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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Use bleach with care

To get rid of those tough stains, use bleach correctly and get your furniture and apparel spanking clean!
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - February 1, 2010
By: Adele Ong
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Use bleach with care

Bleach is commonly used in households as a cleaning agent, disinfectant and stain-lightener. Some spots that no amount of scrubbing will shift do seem to come off with a little application of bleach. However, this substance must be used with care and respect, because using it wrongly can harm not only household furnishings and clothing, but also your health.

Here are some bleach facts and tips for use:

  • Not all bleach is the same. The type you buy from the supermarket and use as a cleaning agent at home is almost always chlorine bleach. As its name suggests, it is made from chlorine, and is a solution of sodium hypochlorite. It is often used to remove stains from clothing during laundering, and to disinfect toilets, flooring or countertops.

  • Another commonly available type of bleach is oxygenated or oxygen bleach, which is made from sodium percarbonate and can be used on coloured fabrics without damaging them.

  • Hydrogen peroxide is a type of non-chlorine bleach that can be safely used, when properly diluted, as an antiseptic on many surfaces and fabrics without harming them.

  • Chlorine bleach must always be diluted with water before use, because undiluted chlorine bleach can permanently ruin many household surfaces – even metal and glass – and clothes too. Inhaling its vapours can also hurt your respiratory tract and affect your skin and eye membranes. Some people take the precaution of wearing protective goggles when handling bleach, to spare their eyes the dangers of being irritated by the fumes or damaged by accidental splashes.

  • Always wear gloves when handling bleach, even when it is well-diluted, because contact with too strong a solution, or prolonged contact with weaker solutions, can dry out or corrode your skin.

  • It is also good practice to keep windows and doors open and switch on the fan when cleaning with bleach, to ensure good ventilation. Using bleach in an enclosed space could mean a build-up of fumes.

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