When you are cleaning hard surfaces that have regular contact with water, then there are normally only a few products that people reach for.
Some of these people may grab dish soap and give the floor a proper scrub in a misguided attempt to keep the floor nice and fresh.
Others may just sweep up the mess and not bother, giving anything like that a rinse through once before going back to whatever they were doing.
However, any seasoned cleaner of either house or pool knows that the only products you should be reaching for are the heavy-duty ones.
Bleach is one of these heavy-duty products, and most of us use it often to scrub kitchen and bathroom floors to within an inch of their life.
But when it comes to using it in a pool, many people pause before going ahead. Considering how strong bleach is, many think it is just better to stick with the liquid chlorine.
However, this brings up another question. Since both liquid chlorine and bleach do the same thing, are they just the same substance? In this article, we will get to the bottom of this question, so you don’t have to.
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What Is Bleach?
Most people are familiar with bleach as a bright white liquid substance that can be used to make laundry whites out of anything stained yellow.
However, bleach is a substance that can have many active ingredients. The only uniting factor in a lot of bleaches is the fact that it cleans.
Technically, bleach can be any chemical product that is used either at home or industrially to remove colors from fiber and fabric or to clean and remove stains.
Bleach comes in many forms, but generally there are three kinds: Chlorine-based bleaches, Peroxide-based bleaches, and Sulfur dioxide-based bleaches.
The difference between the three is that the active ingredient is changed in each one to that in their name, i.e. Peroxide-based bleaches’ active ingredient is peroxide.
Most bleaches you will come into contact with if you are cleaning will be chlorine-based. The other kinds of bleach tend to be used for removing color or stains, like hydrogen peroxide and dying hair.
What Is Liquid Chlorine?
Liquid chlorine is chlorine dioxide – a molecule made up of two chlorine atoms and two oxygen atoms. Since chlorine is a strong oxidizing agent, it can burn away organic material and germs on contact.
However, when chlorine dioxide comes into contact with water, it changes back into two oxygen molecules. This allows chlorine dioxide to act as a disinfectant.
This is why bleach is used to disinfect swimming pools – to shut down and then reactivate chlorine dioxide, so it can act as a disinfectant and also prevent the formation of organics in the water.
Liquid chlorine (see also ‘Liquid Chlorine Vs. Chlorine Granules‘) is what the average consumer sees in the bottle.
It is often sold as pool shock or pool sanitation tablets to provide immediate disinfection. Many pool stores also sell liquid chlorine, which they can fill up in-house, but you can easily get it from local stores or supermarkets as well.
Are Bleach And Liquid Chlorine The Same?
Yes. Both liquid chlorine and domestic cleaning bleach are chlorine dioxide. Both work by changing into oxygen when exposed to water. There is a difference between chlorine dioxide and chlorine gas, though.
Chlorine gas is a toxic gas that can cause respiratory problems when inhaled.
The Environmental Protection Agency only allows chlorine dioxide to come into contact with water and act as a disinfectant.
However, if used in an enclosed space without a water buffer, you may be exposed to the gas that comes off the chlorine dioxide. Therefore, always use with the windows wide open or outside.
Since it is an oxidizing agent, it has a lower potential to react with organic material in the water to form metabolites that can prove harmful to the environment and aquatic life.
Liquid chlorine is not harmful to people or the environment, so it is the preferred type of chlorine to use in household use.
Benefits Of Bleach And Liquid Chlorine
One of the best things about bleach and liquid chlorine is its ability to disinfect. This is especially true of commercial-grade bleach, which is sometimes used for cleaning swimming pools.
These types of bleach are always 99.9% effective at killing germs and bacteria. They are also extremely effective at eliminating odors from any surface they come in contact with.
Another great benefit of these products when cleaning floors is how it removes stains.
This is especially important when you have pets and kids who like to drink from and spill liquids on the floor. If a stain is not removed, it can quickly become a permanent mark on the flooring surface.
Bleach and liquid chlorine are also a great disinfectant, which comes in handy when you want to disinfect anything that is open and accessible to the public.
This includes public bathrooms, water fountains and other common areas that tend to be frequented by many people each day.
Benefits Of Bleach
Since these cleaning products are both the same core substance, you would expect there to be little difference between the two. However, there are two crucial areas where bleach and liquid chlorine differ from one another.
The main benefits of getting bleach over liquid chlorine is cost and availability.
Bleaches are generally very cheap, sometimes being as low as $1 per bottle. Liquid chlorine goes more in the range of $10, partially due to a difference in concentration and partially through marketing.
That cost can make a difference, especially if you are using your pool often and your bleach for other things.
Benefits Of Liquid Chlorine
Liquid chlorine has one advantage over bleach, but it is a good one. A normal bleach product will be concentrated to between 3 to 6%, whereas liquid chlorine is normally concentrated to around 12%.
This higher concentration will have a larger impact on your pool and kill off any hardy bacteria that happens to crop up.
It also means you will use less of the product, making it last a longer time.
While this does mean the cost of the bleach and liquid chlorine may even out over time, it does not mean that bleach is going to be more effective at cleaning your pool.
One thing this higher concentration does mean is that it is powerful enough to stop the growth of algae (see also ‘How To Get Rid Of Mustard Algae‘) and other aquatic plants, which will keep your pool cleaner for longer.
How Should I Store My Cleaning Products?
Cleaning products should never be brought into the house unless they are being used. Any cleaner that you bring into the house becomes a potential health risk and must be stored safely.
The Environmental Protection Agency has strict guidelines for storing cleaning products and though they are mostly for businesses, it is probably best if you follow them as well.
It is important to follow these guidelines inside the home to avoid potential harm to yourself or your family:
- Do not store flammable items such as gasoline, oils, or solvents.
- Do not store anything that could cause a fire or an explosion.
- Do not store items that are poisonous or toxic to humans, plants, or animals.
- Do not store items that could be used as a weapon.
- Do not store items that could be used as a tool.
- Do not store items that are highly acidic, alkaline or water.
- Do not store items that could cause injury to the person handling them.
- Do not store items that could cause injury to others.
Now, a lot of the things that can cause problems on the list are things that we also need in the home, bleach being one of them. Therefore, it is important to try and mitigate the issue as best you can.
The best way to do this is to try and store these things outside. In a shed or a locked crate, just as long as they are not in the home.
Another way that this can be done – for those who may not have an outside space – is to get a couple of locked cupboards in a safe room that has the least chance of causing damage.
A utility room or basement that has very few fabrics or flammable objects nearby.
Lastly, you want to store these items away from each other as much as possible. Alone they can’t do much damage, but should they mix it might spell disaster.
Liquid chlorine and domestic cleaning bleach are pretty much the same product: a chlorine-based bleach.
However, the key differences between the two are the price and the concentration of the solution in each bottle.
Liquid chlorine has a higher concentration of chemicals, and bleach tends to be much cheaper.
Therefore, if you have the cash, it is best to buy liquid chlorine for your pool, but should you not then bleach will work just as well.