I've read over and over not to mix bleach and ammonia together when making your own homemade cleaning products and cleaners, but I never really knew why, scientifically this was a no-no. So, I looked it up, and now I'll explain it to you as well. It might just save your life!
There are only a few common homemade cleaning supplies and ingredients used to make homemade cleaning products.
Two ingredients from this list are ammonia and chlorine bleach.
However, all of the really good recipes and instructions for making your own homemade cleaners explain not to mix ammonia and chlorine bleach together, because toxic fumes can result.
Well, that is true. You definitely don't want to mix these two powerful cleaning and stain removal agents together.
I was curious and wanted to know more. Why is this so, scientifically?
I guess I'm just one of those people who like an explanation behind safety warnings, to help me remember why I shouldn't do it.
Here is what I found out.
Chlorine bleach's active ingredient is called sodium hypochlorite.
When sodium hypochlorite comes into contact with ammonia, another chemical, these chemicals interact with each other on a molecular level and form a toxic gas called chloramine.
However, it is not just chlorine bleach and ammonia that can create this toxic gas.
Another common form of bleach is found in many products that contain a chemical called calcium hypochlorite.
For example, calcim hypochlorite is found in the scouring powder Comet.
When calcium hypochlorite comes in contact with ammonia it also creates chloramine.
To make things even more complicated there are many cleaning products that don't contain liquid ammonia, but contain ammoniate salts, which are listed on the label with names beginning with "ammonium," such as ammonium chloride.
If you mix a product containing either sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite with one of these ammoniate salts you will also produce the toxic gas chloramine.
Most of this discussion has been about how when making your own cleaning products you should never mix bleach and ammonia together.
But even if you don't make homemade cleaners this information is still important to you and your family's safety.
That is because many commercial cleaning products also use these same chemicals we've been discussing as part of their active ingredients.
I doubt you just start pouring two cleaning products together into a bottle (although if you do you should stop because of safety concerns right away).
However, you may effectively be doing the same thing if you have ever used one cleaning product, say in your toilet, and then decide it didn't clean well enough so you follow it up by using a different product on the same surface without thoroughly rinsing first.
Oops, you just mixed cleaning chemicals, so you better hope one didn't have bleach and the other have ammonia, otherwise you get chloramine gas.
That means if you decide to use more than one cleaning product in your bathroom or kitchen at a time you need to closely read the labels and make sure the offending chemicals listed above do not get mixed together.
The same goes for your laundry.
Don't pretreat with an ammonia containing stain remover and then throw in some chlorine bleach into the wash water.
Before using another cleaning product on the same surface the best course of action is to thoroughly rinse away one cleaning compound before using another.
Chemicals used for cleaning can be powerful, and you need to keep your safety in mind at all times when using them.
The bottom line is that you need to make sure you don't mix any products containing sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite with one containing ammonia or ammoniate salts, either by pouring them together or using them one right after the other on the same surface without thoroughly rinsing first.
Remember this mantra: "Bleach and ammonia don't mix!"
Your safety, and that of your family and pets, is much more important than a clean toilet.
You can learn more about how to use bleach, in this ultimate guide to chlorine bleach.
In addition, find out lots of cleaning and laundry uses for ammonia here.
Finally, do you want to learn some effective recipes for cleaning products? If so, check out this round up of homemade cleaning products recipes here on the site.
Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.
I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I've done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.
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I hope you enjoy this gift, and stop by again soon!
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