Does Color Safe Bleach Kill Parvo?

image to demonstrate label of color safe bleach that does not kill parvo

If you you’re looking to find out which type and brand of bleach is capable of killing canine parvo you are in the right place. Today, we are getting to the bottom of bleach labels so we know whether or not your chosen product is cleaning and item, sanitizing an item or if it’s actually disinfecting (killing) bacterial and viral particles. But first, let’s answer your question:

Does Color Safe Bleach Kill Parvo?

No. Tempting as it may be to use a non-irritating, good-smelling bleach to kill canine parvovirus you can save your money. Color safe bleach will NOT kill canine parvo. In fact, color safe bleach doesn’t claim to kill any germs; bacterial or viral, so it is completely ineffective as a household sanitizer or disinfectant.

How to Tell if a Bleach Has Killing Power

A bleach that is capable of killing bacteria, pathogens, or viruses will have 4 distinguishing features on its label. They are:

  1. Visible List of Active Ingredients
  2. A List or Paragraph of Exactly What it Can Kill
  3. Exact Steps for How to Use the Product for Killing
  4. An EPA Registration Number (Environmental Protection Agency)

If you cannot find all of these features on the label, you can stop looking. When a product has been proven to Kill a bacteria or virus it will be advertised on the label because it is a long and expensive process to go through with the EPA. Companies that go through the process will not hide their product’s power to kill germs.

In contrast, when a product doesn’t kill bacteria and viruses or hasn’t registered the product with the EPA, you’ll see generic terms and statements like: Cleans Tough Stains, Cuts Through Grease, Freshens, Fights Proteins, Deodorizes etc., the label will be filled with everything EXCEPT the words: KILLS GERMS

How to Tell if Your Bleach will Disinfect Parvo

We consumers use these words loosely but for manufacturers and the EPA, these 2 terms: Disinfect and Sanitize are technical and can only be used on labels when they are scientifically proven to do the following:

  • Disinfect: which means the product KILLS and eliminates close to 100% of the bacteria or virus’s that it claims to kill within a certain “contact time”.
  • Sanitize: Reduces the amount of germs identified on its label in a certain amount of time.

So products that “clean” are not in the same league as products that “disinfect” in fact, the difference is huge. Let’s find out if your bleach is good for Disinfecting (Killing) Canine Parvo by going through the following steps:

Step 1

Grab your bottle of bleach and we’ll start with the front label. If you see a statement like “KILLS GERMS”, we are off to a good start. So whenever you see those words, it’s worth taking a look to see “what germs does it kill?” If your bottle of bleach doesn’t say KILLS GERMS, it’s probably not capable of disinfecting canine parvo but you can go to step 2 anyway (just in case).

Step 2

Time to locate the Active Ingredients. This is usually on the front of the label, but sometimes it’s far off to the side. If your active ingredients say: Sodium Hypochlorite that is great! You can move onto Step 3. Here is a picture of a Clorox bottle. For easier reading, we magnified the side panel:

Clorox Bleach: 6% Sodium Hypochlorite

The active ingredient you want to see when attempting to kill canine parvo with a household bleach product is: Sodium Hypochlorite. There are a handful of chemicals that kill canine parvo and Sodium Hypochlorite is extremely effective (especially on hard surfaces). Go to Step 3

If your bottle of bleach does NOT have Sodium Hypochlorite, it’s the end of the road and you cannot use it to kill canine parvovirus. Here is a what the back label for Color Safe Bleach Looks Like and you’ll see the ingredients are NOT Sodium Hypochlorite:

image label demonstration of color safe bleach to show that it does not contain the ingredients to kill canine parvovirus
Color Safe Bleach does NOT Kill Parvo

Step 3

Since your jug of bleach contains Sodium Hypochlorite as an active ingredient it’s time to find out if the product Kills Canine Parvovirus and we do this by locating the kill list. Usually bacteria is listed first, followed by pathogens and viruses. Here is a magnified kill list example and we’ve boxed in Canine Parvovirus:

The print can be really small but if you see it is capable of killing Canine Parvovirus you are well on your way to using that product to kill parvo. The last step is finding out the EXACT process for killing parvo. Here’s how:

Step 4

Take a closer look at the kill list. You’ll notice little symbols after each bacteria or virus. Those symbols are instructions for killing and must be followed in order to actually kill the canine parvovirus. The symbols could be anything from triangles, squares, asterisks, hash-marks, or crosses.

In this case, the symbols that follow Canine Parvovirus are a double S followed by 2 asterisks, and then a triangle. Use those symbols to learn what you have to do with the product in order to kill Canine Parvovirus. The instructions are usually found at the end of the kill list. Below is a magnified picture of the symbol instructions.

Before reading ahead, see if you can interpret how to kill parvo using the Double S and Triangle :

If you interpreted correctly, you would Use 1/2 cup of this product to 3/4 of a gallon of water, and you’d allow 10 minutes of contact time in order to kill canine parvo.

Step 5

The final step is more of a security measure and it is to look for the EPA registration number located on the container. No product that effectively kills organisms can do so without having been registered with the EPA and proven its efficacy (ability to kill).

Why is the EPA involved? Any product that claims to kill an organism is considered a Pesticide. Now, most of us think very negative thoughts when we hear the word pesticide because we immediately imagine our food supply being sprayed with harmful chemicals that we end up eating.

But in this situation, try to think of a pesticide in literal terms, which is: Kills Pests. Canine Parvovirus is a deadly pest to our dogs and we need a pesticide in order to kill the pest. Here is a sample EPA Registration number for your reference:

image showing how to find EPA registration number on a pesticide for parvo
EPA Registration Numbers Can Be Looked up on EPA Website for More Information

All pesticides must be registered with the EPA. Through that registration process they have to prove their effectiveness, provide instructions for killing, explain harmful effects, proper disposal, and lots of other disclosures.

What Brand of Bleach Should I Buy for Killing Canine Parvo?

Here at we regularly recommend Clorox Regular Bleach (marketed as regular bleach with Cloromax) for these reasons.

  • Sodium Hypochlorite as the active ingredient
  • Canine Parvovirus is listed as a virus that Clorox Bleach can Kill
  • The Procedure for Killing Parvo is on the Label
  • Clorox has registered their bleach with the EPA and is approved for use against Canine Parvo
  • Clorox bleach is readily available at most retailers.
  • Clorox is often displayed near cheaper bleach that does NOT kill parvo

Here is a perfect example of Clorox being displayed side by side with another bleach product this is not approved for killing canine parvovirus.

Clorox Regular vs. HDX for Killing Parvo

What’s interesting about HDX Laundry Bleach is that it contains the right ingredients for killing canine parvo (which is Sodium Hypochlorite). You might think it would be effective but nowhere on the bottle does it say it will Kill Parvo or How to kill Parvo and it’s not registered with the EPA as being able to Kill Parvo.

When faced with this side by side decision, always choose the product that passes the test with the steps you’ve just learned, even if it’s a dollar more. Think of the extra dollar as cheap insurance.

Really Cheap Bleaches and Parvo

Here is an example of a how tempting it is for consumers to purchase bleach that is several dollars cheaper than Clorox but does not kill canine parvo:

image showing display of value bleach which tempts consumers with cheap prices but doesn't disinfect parvo virus.
All Bleach is Not Created Equally

While it’s very tempting to pick up a jug of bleach for killing canine parvo for under 2 bucks, it’s not likely to kill parvo. In fact this label uses the terms: removes stains, cleans & deodorizes. You’ve just learned that these terms are meaningless when you need a product that KILLS a virus like canine parvo.

image showing how cheap bleach may not be effective for killing germs or canine parvo.
Remember your Steps When Considering Cheap Bleach

Bleaches that point out their “value” are usually not capable of disinfecting. When faced with a tempting bargain don’t forget to go through the steps you’ve learned.

Is Clorox the Only Brand of Bleach That Kills Canine Parvo?

No. Other brands or store brands can kill parvo. When they can kill parvo, they will have the 4 distinguishing features on their label.

  1. Visible List of Active Ingredients
  2. A List or Paragraph of Exactly What it Can Kill
  3. Exact Steps for How to Use the Product for Killing
  4. An EPA Registration Number

Use what you just learned to find out if your favorite store brand of bleach should be used in your home for killing canine parvo.

If your store brand passes the test and is cheaper than Clorox, go ahead and use the cheaper product as directed. Do make sure you are agreeable to the terms for killing parvo. For instance, the cheaper bleach may say: Needs 20 minutes of contact time. Make sure you do exactly what the product tells you to do and do not adopt another brand’s procedures.

Using Old Bleach to Kill Canine Parvo

One final message if you are using household bleach to kill canine parvo. If your bleach is older than 6 months, take these lessons and go purchase a fresh jug. The active ingredient that kills parvo (Sodium Hypochlorite) looses it’s effectiveness over time.

So…Does Color Safe Bleach Sanitize?

Hopefully you have not only learned that Color Safe Bleach does not kill canine parvo but color safe bleach doesn’t sanitize anything. Remember; sanitize is a technical term which means: to reduce the amount of harmful particles. If something has the power to sanitize or disinfect, it will definitely be advertised on the label.


Color Safe Bleach vs. Regular Bleach for Killing Parvo

image comparison of color safe bleach label vs clorox regular bleach label for killing parvo
Doesn’t Kill Parvo
Kills Parvo

Once you become familiar with interpreting labels, it will become second nature and you’ll instinctively identify the right products immediately.

Something to remember: If a product is capable of Killing a Bacteria, Pathogen or Virus, it is a huge selling point and the makers will want you to know. Therefore, it will be labeled as such.

The words: cleans, fights, cuts-through, freshens, brightens, deodorizes, removes are words you’ll find on products that CANNOT: Kill, Sanitize, Disinfect.

To learn more about killing Canine Parvo we suggest the following pages:

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