White On! 9 Alternative Uses for Bleach
You know, bleach is quite a cheap product, coming in at just a few bucks a gallon (or less if you find a generic brand). And while most people use it for cleaning and disinfecting, it’s actually way more versatile than you think. In fact, as the first item in the list will show you, when you use your imagination, bleach can be an amazing product.
Here, then, are nine really cool uses for bleach. Please take the usual precautions when working with bleach, by using protective gloves (and eyewear if necessary) and keeping the room well ventilated. Also, protect anything else you do not want the bleach to react with; a big bleachy stain on your new carpet is not going to look good! (See also: Alternative Uses for Everything in Your Bathroom)
1. “Reverse Dye” Your T-Shirts
This is by far my favorite alternative use for bleach. I don’t know about you, but I have always been extremely cautious around bleach, and I try and wear white t-shirts and old jeans when using it. Sometimes, I have forgotten, and the splashes of bleach can quickly ruin your favorite clothes.
But why not turn that negative into a positive, and use bleach to create stunning t-shirt designs of your own at a fraction of the cost you’d pay in stores? All you need are some black (or dark colored) t-shirts, some bleach or a bleach pen, a toothbrush, a spray bottle, and a stencil of your own design. I have a stencil ready for my Batman shirt, and it is going to look killer. And why stop at t-shirts? Regular shirts, jackets, pants — they could all be treated this way. But if you need some inspiration, check out the designs at this subreddit called bleachshirts. This is a craze I really hope catches on.
2. A Cure for Smelly, Stinking Feet
I was wary of this one, but I’ve found the advice everywhere on the web, including eHow, Earthclinic, and Wikihow. Add about two tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of warm water, and soak your stinky feet in it for about 5-10 minutes a day for a week. That should get rid of the nasty odors. If it dries your feet out, apply baby oil to your feet after you’ve rinsed and dried them.
3. Restore White Porcelain to Its Former Glory
Bleach is not just good at bringing your white clothing back to life. You can also restore newer porcelain items (NOT antiques; you could seriously diminish their value). Simply soak paper towels in undiluted bleach, and wrap them around the porcelain item for around 20-30 minutes. Then, rinse in cold water and dry off. Your porcelain should look like new. However, don't try this on a colored porcelain — you will ruin it. Stay with white only.
4. Keep Those Fresh-Cut Flowers Looking Fresher, Longer
It’s hard to believe that something as toxic as bleach could help a living thing thrive, but it can. Well, flowers (once cut) are technically no longer living, so maybe that’s why. Just add ¼ teaspoon of bleach to each quart of water you put in the vase.
5. Weed Killer Extraordinaire
If you have some weeds poking through the patio concrete, your driveway, or your sidewalk, a little undiluted bleach will kill them. Put it in a spray bottle, and fire away. Sometimes, in just minutes, you’ll see the offending weeds turn black and die before your very eyes. HOWEVER, it can also do the same to grass, so do not use this on your lawns! Only use bleach on weeds where you are confident you want nothing else to grow.
6. Freshen Up Your Garbage Disposal and Sponges
After a while, a funky smell can start emanating from the garbage disposal or “insinkerator” in your kitchen. They do sell products that promise to freshen it up, but why fork out extra money when you have a solution ready to use right under the sink? Pour a few capfuls down the sink and let it sit for at least a few minutes — more if possible. The bleach will kill the bacteria, and the smells will be gone. While you’re at the sink, soak your sponges in a mixture of ¾ cup of bleach with a gallon of hot water. Ensure a thorough rinsing before you use them again.
7. Bring Plastic Furniture Back to Life
If you have kids, you probably have plastic furniture somewhere in the house. And it will be dirty. You may also have plastic garden furniture looking well past its prime. Take 1 gallon of hot water, add ½ cup of bleach, and clean it with a cloth or sponge. You should see the revival take place before your very eyes. Then, rinse with clean water several times before letting the kids come back and wreck it again!
8. Add a Sparkle to Old Glassware
If your glasses and glass dishes are starting to look a bit cloudy, bleach can help you restore their sparkle and shine. Just add a teaspoon of bleach to hot soapy water and wash them in it, followed by a buffing with a dry kitchen towel.
9. Emergency Water Purification
Drinking bleach? Seriously? Well, it’s not as easy as that, and it must be done following strict instructions. But if you do find yourself needing fresh water, perhaps in a natural disaster that stops the flow to your home, then here’s what you can do (courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health):
- If boiling is not possible, treat water by adding liquid household bleach, such as Clorox or Purex. Household bleach is typically between 5% and 6% chlorine. Avoid using bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives. Be sure to read the label.
- Place the water (filtered, if necessary) in a clean container. Add the amount of bleach according to the table below.
- Mix thoroughly and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before using (60 minutes if the water is cloudy or very cold).
Do you have any other cool and unusual uses for bleach? Let us know.
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