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Is it safe to use bleach on plastic dishes?

Using bleach on plastic dishes can be a somewhat controversial topic due to the potential risks and concerns associated with it. While bleach is a strong disinfectant and can effectively kill germs and bacteria, its use on plastic dishes requires caution and proper handling.

Bleach is a powerful chemical that can degrade certain types of plastics, particularly those that are not designed to withstand harsh chemicals. When exposed to bleach, these plastics may become brittle, crack, or even release harmful chemicals into the food or beverages consumed by them. Therefore, it is crucial to determine the type of plastic used in the dishes before considering the use of bleach.

Most plastic dishes and utensils are labeled with a resin identification code, typically found on the bottom of the item. This code ranges from 1 to 7 and provides information about the type of plastic used. Plastics labeled with codes 1 (PETE) and 5 (PP) are generally considered safe for use with bleach, as they are more resistant to chemical reactions. However, plastics labeled with codes 3 (PVC), 6 (PS), and 7 (other) are not recommended for use with bleach.

To ensure safety when using bleach on plastic dishes, follow these guidelines:
1. Check the resin identification code on the plastic dishes. Avoid using bleach on plastics labeled with codes 3, 6, or 7.
2. Dilute the bleach properly. Use a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water.
3. Apply the bleach solution to the dishes and let them sit for a maximum of 2 minutes. Avoid prolonged exposure to bleach.
4. Rinse the dishes thoroughly with clean water after disinfecting them with bleach.
5. Dry the dishes completely before using or storing them.

Alternatively, you can consider using milder disinfectants that are specifically formulated for use on plastic surfaces. These products are generally safer for plastic dishes and pose fewer risks of damaging the material.

In conclusion, while bleach can effectively kill germs and bacteria, its use on plastic dishes requires caution. Always check the resin identification code on the plastic to ensure it is safe from bleach. Proper dilution, limited exposure time, and thorough rinsing are essential steps to minimize the risks associated with using bleach on plastic dishes. Considering milder disinfectants designed for plastics might be a safer option.
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