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How to Put Bleach in Standing Water in Plant Pots

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017

Many plants, such as water lilies and some bamboo, grow well in standing water. However, potted plants filled with standing water can become foul-smelling and fill with bacteria, which is unsuitable for the plants. Bacteria can hinder a plant's ability to absorb water. By adding a small amount of bleach to the water, you can help eliminate the bacteria.

Empty the pots of the standing water, especially if it is foul-smelling or discolored. It's best to start with fresh water. If possible, do this outdoors or in a utility sink.

Scrub the pots--inside and out--with soapy water and a nylon scrub brush. This will help kill remaining bacteria residue. Use an old toothbrush to get under the rims if necessary. One gallon of warm water with a couple drops of dish detergent will suffice.

Rinse the pots well and fill them with clean, fresh water.

Mix in 2 drops of liquid household bleach (labeled 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) to every quart of water. Use a dropper for accuracy. Do not use bleach mixed with soap.

Add plants to the pots filled with water. The standing water should not grow bacteria again.


Things You Will Need

  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Nylon scrub brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Bleach
  • Dropper

About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.