7 Things You’ve Never Cleaned With Bleach [But Should]

Some of my friends swear they can do all their household cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and a sponge. These people must not get into the same messy situations as our large and active family.  When it comes to being victorious over the filthy and funky, here are a few jobs in which Clorox proves to be our tried-and-true, go-to cleaner.

1. The Cooler

After a campout or day at the lake, our tribe is pretty good about pitching in to unload the vehicle, but everything gets dumped in the garage for someone to deal with later.  In the best scenario, someone should unload the cooler and rinse it out immediately, but maybe that doesn’t happen, and a few days later I find myself fishing out limp cardboard milk and juice cartons and browned grapes from the insides.  Once all those things are removed, I fill the cooler with 3/4 gallons of water in the driveway and add about ½ cup of bleach.  I let it sit for about 2 minutes to help remove odors and stains, carefully empty it, and let it dry lid-open in the sun.  It’s so nice to open it for the next use and not be greeted by mold, stains, or other mysteries.  Reusable vinyl lunch bags and lunchboxes may be freshened up in the same way.

2. Cutting & Charcuterie Boards

I appreciate the confidence in knowing my wooden cutting surfaces and charcuterie boards are disinfected since they don’t go in the dishwasher.  First, prewash the cutting board with a liquid detergent. Then, mix 2 teaspoons of Clorox Regular Bleach with 1 gallon of water and soak the boards. Let them sit for a few minutes, then clean as usual, drying and oiling if necessary.  White plastic cutting boards get a soaking in a stronger water and bleach wash every few months to remove stains that don’t come out in the dishwasher.

3. Towels

I’ve made a believer out of my daughter and several friends when it comes to bath towels.  We only buy white towels so they can be washed weekly with hot water, detergent, and Clorox.  No more persistent smells of mildew!  Every time I use a fluffy white towel I appreciate its freshness and purity.  Same goes for washcloths, hand towels, and kitchen towels.  Mildew is a living fungus, and it’s some bad mojo.

4. Emergencies

When I was growing up in Houston and a hurricane was predicted, my mom would disinfect our bathtub with Clorox, rinse it well, and then fill it to the top with water in case our water supply was endangered.  In cases of contamination in which we can’t boil water, the CDC recommends adding 8 drops of bleach to a gallon of water and letting it sit for 30 minutes before drinking.  I always make sure to have some Clorox in stock so we’ll be prepared.

5. The Fridge

This is one of my least favorite chores, but when it needs to be done, I put on a compelling podcast and my rubber gloves and clean out the insides of the fridge with a cleaning solution of 2 tsp. Clorox to a gallon of water.  Then, I soak the plastic fruit, veggie, and egg bins in a sinkful of water with bleach to remove odors and residue.

6. Kids Cups and Water Bottles

Walking through this life as a mom, grandma and former teacher, I have found many a sippy cup or water bottle hiding in the car, under a couch, or left in a play place.  When I was teaching, my students brought water bottles to keep on their desks, and all that drinking and backwashing during the week created an environment that led to bacterial growth.  When the bottles were left at school on Fridays, I’d pour out any leftover liquid, consider the possibility of scientific learning regarding what was growing under the lid or on the interior sides, and soak them in a sinkful of 1 gallon of water mixed with 2 tsp. of Clorox to remove stains and odors and wash in the dishwasher as usual.

7. Hairbrushes & Combs

After about six months of use, my hairbrushes and combs look as if they’ve been borrowed by Chewbacca and need a good soaking in a solution of ½ cup of bleach in a ½ gallon of water.  First I remove as much hair as possible and then soak the brushes in a container filled with the solution for a few hours.  It’s always a bit disturbing to see the sediment that is floating on the top of the water when this process is finished.  Next I rinse my brushes carefully and let them air dry on a white towel.  Enjoying a beautiful, clean-as-new brush when it’s done reminds me how important it is to tackle this task several times a year.


P.S. When you’re working with this superhero cleaner, remember to wear old clothes or an apron so if you get a splash or spray, it doesn’t bleach out a piece of colored clothing. (I also remember my mom’s warning to never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners). Happy disinfecting!