When was bleach made: The secret history of clean

Bleach has been used for centuries to clean and sanitize homes, hospitals, and other public spaces. It is a versatile and effective cleaning agent that can be used for a variety of different purposes. But when was bleach first invented? And how has it evolved over time to become the cleaning product that we know today?

In this article, we will explore the secret history of clean and delve into the fascinating story of bleach. We will look at its early origins, see how it has been used throughout history, and examine its modern-day applications. Join us on this journey through time and discover the fascinating story of one of the world’s most popular cleaning products!

What is bleach and how does it work?

Bleach is a type of chemical that is used to remove stains, disinfect surfaces, and whiten items. It is typically made from sodium hypochlorite, which is a compound that is produced when chlorine gas is dissolved in water. This creates a powerful oxidizing agent that can break down organic material and kill bacteria and viruses.

When bleach comes into contact with a surface, it works to break the bonds that hold dirt and stains in place. It also kills bacteria and viruses by disrupting their cell walls and breaking down their proteins. This makes it a highly effective cleaning agent that can be used for a wide range of purposes, from cleaning floors and walls to disinfecting surfaces in hospitals and other public spaces.

The early history of bleach

The origins of bleach can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was used to whiten cotton, linen, and other fabrics. The Egyptians discovered that soaking these materials in a solution made from a mixture of ashes and water helped to remove dirt and stains, while also lightening the color of the fabric. This early type of bleach was known as lye, and it was made by burning wood and collecting the ashes in a pot of water.

Over time, the use of bleach spread to other parts of the world. The ancient Greeks and Romans both used bleach to whiten their clothing, while the Japanese used it as a treatment for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. In the Middle Ages, Europeans discovered that soaking fabrics in a solution made from urine could help to remove stains and whiten the cloth.

The development of modern bleach

The modern form of bleach that we use today was first developed in the late 18th century by a French chemist named Claude Louis Berthollet. Berthollet discovered that by combining chlorine and sodium hydroxide, he could create a powerful bleaching agent that was both more effective and less damaging to fabrics than earlier forms of bleach.

However, it was not until the mid-19th century that bleach became widely available to the public. In 1875, a German chemist named Carl Dusseldorf developed a method for producing bleach on a large scale, which he called the “Dusseldorf method”. This involved passing chlorine gas through a solution of sodium hydroxide, creating sodium hypochlorite, which is still the primary active ingredient in modern bleach today.

The uses of bleach today

Bleach is used for a wide range of purposes in modern-day society. It is commonly used as a cleaning agent in homes, hospitals, and other public spaces, as well as for the disinfection of surfaces, equipment, and tools. It is also used in the manufacturing of a variety of products, including paper, textiles, and plastics.

Bleach is particularly useful in medical contexts, where its powerful disinfecting properties are essential for preventing the spread of infection. It is used to clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings, as well as in the processing of medical waste.


From its early origins in ancient Egypt to its modern-day applications in hospitals and homes, bleach has a fascinating and complex history. It has evolved over time to become an essential cleaning and disinfecting agent, helping to keep our homes and public spaces clean and free from harmful bacteria and viruses. Whether you’re using it to remove stains from your clothes, disinfect your kitchen countertops, or sanitize medical equipment, bleach is a versatile and effective cleaning agent that has stood the test of time.

Common questions about bleach:

  • Q: Is bleach dangerous to use?
  • A: Bleach can be dangerous if not used properly. It is important to read and follow the instructions on the label carefully, and to wear gloves and eye protection when using bleach to avoid skin and eye irritation.
  • Q: Can bleach be used on colored fabrics?
  • A: Bleach can damage or fade colored fabrics, and should only be used on white or colorfast fabrics. Be sure to check the label on your clothing or linens to see if they are safe to bleach.
  • Q: How long does bleach last?
  • A: Bleach has a shelf life of approximately six months to a year. After this time, it may lose some of its potency and effectiveness.
  • Q: Is bleach an environmentally friendly cleaning agent?
  • A: Bleach can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. It should never be poured down the drain or into bodies of water, and should be disposed of according to local regulations.


  1. https://www.history.com/news/bleach-history
  2. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/effective-disinfectant-use-and-bleach-safety_7.pdf
  3. https://www.lawsonproducts.com/blog/product-technology/2018/04/the-history-of-bleach/
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/100320

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