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Sodium hypochlorite: what is it, what is it for and how to use it

Sodium hypochlorite, popularly known as bleach or bleach, is a substance with disinfectant action indicated for cleaning and deep disinfection of surfaces, to wash fruits, vegetables or vegetables, purify water for human consumption or kill mosquito larvae aedes aegypti that transmits dengue, Zika and Chikungunya, for example.

Generally, sodium hypochlorite is found in pharmacies or supermarkets in the form of a solution of up to 2.5%, it is important to correctly dilute the product in water before using it to reach a concentration of 0.05 to 1%, and thus be effective to fight bacteria, viruses or parasites that can cause diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, cholera, rotavirus or COVID-19, for example.

In addition, sodium hypochlorite can also be found in the form of pellets that can be used to purify water, but pay attention to the instructions for the type of sodium hypochlorite that is sold, as there is also hypochlorite sold as salt, solutions or in tablets that are used to purify cisterns, wells and for the treatment of swimming pools. In these situations, the concentration of the substance is much higher and can cause health problems.

what is it for

Sodium hypochlorite is used to clean surfaces, lighten white clothes, wash vegetables and also purify water for human consumption, reducing the chances of contamination by viruses, parasites and bacteria, which cause diseases such as diarrhea, COVID-19 , hepatitis A, cholera or rotavirus. See what diseases can arise after drinking contaminated water.

How to use sodium hypochlorite

The way to use sodium hypochlorite varies according to the purpose of its use:

1. Purify water

To purify water for human consumption, it is recommended to add 2 to 4 drops of sodium hypochlorite at a concentration of 2 to 2.5% for every 1 liter of water. This solution should be stored inside a non-transparent container, such as a clay pot or thermos flask, for example.

It is important to keep the container capped and wait 30 minutes after dropping the drops to consume the water. This time is necessary for the disinfectant to take effect, eliminating all microorganisms. Water purified with sodium hypochlorite is used for drinking, cooking, washing vegetables, fruits and vegetables, washing dishes and bathing.

2. Disinfect surfaces

To disinfect surfaces and eliminate viruses and bacteria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends mixing 4 teaspoons of sodium hypochlorite (equivalent to 1 tablespoon) for every 1 liter of water to be used. This water must then be used to disinfect surfaces such as counters, tables or the floor, for example.

In the case of COVID-19, it is recommended to prepare a 0.05 to 0.1% hypochlorite solution for cleaning surfaces, adding 50 mL of 2 to 2.5% sodium hypochlorite in 1 liter of water . Place the prepared solution in a dark spray bottle, for example, and spray on surfaces such as door handles, keys, motorcycle helmet, food packaging or shoe sole, for example, leaving it to act for at least 1 minute.

This sodium hypochlorite solution for COVID-19 should only be used for 24 hours, and another solution must be prepared daily, as the hypochlorite loses its potency and may no longer have the expected effect.

The hypochlorite solution can help to clean surfaces, however, it is also important to adopt safety measures to prevent infection by COVID-19, such as using a mask, using alcohol gel on your hands frequently and keeping the rooms ventilated, for example. See all measures to prevent COVID-19 infection.

3. Wash vegetables, vegetables and fruits

To wash vegetables, vegetables and fruits, add 1 tablespoon of 2 to 2.5% sodium hypochlorite for every 1 liter of water and leave the unpeeled vegetables and fruits to soak for about 15 minutes.

Then rinse the greens, vegetables and fruits in filtered water. See other tips for washing vegetables, vegetables and fruits properly.

4. Eliminate larvae from the aedes aegypti

To eliminate mosquito larvae aedes aegypti you can use 2 to 2.5% pure hypochlorite or dilute it in water, using 10 mL of hypochlorite for every 1 liter of water.

Pure or diluted sodium hypochlorite can be used in plant pots or sprinkled on plant leaves, drains or toilet water, for example.

It is important to emphasize that this solution helps to eliminate larvae from the aedes aegypti and not the mosquito, it is important to adopt other measures to combat the mosquito. See what to do to avoid mosquito bites Aedes aegypti.

Cautions when handling sodium hypochlorite

When using sodium hypochlorite, it is very important to avoid direct contact with the substance, as it has a corrosive action, which can cause burns to the skin and eyes, when it is in large concentrations, therefore, the use of gloves is recommended.

What happens if I use sodium hypochlorite wrongly

If sodium hypochlorite is accidentally used in doses above those recommended, the exposed area should be washed immediately with running water and observed for symptoms such as itching and redness. When excessive doses of this substance are ingested, symptoms of poisoning such as vomiting, coughing and difficulty breathing may appear, requiring urgent medical attention.

However, when sodium hypochlorite is used within recommendations, it is safe for health and treated water can even be offered to infants and children. In case of doubt, in the case of children, it is recommended to offer mineral water properly sealed.

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