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Kitchen tap vs Bleach, why using the right cleaner is so important

7 minutes to read

If you have looked through any information from manufacturers, retailers, etc you will struggle to miss some information on “don’t use this” and “avoid this” when it comes to cleaning products. Taps UK is no exception, and where we can, try to stress to our customers to only use hot soapy water or specialist cleaners (see our blog on why cleaning products are worth it).

But the real question is, what is wrong with using these more abrasive cleaners? If you decide to use them what is going to happen to your tap? I decided to subject a tap part from our warehouse to one of the most common household cleaners – bleach.

How the test will work

The part I used is a tap shoulder (see right), and this is off the Astini Colonial Traditional Bronze tap. Astini offer a 15-year finish guarantee on the tap – so they obviously have confidence that the finish will last for that period of time with normal use.

I am going to cover the item in bleach and soak it. Obviously, this wouldn’t happen in your home – but I am demonstrating what prolonged use can do to the finish of a tap by overexposing it to get the same results in a short period of time.

I have also slightly scratched the surface of the item to mimic the use of an abrasive pad like a washing-up sponge with the rough side. This damages the protective surface of the tap and allows any cleaners to penetrate to the raw finish. So this test will demonstrate not only how abrasive cleaners are, but also how quickly scratching the surface daily will impact the life of the tap,

I will put the item inside of a ceramic cup, to contain the bleach around the item.

Day 1 – Starting the test

You can see the item set up above. The bleach is poured over the entire item and then disturbed occasionally to encourage it to attack other parts of the finish. You can see in the first 5 minutes (left is at the start, the middle is 5 minutes) there is no damage to the item, showing that a short exposure (applying the bleach then removing it) would unlikely cause permanent damage to the item. At 20 minutes (the one on the right) you can see that the bleach has started to attack the finish, and is clearly showing the scratch marks I made with the abrasive pad.

Day 2 -24 hours later

The following day, you can see much more prominent damage to the finish of the tap, which has got through to the finish via the abrasive marks I made at the start.

The reactions that were happening between the finish and the bleach actually turned the bleach a strange bluey colour, which I have since removed. I rinsed the tap and then added some more bleach to continue the test.

This damage is permanent, and cannot be removed with cleaning.

Day 3 – The results

It’s clear that the bleach has damaged the item, actually much more than I expected in a short period of time. This product is plated brass, and you can see that the reaction has started between the copper in the brass and the bleach. This oxidisation causes the green deposits that you can see on the surface, and also the darkening of the bronze finish. Here is a helpful guide on bleach and how it affects surfaces.

All of this damage will be permanent so the only solution for this would be to replace the part. So this clearly shows that the use of abrasive chemicals and sponges is detrimental to the finish of the tap. Although I had this submerged for a long period of time (you would never have a tap submerged in bleach for 3 days), imagine your cleaning practices over the period of a year. It only takes the use of bleach with improper rinsing, or that “limescale remover” that your friend recommended. That coupled with a scratchy sponge is condemning your tap to early retirement.

Our advice? Hot soapy water is the first thing to try – if you’ve got something more stubborn, then check with the manufacturer for their comments and/or try a specialist cleaner for your product.

Until the next time…

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