I have really missed teachin' and preachin' like in the old days, so I thought I'd like to chime in on something.
In the world of cleaning and sanitizing, bleach has been a “go to” product for years.
Many people have asked me about using industrial bleach and its advantages over bleach bought at the grocery store or Clorox Outdoor. The answer has always been that bleach is essentially the same in any form and only the concentration changes.
Grocery store bleach used to average around 5.75% concentration Today you can buy more concentrated bleach in the grocery stores that delivers around 7.5% as well. You have to read the label carefully, but seeing words like “33% stronger” and “super concentrated” are a good tip-off to the stronger concentration. Industrial bleach is rated between 12% and 15% concentration and Clorox Outdoor averages around 7.5% concentration.
Why do so many contractors prefer industrial bleach? The triple cost advantage to using bleach at that concentration is huge. Let me share some examples. We will start with the cost of buying the bleach.
Suppose you wanted to clean a house using 5.75% bleach. If your goal is to use a final concentration of 1%, which is typically strong enough for killing the mold and algae if combined with a good detergent that delivers some cling, then each gallon of bleach can be cut with 4.75 gallons of water – creating 5.75 gallons of 1% bleach.
If you start with 7.5% bleach, then each gallon can be cut with 6.5 gallons of water to get the same killing power (notice I didn’t say “cleaning power” because bleach doesn’t clean, it sanitizes).
If you pay $3 for the 5.75% bleach and $10 for the 7.5% bleach, then the $5.75% bleach cost you $0.52 per usable gallon. The 7.5% bleach actually cost you $0.75 per usable gallon – over-priced a bit.
Using 12.5% bleach, which many contractors can buy in bulk for around $3.50 per gallon actually delivers 12.5 gallons of usable 1% liquid for about $0.28 per usable gallon. The savings are obvious.
The second part of lower costs using industrial bleach is the cost of transportation. A gallon of 5.75% bleach weighs the same as a gallon of 12.5% industrial bleach, so you can haul less than half of the amount of bleach to get the same amount of power. That translates into more MPG and fewer brake pad changes over time. It can even mean using a smaller truck since you carry less weight, but most won’t count that as a real saving.
The third element of savings comes into play when you need volume for your work. You are limited to carrying about 115 gallons of bleach at a time by DOT regulations – NO MATTER WHAT CONCENTRATION THAT BLEACH IS. That means that you can carry 115 gallons of 12.5% bleach instead of 115 gallons of 5.75% bleach and get more than twice the bleach power. This is very important to contractors who clean roofs, for example.
In the end, nothing beats the economy of using industrial bleach. This is great information for the guys who can get their hands on the stuff, but what about the guys who cannot? Well, remember where we started out? All bleach is the pretty much the same except for the concentration. So if your only source of bleach is laundry bleach, go to Wal-Mart or some store where the bleach moves fast and is always fresh and use that. You can kill just as many germs or just as much mold – it just takes twice as much and will cost you twice as much per gallon. In the big scheme of life, the difference for most house wash jobs comes down to a few dollars on a $250 job, so don’t sweat the little things.
Next, take care of your bleach. Keep it out of sunlight and away from excessive heat. Bleach is pretty unstable and will break down fast enough without sunlight and heat, but adding sunlight and heat can affect bleach – and lower its effectiveness – in just a few hours. Learn from this and only buy enough bleach at one time that you will use in a week or two. Hold on to bleach longer that, and its performance drops dramatically. A lot of people think their soap isn’t working right when the truth is they are trying to use stale bleach. Just like fresh gas, fresh bleach packs the punch and stale bleach does not.
PS – Watch out when you buy bleach in a local store. Most bleach is sold in containers that look like gallons but really aren’t. Some are as small as 3 quarts. Be sure to check the size of the jug when you are mixing cleaners and when you are calculating costs.
PPS – why is Clorox Outdoor so expensive? Simply put, Clorox Outdoor is formulated a little differently for several reasons. One of the primary reasons is that it moves a lot slower off the shelf because it is perceived as a specialty product. They formulate it with a small amount of sodium hydroxide to keep it a little more stable that ordinary bleach (which is incredibly unstable and can go bad in 30 days or less). Clorox Outdoor is sold in home improvement stores and hardware stores instead of grocery stores, and that affects the price too. Now that you can get 7.5% bleach in grocery stores, Clorox Outdoor doesn’t really seem worth the cost for a contractor.