Bleach Substitutes: 5 Safer Cleaning Options

Grapefruit seed extract is a safer cleaning option
Grapefruit seed extract is a safer cleaning option

5 Green Cleaning Options

Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is a chemical that has long been used for disinfecting purposes. We know now that bleach, however, is not environmentally friendly. This is because chlorine bleach forms toxic by-products such as dioxin, and other organochlorines, when it reacts with other elements.

Alternative options, many very old, are available that are safer and useful for disinfection. See list below:

1 - Grapefruit Seed Extract - Grapefruit seed extract is one of the newer products on the market. A powerful, nontoxic disinfectant, it is used to protect against common bacteria viruses and parasites found in the home. This includes influenza, salmonella, staph, e.coli, and strep. Grapefruit seed extract is ideal for disinfecting baby toys, clothes and bottles, because it is harmless to infants. Many hospitals now use grapefruit seed extract to wash linens, as a safe alternative to harsh chemicals, including bleach, to protect against fungi and bacteria.

2 - Hydrogen Peroxide - Hydrogen peroxide is a bleach substitute that has been used for ages. It is made simply of water and an extra oxygen molecule (H202). Because hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen, this makes it kinder to the environment. Hydrogen peroxide is also the active ingredient used in many "oxygen" bleaches.

3 - Vinegar - Vinegar used for disinfecting can be traced back to ancient Rome. It was used to purify drinking water and fight disease. Today, vinegar is used to disinfect the home and is especially useful for cleaning wood cutting boards, kitchen counter tops, and as a germ killing agent for rinsing fruits and vegetables. Distilled white vinegar will eliminate exposure to toxic commercial household cleansers. It has acetic acid - making it an effective disinfectant for inhibiting mold and bacteria growth.

4- Isopropyl alcohol - is another old cleaner used for disinfecting and sterilizing surfaces in the home, in hospitals, in food processing plants, dairy farms, veterinary institutions, barbershops and eating establishment. Isopropyl alcohol has properties that are antimicrobial and is a virucide, fungicide and bactericide.

5 - Borax - Borax, also known as sodium tetraborate and sodium borate, is a naturally occurring substance. As a powerful cleaning agent, borax has antimicrobial properties and effectively inhibits fungal and mold growth. Borax has been used since Victorian times. When dissolved in hot water, borax acts a bit like hydrogen peroxide because of its bleaching effects.

For more green options, see links below:

More by this Author


Comments 14 comments

Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota

enjoyed the useful tips. I have transitioned to all natural cleaners and use vinegar frequently. The grape fruit seed extract is one I have not heard of.

Good information


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

That grapefruit seed extract sounds ideal. I love grapefruit and like the smell of it. I'd welcome this aroma in my home.

Thanks for the suggestions. I never use bleach. We have to stop being so irresponsible - and then whining when things go wrong.

Great hub - thanks and rated up!


CountryCityWoman profile image

CountryCityWoman 5 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

Sounds really good.I have not used bleach in over 20 years- it is just not necessary. Sometimes I squeeze grapefruit juice in my rinse water when I'm cleaning counters. Gives everything a nice fresh smell.

Thanks for the list.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Thanks for enlightening us. Grapeseed oil extract sounds like a wonderful alternative. I've heard of vinegar and some people even go so far as to use to boil it over a low fire to kill germs in the atmosphere. Rated up.


pinkdaisy profile image

pinkdaisy 5 years ago from Canada

I prefer using these natural products instead of bleach. Great article.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Very good information on replacements for bleach. Better for the environment. I sure want to thank you for this!


Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 5 years ago from Georgia

I have often used hydrogen peroxide in place of bleach. I've also tried vinegar...I will definitely keep an eye out for the grapefruitseed oil extract. Thank you ListLady!

Rated it up!


blairtracy profile image

blairtracy 5 years ago from Canada

Great ideas. Thank-you. Bleach is pretty much the only chemical I still use. I will be happy t replace it.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States

What a useful hub! Now I have to try grapefruit seed extract. It sounds even better than vinegar.


TheListLady profile image

TheListLady 3 years ago from New York City Author

Thanks for all the comments - I enjoyed reading them. I've been offline for several months because I injured my back. I am just getting back online. I'm so glad to have friends at hubpages to return to. What a pleasure!


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 3 years ago

I didn't know this and am glad you wrote about it. Will change my cleaning methods asap! Voted up!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

I'm a fan of bleach. Not sure I could part with it. I do also use Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar. Didn't know about Borax.


TheListLady profile image

TheListLady 3 years ago from New York City Author

TIMETRAVELER - glad you found the information useful. And thanks for the vote!

Sunshine625 - I think we all grew up with bleach and parting has to be hard. It's always been known for powerful cleaning.


May A Soucy 3 years ago

All very useful information, I'm sure, but what I am looking for is a substitute for the bleach used in whitening clothes. What do you suggest? Regular bleach makes my husband break out in an itchy rash.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working