Is it Safe to Disinfect Using Bleach Around FR Clothing?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought cleaning and sanitation to the forefront of our minds, both at home and work. First and foremost, liquid chlorine bleach is prohibited from use on all flame resistant and arc rated fabrics and apparel in common use in the USA today. Neither Tyndale nor fabric manufacturers recommend or endorse using liquid chlorine bleach on arc rated and/or flame resistant (FR) clothing. However, we understand that during crisis situations, as with COVID-19, hard and fast rules may occasionally become guidelines as a result of an immediate need or greater perceived threat. Today’s FR FAQ blog post answers the question, Can I safely disinfect surfaces while using bleach around AR / FR safety apparel?

In the video below, Tyndale’s VP of Technical, Scott Margolin, walks us through the correct methods for using bleach as a chemical sanitizer, and how this might affect FRC properties.

The most effective manner when disinfecting surfaces with bleach to prevent COVID-19 transmission starts with knowing the correct concentration of bleach. CDC guidelines recommend using 1/3 of a cup of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. These are the minimum concentrations necessary to destroy COVID-19 virus particles.

Three Guidelines for Using Bleach on Surfaces

  1. A surface requires 30 seconds of wet bleach exposure to be completely disinfected.

If you are using bleach to disinfect a surface, it is important to let your bleach concentration sit on the surface you’re sanitizing for 30 or more seconds to be effective. Wiping down the surface before reaching this timeframe could leave COVID-19 particles intact (and active) which could then infect you and others who come in contact with that area.

  1. Bleach DOES NOT continue to work after it has dried.

This is a common misconception about bleach. After the initial application, bleach does not continue to disinfect. Once bleach dries it is no longer disinfecting the surface. This is also true of bleach residue commonly seen as white residue. Although this residue is a byproduct of the bleaching process, it will not continue to work as a viable disinfectant. In regards to FRC, because dried bleach is technically no longer bleach in the traditional sense, it does not affect FR properties. However, neither Tyndale nor fabric manufacturers recommend or endorse using liquid chlorine bleach on AR / FR clothing. For more information about bleach and FRC click here.

  1. Multiple applications of bleach are required to continually disinfect the surface.

After you wipe down a surface using bleach and that surface dries, there are no ongoing disinfecting properties. If someone coughs or sneezes, new virus particles will land and stay on that surface until you re-sanitize the area.

Virus particles that arrive after the bleach dries, will remain viable and potentially accumulate until the next wipe down with bleach sanitizer.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is key to beating this pandemic. We strive to give you the knowledge to effective sanitize the things you come in contact with on the job while wearing the FRC required to keep you safe from arc flash and flash fire hazards. Check back frequently for the most up-to-date information, or click through to our COVID-19 Safety Library to view our collection of COVID-19 resources.

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