Having Trouble Finding Bleach? Here’s What To Use Instead

Bleach is hard to find right now. Experts recommend these three bleach alternatives for cleaning.

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If you’ve noticed it’s harder than usual to find bleach online or in retail stores, you’re not alone. But it’s not the only option for cleaning your home.

Here’s why bleach is in short supply, and what experts say you can use instead.

Why Is Bleach in Short Supply?

The short answer is COVID-19. The global pandemic continues to disrupt the supply chain, with a shortage of essential workers (many of them out sick) contributing to shipping delays. Plus, because bleach is a cleaning agent, people tend to stock up on it to keep their home free of the coronavirus. So once bleach hits store shelves, it often leaves them just as quickly.

“There definitely has been an increased pressure to get supplies due to the pandemic,” says Gabrielle Martin, a supervisor at the professional cleaning company Bio Recovery. “And since bleach is found in most chloride cleaning products, it did face a major shortage that has been continuing throughout this year.”

If you do find bleach, you may notice it’s more expensive. That’s because some popular bleach companies like Clorox raised prices to counteract rising transportation costs.

What You Can Use Instead of Bleach

If you can’t find bleach, or the price increase has you looking for alternatives, don’t worry. There are numerous products you can use instead of bleach to clean your home, many of which you may already have in your refrigerator or pantry. Consider these three expert-recommend alternatives:

Lemon Juice

Danesh Deonarain, owner of the Galaxy Maids cleaning company, recommends lemon juice as a great alternative to bleach, especially for disinfecting. You can find bottled lemon juice at just about any grocery or discount store for less than $5. Or make your own by squeezing fresh lemons into a bowl or container.

“Lemon juice is perfect for kitchen-related uses,” he says. “You can substitute for bleach with lemon juice to disinfect garbage disposals, cutting boards and countertops. After you wipe down these areas with lemon juice or half a lemon, simply wipe down again with a rag or sponge soaked in warm water and you’re done.”

Lemon juice can clean just as well as bleach. Some people may actually prefer it because it leaves your home with a natural, fresh smell, versus one that’s chemical-heavy.

Essential Oils

Martin swears by essential oils as a bleach alternative. “With essential oils such as thyme, cinnamon and tea tree oil, you only need a few drops diluted with water,” she says.

Essential oils range in price, but you can often find them for less than $8 per bottle. To use, add 10 drops of essential oil and three cups of water to a spray bottle, shake well and spray on home surfaces. Then wipe away with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Because tea tree oil has antibacterial properties and kills germs, Martin recommends it as her first choice. Both tea tree oil and thyme break down organic matter, so they’re great for busting up grime and dirt.

White Vinegar

White vinegar can not only disinfect your home, but keep your walls and windows shiny as well. “It’s great for kitchen and general use,” Deonarain says.

To use, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of dish soap for additional cleaning power. Simply spray on surfaces and wipe away with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Charles Leduc, the chief operations officer at Mold Busters, recommends white vinegar for mold removal instead of bleach, particularly in bathrooms or showers. For this often-stubborn task, he suggests creating a paste of equal parts white vinegar and baking soda to scrub and sanitize moldy areas in your home. Work in the paste with a heavy-duty scrub sponge.

Because white vinegar generally costs less than $3, it’s a product many people already have in their home. With five percent acidity, white vinegar contains the same amount of acid as most cleaning sprays. It’s strong enough to eliminate mineral deposits, stains, mold and germs.

Ashley Zlatopolsky
Ashley Zlatopolsky is a Detroit-based writer, editor and content strategist with more than 10 years of experience. She creates editorial, branded, SEO and affiliate content. With 45+ cover stories published worldwide, her writing can be found in Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Nat Geo, Billboard, the Guardian, The Daily Beast, Healthline, USA TODAY, Detroit Free Press, U.S. News, The Atlantic, Elite Daily, Bustle, HealthyWomen, Business Insider and more. She has developed branded content for Verizon, Barefoot Wine, Coca-Cola, A&E, Pop-Tarts, Chevrolet, BMW, Saks Fifth Avenue and Walmart.