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Alternatives to Bleach to Disinfect

Homeowners often rely on bleach disinfecting surfaces and other items in their home because of its potent ability to kill germs. However, concerns about bleach's toxicity and potential harmful health effects can make finding an alternative a priority for some individuals. If you are looking for other options, a variety of natural and nontoxic disinfectants can help keep your home clean and germ free without the harsh chemicals found in bleach.

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Borax is an effective natural alternative to bleach for disinfecting your home that comes in powdered form. It is usually found in the washing powder aisle at the grocery store and can be mixed with a variety of other substances to create a cleaning solution. Lemon juice and baking soda are often paired with borax, but the powder may also be diluted with warm water. It is an ideal disinfectant for toilets, countertops and other household surfaces and can even be used to disinfect cloth diapers. While it is a naturally occurring substance, borax is not entirely nontoxic, so keep it away from children and pets.


When you need to disinfect areas of your home, basic liquid soap can be substituted for bleach in a pinch. Castile is the most effective option and can kill a wide range of bacteria. Work up a good lather, and scrub the surface that you wish to clean for at least 20 seconds to ensure that all germs are killed.

Essential Oils and Extracts

Many essential oils can be used in place of bleach to disinfect and boost the added benefit of a pleasant scent, which most chemical cleaning products cannot. In particular, tea tree oil has antimicrobial and fungicide properties, so it is very effective for disinfecting surfaces in your home. Lavender and rosemary are other options. Add approximately seven drops of oil to 946ml. of water to properly dilute for cleaning. In addition to essential oils, grapefruit seed extract can be a powerful natural disinfectant. It is not as strong as essential oils, however, so combine approximately 20 drops with water for maximum effectiveness.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a potent disinfectant alternative to bleach and is a naturally-occurring substance, which makes it appealing to individuals who wish to run green households. Because it can be extremely corrosive and possibly toxic when at higher concentrations, use a 3 per cent solution commonly found in drugstores and grocery stores to disinfect your home. Apply it with a rag to any area in the home that requires disinfection, such as kitchen countertops and your toilet.

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About the Author

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

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