Is hypochlorous acid different from bleach?

Yes they are! First, they have different chemical formulas; the formula for sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is NaOCl, and the formula for hypochlorous acid is HOCl. When bleach diluted, or made acidic, HOCl becomes present, but in a very low percentage. Bleach has a pH of 13 and above, and its concentration is high enough to remove color from fabric. Neither of these characteristics apply to HOCl. Bleach also has a negative charge, while HOCl has a neutral charge, which is critical to its biocidal effects. HOCl’s neutral charge allows it to easily penetrate bacteria walls and quickly attacks proteins in bacterial cells. On the other hand, bleach has a negative charge, which challenges its biocidal effects. Bacteria and hypochlorite repel each other like magnets because they are both negatively charged, which challenges its biocidal effectiveness. With this, HOCl has been proven to be 80 times more effective than bleach, and does not yield to antimicrobial resistance. HOCl is gentle enough to use to clean wounds, irrigate eyes, and to sanitize your foods, while bleach is not recommended for any of those applications.