cleaning with chlorine to kill COVID-19Share on Pinterest
Kehan Chen/Getty Images

Chlorine is the chemical found in bleach. If used correctly, household cleaners that contain bleach kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Chlorine kills germs by breaking the chemical bonds in their molecules. This causes the molecule to fall apart, killing viruses or bacteria.

Read on to learn more about the use of chlorine for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and how to use it to disinfect surfaces.

Though the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via surfaces is very low, simple washing with soap and water reduces this risk as will washing with cleaners containing chlorine. Regular cleaning removes most virus particles on surfaces. No special cleaning is necessary unless someone in your home is sick or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 was in your home in the last 24 hours.

Never drink bleach. This can be fatal and does not kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus, treat COVID-19 symptoms, or prevent the development of COVID-19.

If you need to clean and disinfect because someone in your house had COVID-19, check out this list of cleaners from EPA List N that are effective against SARS-CoV-2.

If you cannot use one of these cleaners, a bleach solution is fine if it’s appropriate for the surface. Follow the directions on the bleach label.

Important in formation to know when using bleach to disinfect surfaces

Chlorine bleach has a shelf-life of approximately 1 year. After that time, chlorine will become less potent. Chlorine bleach and products containing bleach generally have an expiration date on the bottle.

Precautions to take when using bleach include:

  • wear protection such as gloves, eyewear, and a mask
  • never mix ammonia and chlorine bleach or any product containing chlorine — this can be deadly
  • never consume chlorine bleach in any form
  • avoid breathing chlorine bleach fumes

Chlorine is added to pool water to disinfect it. At the recommended levels, chlorine and bromine will kill most germs within the pool water within a few minutes, including COVID-19. There has been no indication that swimming in a pool transmits SARS-CoV-2.

Although more and more people are getting vaccinated, the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. It is understandable to be cautious and wonder if your pool is safe. There are steps you can take to learn more about precautions being taken at a community pool, as well as things you can do to keep your own pool safe.

Overall, the risk is low when going to an outdoor swimming facility, but there are still steps you can take to promote health and safety.

How to tell if a community pool is safe?

The virus is typically transmitted via respiratory droplets during close physical contact with another person. When you go to a community pool, make sure that you physically distance from other people, both in and out of the pool.

If you are spending time outside, consider wearing a mask in addition to physical distancing (at least 6 feet apart). Do not wear a mask in the pool, since it can make it harder to breathe.

If you are still uncomfortable and wondering if it is safe, you can ask the pool managers about staff vaccinations, their cleaning protocols, and whether staff and visitors are screened for symptoms. However, it’s important to remember that even asymptomatic people can transmit the virus, and screening will not pick up asymptomatic infections.

How to keep your backyard pool safe

It’s important to make sure your chlorine and pH levels are at the proper number. If the chlorine and pH levels are not correct, it reduces germ-killing properties. Chlorine and pH levels should be tested at least twice a day and more if the pool is being used a lot.

If you are concerned about COVID-19, you might consider limiting the number of people in your pool at any given time to allow for proper distancing. You also may want to limit your pool guests to those in your “pod” or other trusted individuals.

Chlorine, the chemical found in bleach, kills many germs and bacteria, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. When cleaning surfaces, follow the directions on the bleach bottle to make a cleaning solution using bleach. Be sure to use bleach in a well-ventilated area, and never mix bleach with other cleaning products.

Chlorine may also be used to disinfect pool water. There has been no documented transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via a swimming pool, and it’s considered a relatively safe activity as it relates to the risk of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccination, keeping an appropriate distance from other people, wearing a mask when not in the pool, and following other public health measures, all further reduce your risk for contracting SARS-CoV-2.