Trauma Scene Cleanup

Why Clorox is Not an Effective Crime Scene Cleaner

Clorox is a popular cleaning agent around many households. It’s used to remove stains, clean toilet bowls, whiten tile grout, and many more. Because of its effective cleaning properties, Clorox has been recently added to the list of crime scene cleaning uses. After all, bleach cleans and sanitizes just about any area of your home so why not, right? Well, not so much.

There are a number of reasons why bleach isn’t a good fit for cleaning biohazards found in crime scenes. A scientist from the University of Michigan found out that bleach is a very reactive chemical and any contact with cellular components will cause an adverse reaction once it hits the cells. This can lead to birth defects and cancer if not handled properly. Bleach is one of the most common causes of chemical poisoning aside from pills and medications.

So what exactly makes bleach such a dangerous chemical, especially when used as a cleaner for crime scenes? Here we’ll be discussing four reasons why using clorox for crime scene cleaning is a bad idea.

Four reasons why clorox is not an effective crime scene cleaner

1. Bleach can produce harmful gases depending on the mixture

One of the most harmful byproducts of bleach is phosgene gas. It is produced when bleach mixes with ammonia and gives off a mustard-coloured gas. Ammonia is also a popular cleaning agent and is a primary component of bodily fluids that are found in crime scenes.

When ammonia compounds come in contact with bleach, a number of harmful acids are produced such as:

  • NH2Cl = phosgene/chloramine
  • N2H4 = hydrazine
  • HCl = hydrochloric acid
  • Cl2 = chlorine gas

These acids can cause serious physical injury when it comes in contact with the skin. The damages can prove to be irreversible and in some cases, even fatal when large amounts are produced. Bleach also produces harmful fumes when it mixes with other household cleaning agents such as glass cleaners and vinegar. These fumes can cause eye irritation and severe respiratory problems which are very harmful in high concentrations.

2. Bleach will produce deadly fumes when it comes in contact with bodily fluids

Bodily fluids found in crime scenes are made up of different acids that react when it comes in contact with bleach. The fumes can be quite deadly and could cause plenty of respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, bleeding of the nose, neurological disorders, and even chest pain. The fumes can trigger asthma and other allergic reactions even after the crime scene cleanup is complete. When used in areas with poor ventilation, it becomes even more dangerous since the fumes produced are in high concentration. These harmful fumes can also cause your eyes to turn red, watery, and irritated.

3. Bleach can cause rashes and irritations to the skin.

Clorox is a corrosive material and prolonged exposure to this substance can cause serious rashes and irritations to the skin. It leaves your hands dry and itchy when used without latex gloves. Bleach is notorious for not only removing stains, but the colour of your clothes as well. Long-term repeated exposure to bleach can cause tissue damage, pigment changes, redness, and burning.

Use of bleach on non-porous surfaces should be reduced to an absolute minimum. Continued exposure to bleach will result in the breakdown of cellular structure. Bleach requires curing time which reduces its effectiveness in crime scene cleaning situations, especially when plenty of bodily fluids and pathogens are present.

4. Bleach does not clean all bacteria and pathogens effectively

Bodily fluids found in crime scenes are classified as harmful substances by the federal government. This is because traces of blood and brain fluid contain pathogens that can cause serious disease and infection when it comes in contact with the human body. Crime scene cleaners use special chemicals and hospital-grade disinfectants to effectively clean and sanitize areas and items that are covered with bodily fluids.

Bleach does not effectively kill all bacteria and pathogens which increases the risk of infection and disease long after the cleanup is done. Bleach comes in different concentrations which can affect its efficacy in killing certain types of bacteria. Different chemicals are used to treat different kinds of pathogens. Using bleach as an all-in-one solution is not a good idea since it won’t be effective in treating all pathogen types.

Bleach is a highly reactive substance and it reacts immediately to whatever it comes in contact with. If bleach comes in contact first with dirt before the bacteria, it may be ineffective as a germicide solution. Extremely soiled surfaces also reduce the efficacy of bleach. Therefore, it must be cleaned first before clorox takes full effect which is an inefficient way of cleaning up crime scenes.

The EPA’s take on bleach as a cleaning agent

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) governs the safe use of household cleaning products like bleach by issuing warnings and proper instructions on how to use them. Bleach is an effective home cleaner, but it turns into a dangerous chemical when used in situations such as crime scene cleanups. Its reactive properties when coming into contact with acids can cause serious health implications. Cleaning up biohazards is more than just using bleach. It requires proper knowledge and the use of hospital-grade disinfectants to ensure that all pathogens and bacteria are eliminated. Bleach is not recommended for use on biohazard cleaning applications because of its unwanted side effects and the health risks it causes.


Clorox is great for household cleaning applications. It’s readily available and it’s an affordable cleaning solution for dealing with stubborn stains and dirty clothes. But that doesn’t mean that bleach is applicable for all-around use. It’s a strong chemical that shouldn’t be handled in large doses to prevent skin irritation, burning, and rashes.

The next time a cleaning company advertises their bleach for multiple cleaning use like crime scene cleanups, think again. Ask a professional crime scene cleaning service and they’ll tell you exactly why bleach is nowhere to be found on their cleaning arsenal.