Don't Mix Your Household Cleaners!

by Hannah Stephens
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If you follow TikTok trends, you may have noticed the term "product overload" gaining traction. This trend involves influencers mixing household cleaners to get their homes sparkling, often with impressive and mesmerizing results.

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However, you should think twice before recreating these experiments in your own home. Certain combinations, such as ammonia and bleach, could result in a trip to the emergency room — or worse.

Some natural cleaning agents are safe to mix, but you should never combine any chemicals without knowing what you're doing.

What Common Household Cleaners Should Never Mix — and Why?

Many household cleaners are relatively harmless when used alone. However, mixing these substances can create toxic gases. At best, these gases can irritate your skin, eyes and airways, causing a burning sensation. At worst, they can lead to breathing difficulties, permanent lung damage and even death. Therefore, it's always worth doing your research before concocting your own solution for blasting limescale from the toilet bowl or getting rid of stubborn stains.

Bleach and Most Cleaning Products

The first rule of what cleaning products not to mix is a simple one: Don't mix bleach with anything apart from plain old water. You can also add bleach to your laundry with regular laundry detergent to remove stains, although you should avoid adding any other cleaning products to the load. However, bear in mind that bleach can damage certain fabrics.

Mixing toilet cleaner, ammonia or other cleaning agents with bleach can have disastrous consequences. Bleach produces chloramine gas when mixed with ammonia, and it produces chlorine gas when combined with toilet cleaner or vinegar. Both gases can be fatal when inhaled in large quantities. Rubbing alcohol, oven cleaners and mold removers are also unsuitable for mixing with bleach.

However, bleach isn't the only cleaning product to approach with caution. Other cleaning products you shouldn't combine include:

Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar

Mixing hydrogen peroxide and vinegar produces peracetic acid. This acid is an irritant and can cause significant damage to your skin and eyes. It's also extremely corrosive to many household surfaces, pipes and fixtures.

Oxalic Acid and Trichloroisocyanuric Acid

Household cleaners containing oxalic acid, such as Bar Keepers Friend, should never be mixed with products containing trichloroisocyanuric acid. These products include popular brands such as Comet and Ajax. All these products are excellent for removing grease and caked-on food stains, but combining them produces chlorine gas.

Drain Cleaners

If one brand of drain cleaner doesn't remove a stubborn clog, it can be tempting to pour a different product down the pipe to clear the blockage. However, different drain cleaners have different active ingredients. Often, these contrasting ingredients can create chlorine gas when mixed and could even lead to an explosion. For example, Drano and Liquid-Plumr are a combination to avoid.

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What Counts as ‘Mixing’?

What counts as mixing products can be confusing, and some seemingly innocuous uses could still cause a toxic reaction. Firstly, you should never mix unsafe product combinations in the same container or pour both products down a drain or toilet. You should even avoid using one product on a surface followed by another or allowing spray mists to mix in the air. In short, there's always a risk whenever these chemical combinations come into contact.

What Cleaning Products Can You Mix Without a Problem?

You should never mix cleaning products unless you're entirely sure they're compatible. You can't always tell what each product contains at a glance, and accidents can happen if you don't read the labels carefully. Generally, mixing branded cleaning products or products containing bleach, vinegar, ammonia or hydrogen peroxide is a no-no.

However, there are a few hazard-free combinations. You can safely mix two parts vinegar with one part baking soda to remove stains, clean tiled surfaces and unblock drains. It's also safe to mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with a teaspoon of borax to create a floor-cleaning solution. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil can give the solution antiseptic properties and make your home smell fresh.

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