Not safe to mix bleach with other household cleaners

You should never mix bleach with other household cleaners or disinfectants as this can create toxic gases that can be fatal.

According to the CDC, cleaning and disinfecting your home are effective ways to prevent the spread of disease. Bleach, a chemical diluted in water and sold for home use, is a popular disinfectant that can kill most bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

When it comes to cleaning with bleach, a legal action this often shows up online (here, hereand here) warns against mixing bleach with other household cleaners as it can produce toxic gases.

THE QUESTION

Is it safe to mix bleach with other household cleaners?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

That's wrong.

No, it is not safe to mix bleach with other household cleaning products.

WHAT WE FOUND

You should “never mix household bleach with other cleaning supplies or disinfectants,” says the CDC, because doing so “can release fumes that can be very dangerous if inhaled.” The Washington State Department of Health, the Utah Department of Health, and The Clorox Company, a global manufacturer of household cleaning products, all agree.

“Don’t mix bleach with ammonia, acids, or other cleaning products,” the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services warns on its website. “Mixing bleach with common cleaning products can cause serious injury.”

The Washington State Department of Health and Human Services states that mixing bleach with ammonia produces toxic gases called chloramines. Exposure to chloramine gas can cause harmful symptoms, including coughing, nausea, shortness of breath, watery eyes, chest pain, throat, nose, and eye irritation, wheezing, and even pneumonia.

The Clorox Company warns on its website that the combination could be deadly.

Ammonia can be found in some glass and window cleaners, interior and exterior paint, and urine, so it’s important to use caution when cleaning a litter box, diaper pail, or toilet bowl, says the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services.

Sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in chlorine bleach, is found in household bleach and many other disinfectants. Sodium hypochlorite can react with ammonia, drain cleaners, and other acids, according to the state health departments of Washington and Utah. When chlorine bleach is mixed with acidic cleaning products, chlorine gas can be generated.

“Exposure to chlorine gas almost always irritates the mucous membranes (eyes, throat, and nose), causing coughing and breathing problems, burning and watering eyes, and a runny nose, even at low levels and for short periods of time,” according to the Washington State Department of Health. “Higher levels of exertion can cause chest pain, more severe breathing difficulties, vomiting, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs. Very high concentrations can lead to death.”

Cleaning products that contain acids include vinegar, some glass and window cleaners, automatic dishwashing detergents and detergents, toilet cleaners, drain cleaners, rust removal products, and brick and concrete cleaners. Bleach also reacts with some oven cleaners, hydrogen peroxide, and some insecticides, so it’s very important to always read the product label before using any cleaning product.

The American Cleaning Institute, an organization that represents manufacturers of household, industrial, and institutional cleaning products, also says, “It’s dangerous to mix bleach with other cleaning products.” Its website has some helpful tips for safe cleaning with bleach , including:

  • Dilute bleach with room temperature water unless otherwise noted on the label.
  • Before disinfecting, clean the surface with soap and water as bleach is less effective when there is dirt on the surface.
  • Wear gloves to protect your skin and wash your hands with soap and water after you’re done sanitizing.
  • Ventilate the room while using bleach.
  • Rinse food contact surfaces and toys with water after leaving the bleach on the surface for the length of time recommended on the label.
  • Keep the bleach out of the reach of children and pets.

If you or someone you know has been exposed to a chemical mixture and develops symptoms of illness, you should contact a doctor or call your local emergency services.

More from VERIFY: No, cold or rainy weather cannot make you sick

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Alley Einstein

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