household chemicals not to mix

Few things are more satisfying than successfully scrubbing up a stubborn stain. Some cleaning know-how and a little elbow grease and what once was thought to be a permanent mark is now a thing of the past! Hey, we’re right with you; we love removing stains—it’s pretty much what we do all day long. However, some stains are trickier than others requiring you to take more drastic measures and use additional firepower.

While most of us are aware that there are plenty of household chemicals not to mix, homemade cleaners and laundry products also call for a word of caution. There are many safe and effective natural cleaners around your home, like baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and distilled white vinegar. Separately, these cleaners are an inexpensive and eco-friendly alternatives to harsh commercial products.

But when combined with other cleaners and disinfectants, the consequences range from reduced cleaning power to real health concerns. Before you start searching the internet and grabbing every cleaning product you own, it’s important to know which chemicals you should never mix.

What Cleaning Products Not to Mix at Home

Many of the household chemicals not to mix include laundry products, disinfectants, and commercial cleaners, as well as some natural cleaners. To keep your family, pets, and home safe, follow these tips for what cleaning products not to mix.

  1. Bleach and Vinegar 

Bleach and distilled white vinegar are powerful disinfectants, but when combined, they produce chlorine gas which can cause coughing, breathing problems, and burning watery eyes. Also, if the dose is high enough, the mixture could cause chemical burns on your lungs and eyes. No thanks!

  1. Ammonia and Bleach

Bleach is great for laundry and disinfecting toilets. Ammonia, often the main ingredient in window cleaner, is a glass-cleaning wiz. Together, unfortunately, they produce a toxic gas called chloramine, which causes breathing and eye problems, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Not great.

  1. Rubbing Alcohol and Bleach 

While alcohol is found in many household cleaning products, it’s one of many household chemicals not to mix with bleach. Combining bleach with rubbing alcohol creates chloroform, the toxic stuff from kidnapping movies! While low levels might not make you pass out, it is irritating and toxic. High levels can damage your nervous system, eyes, lungs, skin, liver, and kidneys. Overall, you should never mix bleach with anything, as most cleaning products contain acids or ammonia that react dangerously with bleach.

  1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

We know, we know—seeing this all-time favorite combo on a list of home chemicals not to mix is disappointing. So why split up this dynamic duo after so long? Going back to chemistry class for a minute: baking soda is basic and vinegar is acidic. When they come together, the pH is neutralized, leaving water and sodium acetate but mostly water, i.e., if you’re cleaning with water. Plus, when combined, they foam up and, if added to a closed container (like a spray bottle), could explode.

  1. Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar

Both hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are common household items that are safe and versatile alone, but when combined, they create dangerous chemical mixtures. Combining these two natural cleaning methods could result in a corrosive acid that will damage your surfaces, negating any stain-fighting properties.

  1. Drain Cleaner and Drain Cleaner

While drain cleaners may seem all alike, they are one of the most dangerous on our what cleaning products not to mix list. These cleaners contain powerful chemicals that should never be mixed (or used one after another) because the solution could produce explosive chlorine gas. If your drain isn’t unclogged after following the manufacturer’s directions, you’re safer off calling a plumber.

  1. Antibacterial/Disinfectants and Detergent

The cleaning power of an all-purpose antibacterial surface cleaner that uses ammonia will be negated if used with a foamy soap. While it might seem like a perfect cleaning combination, the detergent actually neutralizes the disinfectant.

  1. Oven Cleaner and Bleach

Two of the list-topping chemicals not to mix are bleach and oven cleaner. These ingredients are seldom safely mixed with anything, much less each other! Bleach is often considered the most powerful chemical for getting all sorts of things clean and sanitized. However, there are all sorts of cleaning products and chemicals bleach shouldn’t be mixed with—especially oven cleaner. The combination of the degreasing chemicals and the chlorine can produce a toxic gas that irritates your eyes, throat, and lungs.

  1. Bleach and Toilet Bowl Cleaner

We know it’s tempting. We want our toilets to be clean and sparkling white, so bleach seems like a shoo-in. But different brands of toilet bowl cleaners contain unique ingredients, many of which are dangerous when mixed with bleach. While bleach and toilet bowl cleaners together are sure to do a job on your toilet, they can also do a job on your health. The acids, alcohols, and chemicals in most toilet bowl cleaners create a dangerous toxic gas when mixed with bleach that can make you very ill.

  1. One Brand of Cleaner With a Different Brand

Like toilet bowl cleaners, many other types of cleaners can vary from brand to brand. That variety of chemical ingredients is why it’s not a good idea to mix two different brands, even if it’s the same “type” of cleaner. One brand may contain ammonia or bleach, while another has antibacterial chemicals. Stick to one cleaner brand at a time and take the mystery out of the mix.

If you’re unsure of which cleaning chemicals to use, go the safest route and call The Maids. We use our own proprietary blend of environmentally-friendly cleaning products that leave your home clean and smelling fresh. Breathe easy; our cleaning services are a healthy choice!  Now that you know which household chemicals not to mix, what’s next? Check out our library of helpful safe cleaning guides and find out what The Maids can do in your home when you get a free online estimate today.


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