Is Bleach the Best Disinfectant? Yes and No


There’s a commercial that says something to the effect, ‘When you think of clean, you think of bleach.” That’s certainly true for its use as an effective disinfectant. But for a product that’s been around such a long time, its best applications are still misunderstood. To discuss today on the podcast, host Tyler Kern sits down with John Shanahan, president and CEO of Knoxville-based Ionogen.

Bleach dates back to Europe in the late 18th century when it was used for cleaning, disinfecting, and laundering white and light-colored clothing.

“Bleach is a great disinfectant, but there are trade-offs: Our health, the surfaces we put it on, the buildings we used it on all became highly damaged,” Shanahan says.

There are nuances to the different types of bleach, specifically when mixed with water, which becomes chlorine, also known as free available chlorine or neutral pH chlorine, he explains.

“Bleach and chlorine have this sister element to it, but chlorine has been around as long as bleach, but it’s not put up in a bottle where you can keep it for a long period of time,” Shanahan says.

“Now, you can generate neutral pH chlorine on-site with small devices the size of a coffee pot you can put in your building,” he continues. “This chlorine is so gentle if you were wearing a dark blue wool sports jacket, I could splash this all over you, and it would never take the color out of your coat.”

Shanahan also discusses other uses for this gentle yet effective form of chlorine in this episode and shares insight on hypochlorous.

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