Leslie asked: What is the chance that accidental mixture of bleach and Mr. Clean is toxic to humans or a cat? I accidentally mixed one fourth cup Mr. Clean Floor Cleaner with one eighth cup or less of half water and bleach solution. I dumped it down the sink and ran water for a few seconds after I got frightened. I opened the doors and windows. Is there any danger?
The short answer is no, it’s not safe to mix cleaning products with bleach. When people use the term “bleach” they usually are referring to chlorine bleach, the kind used in the laundry. Chlorine bleach is one of the most dangerous chemicals to mix with other cleaning products because there are a wide variety of chemicals that react with it instantly to produce deadly or toxic fumes. Some of these reactions can even explode and burn your skin. Even using one chemical and then another on the same surface is dangerous; you should always rinse or wash an area between applications of cleaning products.
In general, mixing any cleaning products is not a good idea. There are such a wide variety of products and ingredients used that you never know when you may be blending two reactive chemicals, or producing toxic fumes. In some cases, the different ingredients will neutralize each other and weaken the cleaning power, rather than strengthening it.
What About Laundry Detergents?
The primary reason that chlorine bleach is sold is for laundry purposes, which is why it is available on the laundry aisle of stores and not the cleaning products aisle. The laundry industry has built-in safe guards against this to protect consumers from making mistakes. For example, most laundry machines come with a bleach dispenser, which will mix the bleach into the wash for you at the ideal time. Also, laundry detergents intentionally are made without chemicals that can react with bleach. It’s when you start using chlorine bleach for something other than its intended purpose that you can get in trouble.
Dangerous Mixtures of Common Household Cleaners
Acids Plus Bleach
- Acids should NEVER be mixed with bleach. The combination creates toxic gases.
- Most toilet bowl cleaners contain a strong acid like hydrochloric acid.
- The rule about acids even includes weak acids like white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- All-purpose cleaners often contain citric acid.
- Drain cleaners sometimes contain strong acids.
Ammonia Plus Bleach
- Ammonia mixed with bleach creates a toxic gas. If enough of the two products are used, they can even explode.
- Ammonia is found in many common household products. It is the chemical most often used in window cleaners and dish liquids.
- The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser also contains ammonia.
- Strong disinfectants, including medical grade disinfectants, often contain ammonia.
Acids Plus Bases
- You should also be aware that acids and bases react and neutralize each other, which usually creates an explosion of fizz and foam as the chemicals react. Sometimes this reaction is desired, such as when mixing weak acids and bases like vinegar and baking soda in a drain so that the foam cleans out the slime and build-up in the drain. However, the mixture of strong acids and bases like muriatic acid and ammonia is very dangerous; the explosion could cause burns on your skin or worse.
What About Oxygen Bleach?
Oxygen bleach is not the same chemical as chlorine bleach and the above information does not apply to it. However, oxygen bleach should not be mixed with other cleaning products either; it has its own profile of chemicals that it can react with. Again, it’s never a good idea to mix any two cleaning products unless you know exactly what you’re doing.