Are you using the wrong bleach for your outdoor cleaner?

Outdoor cleaner: one bleach kills vegetation, the other doesn't

outdoor cleaner
(Image credit: Getty)

There are lots of DIY options for outdoor cleaner. You can use vinegar and baking soda, fire up the power washer, or use a homemade bleach solution. But not all DIY options are ideal for outdoor cleaning. In fact, using the wrong bleach when you clean outside can have a disastrous impact on your backyard eco-system. 

So what types of bleach are there and which makes the safest outdoor cleaner for your backyard? We've got the answer, below.

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What type of bleach to use for outdoor cleaning

There are two types of bleach: Chlorine bleach and oxygen bleach (opens in new tab). Chlorine bleach is what most people think of when they think of bleach. It's the stuff you use to wash you clothes, and the active ingredient in bleach household cleaners.

Oxygen bleach is more commonly known as color-safe bleach or Oxi (like OxiClean (opens in new tab)). 

Both are ideal for scrubbing tough messes, but chlorine bleach is too harsh for use outdoors. 

While chlorine bleach will work well at ridding your patio of mold and mildew, it will also kill any flowers or grasses it comes in contact with. Bad news if you just planted a garden or fertilized the grass.

Oxygen bleach, on the other hand, will work just as well as chlorine bleach on removing stains and cleaning up, but it's a lot easier on the surrounding vegetation.

So, if you have the option, choose oxygen bleach for your outdoor cleaning duties.

Here's what you'll need to clean outside with oxygen bleach:

Simply dilute the oxygen bleach into a large bucket of warm water (most oxygen bleaches have dilution instructions for different uses on the package). Then use the solution and deck brush to scrub your outdoor spaces, and rinse when finished.

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Kaitlin Madden Armon is a writer and editor covering all things home. In addition to Real Homes, she's written for Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Refinery29, Modern Luxury Interiors, Wayfair, The Design Network, and lots more. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband, two sons, and black lab.