– Bleach kills bacteria.

“bleach kills bacteria”: that’s what I Googled before taking Boston.com’s advice on sanitizing our clean dishes during the MWRA/Boston area water emergency that began Saturday, May 1 at 6:40pm. I found out that, indeed, bleach kills bacteria quite reliably. And seeing that we’re bathing and washing our dishes too in pond water right now (from back up supplied by the Chesnut Hill Reservoir, a kind of local goose haven), it’s possible there are some robust organisms hanging around the kitchen sink that wouldn’t mind finding a human host.

Here I am, demonstrating the dish sanitizing procedure. Take that, E. coli. You’re not welcome here no more.

Will the bleach solution also clobber the water-born parasite Giardia? I hope so, yet I am not as sure. <gulp>


Update (May 3 afternoon): Since making and posting this video, I have discovered, or been pointed to, various advice for sanitizing dishes after washing them. I’ll summarize:

  • Boston.com recommends using 1/8 t. per gallon H2O and specifies no length of time for the dishes’ submersion in the bleach solution.
  • The MWRA “Consumer Fact Sheet” recommends using 1 t. bleach per gallon H2O and specifies 1 min. for the dishes’ submersion in the bleach solution.
  • Interestingly, earlier on the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection site, there was a recommendation to use 1 t. bleach per gallon H2O and a 5 min. submersion time, as a reader (Jeremy) alerted me to. I found that link again, and discovered that information has been changed, to be consistent with the MWRA’s advice. That’s good: a unified message from the government bodies safeguarding our health!

The winning method, therefore, for sanitizing clean dishes, during the boil order, is: 1 t. bleach per 1 gallon lukewarm water for 1 min. submersion.


P.S. Thanks to Jimmy Guterman for videography, and for remembering the boiling point of water: 100° C or 212° F.

7 thoughts on “– Bleach kills bacteria.

  1. Boston.com’s summary of the MWRA advice recommends 1/8 t. bleach per gallon water. In the video, I am using the 1/8 t. per.

    The MWRA site, however, recommends 1 t. bleach per gallon water: http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=eohhs2modulechunk&L=4&L0=Home&L1=Government&L2=Departments+and+Divisions&L3=Department+of+Public+Health&sid=Eeohhs2&b=terminalcontent&f=dph_g_mwra_water_break&csid=Eeohhs2

    The next time I bleach-rinse my clean dishes during this crisis, I’m going to up the bleach to the 1 t./gallon ratio.

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  3. Yikes–sounds like you’ve got your own _Mrs. Mike_ situation on your hands! Be careful what you wish for, eh? But you’re a true contemporary pioneer, Jane, searching the web for a solution and making a “how-to” video for others. Hope the potable water is restored soon…

    • Thank you for the link, Jeremy. I wasn’t aware of the info from the Mass. DEP, and a longer soak seems logical, and I’ll do that from now on.

      Interestingly, the Mass. DEP info is different from the MWRA’s (rinse in 1 t. bleach/gallon H2O for 1 min), which in turn is different from Boston.com’s supposed summary (rinse in 1/8 t. bleach/gallon H2O, time not specified) of MWRA’s guidelines.

  4. Ohmygoodness, Jane. I had no idea this had happened — and just watching your video reminds me how grateful we should be for clean, running water in our homes. Hope that pipe repair finishes up soon!

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