Your grandmother kept things pretty simple when it came to cleaning supplies. Most likely, she had a scrub brush, a bucket, and a gallon of bleach—or two gallons of bleach. When your local big box store has a whole aisle of specialty cleaning products, it can be easy to forget about this old-school but very effective way to clean. Still, classic bleach is a powerful tool you can use all over your house and garden.
Mary Gagliardi, whose job title at Clorox is “Dr. Laundry,” says that bleach isn’t just for the washing machine. “It’s very cheap and can be used to clean the whole house.” Are you ready to start over? We asked the expert to remind us of all the different ways bleach can be used, from cleaning shower curtains to cleaning patio furniture.
Using Bleach in the Laundry Room
Bleach is usually used to make whites look brighter, but it can also be used to clean laundry that needs it (for example, baby clothes or gym gear). To get a deep clean, you’ll need to add a little more bleach than usual: 2/3 cup for a standard washer or 1/3 cup for a high-efficiency machine.
Most people don’t know, though, that depending on how the dye was put on, a lot of colored clothes can also be washed safely with regular bleach. Before washing, Gagliardi suggests testing bleach on a small, hidden part of the fabric, like the inside of ahem. Mix 2 teaspoons of bleach with 1/4 cup of water, then put on a small spot and let it sit for a minute before blotting dry. If this doesn’t leave a mark, you should be good to go.
Cleaning the kitchen with bleach
Bad news for your kitchen cleaning products: bleach can clean everything if you don’t mind making your solution. Gagliardi suggests mixing a half cup of bleach with a gallon of water for a basic formula that can be used everywhere. This can be used to disinfect countertops, sinks, tiles, floors, your refrigerator, stainless steel appliances, and other hard, non-porous surfaces.
For cleaning trash cans made of plastic, you’ll need a stronger solution. Mix 1/2 cup of bleach with 3/4 gallon of water. For plastic cutting boards, mix 2 teaspoons of bleach with 1 gallon of water to make a less strong solution. Travel mugs, with their tricky lids and small plastic parts, can especially benefit from a good cleaning with bleach. Mix 2 teaspoons of bleach with 1 gallon of water, soak the container and lid for two minutes and then rinse well.
Cleaning the bathroom with bleach
Bleach can be used to deep clean and kill bacteria in your bathroom from floor to ceiling. You can find our best advice here for surfaces like toilets and tiles. Gagliardi told some secrets about how to do things that were a little harder. Want to keep that moldy plastic shower curtain from going to the trash? To get it clean and stop mold from growing again, throw it in the washing machine with detergent and 2/3 cup of bleach. That bin of bath toys made of plastic? Mix 12 cups of bleach with 1 gallon of water, let the toys soak for 5 minutes and then rinse them well.
Do your tiles have mold and mildew? Mix 3/4 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of warm water, wipe down the surface and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Cleaning the patio with bleach
It’s hard to believe now, but it will soon be grilling season again. Gagliardi says that to clean plastic patio furniture, mix 3/4 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of warm water, then wipe it down, wait 10 minutes, and then rinse it with warm water. (Watch out for water running off near your garden!)
You can also use bleach to clean your planters. To keep new plants from getting mold or diseases, clean last year’s pots with a solution of 1 gallon of water and 1/2 cup of bleach. Soak for five minutes, then rinse and let dry in the air.