Bleach Facts:
Your Defense Against the Toughest HAI-Causing Pathogens

Bleach: A Recommended and Trusted Infection Prevention Tool


Bleach: A Recommended and Trusted Infection Prevention Tool

Sodium hypochlorite, commonly called bleach, remains the most studied and proven disinfectant to date. It has played a critical role in helping to protect public health by killing disease-causing pathogens.

Bleach has a long history of successful usage in healthcare facilities. Over 4,500 U.S. hospitals trust Clorox Healthcare® bleach cleaner-disinfectants as key components of infection prevention strategies.

Clorox Healthcare bleach cleaner-disinfectants meet infection control guidelines issued by the CDC, APIC, SHEA and IDSA to prevent the spread of tough-to-kill pathogens such as C. difficile spores and norovirus.

Clorox Healthcare bleach cleaner-disinfectants meet the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard and can be used to disinfectant surfaces that are contaminated with blood and other potentially infectious materials.

Next Generation Bleach

Now you can use bleach in more places than ever before. Clorox Healthcare® Fuzion® combines the trusted efficacy of bleach with excellent surface compatibility and low odor. Fuzion® uses a revolutionary technology that delivers fast kill times with a neutralizer that breaks down the bleach to minimize residue and odor.

The Fuzion® technology uses hypochlorous acid to deliver a fast, effective disinfectant with excellent aesthetics. It is EPA-registered to kill C. difficile spores in 2 minutes, the fastest contact time available.* The formula is based on Self-Limiting Activated Sodium Hypochlorite (SLASH) technology, and is made up of sodium hypochlorite and a neutralizer solution. When the trigger spray is activated, a neutralizer converts the sodium hypochlorite into hypochlorous acid as it is sprayed on the surface. Once the 2-minute contact time is reached, the “SLASH-ing” agent in the neutralizer reduces the bleach to salt and water, leaving virtually no residue on the surface and eliminating corrosion that could damage equipment. The light odor dissipates within minutes as the neutralizer breaks down the bleach. This makes Fuzion® practical for everyday use across a wide variety of surfaces, eliminating concerns about damage or costly replacements.

* Based on EP Master Labels as of May 2016

Broad-Spectrum Microefficacy Delivers Fast Results, Even Against C. difficile Spores

These Clorox Healthcare® bleach cleaner-disinfectants are EPA-registered to work fast and effectively against the following organisms, including C. difficile spores.

Effective Against:
Contact Time
Clorox Healthcare® Fuzion® Clorox Healthcare® Bleach Germicidal Wipes* Clorox Healthcare® Bleach Germicidal Cleaners Dispatch® Hospital Cleaners Disinfectant Towels with Bleach
C. difficile spores 2 min 3 min 3 min 3 min
Bacteria 1 min 30 sec 1 min 1 min
Viruses 1 min 1 min 1 min 1 min


* Melinda Wenner Moyer. “How to Prevent Nasty Stomach Bugs This Winter? More Bleach.” New York Times 29 Nov 2018.

Bleach Efficacy vs. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QACs)

Sodium hypochlorite’s mode of action differs from that of QACs and generally works more effectively against a broader range of microorganisms with lower contact times. Bleach tears apart the microbe’s cell walls and deactivates proteins required for bacterial growth, while QACs act on cellular membranes and exhibit more variability in effectiveness, depending on organism type.

Bleach is a fast-acting oxidizing agent and has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against a wide range of microorganisms including bacteria, bacterial spores, viruses and fungi. It quickly reacts with organic material including proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, DNA and RNA, which ultimately leads to cell death. Since sodium hypochlorite quickly kills pathogens by targeting many different cellular pathways, there are no reports in the peer-reviewed literature discussing bacterial resistance to bleach under normal usage conditions.

By contrast, quaternary ammonium compounds must cross a microbe’s cell membrane to render it inactive. The components of the cell membrane vary by organism type and can inhibit the effects of QACs. Additionally, QACs take longer to affect the cell than bleach, and in the laboratory, some bacteria develop resistance mechanisms to QACs over time.

Addressing Concerns About Traditional Bleach

CONCERN: My staff doesn’t like using bleach due to its odor.

FACT: We understand that bleach’s odor and the risk of respiratory irritation are concerns. Here are some reasons why your team should use bleach with confidence:

Sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in many bleach cleaner-disinfectants, has no actual odor, as it is not volatile.
The characteristic “bleach smell” is caused the chemical reactions that occur when bleach breaks down proteins and other organic matter. Some describe the bleach smell as similar to that of a public swimming pool filled with many swimmers.
Clorox Healthcare®Bleach Germicidal Wipes are made with a gentle, odor-masking formula because we know that harsh bleach smells can be irritating to some patients and staff.

A 2012 study concluded that bleach wipes can be used for both daily and discharge cleaning without compromising patient or employee satisfaction.

Specifically, the study reported patient and staff satisfaction after switching from a quaternary ammonium-based cleaner to bleach wipes for daily and terminal cleaning of high-touch surfaces in all patient rooms.1

Overall, 91% of patients were very satisfied with the bleach wipes intervention. Environmental services team members’ experiences improved over time.

CONCERN: Using bleach can damage equipment and surfaces.

FACT: Bleach’s effect on surfaces is caused by two factors:

The oxidizing action of hypochlorite on these surfaces.
The salt that is left behind after using bleach. Over time, the salt buildup can scratch and damage surfaces.
To minimize hypochlorite’s impact on surfaces, Clorox Healthcare®bleach products are specially formulated with anticorrosion agents. To ensure that salt buildup does not cause surface damage over time, wipe down these surfaces after disinfecting with a fresh, clean, damp cloth.

When used as directed, Clorox Healthcare®bleach products are suitable to use on a variety of hard, nonporous surfaces, including stainless steel, plastics, glazed ceramics, glass, porcelain and other materials. Use bleach with confidence to clean and disinfect many surfaces such as bedrails, tables, equipment surfaces, countertops, floors, toilets, sinks, trash cans, desktop keyboards, telephone receivers, light switches, desks and mobile devices such as IV stands, carts and glucometers.

CONCERN: Bleach contaminates our groundwater.

FACT: The bleach cycle – from production to use to degradation – is simple and sustainable. It begins and ends with sodium chloride (common table salt), which is converted to bleach through electrolysis and combination with water, chlorine and sodium hydroxide. Clorox does not purchase sodium hydroxide or chlorine that is manufactured with the mercury cell process. This eliminates a source of mercury contaminants found in some bleach products.

During use and disposal, 95% to 98% of bleach rapidly breaks down back into salt and water. The remaining byproducts are effectively treated by municipal wastewater and septic systems. Bleach does not contaminate groundwater because it does not survive sewage treatment, either in municipal sewage treatment plants or in septic systems. No dioxins are formed.

1 Aronhalt, K.A., et al, “Patient and Environmental Service Employee Satisfaction of Using Germicidal Bleach Wipes for Patient Room Cleaning,” Journal for Healthcare Quality, 2012, 35 (6):30–36.