Can I put bleach in my bath water?

Quick Answer

No, you should not put bleach in your bath water. Bleach can be extremely irritating and damaging to your skin and eyes. Even small amounts of bleach diluted in bath water can cause irritation, rashes, and chemical burns. There are safer options for keeping your bath clean.

Can Bleach Go in Bath Water?

While it may seem like a good idea to add a splash of bleach to your bath water to disinfect it, bleach is not safe to put in your bath for a few reasons:

Skin Irritation

Bleach is a harsh chemical that can irritate and dry out your skin. When you soak in a bleach bath, the bleach can soak into your skin and cause redness, itching, burning, rashes, and chemical burns. Bleach baths have been used for treating certain skin conditions, but only under medical supervision in very diluted amounts. Putting bleach in bath water at home can easily lead to skin irritation and damage.

Eye Irritation

If bleach gets into your eyes, it can cause severe irritation, burning, tearing, and even permanent eye damage. When you bathe with bleach in the water, it’s nearly impossible to avoid getting some bleach in your eyes, especially when you dip your head back to wash your hair. Eye exposure to bleach is very dangerous.

Ingestion Hazards

Drinking or ingesting any amount of bleach can be toxic. Having bleach in your bath water raises the risk of accidentally swallowing some water and causing harm to your digestive system. Children or pets getting into a bleach bath could become seriously ill from ingesting the water.

Respiratory Problems

The fumes from bleach can cause breathing issues for some people. Being in a small, enclosed space like a bathroom with bleach diluted in hot bath water can cause coughing, chest tightness, and wheezing. People with asthma or other lung problems may have more severe reactions.

No Disinfecting Benefits

While bleach is a strong disinfectant, putting it in your bath water does not do much in terms of killing germs or sanitizing your bath. Bleach needs to sit on a surface for about 10 minutes to fully disinfect. Simply having some bleach diluted in bath water as you bathe does not provide effective disinfection.

Safer Ways to Sanitize Your Tub

If you want to fully disinfect your bathtub and kill germs, you’re better off using a tub cleaner specifically designed for this purpose. Here are some safer ways to clean and sanitize your bathtub:

Tub Cleaning Products

Look for tub cleaning sprays or gels that contain antibacterial ingredients. Apply the cleaner throughout the tub and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. Make sure to check the product label and never mix tub cleaners with bleach.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

For a non-toxic disinfecting cleaner, mix 1 cup baking soda with 1/2 cup white vinegar. Spread the paste throughout the tub and let sit for at least 15 minutes before rinsing. The vinegar kills germs while the baking soda scrubs away grime.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is another chemical-free way to sanitize your tub. Spray 3% hydrogen peroxide solution throughout the tub and let sit for 10 minutes before rinsing clean. Hydrogen peroxide naturally breaks down into just water and oxygen.

Daily Tub Rinsing

Get into the habit of rinsing down your tub with hot water after each use. This simple daily cleaning can prevent soap scum and mildew growth between deeper cleanings. It takes just a minute to spray down the tub.

Deep Cleaning

Set aside time for a thorough deep cleaning session once a week or so. Scrub the tub with baking soda or a tub-specific cleaner until all grime is gone. Rinse very thoroughly after cleaning. Consider wearing gloves to protect your hands.

Dangers of Using Bleach in the Bath

Here’s a more in-depth look at the main dangers and health risks of using bleach in your bath water:

Skin Burns and Rashes

One of the most common effects of bathing with bleach is irritated skin. The bleach strips natural oils from your skin, causing dryness, cracking, flaking, redness, and rashes. With repeated exposure, some people develop eczema or contact dermatitis. The bleach can also cause chemical burns that damage multiple layers of skin.

Eye Injuries

Getting bleach in your eyes stings immediately and can lead to swelling, tearing, pain, and temporary or permanent vision problems. If bleach gets in your eyes, flush them immediately with cool running water for at least 15 minutes. Seek medical care if irritation continues.

Breathing Issues

The chlorine in bleach releases gases that can irritate your nose, throat, and lungs when inhaled. This can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The humid, heated air of a bath environment only exacerbates these effects. People with respiratory conditions like asthma could experience severe reactions.

Nausea and Vomiting

Swallowing even a small amount of bleach can burn your esophagus and stomach lining. This causes abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and bleeding from the digestive tract. Seek emergency care if bleach is ingested.

Chemical Burns in Sensitive Areas

Bleach exposure can cause painful burns anywhere on the body, but the sensitive skin around the eyes, nose, and genitals is at particular risk. Chemical burns in these areas often require professional medical treatment.

Eczema Flare-Ups

For those who suffer from eczema, bleach baths can trigger severe flare-ups of this chronic skin condition. The bleach further dries out and damages already sensitive skin. Eczema should only be treated under a doctor’s supervision.

Increased Infection Risk

While bleach does kill many germs, improper use can also increase infection risk. If bleach damages your skin’s protective outer layer, it leaves you more vulnerable to bacteria entering through cracks and burns.

Worsened Asthma

Chlorine bleach fumes are known asthma triggers. For people with asthma, exposure to bleach can worsen airway inflammation, lead to reduced lung function, and increase risk of asthma attacks or complications.

Who is Most at Risk from Bleach Baths?

While bleach baths are unsafe for most people, the following groups have increased vulnerability and should be especially cautious about avoiding bleach in bath water:


A child’s skin is much more sensitive than an adult’s. Their eyes are also at risk, as kids tend to open their eyes under water and won’t necessarily realize the danger. If they swallow bleach water, it takes a much lower amount to cause toxicity.

The Elderly

Many elderly people have thinner, more fragile skin that can be damaged by chemicals. Their eyes and lungs may also be more sensitive. Breathing fumes or getting water in the eyes could have serious consequences.

Those with Skin Conditions

People who already have skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, or rashes will likely experience strong irritation and inflammation from a bleach bath. Their damaged skin allows more bleach to be readily absorbed.

Those with Respiratory Issues

Individuals with asthma, allergies, sinus problems, or other respiratory conditions can have breathing problems or attacks when inhaling bleach fumes in a hot bath. The moist air carries the gases deep into sensitive airways.

Those with Autoimmune Disorders

Those with compromised immune systems due to diseases like HIV/AIDS, lupus, or arthritis face greater risk of infection if bleach damages and breaks down the skin’s protective barrier.

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women should avoid chemical exposure to protect their developing babies. Bleach could potentially be absorbed into the bloodstream and cross the placenta, harming the fetus.

Signs of Bleach Poisoning

Seek immediate medical treatment if you or someone else exhibits the following signs and symptoms after being exposed to bleach in bath water:
– Coughing, choking, or wheezing
– Burning in the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, or skin
– Red, peeling, or swollen skin
– Blisters or rash
– Blurred vision
– Nausea, vomiting, or pain in the abdomen
– Chest tightness or difficulty breathing
– Loss of consciousness
– Seizures

Alternatives to Bleach Baths

While bleach baths may sometimes be prescribed in medical settings for specific skin conditions, there are many gentler, safer alternatives you can try at home:

Baking Soda Bath

Add 1-2 cups of baking soda to a warm bath to soothe itchy, irritated skin with a non-toxic approach. The baking soda balances pH levels on the skin.

Oatmeal Bath

Grind 1-2 cups of uncooked oatmeal into a fine powder and sprinkle into your bathwater. Oatmeal contains anti-inflammatory compounds that relieve irritated skin naturally.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix 2 cups apple cider vinegar with warm bath water. The vinegar balances pH while providing antibacterial properties to treat skin conditions.

Epsom Salt Bath

Dissolve 1-2 cups Epsom salts into your bath to reduce swelling, inflammation, and skin irritation safely and effectively.

Coconut Oil Bath

Add a tablespoon or two of pure coconut oil into your bath to moisturize and soothe dry skin without harsh chemicals. The fatty acids replenish skin.

Hydrogen Peroxide Bath

A very diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide (1-2 cups in a full tub) can sanitize skin and treat infections without harming skin like bleach can.

Tips for Safely Sanitizing Your Tub

Here are some best practices for cleaning and disinfecting your bathtub safely and effectively:

– Ventilate the room first by opening windows or turning on a fan. This allows bleach fumes to escape.

– Wear gloves and eye protection to avoid chemical exposure on your hands or face.

– Use bleach products specifically designed for bathrooms. Never mix bleach with other cleaners.

– Only use bleach products in well-ventilated areas. Never in enclosed shower stalls.

– Limit bleach contact time to 5-10 minutes. Rinse surfaces thoroughly after sanitizing.

– Consider safer alternatives like hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or tea tree oil based cleaners.

– Install a silicone tub liner to prevent build up of grime, mildew, and bacteria between cleanings.

– Disinfect shower heads regularly by detaching and soaking in diluted bleach or vinegar solution.

– Sanitize bathroom surfaces like counters, handles, and toilets regularly with approved disinfectants.

– Address moisture issues like leaks, ventilation problems, or dripping faucets to inhibit mold growth.

Professional Medical Bleach Baths

While adding bleach to bath water at home is dangerous, some doctors may prescribe medicinal bleach baths containing exact diluted amounts of bleach to treat severe chronic skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and chronic MRSA infections. These baths are carefully monitored and controlled.

Factors like bleach concentration in the water, frequency and duration of bathing, patient age, and health status are all considered. Doctors assess the risks and benefits. Patients require careful supervision and follow up care.

Don’t attempt to recreate medicinal bleach baths at home. Only use bleach in your bath water specifically as directed by your healthcare provider.


Bleach can be an effective disinfectant in the right scenarios, but placing it in your home bath water is an unsafe use. The health risks of exposing your eyes, lungs, and largest organ (your skin) to such a caustic chemical far outweigh any potential benefits. Luckily, better options exist to safely sanitize and clean your tub. Take care to always use bleach carefully, correctly, and only as directed on the label.

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