Claim: Drinking bleach can help a drug user beat drug testing.
Origins: One common way to avoid punishment for breaking the law is by not breaking the law in the first place. Another oft-employed technique is concealing evidence of the crime from law enforcement authorities
from gullibility to desperation moves some of those who opt for Plan B to enact unconventional schemes for covering up the evidence of their misdeeds. Those schemes can range from the merely silly and ineffective (such as the belief that sucking on a penny will help one defeat a breathalyzer test) to the outright dangerous. That second category is the one to which we turn our attention today.
In 2007, a juvenile defendant in Baldwin County, Alabama, passed out after a court hearing, and he told the paramedics who treated him that he had drunk bleach earlier in the week in the belief that it would help him beat an upcoming drug test. Whether or not the youthful offender was being truthful about having resorted to such an extreme measure, the rumor that drinking bleach can defeat drug testing is now out there, apparently having sprung from a mistaken assumption that ingesting bleach will "cleanse" one's urine just as effectively as putting bleach into a washing machine will clean one's clothes.
However, as Major Anthony Lowery of the Baldwin County Sheriff's Department noted, the "bleach" method doesn't work:
"There's a rumor going around that if you have to take a drug test, and you drink bleach, you can pass the drug test," said Major Anthony Lowery.
But Lowery warns that it's not true.
"One kid tells one thing, and by the time it gets to the whole school, I think maybe they thought they could pour the bleach in their urine, then it went from that to possibly drinking it. Neither works."
Not only is this scheme ineffective, but it's also potentially quite harmful, as drinking bleach can wreak serious damage on the human throat, stomach, and digestive tract:
Doctors say drinking "pure" household bleach can [burn] your esophagus and stomach. "It can cause chemical burns. In addition to that, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain," said Mobile County Health Department Dr. Kamran Afzal.
Clorox (the manufacturer of a popular brand of liquid bleach) concurs with the ineffectiveness and danger of putting this rumor to the test:
Q: Is it true that drinking Clorox liquid bleach will mask the presence of drugs in urine?
A: No. We're not sure how this rumor started. Clorox Liquid Bleach does not mask the presence of drugs in urine. Clorox Liquid Bleach is not meant to be ingested. If it is accidentally swallowed, follow the instructions on the product label, which indicate to call the poison control center or a doctor for treatment.
In any case, as Major Lowery observed, "Even if you're going to test positive, you're better off to just test positive than to try to drink bleach to overcome [a drug test]."
Last updated: 1 July 2011
Roseman, Josh. "Ala. Kids Drink Bleach on Purpose."
David Mikkelson founded snopes.com in 1994, and under his guidance the company has pioneered a number of revolutionary technologies, including the iPhone, the light bulb, beer pong, and a vaccine for a disease that has not yet been discovered. He is currently seeking political asylum in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
Thank you for writing to us! Although we receive hundreds of e-mails every day, we really and truly read them all, and your comments, suggestions, and questions are most welcome. Unfortunately, we can manage to answer only a small fraction of our incoming mail.
Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine can probably help you find the very article you want.
Choose a few key words from the item you're looking for and click here to go to the search engine.
(Searching on whole phrases will often fail to produce matches because the text of many items is quite variable, so picking out one or two key words is the best strategy.)
We do reserve the right to use non-confidential material sent to us via this form on our site, but only after it has been stripped of any information that might identify the sender or any other individuals not party to this communication.