When you find yourself face to face with an epic mess, it’s tempting to grab all the bottles underneath the sink and go to battle. If one product doesn’t work, surely combining it with another powerful cleaning agent will get the job done, right? I once sprayed heavy-duty oven cleaner on my white refrigerator in the hopes of removing some stubborn adhesive residue (I may have tried to turn my fridge into a snowman). The fridge immediately turned yellow and has yet to recover from my moment of cleaning ingenuity.
Before you get creative and start inventing new cleaning solutions, take caution. Certain products are not meant to be mixed with other cleaning agents, and you can create toxic chemicals if you’re not careful. To avoid turning your home into a hazmat disposal site, be sure to read the warning labels on your cleaning products and whatever you do, do not mix the following products.
Hydrogen peroxide + vinegar
Combining these two products creates a toxic concentration of peracetic acid, which according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, can irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory system.
Bleach + rubbing alcohol
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, when you mix bleach with isopropyl alcohol it produces chloroform, which can cause damage to your nervous system, eyes, skin, liver and kidneys. Lower levels of exposure can cause dizziness and nausea.
Drain cleaner + more drain cleaner
When you’re faced with a stubborn clog, it’s tempting to pour every bottle of drain cleaner you own down the drain in hopes of clearing things up. Don’t do it. The potent chemicals in drain cleaner can react badly when mixed, potentially leading to an explosion. You can read the full explanation of why (and how) this happens over on Real Clear Science.
Bleach + ammonia
Most people know this one, but it's worth repeating. According to the Washington State Department of Health, when you mix bleach and ammonia, chloramine vapors are released, which can cause respiratory problems and throat burns. Actually, mixing bleach with just about anything other than water is a bad idea, so just don't do it.
Bleach + vinegar
While this combo sounds like a dynamic duo of cleaning power, when bleach is combined with an acid (vinegar), they produce chlorine gas. And similar to mixing bleach with ammonia, the Washington State Department of Health states that coming into contact with chlorine gas can cause all sorts of breathing problems, pneumonia and even death.
Moral of the story? Never mix bleach with anything, always read the labels and happy cleaning, friends.