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How to Make Your Own Disinfectant Spray with Bleach

Learn how to make and use a powerful household disinfectant spray with only bleach and water.

plastic spray bottle with a jug of bleach slightly out of focus in the background.

7 years ago one of the first posts I ever published here on Home in the Finger Lakes was a quick tutorial on making DIY Bleach Cleaner. Back when I wrote that post I never dreamed I would witness a pandemic during my lifetime, and if you told me I would be writing a follow up post because the shelves of grocery stores have been wiped clean of all disinfecting cleaners I probably would have never believed it.

But here we are and for the first time in years my post on DIY Bleach Cleaner is blowing up on the blog. I wanted to take this opportunity to offer you a super simple alternative, that is CDC approved and recommended, easy to make, and cost effective.

This post isn’t intended to give you medical advice on the Coronavirus itself. I am nowhere near qualified to do that and you should refer to a medical expert like your doctor or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information. I am just hoping to offer you a diy alternative to commercially prepared household disinfectants.

Why Make Your Own Disinfectant Spray with Bleach?

Household chlorine bleach is a powerful disinfectant that is pretty inexpensive, easy to obtain, and strong enough to kill dangerous germs. Keeping a clean home is important for any family, but is especially important for people during times of outbreaks of highly contagious diseases.

What Kind of Bleach Should I use for Homemade Disinfectant Spray with Bleach

The best kind of bleach to use for homemade disinfectant spray is regular unscented 5%—6% household bleach

Scented bleach versions are not registered disinfectants because they have less of the active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite. A quick scan of Clorox’s labels show that The scented bleaches contain a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 2.75%. The Regular unscented version of Clorox Bleach has a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 6%.

How Long is Homemade Disinfectant Spray Made with Bleach Effective?

Plan on using your Homemade Disinfectant Spray with bleach within 24 hours.

According to Clorox, undiluted household bleach has a shelf life of six months to one year from the date of manufacture. A diluted bleach solution has a shelf life of 24 hours. After 24 hours the sodium hypochlorite begins to break down and the solution loses efficacy.

What Surfaces should you not Disinfectant with Bleach?

Before you start using homemade disinfectant spray with bleach, it’s important to know that bleach is caustic and can damage some surfaces. That’s also why it’s important to dilute your bleach and ensure that it’s not used at full-strength. Bleach and bleach solutions are not effective on wooden surfaces, they are too porous for bleach to effectively kill germs and bacteria. Bleach also shouldn’t be used on most metals, like stainless steel, as it can damage the finish, and granite which can also be damaged by bleach.

How Do I use Homemade Disinfectant Spray with Bleach?

It is important to remember cleaning and disinfecting cannot be done at the
same time. Best practice for general household cleaning is to Clean, then Disinfect to reduce the spread of bacteria and illnesses.

Cleaning removes visible dust, dirt and debris, by washing, wiping or brushing. Once the surface is clean you can spray homemade disinfectant spray with bleach and let the bleach solution sit on the surface for about 5 minutes, and allow it to air dry.

Can I add Essentials Oils to Homemade Disinfectant Spray with Bleach

Mixing essentials oils into your Homemade Disinfectant spray with bleach is not recommended, the effects of mixing bleach with essential oils are not well-known. Some essential oils like lemon, grapefruit and lime are acidic and could potentially create chlorine gas. Enjoy the scent of your essential oils by diffusing them after you have finished cleaning.

Products that are NEVER Safe to mix or use with Bleach

  • Ammonia  -Never combine ammonia-based cleaners with chlorine bleach or products containing bleach, such as powdered dishwasher detergent. The fumes they’ll create are extremely dangerous.
  • Vinegar– Bleach and Vinegar produce dangerous chlorine gas which is an irritant to the respiratory system.
  • Rubbing alcohol– Combined they create chloroform, which can knock you out, and if you breathe in too much it can be deadly.
  • Lemon Juice- Never mix bleach with lemon juice or anything acidic because the combination creates toxic chlorine gas.

The CDC Recommendation for diluted household bleach solutions:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a bleach solution or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol for disinfecting surfaces and objects that may have been tainted by contagions.

I encourage you to visit the CDC resource page on cleaning and disinfecting your home, while the article is specifically written for households with suspected or confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) it is a good resource that we should all become familiar with.

Ratios for Diluted Household Bleach Solutions for Disinfection

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Homemade Disinfectant Spray with Bleach

Homemade Disinfectant Spray with Bleach

Yield: 1 quart
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $

Learn how to make and use a powerful household disinfectant spray with only bleach and water.

Materials

  • 4 teaspoons of Bleach
  • 1 quart room temperature water

Tools

Instructions

Carefully pour the bleach into the spray bottle or jar first, then add the water. Mixing the solution in this order will prevent the bleach from splashing up on you.

Once the solution is mixed, place the lid tightly on the container and gently flip it back and forth a few times to mix.

After mixing, your solution is ready to use and effective for 24 hours. You can wash surfaces with soap and hot, clean water before using the bleach.

After applying the beach solution let the surface you are disinfecting air dry.

Notes

To clean and disinfect hard, nonporous surfaces:

  • Spray directly on surfaces or apply with cloth and wet surfaces completely.
  • Let stand 5 minutes.
  • For heavily soiled surfaces, preclean surface before disinfecting.

I hope this is helpful friends, stay safe!!

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Lainey

Saturday 8th of August 2020

Some home made bleach spray recipes call for a teaspoon or so of liquid laundry detergent along with the bleach and water. What purpose does the laundry detergent play in these recipes? Does it extend the solution's shelf life? AND, according to Chlorox, your recipe here says it is good for 24 hours. But, I have a feeling that Cholorox is telling us this so they can continue to sell their spray products. (They don't want us making our own spray)...loss of money. Do you know if their advise is actually true? Thank you!

Marcia

Tuesday 2nd of June 2020

The CDC recommendation is 4 teaspoons of bleach per guart (1 teas per cup) or water.

Jody Evans

Tuesday 26th of May 2020

Thank You for such an informative post! I found all of the information I needed in one place instead of searching several web pages. Keep up the good work!