Re: bleach and ammonia (was Re: Cutting boards and vegetarians)
From: Fred H. Olson (
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 08:25:42 -0700 (MST)
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[Howard Landman <howard [at]> on Jan 20 wrote: ]

> On the other hand, I don't know if any bacteria can survive old-fashioned
> bleach or ammonia.

>They shouldn't be able to if they actually contact it.

That's exactly right -- if they contact it! Just think about other deadly
antibacterial weapons: high temperature (boiling water / vapor ), alcohol,
radiation, etc. Sprinkling boiling water on a countertop filled with
microorganisms sure will kill some, but not many. It takes at least ten
minutes of boiling to get baby bottles clean -- not sterilized, just clean
enough. I still remember my mother boiling her syringes for hours before
giving me a needle. And you have to rub your skin with alcohol many times to
get at least some of them out. Sophisticated machines are build to sterilize
surgical & dental equipment: high pressures, high temperatures, deadly
radiation -- and still some viral spores survive. It takes a long time of
boiling to kill most of the worms in your fish soup -- that?s why you can't
taste it as it cooks! Have you ever seen a surgeon rub his hands with soap
and brushes? They do it for a long time -- only to put sterilized gloves on

Given these facts, how much good do you think it would do your counter tops
to wash them quickly with a very diluted bleach? The only thing it does is
makes you feel better. How about doing a test? wash it with this solution
then ask someone from a lab to test the surface. While they are there, ask
them how they clean their counters.Then do the same after a really good
scrub with a soap? See which is better. (Not all sponges harbor bacteria,
btw, some of them dry very fast and you should change them frequently).

Yes, soap, an ordinary soap! Do you know what it does? Soap and water are
really all we need to clean our kitchens and homes. Water will wash away all
the dirt that is water-soluble (even the most virulent germs caught in your
eye) and soap?s lather would turn all that water-resistant dirt-harboring
grease (hydrophobic) into a water-soluble substance (hydrophilic) and it,
too, would be washed or rubbed away. All we have to do is make sure cooks
wash their hands really well and dry them well with a *clean* dry towel
(there should always be plenty of dry clean towels around). NB, apparently,
if you dilute a liquid soap a bit (people do that to save money) ? it will
produce an excellent bacterial breeding medium and so will solid soap placed
in a wet soap dish.

I think it is also important to remember that, no matter how harmless the
substance can be when it eventually breaks down, we (and our kids) INHAIL
everything that is being either sprayed or poured over an open surface ? one
of the major reasons asthma rates are raising with a dizzying speed today.
If you can smell it ? you?d inhaled it and you will eventually ingest some
of it too ? and so will those fish with tumours in our lakes. I am not sure,
but I think chlorine vapour can damage lungs too. And I wonder if inhaled
ammonia would do some damage too (to surfactants, perhaps?)


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