Learn the hidden dangers of household cleaners

October 5, 2015

Many cleaning products can be dangerous if misused or combined,  producing toxic fumes or caustic liquids that can irritate your eyes and lungs. We'll go over some basic safety tips to guard against these dangers.

Learn the hidden dangers of household cleaners

Avoid these combinations

When it comes to using cleaning products, there are some basics that you'd be wise to know about. That includes:

  • Never mix ammonia and chlorine bleach. The combo can produce highly irritating chlorine gas, which can cause nausea, eye tearing, headaches, and severe coughing. Long exposure in an unventilated room can even result in an emergency room visit.
  • Bleach is poisonous and a skin and eye irritant on its own, but it can also react with many common acidic cleaners in addition to ammonia, such as those containing hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, muriatic acid, or lye. Never mix products that contain bleach with cleaners designed for the toilet, drain, oven, floor and glass, shower tiles, or those made to fight mildew.
  • It's easy to accidentally use a chlorine-bleach cleanser and a mildew remover back to back on a bathtub, or an oven cleaner followed by all-purpose cleaning spray that contains bleach. Always take care.
  • Accidentally making bad combinations is even more likely now that so many cleansers contain bleach.
  • Our advice: don't mix any cleaning products, even if they're the same type of cleaner (but a different brand) or are intended for the same use.

Don't mix cleaning products and air purifiers

  • A study at the University of California, found that many common ingredients in cleaning products become toxic when they mix with ozone. That's not usually a problem unless you live in a smog-filled city, are surrounded by large office equipment, or use an ionizing air purifier that pumps out ozone. Unfortunately, these air purifiers have become quite common.
  • The researchers found that ozone is especially dangerous when mixed with terpenes, chemicals that are often found in products with a lemon, orange, or pine scent. The combination can produce small amounts of carcinogens as well as formaldehyde, which can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat and worsen asthma symptoms.
  • Some air fresheners may also react with ozone to produce these agents. Occasional mild exposure isn't likely to cause problems, but frequent exposure in a room without good ventilation could be dangerous. So click off that ionizing air purifier and open a window.

Always take care when using multiple cleaning products, and try to work with the most ventilation possible. Read the warning labels and try to avoid mixing different cleaners. Follow these guidelines and you'll be able to safely keep your home clean and sparkling.

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