Household Cleaners

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A peculiar accident reported by the National Safety Council involved two housewives in separate cases. Both were using an ordinary toilet bowl cleaner. Not satisfied with the way it was removing stains, each one added some household bleach and stirred with a brush. One died quickly - the other spent a long time in the hospital.

A U.S. Navy medical newsletter tells about 20 people being overcome by gas or gases released from a cleaning mixture. Investigation revealed the mixture included a well-known household cleaner, chlorine bleach, and ammonia.

What happened in the above cases was that a poisonous gas was liberated when the users decided to use a mixture of two or more common household cleaning agents. When the widely used household chlorine bleach (a sodium hypochlorite solution) is combined with an acid or acid-producing substance, such as a toilet bowl cleaner or vinegar, there is a sudden release of a quantity of chlorine gas. Likewise, when chlorine bleach is mixed with ammonia, lye, or other alkaline substance, the action will liberate a highly irritating gas.

If the gas is inhaled, in either case, it can cause serious injury and possibly death. Accidents of this type have occurred not only in the kitchen and bathroom, but also in the cleaning and treating of the water in swimming pools.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that because certain household products are good and useful, the combination of two or more of them will do a better job than one alone. Very often mixing them is useless and unnecessary, since combined they will not make the job of cleaning easier nor give better results; and sometimes combining them may be disastrous. Follow the safe rule - use chemical cleaners as the manufacturers direct on the labels, and keep in mind some scouring powders now contain chlorine bleach.

It is best, anyway, not to use a hypochlorite (chlorine) bleach in toilet bowls, sinks, or bathtubs, or on electrical appliances, as it can in time injure, dull, or roughen a fine, smooth porcelain surface.

DON'T MIX Chlorine Bleach with

  • Toilet Bowl Cleaners
  • Ammonia
  • Lye
  • Rust Removers
  • Vinegar
  • Oven Cleaners

IN SHORT, don't mix chlorine with any other cleaning agent!