—Donna Boyle Schwartz
Chlorine bleach isn’t just for washing machines anymore. This staple of the laundry room—while well known for getting stains out of clothing—has a multitude of potential uses in and around your home. Regular household bleach packs a ton of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting punch. And best of all, it costs just pennies per project! Bleach is a safe way to remove stains, kill germs and deodorize containers. For safety’s sake, be sure to keep bleach in a childproof cabinet, away from other household chemicals, particularly ammonia, since the combination can be toxic. Here are just a few of the surprising uses for bleach around the house:
1. Make Glassware Sparkle
Add a teaspoon of bleach to your dishwasher load to restore shine and sparkle to your glassware. No dishwasher? No problem, simply soak glasses in a solution of one part bleach to four parts water for a few minutes, then wash and rinse well.
2. Flower Power
Keep cut flowers looking fresher for longer by placing a few drops of bleach to the water in the vase. Not only does this trick extend the life of your flowers, but it will keep the water clearer as well.
3. Weeds Be Gone!
Undiluted bleach can zap weeds growing through the cracks in your walkway or driveway. Spray undiluted bleach on the weeds and let stand. The solution will kill existing weeds and help prevent new ones from sprouting. Bleach will kill grass, flowers, and other vegetation as well, so take care where you aim!
Related: 9 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds
4. Gardening Aid
The sterilizing power of bleach is put to good use in the garden. Soak garden tools in a solution of one part bleach to four parts water to disinfect and sanitize; this reduces the risk of spreading plant diseases. Use the same solution on plant pots to kill any plant diseases before reusing the pots.
Related: How To: Care for Garden Tools
5. Down The Garden Path
Stepping stones, masonry walkways, concrete sidewalks, and brick paths can look weathered and aged when moss and algae grows. Restore your garden lanes with a solution of one cup bleach to one gallon of water. Spray on the walkway, let stand for a few minutes, and then hose away—being careful to aim away from border plantings.
6. Eliminate Mosquitoes
Bleach is more than just a powerful cleanser; it’s also a pesticide. When used with care, a few drops of Clorox bleach added to a birdbath keeps standing water mosquito-free. This treatment kills larvae, which grow in stagnant water. A little goes a long way, though; a tablespoon of bleach to treat 50 gallons of water eliminates pests while keeping feathered friends safe. Never add bleach to natural waterways and ponds.
7. Renew a Fence
If a wood privacy fence has turned gray and dingy from mold, mildew, or dirt, refresh it with bleach. First, place drop cloths on either side of your fence to protect vegetation from bleach damage and protect yourself with rubber gloves and eyewear. Then dilute bleach in water and, using a garden sprayer, apply it to the slats of the fence. After allowing the bleach to work for a few minutes, rinse clean with a garden hose.