Bleach has a shelf life! Contrary to what people may think, both chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) and color safe oxygen (hydrogen peroxide) liquid bleach have a shelf life. This applies to store bought bleach and the super strong commercial grade stuff alike. Even when properly stored between 50-70 degrees F, kept out of direct sunlight and all the other tricks in the book, bleach will degrade. Its full strength will only last up to 6 months from date of manufacture before it begins to lose strength and effectiveness. It can happen even sooner. For example, bleach mixed and diluted with water will degrade much faster- just 24 hours if mixed at 10% strength. Ultimately, you’re left with a fairly useless salt water solution once fully degraded. This is so important to keep in mind for the following reasons:
Bleach Effectiveness: You guessed it, whether it’s used for cleaning applications or to fight stains in laundry or keep the whites white, it’s not going work very well unless it’s fresh and potent. It’s crucial to avoid using old bleach if you want good results.
Bleach in Healthcare: Are you using bleach as a disinfectant or to kill bacteria? It’s incredibly important that you purchase and use bleach quickly, having fast enough product usage rates to keep only fresh, full strength bleach on hand. This may mean more frequent orders of less product. Using bleach that has been diluted, opened, or has simply been sitting in its original bottle for longer than 6 months will likely have a big affect on its ability to clean and disinfect as intended.
Bleach Purchasing: You are definitely going to want to calculate your bleach usage, both current and expected when purchasing bleach. Make sure you will completely use up the bleach you order within 6 months or less. If you can’t, it’s recommended you order less product more frequently.
Bleach Storage: Bleach should be kept between 50-70 degrees F, out of direct sunlight, in it’s original packaging and undiluted for as long as possible. Even with these guidelines followed, bleach will naturally lose effectiveness and strength.
The bottom line is that bleach is largely perceived as a super strong, super potent jack of all trades that you should always have at-the-ready. What they don’t always realize, is that this is only true for fresh full strength bleach, only for a short period of time, and only if appropriate measures are taken to properly plan, purchase, store and use it!