Household Chemical Mixtures can be Dangerous
Today, we’re going to talk about the dangers of amateur home chemistry. More specifically, we’re going to address the dangers involved with mixing household chemicals together. While you might believe you are creating a super-cleaning-ultra-powerful-non-stop cleaner, you may be mixing up a soon-to-be trip to the hospital or morgue. Certain chemicals, when mixed together, make other chemicals—and sometimes with dangerous results.
It should also go to say that the opposite can be true, too—mixing different types of cleaners together could cause each cleaner to lose its potency, creating a benign cleaner that has no actual cleaning power. So, mixing chemicals together for any reason is a bad idea, but let’s look at the more dangerous side of this coin:
Vinegar + Bleach: Looking to find some toxic chlorine vapors? Adding an acid to bleach will release that and chloramine, too. This is a great way to get a chemical burn, both on your skin and internally (eyes, lungs, etc.).
Ammonia + Bleach: Much like vinegar, ammonia with bleach releases chloramine vapors. This is a perfect way to burn your throat and cause respiratory damage. It can also kill you. You should be especially careful about this one because different cleaners (and Drano) may or may not contain bleach and ammonia. Without reading the ingredients, you may be using the two chemicals together without realizing it.
Rubbing Alcohol + Bleach: Chloroform. Hydrochloric acid. Chloroacetone. Dichloroacetone. Ethanol or isopropyl alcohol reacts with sodium hypochlorite in the bleach, and damage to the nervous system, eyes, respiratory system, skin, kidneys, and more are yours to keep. If you are lucky, you’ll end up very dizzy and wanting to throw up (which we hope will take you outdoors to fresh air), but it can very well kill you, too.
Hydrogen Peroxide + Vinegar: Here’s to “natural” cleaners who don’t play nice together. If you mix them together in the same container, you can create a corrosive acid. So yes, you can clean different parts of the same room with them during one cleaning, but no, you can’t put them in the same spray bottle.
Batteries + Batteries: Yes, believe it or not, mixing different brands of batteries together can cause trouble. With each brand using different chemical compounds and voltages, one battery could die before the other, resulting in discharging electricity that causes your batteries to leak. This can damage electrical equipment.
And what’s the one combination that’s sure to not clean anything?
Baking Soda + Vinegar: We see this all the time, and for some reason, it’s supported throughout the Internet. But the science is that mixing “basic” baking soda with “acidic” vinegar negates the basic cleaning properties of baking soda and the acidic cleaning properties of vinegar. You get water (and some sodium acetate). It’s your elbow grease that does the cleaning with this mixture, not the mixture.
Pretty much remember this—don’t mix anything together when it comes to household cleaners. If something isn’t working well for you, get another product and start over. If making “super mixes” was possible, companies would have already done this to out-sell the competition. If you can’t remember not to mix anything together, at least remember not to mix anything with bleach. You are 50% of the way there if you use bleach exclusively during cleanings and make sure it’s dry and the room is aired out before using any other chemicals.
Henry Duckstein Jr.