Bleach toxicity/bleach as a cleaner

I was cleaning out the fridge with bleach water tonight (about 1 part bleach to 10 parts water), and I was beginning to get paranoid about toxicity.

If I didn’t manage to dry up every last bit of bleach, is it going to turn into chlorine vapor/gas and affect the food stored in there? I was fairly thorough - paper towels soaked in bleach water, then dry paper towels to soak it, then a damp rag for a final cleaning - is that sufficient to get all the bleach out?

If not, will small amounts of bleach present a toxicity problem of any sort regarding the food?

Having worked extensively in the food service industry in my youth, I can tell you that a bleach solution is the preferred method of sanitizing food preparation surfaces and utensils. You should be fine, though normally, the solution used is a bit weaker than what you used (2 or 3 teaspoons per gallon is the norm, IIRC). Note that bleach is somewhat corrosive, so thoroughly rinsing metal parts is advisable.

I’d probably give it another good rinse, but you should be fine. After all, your food is all tighly sealed, right?

I recently read that dilute bleach can be harsh on vinyls/plastics, which presumably line the interior of his/her refrigerator. The idea is that repeated applications can cause some unspecified degradation, though I’m not sure what the bottom line would be. Any thoughts on that?

Just don’t follow it up with an ammonia rinse! That’s the combo that releases chlorine gas, and can put you on the floor.

Bleach bottles are made of plastic, too, and they seem to handle it jist fine. :wink:

But yes, your point is taken. Some plastics might suffer some degree of breakdown from exposure, but I’m not sure which ones, or how much they’re affected. Bleach bottles are generally made of a polyethelene. I do know that many dyes used to color plastic articles can be readily bleached out. This was particulary evident in the above-ground pool we had when I was a child. It had a blue vinyl liner, but over the years, the chlorine gradually caused the color to fade. I don’t think infrequent exposure to a weak bleach solution is going to have a dramatic effect, however.

Back to the issue of toxicity, bleach is a reactive enough chemical that it will degrade before long, and if it dries completely, you’re left with table salt. Or so goes my understanding. It shouldn’t be persistent, so as long as there aren’t still puddles of bleach in there, and you don’t smell a strong bleachy odor, you oughta be fine.

Given that several generations of homebrewers have used a bleach solution to sanitize their brewing equipment with no reported degradation or side-effects, I wouldn’t sweat the fridge much! :smiley:

Well, it does have sodium in it… bleach is sodium hypochlorite, which I believe is NaClO2.

Close. NaClO.