Friendly Reminder About Using Bleach

Heather says:

While double checking my research I was stunned by how many frugal websites recommend a homemade cleaning agent with both bleach and vinegar in the recipe.

NO.

Never mix bleach and vinegar, bleach and ammonia, bleach and toilet bowl cleaners, or even different brands of toilet bowl cleaners (some are bleach based while others are acid based).

never mix bleach and vinegar

Read your labels: Bleach can also be listed as sodium hypochlorite or hypochlorite.

When bleach and ammonia are mixed, depending on the ratios, Chlorine gas is created or Nitrogen Trichloride or Hydrazine.  Chlorine gas is deadly, Nitrogen Trichloride is very volatile (meaning it’s just dying to react)
and the Hydrazine reaction creates a large amount of heat. Just don’t go there. Heck, don’t even pour bleach into an unflushed toilet bowl.

guide to chemical cleaners

Click this picture to learn more about cleaners!

When bleach and vinegar are mixed it creates an acid base reaction with chlorine gas as a byproduct.

Toilet bowl cleaners are often acidic and will also react with bleach.

Chemistry is awesome, when you’re expecting it.



16 Comments

  1. ChristianPearlBelanger on September 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    When ever washing around areas that are more likely to have ammonia or similar chemicals due to cats and other animals I will only use Vinegar or a lysol all purpose disinfectant. Or if there happens to be animal urine on any clothing I will use vinegar or baking soda in the wash.

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  4. carnellm on September 21, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    And don't forget that animal urine, such as around the cat box, makes for ammonia too. Ex-brother-in-law almost killed himself cleaning up the cat box and surrounding area with bleach.

    • imeverything09 on September 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      Oh wow! That would explain why I got dizzy when mopping the cat area recently. I always mop with bleach. I think if you can stand the fumes, it cleans better than anything I've found. But I nearly passed out 🙁

    • Rebecca C on April 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      Yes, this is very important, and not something most people think about. I’ve known for years that you shouldn’t mix bleach and ammonia, but it somehow never occurred to me that I should be careful about cleaning the litterbox with bleach.

      One day the litterbox was really dirty (after we came back from vacation), and there was a lot of “stuff” stuck to the bottom. We took it into the back room and poured bleach in… not good! Immediately Hubby and I started coughing, and we retreated into the bedroom. Had to gather all the animals into the bedroom with us and open a window. After we were able to breathe without coughing (about an hour), we zipped into the back room to toss the litterbox out of the back door. Our lungs burned for a couple days because of that.

      Now we always rinse the box thoroughly with water first and scrub it before bleaching it, though we generally just use vinegar instead of bleach now.

  5. tinkerschnitzel on June 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Takes me back to when I was a kid: mixing bleach and comet. This is also the reason my mom never allowed us to have a chemistry set. She was always afraid we would blow up the house, because she knew my brother and I would find something to mix together that was volatile.

    Wow. A rocket scientist and a chemical engineer? I'm in good company! 😀

  6. Jen on June 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    "Chemistry is awesome, when you're expecting it" – Love it! I have a degree in chemical engineering but frankly I don't need that to know that chlorine gas in my house is a bad thing. thanks for the reminder because not everyone thinks of this stuff all the time. And toilet bowl chemistry is not my idea of a great science experiment for my 4 year old….

  7. Fawn on June 24, 2010 at 2:15 am

    My mom's best friend died because of this. She was in the hospital for a few days, but they couldn't save her. It really is dangerous stuff.

  8. Stacy on June 24, 2010 at 12:25 am

    When I was a kid, my mom used to gas out the whole house on clearning days with ammonia and bleach. I had no idea at the time that this was dangerous, and she did it for years and years. I hated it when she had all that stuff out because it was so hard to breathe, and I would try to leave whenever I could. It wasn't until I was an adult, out on my own, that I read about how dangerous that is.

  9. Princess Leia on June 23, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Fyi, hydrazine is a common rocket fuel. With enough heat and the appropriate catalyst, it's actually a "mono-propellant" meaning that it doesn't need a separate oxidizer in order to ignite. It's dangerous, dangerous stuff. Safety gurus look out for hydrazine in "parts per million," meaning that you really don't need a lot at all in order for it to be dangerous!

    (and yes, I _AM_ a rocket scientist – BS and MS in aerospace engineering)

  10. HeatherSolos on June 23, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you Ceci, the typo was fixed.

  11. cecib on June 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    "Never mix bleach and vinegar, bleach and ammonia, bleach and toilet boil cleaners, or even different brands of toilet boil cleaners (some are bleach based while others are acid based)."

    Toilets get boils? Really? Can I use the toilet boil cleaner to clean boils on people?

  12. JanetLee on June 23, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    This is very serious stuff. I know of one person who received second degree burns to her hand when a mixture splashed on her and another who, when mixing cleaners in the toilet, felt woozy and lightheaded and luckily went to another room to lie down. I hate to be graphic, but this is what the Nazi's used in the gas chambers, people.

  13. Anna B on June 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Yeah, I had a little fun… heh… once when I had wiped my counter with a lysol wipe but wanted to disinfect it a little extra so I sprayed my bleach-water combination on it.

    As soon as I smelled it my stomach turned and I knew I had made a BIG mistake. I got out of the room, and then scooched back in only long enough to open the living room deck door and turn on the fan before I holed up in my office again for an hour.

    Fortunately, the quantities were very small, so the overall affect wasn't what it could have been. But I learned my lesson that day!

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