Hypochlorous Acid vs Bleach

April 20, 2022 Leave a Comment

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If you care about setting the highest hygiene and cleaning standards in your routine, then you're probably familiar with the most popular disinfectants on the shelves today.

When it comes to cleaning, bleach is a staple in our society. Unfortunately, most users are not aware of a safer and superior alternative with disinfecting properties. This solution is called Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl).

Close-up of Bleach Bottle and Hypochlorous Acid Disinfecting Spray
Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) has gained traction in recent years as a sustainable disinfectant with numerous advantages. Many people have been drawn to using HOCl or electrolyzed water for their cleaning needs because of its broad range of disinfecting power and lack of harsh chemical fumes.

In short, hypochlorous acid and bleach are known for their disinfecting properties. And what gives them germ-killing capabilities are the chlorine molecules found in both solutions.

On-site generation technologies have introduced businesses and health facilities to HOCl as a viable alternative to traditional chemical cleaners. Still, many companies and households continue using bleach for their cleaning and disinfecting routines.

But why? Let's compare hypochlorous acid vs. bleach and see how they made their way to the top of the cleaning and disinfecting industry.

A Brief Look Into the Past

While the discovery of hypochlorous acid dates back to the 1800s, its uses in the medical field began during World War I and II in treating injuries and chemical burns.

Since then, HOCl has been used in healthcare for wound cleaning and redressing, usually via topical application. It's used in agriculture and farming to control microbial populations via the irrigation system.

HOCl has been used to disinfect drinking water and has so many more practical uses.

The use of chlorine-based bleach as a disinfectant dates back to the 18th century. Of course, disinfecting formulas have changed in many ways since then, particularly regarding the concentration of compounds in them.

Wound Tending With Medical Equipment To Illustrate the Power of Hypochlorous Acid in Healthcare
Nowadays, traditional bleach-based products contain a percentage of active sodium hypochlorite that may range from 2% to 10%.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, disinfectants were in high demand, and HOCl stood out due to its efficacy against the virus. However, many people still used traditional chemical cleaners instead, especially when air and surface decontamination became a priority during the pandemic's peak. Bleach was an accessible option that anyone could find at any local grocery store versus HOCl solutions throughout the pandemic. And that's unfortunate because HOCl has a much more favorable safety profile over bleach.

Spray disinfectants were in high demand, and HOCl stood out for its all-natural ingredients. However, many people still used traditional chemical cleaners instead, especially when air and surface decontamination became a priority during the pandemic's peak.

Bleach was an accessible option that anyone could find at any local grocery store versus HOCl solutions throughout the pandemic. And that's unfortunate because HOCl has a favorable safety profile over bleach.

People should be more aware of the damages that chemical fumes can cause to a person's body, specifically those with respiratory issues that would make them more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.

Most people are not aware of the damages that chemical fumes can cause to a person's body. Its especially harmful to those with respiratory issues. As can be anticipated during the pandemicpeople's exposure to chemical disinfectants increased and so did the calls to poison control centers, as shown by the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2020.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Free available chlorine (FAC) or the active ingredient in HOCl is effective at killing germs and bacteria, and this effectiveness covers a broader range of purposes. While bleach also has FAC, it is more powerful in HOCl because HOCl exist in a pH range that takes full advantage of FAC's germicidal properties. This pH range is also the reason why HOCl is a safer alternative to bleach.

We've briefly touched upon some of the differences between HOCl and bleach, but here are the most important factors to keep in mind:
  • Chemical Composition: Hypochlorous acid is produced by the blood cells in the human body to fight germs and bacteria. As adisinfectant, it is produced with the right concentration of water and salt, typically through a process called electrochemical activation (ECA).

  • When the solution is exposed to an electrical charge, the sodium and chloride (NaCl) in the salt molecule and the hydrogen and oxygen (H2O) in the water molecule break apart to form hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH).

    HOCl is also an element in bleach that makes it so effective as a disinfectant, but that's where the similarities end.

    The problem with bleach is the pH imbalances that make it corrosive and caustic. That's because bleach (NaOCl) has more chlorine (Cl) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) compounds that make it potentially harmful for those who use it.

    Person Wearing Cleaning Apron and Gloves Surrounded By Icons Related to Disinfecting Practices
  • Disinfecting Power: When it's left to sit on a surface for a specified amount of time, bleach provides a reasonable level of disinfection against different germs, viruses, and bacteria.

    The disinfecting power of HOCl surpasses the effectiveness of traditional bleach by at least 80 times.

  • Dwell Time: Bleach disinfectants must be left to dry on a surface for 5 to 10 minutes to actively kill germs. If the surface is still wet, the job is not done, and wiping it too soon would affect the disinfecting process as a whole.

    Bleach's dwell time of 10 minutes can be too long of a wait time for public settings with constant activity, like schools, grocery stores, and clinics.

    Now, HOCl is known for its fast dwell times. Not only can electrolyzed water disinfectants be produced on-site, but they can also kill a considerable number of germs and bacteria in a minute or less.

    Regardless of what people use, they need to look at the disinfectant's label since the dwell time is affected by the concentration of ingredients in each formula and the organisms they're meant to kill. To learn more about dwell time, read our blog "What Is the Dwell Time for Sanitizers and Disinfectants?."

  • Efficiency and Safety: There's a reason gloves, face masks, and even safety goggles are essential tools that custodians use when handling bleach.

    Because bleach solutions emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and frequent exposure can cause health complications and render a space less safe to work in.

    In terms of efficiency, using bleach alone isn't enough to make up a robust cleaning program. People would need different products to clean, degrease, disinfect, and sanitize an area.

    The result is that cleaning routines become more of a chore for custodians and homeowners, not to mention the increased risks of accidents while keeping tabs on the instructions for each product.

    The effectiveness of bleach can also be affected by several external factors, like heat and light. If it's not properly stored, bleach will expire sooner than expected.

    Hypochlorous acid, on the other hand, not only kills germs more quickly, but notably increases the efficiency of a cleaning and disinfecting routine.

    Custodian With Cleaning Equipment Smiling in a Hallway to Represent an Effective Cleaing Routine
    First of all, it doesn't have a high concentration of toxic compounds. This means that users can handle HOCl solutions without risking bouts of dizziness or burns on their skin. They don't have to worry about the long-term health complications that result from continued exposure to chemical cleaners.

    Secondly, people can work more comfortably without having to juggle multiple formulas because on-site generation technologies can produce a product for each stage of a full cleaning routine.

    The efficiency mentioned above also results from removing the storage requirements that come with bleach and other traditional cleaners. Users can produce the exact amount of disinfectant needed at the moment without wasting resources or taking up too much space.

    HOCl is easy to use. It doesn't involve an endless list of warnings and instructions, so it represents an accessible approach even for those who are unfamiliar with it.

  • Environmental Outcome: Earlier, we covered how bleach has toxic ingredients. The concentration of chlorine varies from product to product. Still, they all release VOCs that spread within indoor spaces whenever these products are used on a surface.

    These compounds directly increase air pollution because they remain in the air, and bleach residue is corrosive enough to harm natural resources and the environment upon disposal.

    In the same way that HOCl causes no harm to living organisms, it poses no threat to the environment and ensures minimal waste of natural resources.

  • Financial Costs: Bleach is in so many products because of its relatively low production costs. So many brands offer bleach-based cleaners, degreasers, and disinfectants, giving people some leeway with their budget.

    Still, transportation and storage costs have played a part in increasing the price of these products in the last few years. Considering the amount of bleach you'd have to buy to sustain an establishment's cleaning regime is hardly a cost-effective approach.

    Producing HOCl on-site is an ideal long-term solution since you only need water, salt, and electricity to produce the amount of disinfectant needed at any given moment.

Looking After the Safety of Your Community

From disinfecting power to financial costs, hypochlorous acid from an on-site generation system represents the most practical choice. It's also less corrosive to surfaces when compared to other bleach-based products enriched with chlorine.

More importantly, HOCl reduces or outright removes all the risks from bleach and other traditional disinfectants.

Despite the chemical compounds in bleach and all the warnings to keep bleach away from children, we still see instances of misuse.

People have applied bleach unsafely on food contact surfaces and have gotten sick as a result or have been burned on the skin due to improper handling.

Hands Under a Faucet Nursing Burns Caused by Improper Handling of Bleach
HOCl has no chemical compounds that could hurt people through close contact. It can be used to disinfect food products the same way it's used on non-porous surfaces, and people won't be at risk if they accidentally ingest the solution or get some of it on their skin.

Those who have never worked with an on-site generation system before may think there's a complex process behind it or that introducing electrolyzed water to an existing cleaning program would be too time-consuming.

In truth, the advantages of on-site generation make it suitable for nearly all businesses and public settings.

As we mentioned earlier, it's a cost-effective solution that's stronger than bleach, but more than that, it can be just what you need to reach new productivity levels in your cleaning routines.

Why Choose GenEon Technologies?

You can harness all the disinfecting power of hypochlorous acid while improving your current cleaning methods. GenEon provides a practical system that helps you produce everything you need to sustain a clean and hygienic environment.

Our on-site generation system helps you create the best cleaners, degreasers, sanitizers, and disinfectants on demand. Our color-coded system simplifies the process and makes things accessible for all users.

This means that you can follow all the steps of a comprehensive cleaning routine without risking an accident or using multiple cleaning products.

HOCl is the basis of all our sanitizing and disinfecting products and solutions. It is effective against both common bacteria and harmful pathogens, and it is 80-200 times the effectiveness of bleach, all without releasing toxic fumes into the air.

This also makes GenEon Technologies one of the most cost-effective option for any industry, saving you the costs related to shipping products and storing them away.

No matter the setting, bleach needs to be stored to preserve the formula's disinfecting strength and to keep children, adults and animals out of harm's way.

GenEon's Sanitizing and Disinfecting Products and Solutions
That's why GenEon's products replace conventional bleach products. Our products are produced on-site using water, electricity, and natural minerals, so you don't have to worry about storage or people's safety while working with them.

GenEon Technologies guarantees all the advantages of HOCl, so you can introduce each of our products in your business and community and expect the best results.

Fill out the contact form on our website to learn more about the effective uses of HOCl or if you want to purchase any of our products and solutions. Whether you need sanitization products to clean or eliminate bacteria and other harmful pathogens to create a healthier environment, GenEon Technologies has your solution.

If you found this article helpful, let us know in the comment section below. Also, feel free to share it by clicking the share buttons below. Want us to cover another topic related to cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing solutions? If so, then like us, follow us, and post to any of our social media profiles the topic you'd like us to discuss: Facebook GenEonTechnologies and Twitter @geneontech.

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