Dangers of Mixing Cleaning Chemicals

With the fear and uncertainty that the pandemic instilled in us regarding the spread of germs, people are cleaning and sanitizing surfaces more thoroughly and frequently than ever before. However, not everyone is doing it safely. Social media trends have been encouraging people to create their own cleaners by mixing various household chemicals. After all, the more cleaners you combine into one, the stronger the resulting cleaner must be, right?

Wrong. In fact, you may be putting yourself in danger by doing this. You should always use household cleaners as instructed on the label, as mixing household chemicals can produce highly toxic fumes or create an extremely corrosive product. This could result in any number of nasty side effects depending on if the resulting combination touches your skin, makes contact with your eyes, or even if you simply inhale it.

Common Chemical Combos You Should Never Make

Combinations of common cleaning products can have deadly results, so it’s important to know what combination creates what type of reaction. Knowing the result and side effects will hopefully keep you from harm. If you do end up making any of these concoctions, whether on purpose or by accident, please immediately get to a well-ventilated area and call poison control.

Cleaning products on wooden table.

Bleach + Vinegar

Vinegar is actually a surprisingly effective natural cleaning product with a number of applications. Meanwhile, bleach has been used as a germ killer and stain remover for over a century. However, while the two on their own can be extremely useful while cleaning, they should never be mixed together.

The combination of vinegar and bleach creates chlorine gas. This gas can burn your throat and respiratory system if inhaled and burn your skin and eyes if they come in contact with it. This can lead to coughing, breathing problems, and burning and watery eyes if you are not in a well-ventilated area. The gas is also highly flammable, meaning a lit candle or even a tiny electric spark could result in a fire or explosion!

Bleach + Ammonia

This is perhaps one of the most deadly combinations you could create. Ammonia is commonly found in cleaning products meant for tile, glass, bath tubs, and other surfaces that might have oils and grease stuck to them, as it’s good for breaking those down. However, it should never be used in conjunction with bleach.

Why? Because mixing the two can create Phosgene gas, AKA Mustard Gas! That’s right, if you mix ammonia and bleach together, you will be making a biological weapon that is against the Geneva Convention. While it likely won’t be quite as powerful as what was used in WWI, if exposed to the fumes you may find yourself suffering from coughing, nausea, shortness of breath, fluid buildup in the lungs, irritation to the chest, nose, and eyes, and chest pains. 

Hydrogen Peroxide + Vinegar 

The combination of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar is another mixture that some TikTokers have been claiming as a “super disinfectant.” In fact, it makes peracetic acid. This solution can be used by professionals in the medical and food industries as a disinfectant and water purifier. 

However, in the untrained hands of a DIY cleaner, peracetic acid is actually a highly-corrosive and quite harmful acid. You might end up doing more harm than good to your surfaces, especially in high concentrations. On top of that, peracetic acid emits toxic fumes and can harm your skin, nose, throat, and lungs. This is a combination absolutely lest best to the professionals.

Bleach + Rubbing Alcohol

Bleach really shouldn’t be mixed with any other household products, but rubbing alcohol, which is often used as a disinfectant, is among the top chemicals to never mix it with. The two combined won’t create some super-sanitizer like you might assume, but will instead create chloroform.

You may know chloroform as a knock-out drug in the movies, but this dangerous chemical has far worse side effects than you’d think. Chloroform not only irritates the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, but it can cause permanent damage to your lungs, nervous system, liver, and kidneys, too.

One of the reasons you want to hire a professional commercial cleaning company like S.J. Services for your building or facilities is that we train our teams to use chemical cleaning solutions properly. So if you want clean, sanitized surfaces, skip the DIY office cleaning job and instead keep yourself and your workers safe by contacting us today.