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10 Different Ways You’re Not Using Bleach, but Should

You can use it for more than just brightening white clothes.

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The best of bleach

When it comes to cleaning, bleach is a magical ingredient—it’s one of the best disinfectants and stain removers you can find. Most of us use it for laundry, cleaning toilet bowls, or tackling tough stains. However, that doesn’t mean these are the only uses for bleach. In fact, there are a lot of other ways bleach can come in extremely handy. Here’s 10 of them that you probably did not know before.

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Let your garden flourish

Try using bleach to clean flower pots and plants. “By cleaning your containers it helps prevent the transfer of molds and diseases from old plants to new ones,” Byrne says. To disinfect, wash and rinse pots and planters by soaking them in a solution of half a cup of bleach to one gallon of water for at least five minutes before rinsing with water. Your garden and home could also benefit from these 95 household vinegar uses you never knew about.

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Garbage can on the way waiting for garbage truck.
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Freshen up your garbage cans

Although garbage cans hold your trash and possibly garbage from an indoor cleaning session, the cans themselves need a good clean with bleach, too. Wash with soapy water and rinse. Then deodorize and sanitize the cans with a mixture of half a cup of bleach per three-quarters of a gallon of water. Swish this solution over the inside of the can and let it sit for two minutes before rinsing.

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Keep fresh cut flowers alive

If you don’t have a green thumb, you can still use bleach to keep store-bought flowers alive. Smell your freshly cut flowers for longer by keeping them in cold water with a quarter teaspoon of bleach per quart of water, according to Byrne. You can also do this and 20 other little-known things with plastic wrap.

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Eliminate litter box odor

Put an end to unpleasant cat box odors with bleach because it kills odor-causing germs, Byrne says. Wash the litter box with sudsy water and rinse. Then wipe it down with a solution of half a cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Wait five minutes before rinsing.

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Mold in the corner of the plastic windows.
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Clean off mold and mildew

Bleach not only removes mold and mildew stains, but also kills the fungus, according to Byrne. “By killing the fungus, you no longer have to worry about the harmful effects that mold can have to your family’s health,” she says. Remove mold and mildew from your bathroom tiles with a mixture of equal parts bleach and water in a spray bottle. Let it sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing it off and rinsing. Make sure you’re aware of these signs that your home might have a mold problem.

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Clean toys

Legos and other hard, non-porous objects such as kids toys could definitely benefit from bleach, especially if they are second-hand. “Bleach is perfect for disinfecting second-hand products because you can disinfect a lot of items with a small amount of bleach at a time,” Byrne says. Here’s what to do: add half a cup of bleach per gallon of water. Then wipe the surface with the bleach solution and let it sit on the surface for at least five minutes. Rinse it well with water and let it air dry. Check out the safest ways to clean your kids’ toys.

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Brighten and clean second-hand white linens

So you want to keep high thread count hand-me-down sheets without handing down any gross germs or bacteria. When washing, add two-thirds of a cup of bleach to your standard machine or one-third of a cup of bleach to your high-efficiency machine along with regular detergent. Ensure that the bleach contacts the clothes for ten minutes, Byrne says. Follow this helpful guide to make sure you know how to do laundry the right way.

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Clean most things in your kitchen

Sanitize second-hand food contact surface in the kitchen such as stainless steel utensils, plastic cutting boards, glassware, dishes, or baby bottles, Byrne says. Wash with water first, then rinse and wipe the surface with a solution of two tablespoons of bleach to one gallon of water. Let the solution stand for two minutes, rinse well, and air dry.

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Keep your Christmas tree alive longer

Keep the holiday spirit around just a bit longer with the help of bleach. According to Julia Byrne, a product developer, bleach at Clorox, you can prolong the life of your freshly cut tree with an easy mixture. Use a solution of two teaspoons of bleach per half a gallon of hot water, plus one cup of corn syrup, and an eighth of a cup of powdered iron from your local nursery. This mixture goes into your tree stand bowl instead of plain water, Byrne says. Despite its great uses, bleach does expire—here’s what you should know.

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Make a DIY spray to use on most surfaces

Sealed tile, wood, countertops, and plastic are all hard, non-porous surfaces that are safe for bleach. Create your own disinfecting spray with a combination of two cups of water and one tablespoon of bleach. Plus, bleach is good for cleaning glass dishware and porcelain because it doesn’t streak as much as some other cleaners, according to Byrne. Clean up your whole kitchen and avoid these 11 ways you might be cleaning your kitchen wrong.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is a former staff writer at Reader’s Digest. There’s a 90% chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she’s not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts and liking one too many astrology memes.