Dangerous Chemical Reactions Involving Household Cleaners

Common household items often harbor hidden dangers. Cleaning items, especially, are capable of toxic reactions when mixed together. The many items available for household care target specific sanitary needs. The contents are often labeled with poison warnings. Detailed cautionary information about dangerous interactions with other cleaners is either absent or written in extremely small print. To ensure your own health and safety it is important to be aware of how these items interact with each other. There are several toxic cocktails that could result.


Chloroform is a common accessory seen in movies. Crime shows have no shortage of shady characters armed with chloroform soaked handkerchiefs. Inhalation of this dangerous chemical leaves its victims unconscious. Bleach is one of the products involved in its formation. Rubbing alcohol and acetone should never be mixed with bleach. Alcohol is commonly found in first aid cabinets. Acetone is found in some household paints and nail polish removers. Think twice before you clean up areas where these items have spilled.

Drain Cleaners

All drain cleaners work to accomplish the same goal. Different brands, however, contain various active ingredients. If a drain fails to clear, homeowners may be tempted to try an alternate brand of cleaner. Some drain clearing products rely on an alkaline base, while others use an acid. These items can form a heat reaction when combined that is capable of damaging pipes. Chlorine can be created if there is bleach involved. The bleach combines with the acid to form the mixture. Respiratory reactions can occur, especially if the area is not well ventilated.

Peracetic Acid

Vinegar is often used cleaning. It can be a great alternative to harsh chemicals. Vinegar, however, is responsible for some significant reactions with other substances. Peracetic acid is created when vinegar is mixed with hydrogen peroxide, Hydrogen peroxide is better known as a first aid item. The substance, however, is often used to remove tough stains. Peracetic acid is harmful to the skin and eyes. Breathing problems can also follow.

Chloramine Vapor

Chloramine vapor is extremely toxic and causes immediate symptoms. Respiratory irritation can range from mild to severe. The nose and throat may present with a burning sensation. Difficulty breathing is a serious danger of this mixture. Headaches and vomiting are also possible. This reaction often occurs by accident. Some items with ammonia are not common knowledge. Glass cleaner, liquid dish soap, and oven cleaners are known culprits. Glass cleaners and toilet solutions are also likely to have ammonia. Read the fine print on your supplies before using them.  Leave the area immediately if this vapor is formed.

Chemical reactions can cause injuries, illness, and death.  Most of the time, they are a result of a simple lack of knowledge on the subject. With the large variety of household solutions on the market, it can be difficult to keep up with each ingredient. It is important to stay aware of what is used on various surfaces throughout the home. Rinse well between applications of different cleaners. Be aware of exposure symptoms so you can act quickly if an accident occurs. Safety starts with knowledge and awareness.

Editor's Picks

reset password

Back to
log in