We don’t often stop to consider the impact our cleaning agents could have on us, but we should be making sure to protect ourselves when cleaning. Consider bleach as an example. Bleach actually could impact our respiratory health. So, should you wear a mask when cleaning with bleach?
An R95 rated respiratory mask with carbon filters should be worn when cleaning with bleach. This face mask prevents bleach vapours from entering the airways, preserving internal organ health. They will also stop bleach from coming into contact with the face, protecting the skin from splashed bleach.
There’s a lot to know about cleaning with bleach and protecting yourself when doing so!
Do you need to wear a mask when cleaning with bleach?
You should wear a mask when cleaning with bleach, alongside other PPE gear to protect you from the cleaning chemicals. A respiratory mask fitted with the right cartridge will protect you from bleach fumes. The carbon filters are able to absorb the fumes and prevent them from entering your airways. This is important because some cleaning chemicals in bleach and other cleaning products can slowly damage your organs.
Bleach has chlorine gas in its mix, which isn’t safe when inhaled in large amounts. Prolonged use of chlorine bleach can cause shortness of breath and, in extreme cases, result in fluid build-up in the lungs. This situation can be worse for asthmatics or people with chronic lung disease. Hence why, especially if you’re using bleach regularly, you should be wearing a respiratory mask with carbon filters.
Wearing a mask while cleaning with bleach will also help shield your face in case the bleach spills or splashes. A durable and non-porous respiratory mask is best for protecting your face as well as your airways when cleaning with bleach. You can enhance facial protection when using bleach by wearing goggles or face shields to protect parts of the face not covered by the mask. This way you know you are safe while using bleach to clean a dirty house.
Not all bleaches are high risk to humans, but inhaling bleach particles over time can result in respiratory distress. When cleaning, you will be dealing with pollen, dust, and other particles in the room alongside bleach fumes. Wearing a mask will prevent you from inhaling these allergens as well as bleach particles, protecting your health when cleaning.
What mask should I use when using bleach?
You should wear an R95 respiratory mask when you use bleach to clean. The R95 respiratory mask will cover your mouth and nose, and the carbon filters can stop odours and fumes.
A good example of masks to wear when cleaning with bleach is the 6800 full facepiece respirator mask that offers protection against bleach vapours. This R95 respiratory mask can be fitted with filter cartridges and a P100 (HEPA) filter to prevent mould spores from entering your airways.
Note: Since bleach oxidizes and changes colour, it can erode the colour of your mask when it comes into contact with it. It also weakens the fibre of the mask. So, you will need to replace a bleached mask to ensure maximum protection against fumes. It’s also important to properly dispose of face masks after use. This will help protect the environment from mask pollution.
Do N95 masks protect against bleach fumes?
N95 masks don’t protect you from bleach fumes, gases, chemical odours, or vapours.
The N95 uses densely woven fibres as filters, but these can only prevent aerosol particles from passing through to your airways. N95 masks are 95% efficient and can stop particles of size 0.1 microns in diameter, suitable for blocking bacteria with larger diameters. However, gas or fumes molecules have a diameter range of 0.0003 – 0.006 microns. An N95 mask can’t stop particles of this size from entering your airways.
Gases like chlorine and sulfide found in bleaches can pass between the N95 mask’s fibre spaces. Their diameter is smaller than what an N95 mask can protect us against. Though this mask will protect you against dust particles and allergens as you bleach dusty places, it won’t protect you from breathing in bleach vapours. So, you should be investing in the R95 respiratory mask that we mentioned earlier for bleach cleaning.
Why do you need to wear masks and protect yourself against bleach fumes?
Higher levels of bleach fumes pose health risks and irritation. If you mix bleach with other chemicals to enhance its cleaning ability, it can result in toxic gases which could be unfriendly to the lungs. You can minimize the potential effects of these gases when deep cleaning by adopting proper ventilation- opening doors and windows- when cleaning. You can also wear a respirator mask fitted with carbon filters to filter out the fumes before you breathe them.
Bleach is Sodium hypochlorite used as a cleaning agent due to its ability to kill averagely tougher pathogens. Though it does not contain stand-alone chlorine, some believe it reacts with other chemicals to form chlorine fumes.
Some people also raise concerns about the respiratory effects of breathing bleach vapours. They argue that breathing bleach while cleaning with it can put you in danger of respiratory problems such as bronchitis or asthma.
Bleach is a great cleaning agent, but it does use a range of chemicals to work so well. At the end of the day, you should always try to protect yourself when cleaning with chemicals. Wearing a mask is a precaution to ensure your health and safety when cleaning with bleach.
What to do when you inhale bleach?
If you inhale bleach, you should get fresh air, loosen your clothes, and allow time for irritation and other symptoms to pass. These symptoms could include watery eyes and burning nose, throat, and lungs. These are all effects of chlorine from bleach travelling through your airways after inhaling bleach fumes. Ventilate the area that the bleach was used as soon as possible and go outdoors to get fresh air through your airways.
If your symptoms persist after a few hours, you should contact emergency services or make your way to the hospital. Bleach can have severe impacts on our health, which is why it’s important to monitor the use of bleach carefully. Bleach can impact our health through inhalation, ingestion, and skin exposure.
If bleach is exposed to our skin, it can cause burns and red welts. Bleach exposure to the eyes is painful and causes stinging/burning sensations. If either of these bleach exposures occur, you should remove your contaminated clothes and rinse the burning areas with large amounts of running water.
Whether you have inhaled bleach or been exposed to bleach in other ways, it is important to monitor your symptoms. If they don’t lighten and disappear after a few hours, you need to seek medical attention.
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is wear protective gear to ensure your safety when cleaning. You should always wear a mask when cleaning with bleach and other chemical products.
If this article was helpful, you should check out some of our others. We can tell you how to motivate yourself to clean, plus many other cleaning tips! Looking to do a big house clean-out? Check out our skip bins for hire! We can deliver skips to Canberra and skips to Yass, and more!