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Seven Things You Should NEVER Mix or Clean With Bleach

Seven Things You Should NEVER Mix or Clean With Bleach

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For cleaning solutions, there’s nothing more widely used than bleach. It has disinfectant properties and can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks in a home.

But you might be surprised to learn that there are some things that bleach should never be used for. So let’s discuss it.

A Brief History of Bleach

Bleach was invented in 1798 originally as a whitening agent for textiles. But by the end of the 20th century, it was also found to have disinfectant properties.

For decades we’ve used bleach for everything from brightening laundry to cleaning toilets. Bleach has become one of the most commonly used solutions commercially and residentially.

But bleach has become so widely used that it’s often misused on surfaces, causing damage or serving no real purpose.

Never Mix These With Bleach

Before we dive in, it's important to know about the cleaning products you should never mix with bleach. These are common products found in most homes, but when combined with bleach can be hazardous to your health.

Here are solutions you should never mix with bleach, and why:

1. Vinegar

Vinegar and bleach can create chlorine gas, which can cause respiratory and vision issues. Chlorine gas combined with water also creates hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids, which are also dangerous to eyes and lungs.

2. Ammonia

Another cleaner used in places like the bathroom is ammonia. Mixing bleach and ammonia makes chloramine gas, which creates noxious gas that can be lethal in large doses. But at a minimum, can damage lungs and eyes.

3. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol seems pretty harmless, but when mixed with bleach, it creates the chemical substance known as chloroform — yes, that same chemical they put on a handkerchief to knock out and abduct people in movies. Yikes!

4. Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Like vinegar, the combination of both makes chlorine gas, which can lead to coughing, nose and throat irritation, and difficulty breathing. For those with asthma, COPD, or other lung ailments, inhalation of these chemicals can trigger severe respiratory issues, potentially resulting in fatalities.

5. Drain Cleaner

Typically, drain cleaners contain sodium hydroxide to chemically dissolve buildup, along with caustic potash to accelerate the breakdown of organic substances. Combining this with bleach will create toxic fumes.

6. Glass Cleaner

Some glass cleaners may be fine to mix with bleach, but many contain ammonia. As already mentioned, ammonia and bleach create chloramine gas, which can cause respiratory and eye damage, and can be lethal in large doses.

7. Other Cleaning Products

It's generally a good idea to avoid mixing bleach with most other cleaning products simply because it's not always clear what ingredients are in them. Even small amounts found in common cleaners mixed with bleach can be detrimental to your health, so avoid it wherever possible.

Seven Things You Should Never Clean With Bleach

The first thing to point out is, that bleach is technically not a cleaning solution. It’s a disinfectant. So if you’re using standard bleach to clean, then you’re unfortunately doing it wrong.

Now, there are products out there that have cleaning agents and bleach in them, like Clorox and Lysol products. But anything with bleach in it, even if it’s been diluted with other ingredients, will still apply here.

So if you’re using bleach products to clean your or your customers’ homes, then it’s important to know what you can and can’t use them on.

Some surfaces that bleach is great for include high-touch surfaces, like plastic toilet seats and laminate countertops. Seven places you should never use bleach include:

              1. Wood Surfaces
              2. Stainless Steel and Most Metal Surfaces
              3. Stone Surfaces
              4. Grout
              5. Painted Surfaces
              6. Surfaces Where Children and Pets Hang Out
              7. Surfaces Near Plants

1. Wood Surfaces

Bleach is a basic solution, whereas wood is slightly acidic. For any non-chemistry heads out there, that basically means that bleach can damage the cellular structure of wood, essentially breaking it down.

2. Stainless Steel and Most Metal Surfaces

Bleach is an oxidizing agent, so it doesn’t play nice with most metals. Using it on surfaces like stainless steel can cause the metal to rust over time.

3. Stone Surfaces

For your expensive marble or travertine tiles, never use bleach or anything acidic, like vinegar or lemon. These will damage the surface, with the only way to fix it is to replace the tiles.

4. Tile Grout

Using bleach to clean tiles will break down tile grout over time, which can then make way for mold, dirt, and debris to take up residence. The only way to fix it is to scrape out the old grout and fill it in with new.

5. Painted Surfaces

Painted surfaces, such as walls, should not be cleaned with bleach, even if it's diluted. The bleach will start to erode paint, especially water-based interior paints.

6. Surfaces Children and Pets Use

You might be tempted to use bleach to disinfect surfaces or toys that children and pets use, but bleach can be toxic when ingested.

7. Surfaces Near Plants

Bleach is also toxic to the environment, like soil, waterways, and plants. If you’re spraying bleach solution near indoor plants, remove them completely from the area. For outdoor use, opt for something more eco-friendly that won’t negatively impact the environment.

What to Use Instead of Bleach

As already mentioned, bleach is designed to be used as a disinfectant. But if it’s not suitable for all surfaces, what can you use instead? The safest option is to make your own.

For your special stone surfaces like marble, avoid anything acidic, like vinegar. Here are two recipes for disinfectant cleaning spray. All you need is a spray bottle and the below ingredients.

Disinfectant without acid

Disinfectant with acid

It’s also worth investing in high-quality tools because they do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to cleaning. Opting for professional-grade microfiber towels and mop systems will ensure a deeper level of cleaning that other tools just cannot reach.

Better Than Bleach

Bleach is no longer the be-all-end-all for disinfectants and laundry whiteners. These days there are hundreds of other options that are safer and, in some cases, more effective. We also know more now than we did 50 years ago about the impacts products we’re exposed to have on our health and the environment.

With good quality tools and homemade disinfectants, you can prevent damaging any surfaces, and keep yourself, your family, and your customers safe.


Our curated cleaning kit for homeowners

We’ve curated a cleaning kit of our favorite must-have products to keep a home in top shape. It contains two types of microfiber towels, a microfiber duster, and a heavy duty mop it. Check it out!

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