Almost everyone uses a bottle of bleach at home to clean, disinfect, and bleach their white clothes. But you might be wondering if it’s okay to toss it out in light of our increasing environmental consciousness.
Bleach may be disposed of by dilution with water first, then dumping it down the drain or toilet bowl (septic tanks included). Manufacturers make bleach to pass safely within the confines of sewage and wastewater systems without endangering the environment.
How Can I Safely Dispose of Bleach?
When used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, bleach shouldn’t pose any significant disposal-related problems for you. However, you must take care to avoid combining it with any substances that might render it harmful to you or the environment. Here are a few secure methods for getting rid of bleach after usage.
1. Give Bleach to Family, Friends, or Neighbors
Check to see whether someone you know may use your unused bleach before throwing it out. You may accomplish this by discussing it with your family and friends in person, over the phone, by text message, or in a Facebook post.
For instance, when you visit a family member, bring the remaining bleach with you and ask them if they’d want it.
2. Give Bleach to Neighborhood Organizations
Find out whether organizations like churches, neighborhood nursing homes, shelters for the homeless, or food kitchens would need donated bleach. You may do this by giving them a call, writing them an email, or going to their office to ask them in person.
Ask your favorite neighborhood organization if they could use the extra bleach if you have any.
3. List the Bleach on a classifieds website on the internet.
You may put up a picture and details of your bleach on websites like Craigslist so that others in your area can come to get it if they need it. Additionally, you might look at websites like Freecycle.org that specialize in recycling unwanted products.
To check whether someone could use your excess bleach, consider posting on a Facebook group or ads website. Let everyone know that the bottle is not entirely filled but the bleach is free.
4. Pour the Bleach Down the Drain
Unlike grease, pouring your bleach down the drain causes no harm. But before you do, be sure you fill it up with water and run the water for a few seconds. The bleach is further diluted in industrial wastewater before the chlorinated byproducts enter a sewage treatment facility,
The concentration should be brought down to a safe level using the treatment and method for activated sludge along with organic biodegradation and absorption.
If you have to get rid of grease, you can follow the steps in our guide on How to Dispose of Grease.
5. Flush it Down the Toilet
The same rule applies when flushing bleach down the drain. The majority of the negative effects of bleach levels are neutralized by natural biodegradation and municipal treatment processes in sewage systems. When you flush the toilet, the bleach is further diluted by the water, which gets rid of the bleach properly.
If you are dumping a lot of bleach (more than 0.25 gallons), divide it into 2 batches and flush each batch separately. Additionally, make sure your toilet bowl has an adequate amount of water in it to adequately dilute the bleach, or add some extra water before flushing.
6. Pour Bleach into Septic Tanks
According to a clinical examination of the impact of common home chemicals like bleach on septic tank microbes, even whole package disposal at maximum concentrations was much below the no-effect limit for significant bacteriological activity.
If you give the required dilution, microorganisms in septic tanks may swiftly recover from pollutants like bleach.
Studies in the lab and in the field revealed that adding 1.3 gallons of undiluted sodium hypocrite bleach to a typical 1,000-gallon sewage tank would not appreciably affect the bacterial activity there.
For a regular family, it would be a large amount of bleach, so you shouldn’t have any concerns about disposing of it in your septic tank.
7. Pour the Bleach Down the Kitchen Sink
While pouring bleach down the sink drain is an option, it’s not recommended. The faucet has to be opened as a first step.
Pour the bleach down the sink gradually after the water starts to flow steadily. Make sure the water and bleach are flowing steadily. Any variation in flow rate has the potential to harm the ecosystem.
You may minimize the environmental harm by making sure that a constant stream of diluted bleach solution is draining. The strong quantity of bleach will destroy vegetation or contaminate the water if you pour only the bleach down the drain.
We have put together other articles to help you dispose of hazardous household items. You might want to see How to Dispose of Paint.
Why is Proper Bleach Disposal Important?
Sodium hypochlorite, sometimes known as NaOCl, is the primary chemical in home bleach. NaOCl is a strong oxidizing agent that may be found in liquid form. It often has a yellowish-green appearance and a distinct odor. It is now widely used in American households for cleaning or bleaching.
Your drain should be safe to use after diluting your home bleach with adequate water. The EPA even advises pouring colored or unscented household bleach in water for emergency disinfection.
When sodium hydrochloride is mixed with water, hypochlorite acid is produced. This acid may penetrate the surfaces of microorganisms and is efficient against a wide variety of bacteria and fungi.
Despite its ability to disinfect, bleach can still be dangerous if it is improperly mixed, used, and stored. Here are some ways that bleach may be harmful:
Chlorine vapors can be released when sodium hypochlorite is combined with hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or other substances. Burning in the eyes or throat is a possible side effect of exposure to chlorine gas. High concentrations may potentially result in airway constriction, fluid accumulation in the lungs, and severe lung damage.
Bleach Consumption May Be Hazardous
In high doses, bleach can burn the esophagus and potentially result in death when gargled or ingested. According to the CDC, consuming bleach can be lethal in doses of 7–18 ounces at 3–12% concentrations.
Bleach can have an impact on the skin even at low doses, but it can also have a variety of other side effects at high concentrations. Being caustic, bleach has the potential to burn or irritate the skin or eyes.
Additionally, bleach can cause allergic reactions on your skin that result in excruciating burns. Contact with a heavy concentration of bleach repeatedly or for an extended period of time may result in searing pain, swelling, redness, blisters, itchy red welts, and/or serious eye damage.
When applied directly to plant life, sodium hypochlorite can result in necrosis, chlorosis, and leaf abscission, which are all very harmful to fish and aquatic species. However, pouring household bleach down a drain is not regarded by the EPA as a severe environmental danger.
Frequently Asked Questions for Bleach Disposal
How Can I Properly Get Rid of Bleach Bottles?
Guidelines for safe disposal are frequently included in home bleach containers. Always make sure your bleach container is empty before throwing it away. If there is any leftover, you may give it to someone else or dilute it and dump it down the drain or into the sink.
The manufacturer will often put a PET or HDPE symbol if the container is recyclable. If so, be careful to completely rinse the bottle to remove any bleach that may have remained. Ask your local recycling agency if they allow old bleach bottles in their recyclables because recycling requirements might vary from place to place.
Can Bleach Be Dumped Outside?
If you dilute your bleach well, you may toss it outside. Since chlorine is a very helpful micronutrient required for plant growth, little amounts of substantially bleach solution in low concentrations may be beneficial to your plants. Higher quantities, however, might harm or even destroy your plants.