Hypochlorite plays a critical role in killing microorganisms in the water. However, it can also cause cardiovascular diseases, neuron degeneration, and cancer to humans. Although traditional methods feature excellent sensitivity and reliability in detecting hypochlorite, the expensive instruments and strict determination conditions have limited their application in environmental analysis to some extent. Thus, it is necessary and urgent to propose a cheap, facile, and quick analytical assay for hypochlorite. This paper proposes a colorimetric assay for hypochlorite utilizing gold nanorods (AuNRs) as the nanoreactor and color reader. The AuNRs were acquired via a reported seed-mediated method. NaClO with strong oxidation property can cause the etching of gold from the longitudinal tips of AuNRs, which could shorten the aspect ratio of AuNRs, decrease the absorption in the UV–Vis spectrum and also induce the solution color changing from red to pale yellow. Thus, according to the solution color change and the absorbance of longitudinal surface plasmon resonance of AuNRs, we established the calibration curve of NaClO within 0.08 μM to 125 μM (∆Abs = 0.0547 + 0.004 CNaClO
= 0.9631). Compared to traditional method, we obtained the conversion formula between the concentration of residual-chlorine in tap water and the concentration of hypochlorite detected by the proposed colorimetric assay, which is Cresidual-chlorine
= 0.24 CNaClO
. Finally, the real application of the colorimetric assay in tap water was successfully performed, and the accuracy of the colorimetric method can reach from −6.78% to +8.53%.
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