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3 Cleaning Agent Combinations That Don’t Mix

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Laura
05.30.13

If mixing chemicals gave you a headache in high school chemistry class, be warned: you’re experimenting every time you clean your house, too! And just like in Chem. 101, mixing the wrong stuff together at home can have serious, even deadly consequences.

Keep your entire family safe by avoiding these three cleaning product combinations at all costs:

1. Bleach and… anything. We’ll make this simple: don’t mix bleach with other cleaners! This powerful cleaning agent doesn’t play well with others. If you mix bleach with ammonia, you’ll create toxic vapors that are similar to mustard gas, which can cause coughing, wheezing, nausea and other respiratory problems. Even mixing it with natural, acidic substances like vinegar or lemon is dangerous because it will create a chlorine gas, which can actually be fatal if inhaled in high doses. A sparkly tub isn’t worth dying for, so keep your bleach separate!

Safety Note: Even when you’re using bleach on its own, always dilute it with water and store in a safe place that’s out-of-reach for kids and animals. If you want to avoid chemicals altogether, try making your own eco-friendly cleaning products, instead.

2. Same product, different brands. If you’re using chemical-based cleaners, think twice before mixing two different brands for the same job. Behind every product is a unique combination of chemicals, and mixing them together can release toxins and/or create a violent reaction. Drain cleaners are notoriously risky in this regard! If you do want to break out a different brand for some reason, always allow for breathing room (literally and figuratively) between products. Make sure you fully remove one cleaning product before trying a different one.        

3. Detergents and quaternary ammonia. Quaternary ammonium compounds, or “quats,” are bleach’s odorless, colorless, non-corrosive cousins. They can also be antibacterial, making them a common ingredient in products like Pine Sol and Fantastik. If your cleaning product contains quats, hide the suds! Detergents like soaps and degreasers stifle the disinfecting power of quats, which makes them less effective cleaners.

 

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