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Chlorine vs. Bleach — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 12, 2023
Chlorine is a chemical element with the symbol Cl, often used for disinfection; Bleach is a product containing chlorine or other chemicals, used to whiten or disinfect.
Chlorine vs. Bleach — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Chlorine and Bleach

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Key Differences

Chlorine and Bleach are terms commonly heard in the context of cleaning and disinfection. Chlorine is a greenish-yellow gas under room conditions, which belongs to the halogen group of the periodic table. It's widely known for its disinfecting properties. Conversely, bleach is a product, often liquid, which contains chlorine or other chemical compounds designed to disinfect or whiten.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 12, 2023
The element Chlorine can be found naturally in minerals and in saltwater. It's often harnessed for a variety of industrial and household applications, including water purification. Bleach, meanwhile, is a household name and can be found in many laundry and cleaning aisles. It's formulated to break down stains, disinfect surfaces, and whiten fabrics.
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Oct 12, 2023
Chlorine in its pure form can be dangerous. It's a highly reactive gas that can combine with other elements to form harmful compounds. For instance, when chlorine interacts with organic matter, it can produce harmful disinfection by-products. Bleach also should be handled with care, as it can be corrosive and harmful if ingested or if it comes in contact with the eyes or skin.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 12, 2023
Many swimming pools utilize Chlorine as a disinfectant to keep the water safe from pathogens. This specific application showcases chlorine's ability to neutralize harmful microorganisms. On the other hand, Bleach is often used in homes, not just to whiten clothes, but also to disinfect surfaces, especially in bathrooms and kitchens.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 12, 2023
In summary, while Chlorine is an elemental gas with powerful disinfectant properties, Bleach is a product formulated with chlorine or other chemicals, predominantly used for cleaning, disinfecting, and whitening purposes.
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Oct 12, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Chemical element
Product
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Form

Gas at room temperature
Usually liquid
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Main Use

Disinfection, part of many compounds
Whitening, disinfecting
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Found In

Natural sources like saltwater
Household cleaning aisles
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Hazard

Reactive gas, can form harmful compounds
Can be corrosive, harmful if ingested
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Compare with Definitions

Chlorine

A common disinfectant for water.
Many swimming pools use Chlorine to keep the water clean.
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Bleach

A cleaning product containing chlorine or other chemicals.
Be careful when using bleach on colored fabrics.
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Chlorine

A greenish-yellow halogen gas.
Chlorine has a pungent odor and is used to disinfect water.
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Bleach

A liquid that can remove color from materials.
The sun can naturally bleach fabrics over time.
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Chlorine

A chemical element with symbol Cl.
Chlorine has an atomic number of 17 on the periodic table.
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Bleach

An agent that kills germs and bacteria.
I cleaned the bathroom with bleach to eliminate germs.
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Chlorine

A substance that can react with organic material.
In certain conditions, Chlorine can form harmful by-products.
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Bleach

A corrosive substance that needs careful handling.
Always wear gloves when handling bleach to protect your skin.
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Chlorine

A component in various industrial processes.
Chlorine is used in the manufacture of a wide range of products.
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Bleach

Bleach is the generic name for any chemical product that is used industrially and domestically to remove color from a fabric or fiber or to clean or to remove stains in a process called bleaching. It often refers, specifically, to a dilute solution of sodium hypochlorite, also called "liquid bleach".
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Chlorine

Chlorine is a chemical element with the symbol Cl and atomic number 17. The second-lightest of the halogens, it appears between fluorine and bromine in the periodic table and its properties are mostly intermediate between them.
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Bleach

To remove the color from, as by means of chemical agents or sunlight
Over time, the exposure to sunlight bleached the rug in front of the window.
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Chlorine

A highly irritating, greenish-yellow halogen element, existing as a diatomic gas, Cl2, and capable of combining with nearly all other elements, produced principally by electrolysis of sodium chloride and used widely to disinfect water, as a bleaching agent, and in the manufacture of many important compounds including chlorates, sodium hypochlorite, and chloroform. Atomic number 17; atomic weight 35.453; freezing point -100.5°C; boiling point -34.04°C; specific gravity 1.56 (-33.6°C); valence 1, 3, 5, 7. See Periodic Table.
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Bleach

To make white or colorless
Dawn bleached the mountains.
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Chlorine

A toxic, green, gaseous chemical element (symbol Cl) with an atomic number of 17.
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Bleach

To whiten by causing the death or expulsion of algal symbionts from (coral).
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Chlorine

(countable) A single atom of this element.
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Bleach

To act as or use a bleach.
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Chlorine

One of the elementary substances, commonly isolated as a greenish yellow gas, two and one half times as heavy as air, of an intensely disagreeable suffocating odor, and exceedingly poisonous. It is abundant in nature, the most important compound being common salt (Sodium chloride). It is powerful oxidizing, bleaching, and disinfecting agent. Symbol Cl. Atomic weight, 35.4.
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Bleach

To become white as a result of the loss of algal symbionts, usually following an environmental stress such as increased water temperature. Used of coral.
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Chlorine

A common nonmetallic element belonging to the halogens; best known as a heavy yellow irritating toxic gas; used to purify water and as a bleaching agent and disinfectant; occurs naturally only as a salt (as in sea water)
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Bleach

A chemical agent used for bleaching.
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Bleach

The act of bleaching.
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Bleach

The degree of bleaching obtained.
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Bleach

(archaic) Pale; bleak.
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Bleach

(transitive) To treat with bleach, especially so as to whiten (fabric, paper, etc.) or lighten (hair).
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Bleach

(intransitive) To be whitened or lightened (by the sun, for example).
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Bleach

To lose color due to stress-induced expulsion of symbiotic unicellular algae.
Once coral bleaching begins, corals tend to continue to bleach even if the stressor is removed.
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Bleach

To make meaningless; to divest of meaning; to make empty.
Semantically bleached words that have become illocutionary particles
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Bleach

(uncountable) A chemical, such as sodium hypochlorite or hydrogen peroxide, or a preparation of such a chemical, used for disinfecting or whitening.
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Bleach

(countable) A variety of bleach.
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Bleach

An act of bleaching; exposure to the sun.
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Bleach

A disease of the skin.
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Bleach

To make white, or whiter; to remove the color, or stains, from; to blanch; to whiten.
The destruction of the coloring matters attached to the bodies to be bleached is effected either by the action of the air and light, of chlorine, or of sulphurous acid.
Immortal liberty, whose look sublimeHath bleached the tyrant's cheek in every varying clime.
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Bleach

To grow white or lose color; to whiten.
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Bleach

The whiteness that results from removing the color from something;
A complete bleach usually requires several applications
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Bleach

An agent that makes things white or colorless
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Bleach

The act of whitening something by bleaching it (exposing it to sunlight or using a chemical bleaching agent)
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Bleach

Remove color from;
The sun bleached the red shirt
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Bleach

Make whiter or lighter;
Bleach the laundry
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Bleach

A substance used to whiten or disinfect.
I added some bleach to the laundry to remove the stain.
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Common Curiosities

What is Chlorine?

Chlorine is a greenish-yellow halogen gas used for various purposes, including disinfection.
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What are the main uses of Bleach?

Bleach is predominantly used for whitening, disinfecting, and cleaning.
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How does Chlorine disinfect water?

Chlorine kills pathogens by breaking down the cell walls and neutralizing them.
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Can Bleach be mixed with other cleaning products?

No, mixing bleach with other products can produce toxic fumes, especially with ammonia.
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Is Chlorine harmful in its pure form?

Chlorine is reactive and can be harmful if inhaled or if it comes in direct contact.
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Is it safe to drink water with Bleach?

Drinking water with a small, safe amount of bleach can be consumed in emergencies, but it's essential to use the correct proportions.
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How does Bleach differ from Chlorine?

Bleach is a product containing chlorine or other chemicals used mainly for whitening and disinfection.
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Is Chlorine natural?

Yes, Chlorine can be found naturally in minerals and saltwater.
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Can Bleach be used in swimming pools?

Yes, but pool-specific chlorine products are typically recommended over household bleach.
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How should Bleach be stored?

Bleach should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from children and pets.
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What products contain Chlorine?

Various products, including disinfectants, cleaning agents, and PVC, contain chlorine.
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Can Chlorine be found in household products?

Yes, many cleaning and disinfecting products contain chlorine or chlorine compounds.
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How is Chlorine produced industrially?

Chlorine is typically produced through the electrolysis of saltwater.
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Is Bleach biodegradable?

Over time, bleach breaks down into salt and water, but its impact on the environment should still be considered.
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What precautions should be taken with Chlorine?

Avoid inhaling chlorine fumes, protect skin from direct contact, and ensure good ventilation when using products containing chlorine.
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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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