What Is Bleach
Summary: Bleach is a pesticide, but not an insecticide, so stop pouring it down drains in an attempt to kill flies. It is a waste of money and a dangerous practice. There are much simpler and safer methods of treating for drain pests.
I get way too many visitors to this site telling me they have tried pouring bleach down drains to stop their drain fly problems. Many of my articles mention that pouring bleach down drains is a waste of money and potentially dangerous. But, for some unknown reason, many continue pouring this household product down the drain. I'm not chemist, so in the simplest terms I could find on the internet, this is what bleach is and does.
Bleach is a product that helps laundry detergents to be more effective in removing stains. A chemical reaction occurs when bleach comes in contact with soil, breaking it down and removing it from clothing. Bleach also has a whitening and brightening effect on clothing. Bleach is frequently used as a disinfectant and sanitizer in homes, hospitals, farms and on public transportation.
This is a bit confusing, but I'll try to clear it up for you. The term œpesticide covers a lot of territory. A pest can be defined as anything that is someplace where you don't want it to be. Weeds in a garden are pests. You use an herbicide. Bacteria on countertops are a pest. You use a fungicide. Honey bees inside your home are a pest, but outside they are an insect that we need to pollinate our crops. If they are in the house you use an insecticide. Termites help decompose fallen trees, but inside a house they are damaging pests and we use termiticides. For unwanted rodents we use rodenticides.
Okay! So now that we have a little understanding about pesticides I can tell you that bleach is a pesticide, but it is not an insecticide. Bleach is a fungicide, meant to kill bacteria, not insects. To confuse you (and me) even further, there is chlorine bleach which is very powerful, and there is oxygen bleach, which is often referred to as color-safe bleach. Chlorine bleach is usually the one that leaves ruinous stains on your clothing when misused.
Now, here is the reason I keep pleading with you not to pour bleach down drains. Household bleach has a chemical formula of NaOCI which translates as one atom of sodium, one atom of oxygen and one atom of chlorine. If, by chance, you mix bleach with ammonia, another common household product, you get a mixture that creates on part chlorine gas. Chlorine gas causes cellular damage to nasal passages, your trachea and lungs. It is a painful death.
Unfortunately, I am not finished. If your mixture happens to be heavier on the bleach when ammonia is present, you get an explosive mixture. Very volatile. And, if the mixture is just a bit heavier on the bleach, you get a type of rocket fuel and, obviously, a more powerful explosive. œI don't know what happened, officer. I was standing in my laundry room on minute, and the next minute my house was gone.
The most dangerous part about using bleach to kill insects is that most of the gases you might produce with cleaners do not have a color. Many of the gases produced also don't give you any warning that you are being or have been exposed.
Here is something to think about. Both Comet and Ajax cleansers, relatively harmless products, when inadvertently mixed with Drano, can create hydrogen cyanide. Your own personal gas chamber.
If you have a need to clean drains, simply remove the drain cover, use a bottle brush or a round drain bush, available at any grocery or hardware store. Dip the brush in any common soap detergent like Liquid Joy, and scrub down to the water that you see at the bottom of the drain. You don't need to go any further. Then, rinse with cold water. Presto! The material that the flies breed in is gone and so are your flies. Problem solved and you live to see another day.