The Cleaning Ingredient That Really Doesn't Mix With Common Toilet Bowl Cleaners

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So you want to clean your way to a dazzling bathroom. You might notice that some commercial toilet bowl cleaners, like Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner from Amazon, contain bleach. So you decide to mix a toilet bowl cleaner that you have at home with bleach. It's the same thing as the Clorox product — right? No. Most toilet bowl cleaners are acid-based, which helps them dissolve lime deposits. Instead of making them stronger, combining an acid-based toilet bowl cleaner with bleach negates the active ingredients in both products, rendering them ineffective.

Even more concerning is the fact that mixing an acid-based toilet bowl cleaner with bleach can create a harmful chemical reaction. This reaction can be very dangerous to your health, leading to coughing, nausea, skin irritation, and other problems. Some of these issues can be quite severe and require a trip to the emergency room, or can even cause death. Unless you know for sure the reaction, it's important not to mix cleaning products together.

Why you should never mix toilet bowl cleaners with bleach

Products that contain acid should not be combined with bleach. This includes even the best toilet bowl cleaners. When an acid-based toilet cleaner is mixed with bleach, it releases chlorine gas into the air. Mild levels of exposure to chlorine gas can result in irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and skin. Higher levels of intake can cause severe symptoms, like blurred vision, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and even respiratory failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those with COPD, asthma, or other respiratory problems, the dangers can be even greater.

While not every toilet bowl cleaner on the market is acid-based, it's best to just steer clear of mixing any toilet bowl cleaner with bleach because of the dangerousness of chlorine gas exposure. Beside toilet bowl cleaners, there are several other household chemicals that you should never mix with bleach. These include vinegar, dishwasher detergents, concrete cleaners, and lime- and rust-removal products like CLR.

What to do if you mix a toilet bowl cleaner with bleach

It's important to know what to do if you do mix a toilet bowl cleaner or another acid-based cleaning product with bleach. As a general rule of thumb, before you start cleaning with any chemicals, you should open a window, if possible. If you don't have a window in your bathroom, turn on a fan to make sure the area is well-ventilated. This will help prevent you from being overcome by fumes if a chemical reaction should occur.

If you have combined bleach with a toilet bowl cleaner, immediately stop cleaning. Vacate the area and go outside so that you can get fresh air. Open the windows in your house. Stay out of the bathroom until you no longer smell fumes. Contact Poison Control for advice and to find out how long it will take for the fumes to subside. If you experience severe issues like difficulty breathing, chest pain, or vomiting, seek immediate medical attention or call 911. Chlorine gas poisoning can lead to death, so it's better to be careful and take precautions.