Household Hazards: Common Cleaning Products You Should Never Mix

  • Household Hazards: Common Cleaning Products You Should Never Mix

The past year and a half has brought unprecedented challenges into all of our lives, including a renewed understanding of exactly how important it is to keep surfaces in our homes clean and sanitized. But incorporating new cleaning products into an existing routine can be tough. 

It’s always difficult to strike a balance between getting things truly clean and sanitized and making sure that we’re making safe, environmentally friendly choices. Unfortunately, as we incorporate new products into our routines, it’s critically important to be aware of potentially dangerous interactions. Read on to learn more about common cleaning products you should never mix.

Ammonia and Bleach

A surprising number of household cleaning products contain either ammonia or bleach. Bleach is a common household disinfectant that can kill germs, bacteria, and mold, as well as whitening clothing and cleaning and sanitizing household surfaces. Ammonia can be used as a household degreaser, removing everything from oil stains on concrete surfaces to grease buildup in the oven. Also found in many household window and glass cleaners, ammonia produces a streak-free shine on glass surfaces. 

However, when mixed, bleach and ammonia can create toxic chloramine gases, which, if inhaled in sufficient quantities or in an enclosed space, can cause nausea, respiratory problems, and even death. Because bleach is present in many common household bathroom cleaners, including toilet cleaners and shower sprays, and ammonia is found in most common household glass cleaners, these two compounds are most likely to be combined while cleaning the bathroom. To avoid accidental exposure, read all labels carefully, and ensure that you’re only using one of these products at a time. Ensuring that the bathroom is well-ventilated while you’re tackling the cleaning job can help to ensure that any fumes from either product don’t linger and accidentally make you or your family sick.

Bleach And Vinegar, Lemon Juice, Or Other Acids

Vinegar, as you know, is one of our favorite eco-friendly, multi-use cleaning heroes here at Sweeping Dimensions. Known for its versatility and low impact on the environment, vinegar can do everything from descaling your coffee pot to eliminating stubborn stains on carpet. However, vinegar is an acidic cleaner, and should be used with appropriate caution. 

When mixed with bleach, the acetic acid in vinegar combines with hypochloric acid in the bleach to form chlorine gas. Chlorine gas attacks the body’s mucous membranes and respiratory system, and can be potentially fatal. To avoid accidentally mixing these products, use them separately, in a well ventilated area. If you are going to apply one product to an area that has previously been exposed to the other, be sure to thoroughly rinse the area with water before applying the second product. And if you notice a strong chlorine odor, leave the area and get plenty of fresh air. 

This advice holds true for combining bleach with any acidic product. Combining bleach with any acid, including something as simple and environmentally friendly as lemon juice, can result in the creation of chlorine gas, and should be avoided. 

Hydrogen Peroxide And Vinegar

While our first two sets of products should not be mixed together in any form — including on a surface — the combination of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar is a bit different. While it is generally safe to use hydrogen peroxide and vinegar in succession on the same surface, these products should never be mixed together in the same container. When combined, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide create peracetic acid, a corrosive compound that is used as an industrial sanitizing agent. According to the National Advisory Committee for Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Hazardous Substances, peracetic acid can be “corrosive/irritating to the eyes, mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, and skin.”

Different Brands Or Types Of Drain Cleaner

If you’ve ever tried to remove a stubborn drain clog, you know all too well how tempting it can be to simply add more drain cleaner if the first application doesn’t take care of the problem. After all, even the instructions on the bottle themselves may suggest using half of the bottle for most problems, but using the whole bottle for particularly stubborn clogs.

However, if you do find yourself adding additional drain cleaner after a first application, always be sure that you’re using the same brand and type of cleaner. Different brands of drain cleaner contain different corrosive chemical compounds. Mixing them can create toxic gases or worse, even an explosion. For stubborn clogs that don’t respond to the recommended amount of drain cleaner, it’s safer to call a plumber. And to prevent clogs in bathroom sinks or tubs, a hair catcher or other drain protector is a great, eco-friendly way to avoid the need to unclog your plumbing.

Sweeping Dimensions: A Cleaning With a Conscience

Have any questions about cleaning product safety? We’re here to help! Here at Sweeping Dimensions, we take the confusion out of household cleaning. We’ll focus on handling all sorts of cleaning and housekeeping projects, so you can focus on the other things that matter most to you.

A big part of that is making sure our clients’ wants and needs are met at all times. That’s why we make a point of always having sustainable and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions on hand and ready to use.

We also believe in passing along our green cleaning knowledge, whenever we can. We love to talk about all things cleaning and organizing, including the strategies that can make taking care of your home a more sustainable practice. The more people we can bring together in our mission for a greener world, the better off all of us will be!

So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, or making a green switch in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch – I am always happy to talk shop! At SDCS, we are sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding real solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.

Want to set up a green cleaning for your Chicago home? Don’t hesitate to reach out for your FREE service estimate!

Looking to exchange ideas on reusable alternatives to sponges, or share how you’re going to focus on sustainability this year? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch via email or on social media to let us know your thoughts.


2021-11-09T21:17:24+00:00 November 9th, 2021|Residential Cleaning|