The Right Way To Dispose Of Bleach

Even though it's a household staple, bleach is a pain to get rid of. Many bleach formulas contain corrosive ingredients that classify them as household hazardous waste (via Heritage Environmental Services), forcing you to take extra care when disposing of them. As if that wasn't bad enough, bleach only lasts for around six months, per Bob Vila, so infrequent users have to regularly dispose of large amounts. It's enough to frustrate anyone — and make you want to dump the whole bottle down the drain.

Unfortunately, that's a massive no-no. When disposing of bleach, you have to be extremely careful to minimize the environmental risk. After all, bleach contains chlorine which has severe impacts on wildlife and can even work its way back through the food chain to harm humans, according to Surfrider. Fortunately, it's easy to dispose of bleach safely. In most municipalities, you can even do so from the comforts of your own home!

Pouring bleach down the drain

Ironically, the simplest way to safely dispose of bleach is by pouring it down the drain. However, you can't just dump the bottle out and call it a day.

Since bleach is full of potentially dangerous chlorine, it's important to add lots of water and heavily dilute the cleaning product before dumping it down the drain (via HomelyVille). This allows the chlorine concentration to drop to a manageable level. 

If you decide to pour bleach down the drain, be careful not to mix it with any other cleaning products. As Hunker describes, it's easy to accidentally mix cleaning products or other chemicals in your pipes, especially if you pour bleach down the drain and then a roommate cleans with another chemical. To minimize the chances of mixing hazardous cleaning detergents, clearly tell anyone you live with that you will pour bleach down the drain, check if they have recently washed away any chemicals, and warn them against pouring incompatible chemicals down the drain.

Disposing of bleach at a household hazardous waste facility

Are you still worried about diluting the bleach enough or accidentally mixing it with hazardous chemicals? Since bleach is classified as household hazardous waste, you should be able to take it to a disposal plant. In fact, some municipalities may even request that you take unused bleach to a household hazardous waste facility rather than attempting to dispose of it at home. As always, check with your local laws and regulations before disposing of any chemicals.

Before heading to your local disposal facility, you might want to do some research. Generally, household hazardous waste plants are only accessible by people who live in a particular area (via Earth 911). Some may not accept all chemicals. To save yourself time and frustration, it's a good idea to call beforehand and confirm that a particular location will accept your unused bleach. If you're struggling to find your local household hazardous waste facility, you can call your municipality's waste disposal services or check Earth 911's Recycling Center Directory.