When you start to look at the chemicals that are used to clean in your home, you’ll notice that bleach is used for a lot of cleaning activities. Indeed, bleach is a very effective cleaning product. However, bleach is a very harmful substance and should be used not at all or very carefully.
Chlorine is commonly added to caustic soda (lye) to create a powerful and popular cleaner: chlorine bleach. The oxidizing properties of chlorine make it a handy part of bleaching and disinfecting products. Chlorine, in its elemental form is extremely dangerous and poisonous to all humans and lifeforms. However, it is naturally bonded to many important components, such as ordinary table salt. So, you find it used often is combination with other chemicals.
Chlorine Bleach Can Produce Dangerous Vapors
Chlorine bleach can react with other common household chemicals such as vinegar and ammonia to produce toxic gases. Bleach accidentally mixed with chlorine is highly toxic and dangerous. It can form a dangerous vapor and even become explosive depending on the mixture. Accidentally mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia can be fatal. Chlorine bleach will also mix with other acidic compounds to create hazardous gases. Chlorine bleach reacts with skin oils, so you should use gloves while handling chlorine bleach. Also, people with respiratory problems should not be around bleach because it exasperates those problems. Long term exposure to bleach is a problem as well because chlorine accumulates in our bodies and puts a lot of stress on our detoxification organs such as the liver, kidneys and lungs.
Borax In Contrast
Borax, although not completely benign, is much less dangerous that chlorine bleach. Borax is not reactive, so it can be safely mixed with other ingredients to form cleaning mixtures. Borax, however, can be lethal if ingested. Children and infants can die of ingesting less than 5 grams and adults can die from ingesting over 15 grams of borax. So, you do need to be careful with borax in the home. The other main concern with borax is breathing air-born dust. It will irritate the lungs. This dust, though, is much less dangerous than chlorine vapors.
Chlorine bleach and borax need to be handled with care and both are effective cleaning agents. If used inappropriately, both can be dangerous. Bleach is definitely more hazardous. Bleach has much more potential to cause harm that borax. Borax does will not accidentally create deadly vapors like chlorine bleach if accidentally mixed with other cleaning agents such as ammonia. So, in my opinion, that makes borax the clear winner. However, you still need to be careful using borax.
What is the take-away?
We recommend replacing chlorine bleach for cleaning where possible. If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, start mixing up some recipes with borax as a replacement for bleach. If you are allergic to bleach, make the move right away and don’t look back.