Vinegar and Bleach = Toxic Chlorine Gas
Should never be used together.
- Why: Adding any weak acid to bleach will release toxic chlorine and chloramine vapors.
- What’s the worst that could happen: You can get a nasty chemical burn, especially of your eyes and lungs.
Ammonia and Bleach = Toxic Chloramine Vapors
Be sure to check all ingredients before using For instance, Windex comes in both ammonia and ammonia-free formulas. Certain formulations of Drano contain bleach.
- Why: Inhaling the vapors could cause respiratory damage and throat burns.
- The worst that could happen: If ammonia is present in excess, toxic and potentially explosive liquid hydrazine may be formed.
Rubbing Alcohol and Bleach = Chloroform
- Why: Ordinary household bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, which reacts with ethanol or isopropyl alcohol to produce chloroform, hydrochloric acid, and other compounds, such as chloroacetone or dichloroacetone.
- The worst that could happen: You could damage your nervous system, eyes, lungs, skin, liver, and kidneys. Extremely high levels of chloroform exposure may result in death, while lower levels could result in dizziness and nausea.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar = Peracetic Acid
these two ingredients are commonly touted as natural cleaning methods, but combining the two in the same container could result in a corrosive acid.
- Why: You can use them on the same surface separately while cleaning, but don’t mix them in the same container. You’ll create peracetic acid which, despite being an effective sanitizer, is potentially corrosive and irritating.
- The worst that could happen: The health risks aren’t well-known, but in high enough concentrations, peracetic acid “is very irritating to the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, with the potential for causing permanent scarring of the skin, cornea, and throat”.
Baking Soda and Vinegar = Ineffective Cleaning Solution
How many times have you seen an ingenious solution on Pinterest touting the magical cleaning properties of baking soda and vinegar? The key is to use these two agents separately, not together — or you’ll end up with nothing.
- Why: Baking soda is basic, vinegar is acidic. When you put them together you get mostly water and sodium acetate. But really just mostly water.
- The worst that could happen: you could waste your time cleaning your entire kitchen or bathroom using a solution that doesn’t do anything at all.