The Dangers of Mixing Cleaning Chemicals

Bleach Bottle Image

Bleach Bottle Image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is no surprise that mixing cleaning chemicals can be a deadly business.  But why exactly is it so dangerous, and what specifically should not be mixed?  The main cleaner that can NOT be mixed with other cleaning agents is chlorine bleach.  The active ingredient in bleach is sodium hypochlorite, which can be corrosive to the skin and mucous membranes and can even cause severe injury to the eyes.  Chlorine bleach is basically chlorine gas in water.  When it is mixed with other chemicals, deadly gases can be produced. These gases will not be contained to the room where the chemicals were mixed but will occasionally find their way into the heating and cooling systems, increasing the risk for others.  What exactly cannot be mixed with chlorine bleach?


Ammonia is a chemical which is found in most glass cleaners and can also be found in certain exterior and interior house paints.  When mixed with bleach, toxic gases called chloramines are produced and can cause coughing, nausea, wheezing, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs.


Acids are more common in household cleaners than ammonia.  Acids are present in vinegar, glass and window cleaner, automatic dishwasher detergents and rinses, toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners, lime, calcium and rust removers, and brick and concrete cleaners.  When a product containing acid is mixed with chlorine bleach a chlorine gas is produced.  If water is present, then hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids are produced.  Chlorine gas exposure, even at low levels, almost always irritates the mucous membranes and causes coughing and breathing problems.  Higher levels of exposure can cause chest pain, vomiting, pneumonia and fluid in the lungs.  Very high levels of exposure can cause death.

It’s not just ammonia and acids mixed with bleach that can be harmful.  Products that have a high alkalinity mixed with highly acidic products are very caustic and can react violently, causing chemical burns.  Mixing different brands of the same product will cause them to be less effective.  Also certain disinfectants with “quaternary ammonia” as an ingredient mixed with a detergent will cause the disinfectant to neutralize, making it ineffective.

Always remember to READ THE LABEL before using.  At Envision Commercial Cleaning, we use green label products that do not contain chlorine bleach and we always use safety first.  Call for your free quote today!

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