As COVID-19 continues to progress, proper surface disinfection is more important than ever before, and many families are turning to a household chlorine bleach solution to get the job done. In fact, just ⅓ cup of regular household bleach in 1 gallon of water (or 4 teaspoons of bleach to 1 quart of water) can disinfect against this nasty virus.
Many homes already have a supply of bleach on hand for disinfecting kitchen and bathroom surfaces. But like most household products … bleach doesn’t last forever.
So, how long does bleach last? And without a clear expiration date on the jug, how do you know when it will go bad?
Get to Know Your Bleach
Every bleach jug contains a string of letters and numbers … But what do they mean?!? Thanks to a recent Reader’s Digest article, we know how to “crack the code”!
By examining the characters from left to right, you can learn a lot about your bleach:
- First, look for the two characters that indicate the year it was manufactured. In this case, the bleach was made in 2019. (On some bleach bottles, the first two characters indicate the plant where the bleach was manufactured. This has nothing to do with the production date.)
- The next three characters indicate the day of the year it was manufactured. In this case, the bleach was made on the 134th day of 2019, which translates to May 14, 2019.
Where You Store Your Bleach Matters
According to the Scripps Research Institute, bleach typically has a shelf life of about six months, give or take. After that, it begins to degrade and loses its effectiveness by 20% each year.
The secret to maximizing the shelf life of your bleach? Where you store it. Sunlight and heat will cause it to degrade faster. Ideally, bleach should be stored in a cool, dark place out of the reach of children (for example, in a locked cabinet to prevent curious kids from accessing it). If stored properly, your bleach won’t need to be replaced for a year.
How to Discard Old Bleach
You know that oh-so-familiar bleach odor that lingers after you twist the top off the jug? Well, if you can’t smell it from taking a cautious whiff, it’s time to toss out your bleach. Since bleach turns into mostly saltwater when it degrades, you can safely pour it down the toilet.
By properly using household chlorine bleach, you can help ensure that common surfaces in your home are virus-free, especially as we continue in the fight to control the spread of COVID-19.