The economic viability of bio-production processes is often limited by damage to the microbial cell membrane and thus there is a demand for strategies to increase the robustness of the cell membrane. Damage to the microbial membrane is also a common mode of action by antibiotics. Membrane-impermeable DNA-binding dyes are often used to assess membrane integrity in conjunction with flow cytometry. We demonstrate that in situ assessment of the membrane permeability of E. coli to SYTOX Green is consistent with flow cytometry, with the benefit of lower experimental intensity, lower cost, and no need for a priori selection of sampling times. This method is demonstrated by the characterization of four membrane engineering strategies (deletion of aas, deletion of cfa, increased expression of cfa, and deletion of bhsA) for their effect on octanoic acid tolerance, with the finding that deletion of bhsAincreased tolerance and substantially decreased membrane leakage.