Now, the term "bleach" is fairly broad, as it refers to a number of chemical compositions which remove colour, whiten or disinfect, often via oxidation. When I say bleach, I'm referring to, and ONLY to, sodium hypochlorite. So track down a bottle or three of bleach which is pure sodium hypochlorite and you'll be much better prepared in the world.
Now, firstly, a little safety. Bleach can be quite dangerous if you don't use it properly.
- First of all, though mild, it IS still a poison. Don't drink it, don't get it in your eyes, avoid getting it on your skin, and don't breathe in the fumes.
- While it isn't flammable, it's a very strong oxidiser, and can make fires grow considerably. It can also potentially ignite, or aid in the ignition of, combustibles.
- Try and wear gloves while handling it.
Add 2 or 3 drops of bleach to a liter of water (strain the water first through your bandana to remove any large particles) then gently stir it through. Let it sit for 30 minutes and it'll be ready for human consumption.
In a world without power and plumbling, airborne viruses and infections could spread very quickly. But if you fill a plant mister bottle with a half and half mixture of bleach and water, then spray it into the air, it will kill any nasties that are floating around. Try to avoid spraying it directly onto food or living things, though.
Sanitize Eating Utensils
The last thing you want if you're stranded at home is to get sick, so proper sanitation is extremely important. You can sanitize your food tools such as forks, spoons, bowls and bottles with a mixture composed of one tablespoon of bleach per 4 liters of water. Submerge your utensils in this mixture for 2 or 3 minutes, then drain them and air-dry. They'll be good as new. It also removes any odours from metal bowls, flasks and the like.
Kill Bacteria in Fruit and Vegetables
If you've been scavenging for food, and you find questionable produce, you can eliminate risk of bacterial infection by giving them the same treatment as you would for eating utensils above.
Many preppers forget the need to prepare for personal hygiene in a world with no easy means to do so. You'll die just as quickly from a bad infection or virus than you will from any of the other dangers that would occur in a SHTF situation.
So grab a bottle or three of bleach the next time you're at the hardware store, and stow it somewhere cool and dry. You never know when it could save your life.