Cleaning Tips

What’s the difference between bleach and disinfectant?

You’ve heard bleach is a powerful disinfectant, but also that Lysol® is a powerful germ killer. So which product do you choose?

With all the germs out there in the world today, it’s never been more important to practice good cleaning habits that include disinfecting. And perhaps, you’ve found yourself at the store wondering  what is the most effective disinfectant you can buy. 


Let’s start by explaining the two terms. A disinfectant is any chemical agent used on inanimate objects, like floors, walls and sinks, in order to eliminate germs like viruses, bacteria, fungus and mold. Among the many chemicals capable of working as a disinfectant is bleach. Bleach is a generic term for the chemical sodium hypochlorite, which imparts whitening properties. 

When to use bleach vs. non-bleach disinfectants

Although bleach can be a very effective disinfectant, it can also be very destructive if not used carefully — particularly to dark clothes as some of you readers will no doubt be aware. However, its stain removing power is tough to beat. That’s why you should reserve the use of bleach-based cleaners and disinfectants — like Lysol® Bleach Multi-Purpose Cleaner  —for only the most stubborn stains, such as those in sinks, toilet exteriors and tubs.

Dirty bathroom with porcelain tiles toilet and shower cubicle

For other uses, like cleaning up of counters after food prep or disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, we offer a variety of disinfectant products that utilize quaternary ammonium compounds as the primary disinfecting agent, such as Lysol® Disinfectant Spray  and Lysol® Laundry Sanitizer. While often as effective a disinfectant as bleach, these compounds are also much gentler on fabrics. 


To sum it up, bleach is one of many chemicals that work as a disinfectant, though one with serious stain removing power, so be mindful of where and when you use it. But whichever Lysol product you reach for, always be sure to follow the label instructions to kill 99.9% of germs. 

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