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Mixing Bleach and Ammonia: Why You Shouldn’t Mix Bleach With Anything

Mixing Bleach and Ammonia: Why You Shouldn’t Mix Bleach With Anything

Bleach, also known as Zonrox or Clorox is a fairly common cleaning chemical that people use at home. And you’ve probably heard people say that mixing bleach and ammonia or muriatic acid helps strengthen the cleaning effect.

But did you know that doing this can actually have some very dangerous consequences? Here’s why you should never mix bleach with anything.

What do you get from mixing bleach and ammonia?

Bleach is something that almost all of us have at home. We use it when washing clothes, as well as when we’re cleaning various surfaces around the house. In fact, bleach has been found to be effective at killing of any COVID-19 droplets found on surfaces. It’s a very useful household chemical that makes our lives a lot easier.

Another commonly found cleaning agent at home is ammonia. You can usually find it in toilet bowl cleaners, glass cleaners, or even countertop cleaners.

These household chemicals do pose some harm. But when handled properly, they don’t pose any health risks whatsoever. Though, that’s not the case when you start mixing bleach and ammonia.

The reason you shouldn’t mix these things is that it causes a chemical reaction that releases toxic gases known as chloramines. Chloramines can potentially cause the following symptoms when inhaled1:

  • Nausea
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Watery eyes
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Pneumonia
  • Fluid buildup in the lungs

Inhaling chloramine won’t kill you outright, but it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Prolonged exposure to chloramines can also burn your eyes, or even make you cough blood.

These chemicals are also commonly found in the bathroom. If someone mixes these chemicals and uses them to clean the bathroom, the tight space and restricted airflow might cause them to be exposed to a lot of chloramine. If they inhale too much chloramine, then a coma or even death are very likely scenarios2.

Another thing to remember about mixing bleach and ammonia is that ammonia can be found in a person’s urine. This means that if you don’t flush the toilet and mix the bleach with urine, this can produce small amounts of chloramine gas, which can cause irritation.

The thing to remember about chloramine gas is that it’s a very strong smelling gas. So if you accidentally mix these two chemicals and you smell something unusual, be sure to turn away from the gas and leave the area until the gas has dissipated.

How about mixing bleach with other chemicals?

Another common household chemical that some people might think of mixing with bleach is muriatic acid. Just like ammonia, muriatic acid is a commonly used household substance and is used to clean various surfaces, particularly tiles and inside the bathroom.

Mixing bleach with muriatic acid can cause a chemical reaction that releases chlorine gas. Chlorine gas might not sound deadly, since we use chlorine in pools, but it’s actually a very dangerous substance when inhaled. This gas can destroy lung tissue, and has even been used as a chemical weapon during World War I3.

When you inhale chlorine gas, it can react with water in your body to produce a strong acid that can dissolve your tissues. This is why mixing bleach and muriatic acid, or any acid for that matter, is a big no-no.

People can be exposed to this gas the same way they can get exposed to chloramine gas; by accidentally mixing bleach with other chemicals5. This is why as a rule of thumb, you should never ever try and mix bleach, or any other household chemical.

When using chemicals at home, be sure to use them separately and use only one at a time. If you want to be extra careful, you can wear gloves or even a respirator to prevent any inhalation of fumes coming from these household chemicals.

Learn more about General Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
  1. Bleach Mixing Dangers :: Washington State Department of Health, https://www.doh.wa.gov/youandyourfamily/healthyhome/contaminants/bleachmixingdangers, Accessed September 23, 2021
  2. Some Things Just Don’t Mix: Poison Control Tips for Chemicals – Missouri Poison Center, https://missouripoisoncenter.org/some-things-just-dont-mix/, Accessed September 23, 2021
  3. The Art of Mixing Bleach and Acids | Office for Science and Society – McGill University, https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/environment-toxicity/art-mixing, Accessed September 23, 2021
  4. Chlorine poisoning: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002772.htm, Accessed September 23, 2021
  5. CDC | Facts About Chlorine, https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/chlorine/basics/facts.asp, Accessed September 23, 2021
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza