Keeping Homes Germ-Free During Disaster Relief

When a natural disaster strikes, communities and families around the globe count on the Red Cross to provide emergency help. But they can also count on the arrival of an unwanted visitor: disease-causing germs.

That’s why, for the past 45 years, the Red Cross has partnered with The Clorox Company, which has generously provided bleach to those in need. Bleach plays a critical role in preventing the spread of illness and disease following a natural disaster and ensuring water is safe to drink again.

From floods to hurricanes to snow storms, many natural disasters bring destructive amounts water to homes, schools and hospitals. This water can be filled with germs, including bacteria and viruses that contaminate drinking water. In addition, surfaces exposed to wet conditions for long periods of time can grow mold.

Victims of these natural disasters can use bleach to safeguard their health. Specifically, they can use bleach to disinfect hard surfaces after they have been cleaned with soap and water. And when safe drinking water is hard to find, the U.S. Centers for Disease ControlEnvironmental Protection AgencyFederal Emergency Management Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration all recommend using bleach to clean unsanitary drinking water at home when boiling water isn’t an option. You can follow these important steps:

To Emergency Disinfect Water at Home:

  • Filter Water: Remove suspended particles by filtering or letting particles settle to the bottom.

  • Change Containers: Pour off clear water into a clean container.

  • Disinfect Water: Add 8 drops of Clorox® Regular Bleach2 to one gallon of water or add 1/8 teaspoon of the product to 1.5 gallons of water.

  • Give It Time: Let treated water stand for 30 minutes.

  • Smell & Repeat (if needed): Water should have a slight bleach odor. If not, repeat and wait another 15 minutes.

To Kill Bacteria at Home:

  • Clean & Disinfect: After cleaning surfaces with soap and water, disinfect hard, nonporous surfaces with a solution of 1/2 cup of Clorox® Regular Bleach2 diluted in 1 gallon of water.

  • Wait & Rinse: Let the solution stay on the surface for at least 5 minutes before rinsing with clear water or allowing to dry.

  • NOTE: To remove mold and mildew, up the solution to 3/4 cup of Clorox® Regular Bleach2 per gallon of water.