Stability of Free Available Chlorine Levels in Dilute Sodium Hypochlorite Solutions over a 6-Week Period

Christopher K. Gow, Caren Weinhouse, Graham O.Brien Johnson, Kim E. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Animal care and use programs commonly use chlorine and chlorine-based disinfectants to help prevent facility acquired infections in animals. The Department of Comparative Medicine (DCM) at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disinfection guidelines for preparing and storing these disinfectants. DCM prepares bottles of dilute solutions of sodium hypochlorite (that is, commercial bleach) daily. In this study, we tested whether dilute bleach solutions, as prepared following the DCM protocol, remained stable under real-world practice conditions for up to 6 wk. We tested 4 groups of spray bottles filled with 0.5% bleach solutions in these experiments. Specifically, we sprayed 2 groups of bottles daily to mimic use while 2 other groups of bottles were not sprayed. We then measured free available chlorine (FAC) using 2 methods, spectrophotometry and colorimetric strips. All 4 test groups showed stable maintenance of FAC concentration for the length of the experiment. Mean FAC loss from baseline levels was not significantly different in the group of bottles not sprayed daily (6% for group 2 at week 5 compared with 7% for Group 4 at week 6). All bottles in Groups 1 and 3 measured by colorimetric strips showed concentrations at or near 5000 mg/L at all weekly time points throughout the experiment. This study shows that 0.5% sodium hypochlorite solutions stored and used in a standard rodent housing room and sprayed daily will maintain acceptable FAC concentrations for at least 5 to 6 wk, perhaps longer. In addition, we report that colorimetric strips may be a useful and accessible quality control tool for testing freshly prepared solutions at regular intervals. We conclude that sodium hypochlorite solutions can be prepared on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis with no loss in disinfection effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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