Let’s start with a simple rule of thumb: Never mix cleaning products!
Whether you are cleaning in a commercial environment or tidying up around the house, cleaning thoroughly typically involves a variety of cleaning products. No one cleaning product works well for every surface and the typical cleaning product inventory contains enough chemicals to make your head spin – literally.
Even seemingly similar products designed for the same purpose often utilize different chemicals to achieve their objectives. These chemicals when mixed with other chemicals can cause some pretty serious chemical reactions. In most cases, these chemical reactions result in the formation of gases, many of which are detrimental to your health. In other cases, these chemical reactions can result in small explosions, which again, are not good for anybody.
Bleach is a cleaning product found in virtually every household and it is far and away one of the most dangerous products in common use today. If you are considering mixing bleach with anything other than water, think again. Bleach is especially toxic and it makes our list several times when combined with other cleaning products.
Still, bleach is not the only culprit. There are many combinations of cleaning products that can cause you great bodily harm. Read on to learn more.
Common Cleaning Products That Don’t Mix
Bleach and Ammonia – You may have heard about this nasty combination. A mixture of bleach and ammonia creates a chemical reaction that results in the formation of chloramine gas which generates acid in the lungs and can be deadly. Even moderate exposure to chloramine gas can cause chest pain and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing these symptoms, we encourage you to seek medical attention immediately.
It is important to note that many cleaning products contain bleach and many other cleaning products contain ammonia. This is why we began this article with the ‘Never mix cleaning products!’ rule of thumb. Glass cleaners, oven cleaners, and even ordinary dish liquids may contain ammonia or other chemicals that react badly with bleach.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar – This one may surprise you. After all, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar both seem pretty harmless. Right? When used by themselves these two common cleaning products are relatively harmless. However, when the two are mixed, they form peracetic acid. Peracetic acid is corrosive and while it may not kill you, it may damage the surfaces you are applying it to.
Drain Cleaners and Other Drain Cleaners – Mixing two different drain cleaners is an easy mistake to make. First drain cleaner doesn’t clear the drain, go to the store and buy a stronger one. Right? Wrong! Different drain cleaners often use different chemical combinations to achieve their goal of clearing the hairball from your drain. These different chemical combinations can result in the formation of toxic gases and in some cases may cause an explosion. So, if your hairball needs an extra dose, be sure to buy the exact same cleaner you used for the first attack.
Bleach and Drain Cleaners – If you are still struggling with that hairball after two doses of drain cleaner, do not reach for a jug of bleach for your third attack. A mixture of bleach and drain cleaner can produce chlorine gas which can have long-lasting effects and may require medical attention. It might be time to call a plumber instead.
Bleach and Vinegar – Bleach and vinegar is another chemical combination that produces chlorine gas. Symptoms you might experience from inhaling this toxin are burning eyes, a burning sensation in your throat, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Rubbing Alcohol and Bleach – As you can see, bleach is a partner in many bad chemical reactions when mixing cleaning products. When mixed with rubbing alcohol it produces chloroform and chloroacetone, both of which are toxic. According to chemist Alexander Lu of Dong Research Group, “Chloroform can be used to knock people unconscious, and it is suspected to cause cancer. Chloroacetone is no better, having been used as tear gas in World War I.”
Need Help With Your Residential or Commercial Cleaning?
Complete Care Maintenance offers a variety of commercial and residential cleaning services. Our professional cleaning crews are well versed in the chemicals used in commercial cleaning products and we always follow strict safety protocols. Give us a call to learn how we can help!