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Will bleach kill houseplants? bleach spray sitting near houseplants

Will Bleach Kill Houseplants? (With Helpful Answers!)

Bleach has many household uses with people even using it for their houseplants, but that can be dangerous.

If you have accidentally spilt bleach on your houseplants or you are thinking of it as a fungicide or insecticide, I will tell you everything you need to know to avoid unnecessary damage.

Firstly, Here’s if Household Bleach Kills Houseplants:

Yes, bleach will kill a houseplant unless it has been extremely diluted before it is added to the plant’s soil. It damages the roots and kills healthy microorganisms in the soil, which results in the death of the plant. If sprayed, bleach will burn leaves, stems, and flowers, making the plant sick.

However, there are ways you can save your houseplants. Luckily, we’ve compiled all the answers you need:

How Long Does It Take For Bleach To Kill Houseplants?

Generally, it will take household bleach 2-3 days to kill a healthy houseplant. Bleach can kill a houseplant pretty quickly, but it may take a healthy plant a while to finish dying.

If the houseplant’s roots have been damaged by the bleach, it will probably struggle on for a while, but ultimately, if it cannot absorb enough nutrients and water because of the damage, it will die.

Bleach tends to evaporate quite fast, so the damage will be done almost immediately, or in just a few minutes.

If you act very quickly, you may be able to prevent some of the harm, but in general, bleach does damage on contact and needs to be immediately washed off to reduce any further harm.

How Much Bleach Can Kill A Houseplant?

Quantities depend on the concentration of the bleach and the size of the plant, but in general, you should assume that any amount of undiluted bleach is a threat to your plant’s life and could kill it.

A small amount of diluted bleach will not kill a houseplant, but larger amounts or undiluted bleach will quickly do damage to any part of the plant that gets contaminated.

In general, if the bleach has only touched the plant’s leaves, it will not kill the whole plant (unless it touches almost all of the leaves). Those leaves will die back, but the plant will continue to grow as long as it has established roots and is otherwise strong and healthy.

However, getting the majority of its leaves splashed or having undiluted bleach poured into its soil will often kill the plant.

Will Diluted Bleach Kill Houseplants?

As long as it is heavily diluted, bleach is usually safe to use on houseplants in small quantities and should not kill the plants. However, you should still be very careful though, especially when handling sensitive plants.

If you are going to use bleach on your plants, you will need to dilute it with water, and check that your specific plant is not particularly averse to chlorine before you start.

In general, you should be adding about one teaspoon of bleach per quart of water, or less. You can dilute 5 parts water to 1 part bleach ratio, or for it to be even safer- 10 parts water to 1 part bleach one.

However, be aware that more fragile plants are more likely to be harmed by bleach, especially if you pour it around the soil.

You might have seen recommendations to soak the leaves of plants in diluted bleach to sterilize plants or kill off insects and their eggs, but there are often more effective and safer solutions that you can try.

Bear in mind that bleach is a hazardous chemical, so there are almost always better options than using diluted bleach on your houseplants. 

What Percentage Of Bleach Will Kill Houseplants?

Bleach at a concentration of over 50:50 will either kill your houseplants or be very harmful to them. As a rule of thumb, it is better to dilute bleach much more heavily if you are going to use it at all.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question because it depends on the houseplant’s size and how though the species is.

Most bleach in the United States is between 5.25 and 8.25 percent concentration, and this is too strong for plants.

Make sure you are diluting this with plenty of water, and preferably using either a 5:1 or 10:1 water to bleach ratio to keep your plant safe.

Can You Safely Use Bleach As A Fungicide On Houseplants?

If your plant has a fungal infection, you may have heard of bleach as a possible solution, and it’s true that it could help in some circumstances.

Yes, bleach can be used to get rid of fungi on houseplants as long as you are very careful.

Certainly, you can use bleach to disinfect the plant’s pot, as you will then thoroughly rinse this and no bleach will come into contact with the plant.

Treating the plant itself is more difficult, and you may wish to look into commercial fungicides instead, as these should be plant safe.

However, if you are treating a bad fungal infection, you may not have enough time to get something in, and in this case, you might need to use bleach.

How to safely use bleach as houseplant fungicide

Mix your bleach in a 9:1 ratio with water before spritzing it on the affected leaves (cover your face if you are going to be spraying bleach and wear old clothing).

If you want to treat the roots, dip them into the bleach solution and gently rinse them back and forth so that the bleach passes over the roots and kills off any fungus.

Can You Safely Use Bleach As An Insecticide On Houseplants?

Yes, a heavily diluted bleach solution spray can be used on houseplants as a means of insect control, and it should get rid of the insects fairly effectively. You will probably need to do multiple treatments, but this is the case with almost all commercial insecticides too.

Bleach will kill most insects, partly because of its burning properties and partly because it will clog up the pores on their skin and prevent them from breathing.

However, bleach is often overkill for insects. Most insects that attack houseplants can be got rid of simply by rinsing the plant in soapy water.

The soap will similarly clog up the pores and kill the insects, but without the added danger that bleach poses to your houseplants.

Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and thrips can all be got rid of by washing the plant. Other insects may prove slightly trickier, but there are still often better methods than bleach.

Even a diluted concentration of 9:1 bleach and water could damage your plant’s foliage.

Can You Use Bleach To Disinfect Houseplants?

You can disinfect a houseplant with heavily diluted bleach if you want to, but there is little need to. You shouldn’t do it as disinfecting your plants may do them more bad than good.

Plants do not particularly benefit from being kept in very sterile environments, and there isn’t likely to be a real need to disinfect a houseplant.

If you are worried that your plant has been contaminated by something like a fungus, you can disinfect it with a diluted bleach spray and wipe down the leaves, and this should help to kill off the fungus.

However, in normal daily life, there shouldn’t be any reason to disinfect a plant, so don’t start spraying bleach on your plants unless there is a very good reason to do so.

Accidentally SPRAYED Bleach On Plants (& How To Save It)

man spraying bleach on houseplant

If you have accidentally sprayed concentrated bleach on your plant, you will need to act quickly to minimize the damage.

Immediately stop what you are doing, pick up the plant, and transfer it to a sink or to the base of your shower if possible.

Use lots of clean, fresh, room temperature water to rinse off the part of the plant that got bleach on it. This may wash the bleach into the soil, so if possible, put a piece of plastic or something over the soil to prevent it from soaking the bleach up.

If you can’t do this, make sure you give the soil a thorough rinse too.

Keep rinsing the plant until you are sure you have removed all of the bleach, and then allow it to dry out and return it to its usual position.

If you cannot relocate the plant, bring a bowl of clean water to it and rinse the leaves as best you can in their current position.

Accidentally POURED Bleach On Plants’ Soil (& How To Save It)

If you’ve accidentally poured bleach into a plant’s soil, you should follow much the same process.

Act as quickly as possible and pour clean, fresh water through the plant’s pot over and over again to flush as much bleach out of the soil as you can.

This will minimize the damage to the roots and maximize the plant’s chance of surviving.

However, pouring bleach on the plant’s soil in large quantities is very dangerous for the plant and will likely kill it.

Acting quickly and thoroughly rinsing might give your houseplant the best chance to survive.

Final Thoughts

Be careful when using bleach around your houseplants, because even heavily diluted bleach can be very dangerous to them.

Although bleach does have some uses, you should not treat it as a go-to solution to problems; it should be used as an occasional, almost last-resort option.

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