With the current coronavirus outbreak, we’re all making an extra effort to keep our households free from bacteria.
But, with many of us turning to the cleaning products under our sinks, it’s important to remember that certain substances should never be mixed together — as some can release toxic fumes or chemicals when combined.
It’s easy to forget this, as most want to ensure their house is thoroughly clean, and think a combination of various products will be the best way to achieve this.
Microbiologist Jason Tetro outlines some of the most important ones to be aware of. He tells Ideal Home, ‘Some combinations can be dangerous to your health as they can create toxic fumes.’
The cleaning products you should never mix
1. Bleach with either vinegar, ammonia, or rubbing alcohol
Mixing bleach with an acid such as vinegar creates chlorine gas — a toxic chemical that can be fatal at high levels.
Similarly, the combination of bleach and ammonia can cause a toxic chloramine vapor which can cause damage to eyes and mucous membranes, but is most dangerous if it’s inhaled.
In addition to this, rubbing alcohol contains ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, so when it’s mixed with household bleach it creates chloroform and hydrochloric acid, as well as chloroacetone or dichloroacetone. These compounds can cause damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver, eyes, skin and nervous system.
2. Hydrogen peroxide with vinegar
Hydrogen peroxide is another thing to be wary of. When it’s combined with vinegar in the same container it creates peracetic acid — an incredibly corrosive substance which can be toxic and irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.
Jason adds that mixing cleaning products together isn’t necessary and that sometimes this can have an adverse effect.
He says, ‘Disinfectants are designed to be used individually and not in combination. They are also tested this way so any combination may actually make the effort to clean less effective.’
Jason states that, with any cleaning product, it’s important to read the instructions to ensure you’re using it correctly. He adds, ‘If you use a disinfectant, just be sure to read the label and use as directed. The labels are regulated and so you know you are getting the best advice from the text.’
It’s also worth pointing out that while many of us think harsher chemicals are needed to kill bacteria, the NHS website states that cleaning with soap and hot water should be enough to sanitise surfaces.
It reads, ‘To stop the spread of germs focus your efforts on cleaning areas of the house where germs are more likely to spread, such as the kitchen and the toilet. Use either soap and hot water to rinse the germs away, or a disinfectant to kill them.’