Everyone likes a clean toilet. It’s a vital piece of your home, but no one really wants to think about how dirty it can get, right? To make sure it stays that way, everyone’s least favorite household chore—cleaning the toilet—must be done at least once a week.
Bleach is an incredible tool to maintain that white finish and to keep it sanitized, but there are some things you need to keep in careful consideration when using bleach! When using bleach as a toilet bowl cleaner, there is a maximum time that you should leave it on before removing it, or you risk causing damage to your toilet bowl.
While bleach can be safely used to clean toilets, it should not be flushed down the toilet unless it is diluted with water. The dilution helps to break down the bleach and makes it biodegradable and safe. If you don’t want to take the risk of using bleach but already have it in your home, there are other ways that you can safely dispose of it, like pouring it out safely or giving it away.
This article will prepare you with all of the knowledge you need for safely and efficiently cleaning your toilet surfaces, whether you choose to use bleach to clean them, or opt for a different method!
- What is Bleach?
- Prepare For Using Bleach to Clean Toilets
- Why is Protective Gear Important?
- Is it Safe to Dump Bleach Down the Toilet?
- What Happens if You Leave Bleach in a Toilet Too Long?
- When Not to Use Bleach to Clean Toilets?
- How to Safely Dispose of Bleach?
- Safety Measures to Know When Disposing of Bleach
What is Bleach?
Prepare yourself for some big words, because it’s time to educate yourself on what it is you’re using!
The word bleach is named more for what it does than what it is. Bleach is simply a chemical cleaner that is used to remove stains or unwanted color from a surface or a fabric. Some types of bleach also contain bactericidal abilities. Those would be the ones useful for cleaning, like chlorine gas added to bleach to clean a swimming pool.
There are further technical terms for specific types of bleach, generally named so as to indicate what combination of chemicals has gone into them. For example, bleaching powder contains calcium hypochlorite while chlorine bleach, as mentioned previously, contains chlorine.
Other types of bleach you may find in your cabinet that you weren’t even aware were bleaches include:
However, we all know what type of bleach we’re here to discuss, and that is the kind that you would use as a toilet bowl cleaner. That type of bleach is liquid bleach, and it contains sodium hypochlorite. The sodium part of liquid bleach indicates that it is diluted with sodium or salt.
When used in combination with a toilet brush, liquid bleach can be used to clean your toilet. However, you’ll need a bit of prep first.
Prepare For Using Bleach to Clean Toilets
The actual process of cleaning and sanitizing your toilet bowl isn’t even that difficult. It’s more about psyching yourself up to do the task than actually getting it done!
There are toilet bowl cleaners on the market, so it’s easy to just go out and buy one or add one to your regular grocery order. As for a toilet brush, you probably already own one, and if you don’t internet shopping was an amazing invention.
There are some things you will need to do to prepare for the cleaning agents you’ll use to clean your toilet bowl.
- Acetone or rubbing alcohol
- Bleach chemical cleaner
- An old towel
Gear to use:
Why is Protective Gear Important?
It is important that you wear safety gear for the same reason that it is important not to leave bleach in the toilet bowl for too long—because bleach is a highly potent chemical product that can be corrosive to the skin and irritating to the eyes. When inhaled for too long, bleach can even cause lung issues.
Cleaning your toilet bowl with bleach in absence of the proper safety gear can leave you with rashes on your skin, migraines or debilitating headaches, nausea, vomiting, and muscle weakness.
Safety steps are easy to take, involving things that you can buy at any local hardware store. Please do not take chances with your health! Rubber gloves will keep bleach from your hands, while goggles will keep your eyes from being impacted by the gas.
You may also want to ensure that the gear you’re wearing isn’t important to you. Bleach will remove any color from the fabric if you happen to get some on you. (Yes, that’s right—bleach stains aren’t even stains! They’re just the absence of whatever dye was used to pigment your clothing.)
Is it Safe to Dump Bleach Down the Toilet?
Flushing bleach down your toilet is only safe under certain scenarios, and with certain toilets. To be absolutely sure that it is safe to do with the specific toilet that you own, you should review the manufacturer’s instructions, or failing that, contact the manufacturer directly to ask.
In general, if you’re worried about damaging your toilet’s surface, bleach may not be the safest option. You can always test it with a very small amount of bleach and see whether it goes well.
Can Flushing Bleach Damage the Toilet Bowl?
Presuming that you have a toilet that has been manufactured with materials that can handle bleach, pure bleach by itself is still not advisable.
You should use a diluted bleach solution, which means that the water added to it for the dilution process will help break down the bleach. This process of breaking it down makes it biodegradable, meaning when it comes in contact with salt and water, it won’t contaminate them to the point of being dangerous.
What Happens if You Leave Bleach in a Toilet Too Long?
While diluted bleach cleaning solutions are generally safe and have complete effectiveness in cleaning a toilet bowl, bleach should not be left in the toilet bowl for a long period. You can leave diluted bleach in the toilet overnight, though leaving it longer risks damage.
You should not put bleach in the tank, because it will cause problems with plastic and chrome fittings, as well as toilet gaskets.
As mentioned previously, bleach is a chemical compound and when left for a too long period, it will eventually eat the glazed finish of the porcelain on your toilet. That will mean you’ll need not just a new toilet seat, but a new toilet altogether.
When Not to Use Bleach to Clean Toilets?
There are a few situations in which it would not be advisable to use bleach to clean your toilet bowl.
If you see firm rust stains inside the toilet bowl, be aware that bleach cannot remove rust stains from porcelain. The bleach reacts in exactly the opposite way to rust, setting it permanently in place instead of clearing it away. As such, you should never add bleach to rusty toilets.
What to Use on Rust Stains Instead of Bleach?
Rust may instead be removed by other substances or mild detergents, so put the bleach down for now.
One quick and very accessible method is simply using white vinegar with half a cup of baking soda. First, apply the baking soda to the rust, then spray with the white vinegar. Wait half an hour and then flush properly. The rust should begin to clean away without damaging the delicate porcelain in your toilets.
How to Safely Dispose of Bleach?
There are three safe ways to dispose of bleach without exposing yourself to the poisonous gas fumes or risking damage to your toilet bowl or chrome fittings. We’ll cover them in detail below.
Option 1: Pour the Bleach Out
After you use bleach, there are a couple of ways you can dispose of bleach by pouring it out.
Pour it down the drain
If you have bleach in your home that you do not plan on using, it is safe to pour the bleach down your drain as long as you remember to dilute it first.
Bleach should be diluted down to roughly a third of a cup of bleach to every gallon of water. Once you have diluted it and poured it down the drain, allow the water to run for thirty seconds to a minute before you shut the faucet off.
You should never pour bleach before mixing it with some water—that’s a recipe for disaster.
Flush it down the toilet
If you have a very small amount of bleach, you can flush it down the toilet—if you really must. Do not flush more than a fourth of a gallon at a time. If you have more than a fourth of a gallon remaining, use separate flushes.
Option 2: Dispose of the Bleach Container
If you have an empty bleach bottle, you must take care when disposing of it. You don’t want to leave it lying around the house, especially if there are pets or children nearby, but you also can’t just toss it away anywhere. Particularly if it is plain bleach or undiluted, it can be very dangerous.
Check the label
The first thing you should do is check the label on the container. Most commercial toilet bowl cleaners or plumber-recommended bleach should give you an indicator of what can be done with the container.
The following two sections are some acronyms that you should look for.
If the container has the acronym HDPE, that means it is made of high-density polyethylene. Bleach often comes in HDPE bottles because it has strong resistance to chemicals. HDPE bottles are accepted at most recycling centers.
You made also see the letters PET on your container. This stands for polyethylene terephthalate, which is a type of polyester used to manufacture plastic bottles.
Like with HDPE containers, as long as you have ensured it is empty and cleaned the bottle out (which you’ll learn more about how to do in the coming sections) then it will be accepted at any recycling center that handles plastic. To reduce your carbon footprint on our planet, make sure you dispose of your used-up bleach bottles properly.
Ensure the container is empty
It is vital to make sure that there is no bleach in the bottle before recycling or throwing away. To make completely sure of this, pour warm soapy water into the container and swish it around.
Pour the water back out, rinsing it thoroughly to ensure any chemicals that were in it are now gone. Once you’ve done a container check, you’re good to go!
If you can’t recycle it, put it in the trash
If you cannot find a recycling center that will take the type of bottle you have, or if there is no recycling center or service convenient for you, you may need to put it in the garbage.
Before you do that, check again to verify that it is completely empty. If the bottle is, indeed, entirely empty, then the container can be thrown away with your trash alongside other plastics.
Option 3: Use the Remaining Bleach
If you have a container with bleach still in it, but you don’t want to put it down your drain you can always try and find a use for it.
And if you can’t – why not find someone that can? Contact friends, family, or people in your community to see if anyone has any use for bleach.
Safety Measures to Know When Disposing of Bleach
You’re well on your way to becoming an expert on bleach and all the various ways of getting rid of it. Here are a few safety measures to keep in mind:
- Don’t pour undiluted bleach down the drain! It could cause major issues with your septic or plumbing system.
- Do not mix bleach with any liquid besides water. Because bleach is a chemical, there can be potentially dangerous chemical reactions when mixing it with liquids besides water.
- If bleach comes in contact with your skin, immediately wash the area with warm soapy water to avoid irritation.
- Always use protective gear when handling any kind of toilet bowl cleaner!
Let’s end on a summary note of what we’ve learned so far. Does bleach damage toilet bowls? No, assuming you used it properly, it doesn’t. However, the answer changes to a firm ‘yes’ if the detergent was used improperly.
Dilution at the recommended concentration is important; diluted bleach can sit in a toilet overnight with little harm, while an enamel toilet can suffer damage from an undiluted substance.
If you aren’t sure how much bleach your porcelain toilet bowls can handle, you can always just use the occasional bleach cleaner or opt for a non-chemical cleaner. We hope this guide helped you get your toilet seat and bowl back in perfect condition!