INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: Smart bleach storage

image by Vox Efx

By now, it’s fairly common knowledge around here among Survival Moms that bleach has a limited shelf life. If you’ve been storing bleach long-term for water purification purposes,there’s a very good chance that it has lost most of its effectiveness.

Here’s a tip to get the most out of your stored bleach.

First, write the purchase date on the bleach bottle, using a black Sharpie. This will be a reminder each time you see that bottle that you need to start using it, and replacing it with a new bottle, about 6 or 7 months following the purchase date.

Next, with that same Sharpie, write, “8 drops per gallon water, 16 drops cloudy water,” on the bottle. With this information right in front of you, you won’t be rummaging around looking for these amounts in an emergency.

Finally, duct tape an eye dropper to the side of the bleach bottle. These are very inexpensive online and are found in drug stores and usually in the over-the-counter medicine aisle in the grocery store.

A handy eye dropper will make sure that you’re using the correct amount of bleach and you won’t have to resort to using an eye dropper from another medication.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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  1. says

    Very good use of sharpie and smart planning ahead with the medicine dropper. Except it’s not common knowledge to me that 1) bleach has an expiration date and 2) that bleach is something to have in an emergency for water purification. Actually, the thought of using bleach for anything kind of makes me gag, but I’m interested to know more about it. Do you have other posts about the shelf life of bleach, it’s water purification capacity, and its other uses in an emergency?

    • says

      Abby, if you do a quick search for ‘water’ in the search box, there will be plenty of information for you. Besides boiling, the use of bleach to purify water is the second most common method.

    • Steele says

      Abby, you say the thought of using bleach for anything makes you gag? Your city water supply uses chlorine bleach [in a stronger form] to disinfect the water supply from your city water. You’ve been drinking chlorinated water, and probably not realized it.

      Chlorine bleach, again in a stronger form, is also used in swimming pools. In an emergency, you can use pool water to drink from however, allow it to sit for a few days to allow the chlorine to dissipate.

      • says

        Steele, you make a good point. The smell of bleach in its concentrated form makes me feel ill (headache, nausea) if I’m around it for too long, which also happens to me at heavily chlorinated pools. I guess I prefer to leave it to the “experts” to disinfect municipal water. In an emergency situation now I know that I can head to the local swimming pool to replenish my supply. Good info, thanks!

  2. Tina says

    I am wondering if the shelf life of bleach is affected by storage in plastic. Hydrogen Peroxide loses its fizz after awhile as well – I can only find it in plastic too. Our spices, coffee – all these items can be found in plastic containers. The best tasting and behaving items are those NOT in plastic.
    PLASTIC is POROUS and not really airtight.
    Note how the more expensive spices, teas, coffees, European food imports, etc are never sold in plastic containers because non-porous storage extends, almost indefinitely, any shelf-life.

    Bleach is a modern wonder, in spite of the hippies who advertise bleach’s detrimental effects. Bleach is the most effective method today for killing anything. Bleach is responsible for the eradication of cholera in third-world countries, or in any setting of contaminated water.
    Bleach kills bacteria AND fungus.
    Bleach dissipates rapidly – before I had a water filter system, I’d simply leave my glass of water out for a bit before drinking. I’m not crazy about drinking chlorinated water but I enjoy its effects on public water systems and swimming pools.
    If you’ve ever done research on your city water supply, you will realize that chlorine is a necessity in our day and age. The discovery of how contaminated our rivers and reservoirs are today might horrify you.

    If we ever get into a situation where we have to purify our own water, bleach will be invaluable. Sunlight is good, silver has an old reputation as a disinfectant, strong vinegar can be added [but where to find 7% strength today??] but lemme tell ya, if I’m down to the last muddy puddle somewhere – gimme reliable bleach.

    • says

      Just use it in your laundry or in homemade cleaning solutions. It’s still effective for those purposes, just not at the potency you would want for purifying water. You can also pour a cup or so down each drain in the house to clean and deodorize it.

  3. says

    I just started with water storage & what my thought is that there would still be some bleach in the bottle when it’s empty so I’d reuse the bleach bottles for water storage since the container blocks light & it’s a strong plastic so should be ok for storing long term – I just wrote on the bottle that it has water inside – has anyone else considered that or is doing that too?

  4. Marie says

    Glad you are educating people on bleach’s limited shelf life. We had an unopened bottle IMPLODE on our laundry cabinet shelf. When we called the manufacturer about it, we learned that they only have a two year shelf life recommendation.

    • Maynard says

      Please don’t spread that old wives’ tale about colloidal silver without some qualifiers. Yes, colloidal silver of the wrong size, and massive doses over long periods can ultimately lead to argyria, but it’s extremely rare and almost unknown with colloidal silver that’s been prepared properly.

      Besides, it doesn’t happen overnight, so you wouldn’t just wake up with it some day. You’d see it developing and a smart person would stop.

  5. Patty says

    I am so glad you covered this because I have a question! I can only find concentrated bleach now! What are the correct measurements? Thank you so much for this one!

  6. Gary says

    A better option than storing bleach is storing calcium hypochlorite, which when combined with water, will make bleach. 1 lb. of this is will purify 10,000 gallons of water and will cost you about $10 plus shipping on Ebay. It will, for all intents and purposes, store for an indefinite period. It is highly caustic, so it has to be stored properly, but at least you won’t have to worry about getting rid of it after 6 months. Calcium hypochlorite is also known as “pool shock”, so you can often find it at pool supply stores, but look carefully, because most of the pool shock I’ve seen has other additives you don’t want in your drinking water.

    • Esther says

      In the old days before refrigeration a “silver dollar” was dropped in milk to keep is from spoiling…

      Do you think this would work in water to purify it? I am sure there are many variables but would like to know if anyone has any more information regarding this…

      Expect it issimular to using colloidal silver?

      • Lloyd says

        The silver can’t clean or purify dirty water, you have to have clean water to begin with, then the silver can inhibit pathologies and algae from occurring from that point…

  7. Tim says

    +1 on Gary’s comment. Calcium Hypochlorite is much cheaper than bleach. You can also get it for extremely cheap at the end of the summer- I picked up a 16 Oz container at target for 1.98. As a teaspoon will make 2 gallons of bleach, I have ` 50 gallons worth of bleach for 2.00….

  8. KingOfTexas says

    For an unlimited shelf life bleach buy swimming pool shock. “Dry.” It is almost pure hypochlorite with a little filler. Mix some in a jar and let the filler settle to the bottom and you have pure bleach as you need it. The filler won’t hurt you.

  9. Joe says

    Calcium hypochlorite is very caustic. Its very presence in concentrated form can rust all metal surfaces, even if you have it “capped off.” Be very careful. It can ruin your firearms and knives. (ref. School of Hard Knocks)

  10. Alita says

    I’d like to know how much you would use if the bleach is dry? Amway sells it’s bleach dry… I put a scoop in with my wash… it has a much longer shelf life since it isn’t watered down.. Any thoughts on this?

  11. stephf says

    I am wondering about the bleach my local store has started carrying. It is more concentrated. Also in smaller bottles. What would be the appropriate amount for this type. It is getting harder for me to find the older/regular type. Thanks :)

  12. Halcyonmom says

    Recently I read that water from a swimming pool should probably not be used as a source of drinking water due to the high concentration of chemicals from evaporation over time. I’ll research this more to see what I can find out.

  13. Carol says

    I understand that “pool shock” usually comes in plastic containers I received a warning about storing it long term. I was told that it will eventually “eat through” the plastic..

    Also, about the expiration date of bleach. I understand and appreciate utilizing the sharpie to write the date purchased, but how do we know just how long that bleach has been in the bottle? It went through filling, stocked in warehouses, distributed to stores who stocked in the back room until needed for the shelf, and then placed on the shelf for who knows how long. Anybody know how to determine if bleach is still active enough to purify water?

  14. Dierdre D. says

    I’ve read that storing water in bleach containers was a No-No, but don’t remember why. Does anyone know why this maybe should be avoided?

  15. Weedhopper says

    Bleach bottles are not made from food-grade plastic. Would I use them in a pinch? Yes. But given I have time, I reuse plastic containers that originally contained food; Gatorade bottles, Ice Tea jugs, soda bottles…


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