The Cleaning Chemicals You Shouldn’t Mix

Woman mixing bleach with another cleaning detergent.

Think about this article as a cleaning product intervention. Our goal is to help you preserve your health аnd prevent you from committing one of those five cleaning product sins by mixing the wrong cleaning chemicals.

We’re glad to hear that you’re interested in cleaning your home and making your own cleaning solutions.

However, you need to know that there are some cleaning products that you should never mix together, as they can be dangerous to you and your family’s health.


Bleach and vinegar


Can you mix bleach and vinegar?

Short answer: No.

Mixing bleach and vinegar creates chlorine gas, which can cause a serious damage to your skin, your eyes and when inhaled – your throat and your lungs. And by “damage” we mean third-degree burns. Messing around with chlorine and mixing it together with anything is not recommended.

MIxing diluted hydrochloric acid and chlorine together it creates mustard gas.

What to do instead?

When you buy a bottle of bleach, one thing you need to remember is that it has a shelf life. Its effectiveness will start to decrease after the sixth month.

Instead of trying to make it stronger by adding vinegar, better go to the store and buy a new bottle. After all, what is one extra walk to the store compared to inhaling poisonous fumes?


Bleach and ammonia


Chlorine gas or maybe not?

Many people think that mixing bleach and ammonia will make chlorine, however, this is absolutely false. Mixing them together does not create yellow chlorine formation. What it does produce is nitrogen gas, which is even more dangerous.

They also produce many toxic products such as traces of hydrazine, chloramine, dichloramine and nitrogen trichloride. Even though you’re not creating chlorine gas, mixing bleach and ammonia can produce many unhealthy byproducts.

What to do instead?

Here you have two options. The first one is to buy other cleaning products, which are non-toxic, such as laundry detergents or bathroom and floor cleaners.

Your second option is to use white distilled vinegar or baking soda. Vinegar will kill mould and mildew and the baking soda can be a very good solution, especially when mixed with a mild soap. Although these suggestions might not be as effective, they are much safer and eco-friendly.


Chlorine and ammonia


Chlorine bomb

An interesting fact here is that chlorine will react with ammonia in two different ways. Chlorine will react with an excess of ammonia, forming nitrogen and ammonium chloride, but when an excess of chlorine is treated with ammonia it forms nitrogen trichloride, which is a very powerful explosive.

What to do instead?

The solutions here are the same as for mixing bleach and ammonia. It’s very important to never mix chlorine and ammonia, except if you’re an expert at chemistry. Even if you don’t produce explosive there are other dangerous chemicals that you might produce.


Acetone and bleach


Chloroform

Mixing acetone and bleach can be extremely dangerous. Actually, as you may have already guessed, mixing bleach with anything is not a good idea.

When we talk particularly about mixing it with acetone, we talk about one of the oldest organic reactions known to produce the chemical chloroform, which can knock you out in minutes. It is extremely toxic and can also cause organ damage.

If you don’t produce actual chloroform, as this depends on the specific type and quantity of bleach and acetone you’re using, you can still form other toxic chemicals, such as phosgene.

What to do instead?

There are three alternatives:

  1. Instead of using acetone, use water. Make a solution of bleach and water. One part bleach to three parts water works best.
  2. Use a household detergent, such as Domestos bleach spray.
  3. Use only bleach. It’s stronger than the previous two. However, make sure you’re working in a properly ventilated area, as inhaling it for a long period of time can be dangerous, too.

Remember to put on cleaning gloves, whichever alternative you choose.


Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide


Peracetic acid

These two ingredients are commonly known as natural cleaning solutions. You can use them separately on the same surface but don’t mix them in the same container. You will create something called peracetic acid. The health risks aren’t well-known but in high enough concentration peracetic acid is very corrosive and can cause a lot of irritation to your skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

What to do instead?

You can make your kitchen a cleaner, safer place and fight bacteria without exposing your family and yourself to toxic chemicals that also damage the environment. Use a simple, safe disinfectant spray. As a bonus, it is inexpensive. Another option is to use the vinegar and the hydrogen peroxide, as already mentioned, on the same surface but separately.

Remember

Don’t try to play home chemist. Аctually, don’t mix cleaning products together. Period.

Instead, use the cleaners that have already been pre-mixed for you and read our blog for more ideas. Trusting the professionals is always a better idea.

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