Chlorine Bleach vs. Oxygen Bleach: What’s the Difference?

DSC_5353When you hear the word bleach, you probably think of the chlorinated variety. But that’s not the only kind of bleach out there. Chlorine and oxygen bleach are two different kinds of cleaners and oxygen bleach has been growing in popularity since the late 90s. They both have their uses, but deciding which one is right for you depends on your goals.

Properties of Chlorine Bleach

Its chemical name is sodium hypochlorite but has been used since the 1800s for everything from cleaning toilets to getting your whites whiter. It’s easily identifiable by its harsh odor and immense cleaning power. If you’ve ever accidently spilled some on colored carpet or fabric, you know it will turn them white. That’s because it effortlessly breaks down synthetic dye molecules. It can even break down fabric molecules, which is why clothes that are often washed in bleach tear and shred pretty easily.

Chlorine Bleach Can Cause Damage

It can damage clothes, fabric, and other cloth materials. It can also turn wood white, which is why you should never use it on your patio or wood surfaces. It will accelerate the corrosion of any metal items it’s used on. Chlorine bleach is, however, an excellent sanitizer and will kill bacteria quickly, so they key is to thoroughly rinse areas sanitized with bleach.

Chlorine Bleach is Toxic

Chlorine bleach is also toxic and can kill living things – even people. Concentrated gas fumes can kill, which is why it’s so important to always ventilate your home when using this product. It’s also caustic, which is why you shouldn’t leave it on fabric or your skin for extended periods of time.

It’s also toxic to plants. It can kill small ones immediately if it’s sprayed on them or absorbed into their roots. Larger plants, like trees and bushes, will die more slowly if the soil around them is saturated – but they’ll still die. So be careful how you dispose of excess bleach.

Mixing it with ammonia is even more toxic, which is why you always need to check the labels of your cleaning products to make sure you’re not inadvertently mixing the two. Even mixing chlorine bleach and vinegar can be a considerable health hazard.

What Makes Oxygen Bleach Different

Oxygen bleach does all the cleaning and deodorizing that chlorine beach does but doesn’t have the same harmful side effects or harsh odor. In fact, it’s completely odorless. Sometimes oxygen bleach is sold as an aqueous solution like hydrogen peroxide. It’s also sold as a powder, which is usually mixture of soda ash or borax and a dried form of hydrogen peroxide.

The powdered form is activated when it’s mixed with water, which is why many laundry detergents use it. When water is added, an extra oxygen ion is released from the hydrogen peroxide molecule. It’s this extra oxygen ion that gives this cleaner its power.

Oxygen Bleach Isn’t a Harsh Cleaner

And aside from being a powerful cleaner, this ion is far less destructive than a chlorine ion. If used according to the manufacturer’s directions, oxygen bleach won’t break apart synthetic dye or fabric molecules which makes them safe to use on clothes and fabrics. Oxygen bleach actually brightens fabrics, which chlorine bleach only does for whites. It doesn’t break down fibers and cause wear and tear like chlorine bleach does. It also won’t damage or discolor wood.

Oxygen Bleach is Non-Toxic

And maybe the best thing about oxygen bleach is that it’s non-toxic to people and plants as long as it’s used as directed. The only materials it shouldn’t be used on are wool, redwood, and silk, which can become discolored.

Disadvantages of Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleach tends to be more expensive than chlorine bleach. But if you’re dedicated to using eco-friendly products that are safe to use around your pets, children, and yourself, then oxygen bleach is definitely the way to go.

Also, many people complain that powdered oxygen bleach takes longer to dissolve in water, which means cleaning with it takes a little longer. However, it is also available in liquid form, which provides the same immediate benefits as chlorine bleach without all the harmful effects.

Environmentally Friendly Professional Cleaning

We always stress the importance of using environmentally cleaners and recommend Method brand products because they’re all natural cleaners that put the hurt on dirt. It’s all we use.

So if you want a better clean that’s safe for you and the environment but don’t have the time to scrub, give us a shout and let us know what you need. We can send one of our professional maid service teams for a one-time deep clean or set up a flexible cleaning schedule that fits into your life and a lot of things in between.

Contact us today to learn more about our services, pricing, and service locations.

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