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Thread: How bleach kills germs

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    spishex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Hillsborough, NC

    How bleach kills germs

    Bleach has been killing germs for more than 200 years but U.S. scientists have just figured out how the cleaner does its dirty work.

    It seems that hypochlorous acid, the active ingredient in bleach, attacks proteins in bacteria, causing them to clump up much like an egg that has been boiled, a team at the University of Michigan reported in the journal Cell on Thursday.
    So that smell from CC is boiled egg!

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    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    San Rafael, CA USA

    Re: How bleach kills germs

    Very interesting (and funny). It's been known for quite a while that hypochlorous acid would tend to oxidize nitrogenous compounds including proteins. What wasn't known is that this triggers the "boiled egg" defense in bacteria reacting in a similar way that heat does, though in a more extreme way.

    The same thing happens, of course, to your own cells in the water, namely your skin, but we have a lot of dead skin cells on the surface already so mostly the chlorine is attacking cells that are already dead or that are on the surface layer that would be dying anyway. It also mucks up proteins in hair which is what gives chlorine that reputation for creating "dry or flaky skin" and "frizzy hair". Fortunately, bacteria and algae are single-celled so die off quickly from the chlorine while larger creatures such as ourselves just make more skin that is getting "beaten up" by the environment generally anyway.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    SW Indiana

    Re: How bleach kills germs

    Interesting. I had logged in to post the same thing myself and saw your post.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: How bleach kills germs

    Thanks I enjoyed learning something new.
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