Did you know that bleach, aka, sodium hypochlorite, serves purposes far beyond brightening your whites? As a matter of fact, it’s so versatile I would strongly recommend adding it to your emergency bug-out supply list. Still in need of a little convincing? Keep reading.
- Water Sanitation
In a situation where boiling drinking water isn’t an option, bleach will save the day. Eight drops of bleach for every one gallon of water is the FEMA-recommended ratio. Wait at least 30 minutes after adding the bleach before drinking it. DO NOT use scented bleach to purify your water as the dyes, perfumes, and additives can be potentially poisonous. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that the bleach in your stockpile be strictly perfume/dye free.
- Clean Produce
Depending upon the circumstances of your emergency, fruits and vegetables can easily be contaminated by things such as flooding and standing water. Add one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of purified water and soak the produce in it for about 30 seconds. Rinse all the food thoroughly (the bleach will kill any bacteria on the surface, but it isn’t something you want to ingest) and allow it to air dry.
- Sanitize Surfaces and Containers
Mix one teaspoon of bleach with one gallon of water to create a disinfectant. This solution is especially useful for surfaces used for food preparation, particularly any that have been exposed to raw meat or poultry. The mixture can also be used to deodorize and clean thermoses and coolers; simply scrub it on all the sides and allow it to sit for 10-30 minutes, remembering to rinse well when the time is up.
This same solution can be used to kill germs on hard, frequently handled surfaces like light switches and doorknobs.
- Kill Mildew and Mold
Hazardous molds can grow easily enough in a normal situation, but can thrive even more quickly when it isn’t on your radar at all. Sponge or spray a solution of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water onto the area and leave it to sit for at least ten minutes. When the time is up, scrub and wash the area well.
- Clean Bedding and Clothing
Use a water/bleach ratio of 1 to 100 to make a solution appropriate for cleaning laundry. In an off-grid situation, diseases spread like wildfire, and you need to take all the precautions you can.
- Disinfect Toys
If there is one optimal way to spread bacteria from child to child, it’s through their toys. Soak the hard, color-safe, non-porous toys for five minutes in a solution of one half-cup of bleach and one gallon of water. After you’ve rinsed them, let them air-dry, in the sun, if possible.
Don’t mix bleach with any other cleaning solutions (ammonia and white vinegar in particular); doing so will result in the creation of poisonous fumes. Also keep in mind that bleach functions as a contact agent, and so while spraying it in the air will not kill any airborne bacteria, droplets could fall into your eyes or on your skin and cause serious damage. Make sure to wear proper coverage when using bleach (gloves, eye protection, etc.), and to open some windows to ensure ventilation.
Keep it away from sufferers of asthma or other breathing-related problems.
Bleach does lose its potency at about the six-eight month marker, but could still be used for small cleaning jobs here and there. Note that for an everyday cleaning job, bleach shouldn’t be your go-to due to its corrosive power, but when you’re in a crisis, it can literally save your life. You can find it in most any store, and it’s even relatively inexpensive.
Other in and around home uses for bleach include:
- Cleaning and disinfecting trash cans
- Killing weeds in the garden
- Destroying moss and algae on patio stone, unpainted bricks, and cement
- Removing mildew from rubber shower mats and shower curtains
- Killing insects eggs (mosquitos!!) in standing water