Can Soil Be Sterilized With Chlorine Bleach?

Bleach is harmful to beneficial microorganisms in soil.
Bleach is harmful to beneficial microorganisms in soil. (Image: cleaning mailbox 2. image by mdb from

It is generally a bad idea to add chlorine to soil as a sterilization measure. The negative effects upon soil and plant life should be carefully weighed before choosing to apply chemicals to soil.

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Adding chlorine bleach to soil for sterilization problems can add toxins like dioxin to soil. Soil will be useless for growing plants if chlorine bleach is introduced.


Bleach will sterilize soil if the goal is to remove dangerous fungus and bacteria. Unfortunately for plants, bleach will create an inhospitable and contaminated growing environment.

Soil Organisms

Organisms living in soil that benefit plants by fixing nitrogen near plant roots and decomposing waste are harmed by chlorine bleach. Beneficial soil organisms take time to colonize new areas and may take months to grow in areas that have be exposed to chlorine bleach.

Environmental Pollution

Chlorine bleach can spread into water ways and the water table when mixed into garden soil for sterilization purposes. Chlorine bleach should always be diluted if adding to soil to minimize environmental contamination.


While chlorine bleach is a wonderful disinfectant and purifier, it is also extremely dangerous and potentially lethal to plant life. The addition of bleach to soil should always be a last option.


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