Household bleach is a very versatile disinfectant. Apart from cleaning and disinfecting, you can also use it to get rid of mold and mildew from your house. How about grass, will diluted bleach kill grass?
You can also use it in moderate amounts to eliminate unwanted plants from your lawn and sidewalks. Diluted bleach is alkaline; hence if sprayed on grass, it will cause them to turn yellow and die.
You should only use diluted bleach in areas where you don’t want your grass to grow back, such as sidewalks and driveways. Bleach works well as a homemade weed killer, but you should refrain from using it in large amounts on your lawn, and here is why.
Bleach contains diluted chlorine. If sprayed on grass and weeds, it will seep into the tissues of the plants and denature the cells, causing them to turn yellow and curl up and die.
Bleach can have two effects on grass. The first is causing a salt strain on the grass. The sodium in the bleach exerts stress on the grass’s salt system, making it difficult to absorb nutrients from the soil.
The second effect is chlorine toxicity. Chlorine is a valuable nutrient in the soil, but only in small amounts. Too much chlorine causes chlorine toxicity, which is detrimental to plants. Bleach contains chlorine, with a pH of about 11. When sprayed on plants, it turns the soil alkaline, making it hard to absorb other nutrients and water from the soil.
However, bleach also seeps into the soil, killing any beneficial pathogens present in the ground. So you should only use bleach to kill grass and weeds in areas you do not intend for them to grow. These areas include driveways, sidewalks in between cracks of your house’s foundation, and patios.
Bleach is fast-acting; therefore, any plants sprayed with bleach will turn yellow and die about three to four days after application. If sprayed in small amounts, the grass will only turn yellow and curl up after a couple of days. But if sprayed in large quantities, it also seeps into the soil and raises its pH, killing any living things in the process.
This, however, only works with undiluted bleach. Diluted bleach loses some efficacy against grass once you add water and may instead burn your grass, leaving it with brown spots. For best results, use undiluted bleach to control weeds.
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Bleach kills off grass cells, including the root cells. This makes it impossible for the weed to grow back.
Since bleach is alkaline, it also raises the pH of the soil to a point where no living things can survive in that environment. No plants can grow in an area with a high bleach concentration.
This means you should only use bleach to eradicate weeds and grass in places you don’t desire them to grow back. Areas such as your garden or lawn are not suitable to kill weeds using bleach. Instead, you should use bleach to control grass that sticks up in locations where no vegetation is needed and not in areas with plants you intend to keep.
However, after a heavy downpour, the chlorine in the bleached areas tends to wash away, and the soil might return to normal after some time. This means that the site will become conducive for weeds again, but you can always spray them with bleach once you spot them growing back.
This means that bleach is not a permanent solution to controlling weeds. Most weeds can thrive in a soil environment with a pH ranging between 3 and 8, so as soon as the alkalinity washes away from the soil, you might see a few uninvited plants growing back.
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The soil contains numerous microorganisms beneficial to both plants and the ground itself. These bacteria help fertilize the soil when they decompose dead plants and animals. They also improve aeration and drainage in the soil.
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When you spray the soil with bleach, it kills these valuable bacteria. It also raises the pH of the soil, making it more basic. This alkaline environment is not conducive for plants and animals. The chlorine in bleach quickly makes the soil toxic and inhabitable for living things.
A much safer alternative to bleach is vinegar since it’s friendlier to soil pathogens. However, you might have to use a few applications to see results.
Bleach stays in the soil for as long as it’s not washed away. Chlorine leeches away quickly, so if you want to get rid of bleach from the ground, flush the area with a lot of water. The bleach will also wash away after prolonged rainfall or after sunlight breaks down the chlorine.
It may take a few weeks to a few months of consistent flushing with water for the bleach to completely disappear from your soil.
Bleach is highly corrosive and can burn your skin and cause irritation to your eyes. It can damage your clothes and stain surfaces if used carelessly. If you intend to use bleach, whether diluted or undiluted, take the following precautions to ensure your safety.
- Wear a pair of gloves when handling bleach.
- Proper eye protection (goggles)
- Put on protective shoes to protect your feet.
- Avoid spraying bleach on windy days.
- Do not spray near kids or animals. Keep any pets and children away when spraying bleach.
- Conduct a small protest before spraying bleach in large amounts. Spray a small portion first to see how it reacts to the plants and environment.
- Don’t combine bleach with other chemicals or weed killers without reading the instructions first.
Bleach works well as a DIY weed killer if used in small quantities. You can also use it to get rid of your entire lawn. The bleach will kill the grass in about three days.
However, if you want to replant your lawn, there are better methods to remove the grass. You can try solarization, which is more cost-effective and has extra benefits, especially for your soil.