Bathroom Cleaning Chemicals You Should Never Mix

We all like to have our bathrooms looking spotlessly clean. That is why we go for the best cleaning products. If not careful, mixing these cleaners can result in more harm than good. They contain chemical components that do not mix well with others. Always check to see what constitutes the cleaning fluid you want to use. Avoid mixing alkaline chemicals with acidic ones. Use bleach wisely. Bleach is one of the most widely used cleaning products in the bathroom. Take care when mixing bleach with other chemicals to prevent the formation of poisonous gases. Here are examples of common bathroom cleaning chemicals to never mix under any circumstance and what to do if you mix them by accident.

Toilet with cleaning chemicals in top of the tank in a bathroom.

Hydrogen peroxide and Vinegar

Individually, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are excellent household cleaners. You can use vinegar to wipe bathroom countertops and possibly alternate with a hydrogen peroxide mix. Do not use them together or at the same time. Do not mix these chemicals in the same container. When combined, the two chemicals create peracetic/peroxyacetic acid. Peracetic acid is a disinfectant. It is a highly corrosive chemical and should never be poured down the drain. 

Peracetic acid is also readily absorbed through the skin. Once ingested into the bloodstream, you start experiencing breathing problems, your eyes watering, and the skin becoming irritated. The acid also burns through the mouth membrane, scorching the throat and gut. High or repeated exposure could affect your liver and kidneys.

To reduce exposure and effect of Peracetic acid

  •  Wear protective clothing (face shields, goggles, and gloves)
  • Keep the area well ventilated
  • Wash using water after exposure
  • Consult a medical professional
  • Prevent this scenario from happening by avoiding mixing them in the first place

Bleach and Vinegar

Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite. Vinegar is acetic. A mixture of the two chemicals produces a pungent-smelling vapor called chlorine. Note that chlorine gas is invisible in small quantities. It is yellowish-green in large volumes. 

Chlorine is an irritant that causes nausea and breathing problems after exposure. You will have watery eyes with a burning sensation. More exposure may result in vomiting. Go out for fresh air when you get exposed to chlorine gas. Seek medical attention if any of the symptoms persist.

Two different types of drain cleaners

Never mix two different types of drain cleaners, especially if they are not from the same company/brand. It might be tempting to pour a lot of drain cleaners when the drain is too clogged. They contain chemicals that break down the goop inside your drain. Ideally, stick to the same drain cleaning brand. Purchase more of the same brand if one does not work. Change later if it does not work as intended but avoid mixing two different brands. 

Do not use two different bleaches one right after the other. Many drain cleaners contain bleach and other ingredients. Mixing them could result in nasty gases or explosions. 

Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are excellent and affordable alternatives to household cleaners. Each works well on its own. They handle almost any type of stain without harming or discoloring the surfaces. The problem arises when you mix them. Baking soda is alkaline and vinegar is acidic. A mixture of the two produces water and sodium acetate. 

Exposure to sodium acetate causes nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. The skin reddens and gets irritated. The eyes water, and become irritated, red, and painful.

When you mix baking soda and vinegar in a closed container you create pressure that can result in an explosion. The result is a foamy salty solution that cannot be a cleaning agent.

Bleach and rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol (also called surgical spirit or isopropyl) is sold in pharmacies at a very concentrated level. It has about 70-99% alcohol content. When you combine rubbing alcohol with bleach, you create chloroform and Chloroacetone. Both are dangerous gases. Chloroacetone vapor was used in WWI as a tear gas and chloroform is used to knock people unconscious. 

Chloroform is a heavy sweet smelling gas that causes dizziness and nausea. Extreme exposure to chloroform could result in damage to the nervous system. You will experience breathing problems and your chest will tighten in pain. Eyes get irritated and watery. Chloroform can be absorbed through the skin. Too much exposure could result in death. Hand sanitizers contain rubbing alcohol so take caution not to mix this with bleach in the bathroom. 

Exit the room to look for fresh air when you come into contact with chloroform. Consult a medical professional if the exposure is too much.

Bleach and Pine Sol bottles sitting on a bathroom counter top.

Toilet bowl cleaner and bleach

Toilet bowl cleaners contain chemicals to make them effective against dirt. Most of these cleaners are acidic. A combination of bleach and toilet bowl cleaner could produce chlorine gas. Chlorine gas causes nose, throat, and eye irritation. You could also experience breathing problems. People suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma should be careful when using toilet bowl cleaners in the bathroom. High chlorine dosages could be fatal.

Get fresh air when you come into contact with chlorine gas. Always consult a doctor if you have a respiratory problem. The damage could be more severe than you think. 

What to do if you had a dangerous chemical mixture

 Do not mix chemicals in your bathroom

If you do not know the ingredients of the cleaning compounds you have, do not mix them in an enclosed space. The bathroom may not have enough oxygen to dissipate toxic gases if something did not go according to plan. Go outside, find an open space, and conduct your ‘experiment’. 

Wear protective clothing

Always wear appropriate clothing when dealing with chemicals of any kind. Wear gloves to protect your hands, safety goggles for your eyes, and a mask to avoid inhaling poisonous gases accidentally.

Wash surfaces with water

Always wash surfaces with plain water before using any new chemicals on them. Washing gets rid of any previous chemicals that may have been used on these surfaces, effectively averting the possibility of a reaction when you introduce the new chemical.

 Open windows and keep spaces well aerated

Make sure the ventilation in the bathroom is working well before trying any new cleaners

Read the manufacturer’s instructions and ingredients

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when diluting or mixing cleaning substances. Check the components of the cleaners to know which compounds to avoid mixing with. 

Seek Medical attention

Always seek medical attention whenever you get complications arising from ingesting or inhaling toxic gases inside the bathroom. Get out of the room and look for fresh air.

Adrienne Carrie Hubbard
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