Cleaning Cocktails: Which Chemicals Shouldn’t Be Mixed?

By Amanda Roland
Chemicals Shouldn't Be Mixed

With pandemics and flu seasons always on our minds, we all can get a little neurotic about cleaning. After all, we want to make sure our family stays healthy. However, did you know that if you mix certain cleaning products while cleaning you could create dangerous concoctions of chemicals that could be extremely harmful to you and your family? Let’s learn about which chemicals shouldn’t be mixed!


Bleach is typically made of diluted sodium hypochlorite, and vinegar is diluted acetic acid. When mixed together, chlorine gas can form. When inhaled, this gas could lead to coughing and difficulty breathing. It also releases a very strong and pungent smell, according to Healthline, an online health resource. So, if you are cleaning and notice this kind of odor, it is best to ventilate the room and leave immediately.


When bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is mixed with ammonia, strong-smelling chloramine gas is created. Exposure to chloramine gas can cause coughing, shortness of breath, watery eyes, chest pain and more. Prolonged exposure to chloramines could lead to unconsciousness and even death in some cases, according to Very Well Health. Ammonia is a common ingredient in glass and window cleaners, so never mix those products with bleach, according to a Good Housekeeping article. Again, if you are cleaning and notice a strong odor, it is best to leave immediately.


This mixture creates chloroform, a very toxic substance that can cause nausea, damage to the respiratory system, skin irritation and more. If you start to feel faint or nauseous while cleaning, get out of the room immediately. Prolonged exposure to chloroform can be deadly.


These two cleaning products are common for people who like to make homemade cleaners, but they should never be mixed together in the same bottle. Together, they make corrosive acid or peracetic acid, which can irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory system, according to Good Housekeeping. You can use hydrogen peroxide and vinegar to clean surfaces separately but never mix them together.


  • Make a mental note to only mix bleach or bleach products with water! Unless you are a chemist, chances are you don’t know which chemicals are going to react with which products, so it is best to play it safe.
  • Never leave cleaning products out when you are not actively using them. Curious kiddos in your house may not understand the danger of cleaning products, and many products could be extremely dangerous if they come into contact with the skin or are ingested.
  • Identify ventilation points when cleaning with chemicals. To be safe, open a window or a door to the outside in the room you are cleaning to ensure ventilation if the chemicals are too strong or you are new to the chemicals you are using.
  • When in doubt, Google it! If you are using new cleaning products, or if you have a heavy cleaning job ahead of you, go ahead and do some research on which cleaning products should and shouldn’t be used together. This will grant you safety and peace of mind.


Keep these numbers posted on your fridge for emergencies:

  • POISON CONTROL (800) 222-1222 (24 HOURS A DAY)


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