The ability of sodium hypochlorite to decontaminate skin while leaving sufficient epidermal cell viability for growth in tissue culture was investigated with an in vitro system. Split-thickness cadaveric skin was infected with Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Candida albicans and subsequently treated with various concentrations of sodium hypochlorite for various time intervals. Exposure to a 0.5% solution of sodium hypochlorite for 6 min effectively decontaminated the skin while leaving 66% of the basal cells viable. The basal cells were subsequently grown to confluency in tissue culture. This study demonstrates that microbial colonization of skin can be eliminated by exposure to dilute hypochlorite. This procedure, while decontaminating the skin, leaves sufficient viability of epidermal cells for subsequent growth and expansion in tissue culture, elements essential for grafting over wounds.