Article by Emily DiNuzzo for Reader’s Digest
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The best of bleach
When it comes to cleaning, bleach is a magical ingredient—it’s one of the best disinfectants and stain removers you can find. Most of us use it for laundry, cleaning toilet bowls, or tackling tough stains. However, that doesn’t mean these are the only uses for bleach. In fact, there are a lot of other ways bleach can come in extremely handy. Here’s 10 of them that you probably did not know before.
Let your garden flourish
Try using bleach to clean flower pots and plants. “By cleaning your containers it helps prevent the transfer of molds and diseases from old plants to new ones,” Byrne says. To disinfect, wash and rinse pots and planters by soaking them in a solution of half a cup of bleach to one gallon of water for at least five minutes before rinsing with water.
Freshen up your garbage cans
Although garbage cans hold your trash and possibly garbage from an indoor cleaning session, the cans themselves need a good clean with bleach, too. Wash with soapy water and rinse. Then deodorize and sanitize the cans with a mixture of half a cup of bleach per three-quarters of a gallon of water. Swish this solution over the inside of the can and let it sit for two minutes before rinsing.
Keep fresh cut flowers alive
If you don’t have a green thumb, you can still use bleach to keep store-bought flowers alive. Smell your freshly cut flowers for longer by keeping them in cold water with a quarter teaspoon of bleach per quart of water, according to Byrne.
Eliminate litter box odor
Put an end to unpleasant cat box odors with bleach because it kills odor-causing germs, Byrne says. Wash the litter box with sudsy water and rinse. Then wipe it down with a solution of half a cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Wait five minutes before rinsing.
Clean off mold and mildew
Bleach not only removes mold and mildew stains, but also kills the fungus, according to Byrne. “By killing the fungus, you no longer have to worry about the harmful effects that mold can have to your family’s health,” she says. Remove mold and mildew from your bathroom tiles with a mixture of equal parts bleach and water in a spray bottle. Let it sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing it off and rinsing.
Legos and other hard, non-porous objects such as kids toys could definitely benefit from bleach, especially if they are second-hand. “Bleach is perfect for disinfecting second-hand products because you can disinfect a lot of items with a small amount of bleach at a time,” Byrne says. Here’s what to do: add half a cup of bleach per gallon of water. Then wipe the surface with the bleach solution and let it sit on the surface for at least five minutes. Rinse it well with water and let it air dry.
Brighten and clean second-hand white linens
So you want to keep high thread count hand-me-down sheets without handing down any gross germs or bacteria. When washing, add two-thirds of a cup of bleach to your standard machine or one-third of a cup of bleach to your high-efficiency machine along with regular detergent. Ensure that the bleach contacts the clothes for ten minutes, Byrne says.
Clean most things in your kitchen
Sanitize second-hand food contact surface in the kitchen such as stainless steel utensils, plastic cutting boards, glassware, dishes, or baby bottles, Byrne says. Wash with water first, then rinse and wipe the surface with a solution of two tablespoons of bleach to one gallon of water. Let the solution stand for two minutes, rinse well, and air dry.
Keep your Christmas tree alive longer
Keep the holiday spirit around just a bit longer with the help of bleach. According to Julia Byrne, a product developer, bleach at Clorox, you can prolong the life of your freshly cut tree with an easy mixture. Use a solution of two teaspoons of bleach per half a gallon of hot water, plus one cup of corn syrup, and an eighth of a cup of powdered iron from your local nursery. This mixture goes into your tree stand bowl instead of plain water, Byrne says.