Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How does bleach work as a decontaminant?

  1. Apr 17, 2013 #1
    I understand that bleach is NaClO. I also understand that Cl and O are very reactive, but how does any of this play into bleach being a good decontaminant?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The chlorine and oxygen in the bleach kills germs by breaking down cell walls and oxidizing the cell material.
  4. Apr 18, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the reply! I've researched it a little, and I understand that ClO- is very unstable making it a good oxidizing agent. And in water bleach ionizes into Na+ and ClO-. So I guess the ClO- just wants to react with anything it can. In this case it's bacteria, but what makes bleach better or worse even than any other good oxidizing agent?
  5. Apr 18, 2013 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It is cheap and easy to prepare, doesn't leave toxic waste after being used (just some NaCl), is stable if stored correctly. You don't need much more.
  6. Apr 18, 2013 #5
    Aaahh. Thanks for the replies.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook