Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bleach Alternative: First Test

Remember when I said that I am giving up bleach? Well, today launches my first foray into finding a bleach alternative!

The most common type of recipes that I am seeing call for hydrogen peroxide and an acid, specifically vinegar. I have a concern with this:

Hydrogen peroxide reacts with vinegar to give you peracetic acid.

Peracetic acid is a wonderful biocide. This means that it is very effective at killing living things like bacteria and mold. This quality makes peracetic acid a wonderful sanitizing agent.

Here's the problem. PERACETIC ACID IS VERY EFFECTIVE AT KILLING LIVING THINGS. I'm not sure I trust it in any real concentration around my kids, especially because they are wonderful at figuring out the locks on doors and cupboards. Peracetic acid has some pretty harmful side effects, which can be found by reading the MSDS.

Instead of going with an acetic acid source (vinegar), I've opted for a citric acid source: lemon juice!

Yay! I love lemon juice! Mainly as lemonade! Sometimes in tea! Yay!

The recipe that I am using, which can be found at Frugally Sustainable, is easy to prepare and yields a gallon of bleach alternative. It also didn't cost me a cent as I already had the ingredients: lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, water, and a container.

Here's a sum-up of the steps:

1) Take a gallon-sized jug (I used an empty vinegar bottle that had been rinsed well).

2) Pour in 1.5 cups of peroxide

3) Pour in 0.5 cups of lemon juice

4) Fill the rest of the jug with water.

5) Scribble out "vinegar" on the bottle and scrawl "bleach alternative" on it instead.

I love when the authors of those other blogs make beautiful, original labels (with neat printing and scalloped edges, and nice designs) for all of their homemade things. One day I'll learn how to do that. Not today. Today, I scribble with a sharpie.

Now to test it out!
This picture is of a wash cloth that I used to scrub my sandals (more on that later).

I took this wash cloth and soaked it in a 2:1 solution of water and bleach alternative.

Here's what it looked like after soaking.

And here it is again after I popped it in the wash.

Hooray! The stains are gone! And so is some of the color! ...whoops.
Edited to add: Hey, guess what! I'm an idiot! The first two pictures show the wash cloth WET, but the third shows it DRY. This is why it looks like some of the pink had faded. I just wet it to clean up another mess, and it's dark pink again. (I'd photograph it, but it's dirty again.)

Next step: testing it in the washer.

Will it be strong enough to remove stains even when diluted? Let's find out! I'll let you know when I'm done.


  1. I never thought of using lemon juice. I've always used vinegar, but you can't combine the vinegar and peroxide in the same bottle. I've used the combo to sanitize all the toys and baby stuff in my house and I love it! Bleach makes me so nervous, not just for my family but for myself as well. A chemical that smells that bad can't be good for anyone.

    1. I didn't think about using this to sanitize the toys! What a great idea! I'm always afraid that if I use bleach on the toys some residue will remain. (My kids put stuff in their mouths, so that makes me nervous). This way they'll just be a little citrus-y instead of poisonous. :)