How Much Bleach to Water Ratio Do You Need for Cleaning?

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Childrens' toys often need sanitizing with bleach and water.
Childrens' toys often need sanitizing with bleach and water. (Image: baby toys image by Jiri Hera from Fotolia.com)

A bleach and water mixture often is used as a sanitizing solution after a surface is cleaned with soap and water. Bleach and water can be used to reduce the spread of infectious diseases, sanitize non-porous surfaces and remove mold growth. Yet, it's important to mix the water and the bleach in the appropriate ratios for the particular application at hand.

Food Surfaces

Things such as cutting boards, plates, cups and utensils can be sanitized with 1 tbsp. of household bleach to 1 gallon of cool water. Submerge previously washed items in bleach water for a minimum of one minute before removing and allowing to air dry. With household bleach and water, there's no need to rinse the item because the chlorine evaporates into the air and doesn't leave residue.

Other Non-Porous Surfaces

Spray other non-porous surfaces -- such as counter tops, door knobs, floors and toys -- with a solution of 1 tsp. of bleach added to each 1 quart of water. Allow the spray to remain on the item for at least 2 minutes before wiping with a paper towel, or do not wipe and allow the items to air dry. If you submerge the items, you should keep them submerged for at least two minutes before removing them from the bleach water and allowing to air dry. If the non-porous items you are sanitizing have been exposed to flood water, you should prepare a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water to sanitize them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mold Growth

Removing mold growth from hard surfaces -- such as toys, sinks, appliances and eating surfaces -- requires a mixture of 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. You can scrub the contaminated surfaces with a scrubbing brush saturated with cleaning mixture to remove the mold. Always rinse the surface with clean water before allowing it to air dry.

Precautionary Measures

When air-drying objects, keep children and pets away from them -- until they are completely dry -- so they won't come into contact with the bleach. Avoid mixing more bleach and water solution than you need because it will lose its strength within 24 hours and you will need to discard it. Never mix bleach and other household or industrial chemicals or a toxic reaction may occur. Always use bleach in an area that is well-ventilated to avoid being overpowered by the fumes. Wear gloves or eye protection to keep your skin and eyes safe from chemical burns or irritation.

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