which will then irritate your pet shin issue, making the smell more pungent.
      For our old smelly dog (who has a shin issue) I apply after each bath, and all our cats (to prevent fleas) twice a month.
      Smallest/cheapest bottle of olive oil I can find in the store
      2 or 3 drops of eucalyptus oil for every 3 Oz. of olive oil.
      But remember ONLY 2 or 3 drops of eucalyptus because it will sting if to potent, and/or will make your pet sick or even kill your pet if they ingest it at stronger amounts!
      Eucalyptus oil is toxic, mark the bottle well and keep out of reach of children and uninformed cooks.

  12. L. Marie says:

    Great information — I appreciate how accessible/frugal the ingredients are, and I love any excuse to cut open a piece of citrus — aromatherapy at its best!

    I’ve taken to buying the big bags of lemons and limes at Sam’s, as I find that when I’m flush with them, I’m more likely to use them up. When I only have a couple lying about, I think “I have to save them for something really good…” and then more often than not I “save” them for too long and they go bad. :/

    ALL that to say, is that I currently have a buncha limes (and only a few lemons. I’m saving them…) I wondered if lime juice would be as effective as lemon juice here. A quick search re: the amount of citric acid in each yielded this helpful result: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18290732

    The gist is that limes have just a slightly lower citric acid count than lemons .(They are both higher than other citrus fruits — oranges or grapefruit, for instance.) I’m taking this to mean that limes would serve as an acceptable alternative in your formulas, if it meant the difference between trying it TODAY and waiting until next week when I’ve got a new big bag of lemons. πŸ™‚ I do happen to have a jar of citric acid, too, so I may add just a pinch to the formula to balance things out.

    Thanks again for sharing these with us!

  13. L. Marie says:

    Oh, and one more thing — I wanted to mention, for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t yet begun to build their stock of essential oils, or just hasn’t worked with lemon e.o. yet, or is daunted by the often high prices of e.o.’s:

    lemon essential oil happens to be among the cheapest. Obviously the cost will vary depending upon the quality and source of your oils, but even an organic brand is still really reasonable and doesn’t make you look at that tiny bottle and say “ouch.” πŸ™‚

    Just an encouragement!

    • Staci Danielle says:

      Thank you for adding your comments about the prices of essential oils. I have found them to be pricy with young life and do terra and was starting to feel discouraged about not being able to use e.o. Due to the price.

      • Sarah L says:

        Stacy, there are other brands that are fine, so please don’t feel limited because of a sales pitch. Just as a heads up, the term “theraputic grade” is a marketing term. It is not regulated in any way, so there are no objective standards as to what can be called “therapeutic” and what cannot. I use my nose at the store when I choose an eo. Some of them smell off or chemically. (I have really noticed this with lavender and tea tree.) Others are lovely and – in my experience – quite effective. If it comes down to skipping eo’s or ordering from a multilevel marketing group, please, please, please just go to the store and get yourself an eo. It’s not worth it to go without.

  14. Linda Parker says:

    Someone was asking about using this blend in a third world country for cleaning veggies – well if you study aromatherapy – you can find certain oils that are “anti” fungal, bacterial, microbal, etc, etc – I would talk to a certified aromatherapist about what blend of oils would kill the pathogens in your country – nature will provide everything you need – things like oil of oregano, theives blend, tea tree oil – very powerful,,and very healthy

    My family uses oil of oregano internally for all kinds of issues,,like candida, throat infections, colds, flu – it will kill all kinds of things…

    find someone who practices with the oils and has the education to advise and you will find your answers… and every economical as those oils can be put into your first aid kit for all kinds of other uses…

    blessings….

    • Megan says:

      I have repeatedly seen the bleach for water storage thing. I realize it is used because of the chlorine, but I’ve read several places that vinegar has just as good or better antifungal/antibacterial results. Why couldn’t vinegar be used in place of the bleach? At least here in the US I am not aware that water coming out of the tap would be likely to have parasites or whatever in it?

      • Katie Robinson says:

        Vinegar will not purify water. It does not kill exisiting bacteria, it just prevents bacteria from multiplying because it creates an . Usually what you are killing in water are paramecium, not just bacteria and acetic acid is just not strong enough. You would have to add a LOT of vinegar (like 3 cups/gallon) to come anywhere close to the antiseptic properties of iodine or chlorine bleach. I understand your point that most water comes out of the tap already purified (and it does), the issue is that if you store water in containers for long periods of time and it is not 100% hermetically sealed then it is possible for other organisms to get into the water containers and contaminate your water. Then when you need to use it in an emergency it may be contaminated and require purification before it is safe to drink. Or, for example, in an emergency/natural disaster situation where the water lines may be contaminated. If you don’t want to purify your stored water with chemicals, your other safe option is to boil it, provided you have a heat source you can do that with.
        Vinegar and citric acid are OK for cleaning, but if you are really concerned about thorough disinfecting then you should use ethel alcohol (basically Everclear) or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). They can be sprayed directly on hard or soft surfaces, they evaporate and leave no residues, and they kill WAY more infectious things than vinegar or lemon juice. Plus they do not have a bleaching/fading effect like peroxide (it bleaches your hair, it will bleach your clothes. If you spill the concentrated stuff on your hands it will even temporarily bleach your skin). My husband works in a lab with e.coli and they use either ethel alcohol or diluted chlorine bleach solution to disinfect after the e.coli – not vinegar and lemon juice.

        • Katie Robinson says:

          Edit – Vinegar creates and acidic environment that discourages bacteria from multiplying but it is not strong enough to kill existing bacteria in water.

        • Kresha says:

          Thanks for a great comment!

          I love isopropyl alcohol and use it regularly, but purposely hadn’t included it in any of these recipes because of its mixed effectiveness for various tasks. For example, according to the CDC’s published Guidelines for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, ethyl alcohol is very rapidly bactericidal, as well as tuberculocidal, fungicidal, and virucidal, but it does not destroy bacterial spores. Isopropyl alcohol is also listed as equally effective in killing the cysts of certain microbes as chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide, and thimerosal. So, I agree that it is a potent disinfectant – but only in certain situations, so I didn’t feel I could give it a full recommendation in a general cleaning recipe.

          http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/disinfection_sterilization/6_0disinfection.html

          This is why I also recommend that for any type of disinfection, the vinegar is combined with hydrogen peroxide (not lemon juice) to create paracetic acid rather than relying on acetic acid to cut through the grime.

          Also, I stand by my previous comment that I am uncertain of the effectiveness of any of these methods in killing protozoa, which is typically what will cause water-borne illness, such as giardia and amoebic dysentery. If any of the readers of this comment are in an area of the world where water supply is likely contaminated, I have not yet found a method of disinfection I can recommend other than chlorine bleach that can conquer such virulent life forms.

          Thanks again for a wonderful addition to this conversation. πŸ™‚

          • Jing says:

            Hi, firstly, thank you for the refreshingly scientific based piece of info about home cleaning products. A well researched piece is hard to find on the internet (let alone one with MSDS) and we really ought to celebrate it. I also work in a lab environment, the standard decontaminate is 70% ethanol or 2% chlorine bleach solution.

            Whilst it is important for those in our line of work to decontaminate surfaces, to avoid cross contamination and such, it may not be necessary at home.

            There are studies which suggests a correlation between the diversity of the micro organisms we are exposed to and our auto immune responses. Meaning, the more variety of “germs” we are exposed to, the less likely we would have allergies. Some research also suggest a healthy variety of gut bacteria is necessary for a healthy body. So by cleaning and trying to elimate “germs” in our environment, we don’t allow our bodies a chance to use and grow our immune system which by the way is very effective at protecting us. Or else the human race would have seen its demise long before we discovered antibiotics. So unless someone in your household is immuno compromised, sick, old or a baby, do you really need to get rid of 99.9% of germs? Just my 2 cents.

  15. Sarah Sanford says:

    Jennifer Truel asked about pesticides and other chemicals and food safety. In addition to washing or soaking foods to clean them, choose foods that can be peeled before consumption. Cooking peeled foods is a good next step.

    • Kresha says:

      Lemon is one of the more common essential oils, so anywhere where essential oils are sold would have a lemon version, I’m sure! Most health food stores, MountainRoseHerbs.com, and Amazon.com are common places to find them. I’m sure other readers would have other suggestions as well.

  16. Pat Burns says:

    I’m assuming that this works well with HE washers……just put it in the bleach drawer, right.?

    Thanks

  17. Jazzy says:

    is it ok to put into a plastic vinegar bottle ? I can’t find old bottles around here , I need to go to the antique store I think saw some there. But is it ok to put in plastic and wrap a bag around it and put under sink?

    • Kresha says:

      Yes, absolutely it’s okay to put it in an old plastic vinegar bottle and wrap it in a sock or a bag and put it under the sink. That sounds like a GREAT option!

    • Kresha says:

      No, definitely not. You can certainly make any of the bleach recipes without the essential oils.

      The oils do “up the ante” on the antibacterial effectiveness of the recipes, but they are in fairly small concentration here, so they mostly add a lovely scent.

  18. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much~! I found the picture for this page on Facebook and “had” to copy the recipes right away. I had been planning on searching for a bleach recipe sometime in the next few days anyway, so this is perfect timing. I’m looking forward to trying out these recipes, and I thank everyone on the thread for their excellent questions and suggestions, which are very helpful. Blessings.

  19. Rebecca Farmer says:

    I use a small amount of bleach in my dish water for disinfectant. What would u suggest for an alternative to the bleach?

    • Kresha says:

      You can use any of the recipes here for that purpose. Any of them will definitely do the job. πŸ™‚

    • Kresha says:

      Yes, absolutely. It will break down to water, oxygen, and biodegradable particles. πŸ™‚

      • Maggie Turner says:

        Septic systems are living communities.

        The action that kills viruses and bacteria will also kill the active bacteria that keep a septic system healthy. A septic system is a living entity, and would be damaged by this alternative bleach. I would not use this as an alternative to bleach, because we have a healthy septic system. I use aqueous oxygen instead of bleach, and retain it in the sink, toilet bowl, etc, for the full fifteen minutes it takes for it to destabilize and revert back to ordinary water… then we flush and drain, harmless to our septic system.

        • Kresha Faber says:

          Maggie,

          You are exactly correct and I don’t advocate using anything to clean your septic system on a routine basis – the question only arises when those living systems get out of balance and need to be corrected so they can be restored.

          As for use in generic cleaning, you have a valid point, but it would just depend on how long it takes the hydrogen peroxide to break down to water and oxygen. I’ve only ever seen aqueous oxygen as “aqueous oxygen peroxide.” Is that what you use or is it a different product? If I remember correctly, it’s a liquid compound form of ozone that then breaks down to oxygen and water as well – is that correct? Hydrogen peroxide has a half-life of 8-10 hours once exposed to light, I believe, which is a bit longer than the 15 minutes you wait. πŸ™‚

          Does anyone else care to chime in here? I’m very rusty on thinking through how long it would take hydrogen peroxide to break down if there is no oxygen in the septic tank with which to react.

          Thanks for a great comment!