12 Smart Ways to Use Bleach Cleaner

You know it's a great cleaning product, but you'll never guess what else bleach can do!


Bleach is a powerful cleaning tool with so many uses. However, you have to be smart about how, when and were you use bleach.

Here are some smart ways to use bleach you’ve probably never thought of before.

Clean off Mold and Mildew

Bleach cleaner and ammonia are useful for removing mold and mildew inside and outside your home. However, the two should never be used together. Bleach cleaner is especially suited for the following chores:

  • Washing mildew out of washable fabrics. Wet the mildewed area and rub in some powdered detergent. Then wash the garment in the hottest water setting permitted by the clothing manufacturer using 1/2 cup chlorine bleach. If the garment can’t be washed in hot water and bleach, soak it in a solution of 1/4 cup oxygen bleach (labeled “all fabric” or “perborate”) in one gallon of warm water for 30 minutes before washing.
  • Removing mold and mildew from the grout between your bathroom tiles. Mix equal parts of chlorine bleach and water in a spray bottle, and spray it over grout. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush and rinse off. You can also do this just to make your grout look whiter.
  • Getting mold and mildew off your shower curtains. Wash them along with a couple of bath towels (to prevent the plastic curtains from crinkling) in warm water with 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and 1/4 cup laundry detergent. Let the washer run for a couple of minutes before loading. Put the shower curtain and towels in the dryer on the lowest temperature setting for ten minutes, then immediately hang dry. (Make sure you’re not making these bathroom cleaning mistakes while you’re at it.)
  • Ridding your rubber shower mat of mildew. Soak in a solution of 1/8 cup chlorine bleach in one gallon water for three to four hours. Rinse well.
  • Getting mildew and other stains off unpainted cement, patio stones or stucco. Mix a solution of one cup chlorine bleach in two gallons of water. Scrub vigorously with a stiff or wire brush and rinse. If any stains remain, scrub again using 1/2 cup washing soda (this is sodium carbonate, not baking soda) dissolved in two gallons of warm water.
  • Removing mildew from painted surfaces and siding. Make a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach in two cups of water and apply with a brush to mildewed areas. Let the solution set for 15 minutes, then rinse. Repeat as necessary.

Sterilize Second-Hand Items

Remember your mom saying, “Put that down. You don’t know where it’s been”? She had a point, especially when about toys or kitchen utensils picked up at thrift shops and yard sales.

Just to be on the safe side, take your used, waterproof items and soak them for five to 10 minutes in a solution containing 3/4 cup bleach cleaner, a few drops of antibacterial dishwashing liquid and one gallon warm water. Rinse well, then air-dry, preferably in sunlight.


Clean Butcher Block Cutting Boards and Countertops

Don’t even think about using furniture polish or any other household cleaner to clean a butcher block cutting board or countertop. Rather, scrub the surface with a brush dipped in a solution of one teaspoon bleach diluted in two quarts water. Scrub in small circles and be careful not to saturate the wood. Wipe with a slightly damp paper towel, then immediately buff dry with a clean cloth. Don’t miss these other kitchen cleaning mistakes.

Brighten Up Glass Dishware

Put the sparkle back in your glasses and dishes by adding a teaspoon of bleach cleaner to your soapy dishwater as you’re washing your glassware. Be sure to rinse well and dry with a soft towel. Did you know you could put these surprising things in the dishwasher?

Shine White Porcelain

Want to get your white porcelain sink, candleholder or pottery looking as good as new? In a well-ventilated area on a work surface protected by heavy plastic, place several paper towels over the item (or across the bottom of the sink) and carefully saturate them with undiluted bleach. Let soak for 15 minutes to a half hour, then rinse and wipe dry with a clean towel.

Note: Do not try this with antiques; you can diminish their value or cause damage. And never use bleach cleaner on colored porcelain, because the color will fade.

Make a Household Disinfectant Spray


Looking for a good, all-purpose disinfectant to use around the house? Mix one tablespoon bleach in one gallon hot water. Then fill a clean, empty spray bottle and use it on a paper towel to clean countertops, tablecloths, lawn furniture — basically, wherever it’s needed. Just be sure not to use it in the presence of ammonia or other household cleaners.

Here’s your definitive guide to how often you should be cleaning things in your house.

Disinfect Trash Cans

Even the best housekeepers must confront a gunked-up kitchen garbage pail every now and then. On such occasions, take the pail outside and flush out any loose debris with a garden hose. Then add 1/2 to one cup bleach cleaner and several drops of dishwashing liquid to one gallon warm water.

Use a toilet brush or long-handled scrub brush to splash and scour the solution on the bottom and sides of the container. Empty, then rinse with the hose, empty it again, and let air-dry. Here’s how to clean your cleaning tools.

Increase Cut Flowers’ Longevity

Freshly cut flowers will stay fresh longer if you add 1/4 teaspoon bleach per quart of vase water. Another popular recipe calls for three drops bleach and one teaspoon sugar in one quart water. This will also keep the water from getting cloudy and inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Clean Plastic Lawn Furniture

Is your plastic-mesh lawn furniture looking dingy? Before you place it curbside, try washing it with some mild detergent mixed with 1/2 cup bleach in one gallon water. Rinse it clean, then air-dry. In need of new lawn furniture? Check out this outdoor furniture you can buy online for under $250.

Kill Weeds in Walkways

Do weeds seem to thrive in the cracks and crevices of your walkways? Try pouring a bit of undiluted bleach over them. After a day or two, you can simply pull them out, and the bleach will keep them from coming back. Just be careful not to get bleach cleaner on the grass or plantings bordering the walkway.

Get Rid of Moss and Algae

To remove slippery and unsightly moss and algae on your brick, concrete or stone walkways, scrub them with a solution of 3/4 cup bleach in one gallon water. Be careful not to get bleach on your grass or ornamental plants.

Sanitize Garden Tools


You cut that diseased stalk off your rosebush with your branch clipper. Unless you want to spread the disease the next time you use the tool, sterilize it by washing it with 1/2 cup bleach in one quart water. Let the tool air-dry in the sun, then rub on a few drops of oil to prevent rust. New to gardening? Try one of these expert gardening tips for beginners.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest