Coronavirus has heightened our awareness of cleaning but there is a hidden danger: mixing certain cleaning products can be dangerous and even fatal.
"These [cleaners] can be pretty strong. They do have health effects," Diane Calello, MD, executive and medical director of New Jersey Poison Center and an associate professor of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told Health. It is not a good idea to mix cleaning products in general but these five combinations are especially harmful:
Mixing bleach and vinegar is a common mishap but doing so produces chlorine gas. Breathing this generates acid in the lungs, according to Calello. You may experience burning sensations in your throat as well as coughing and difficulty breathing.
It is easy to make this mistake as many household products contain ammonia and we are not even aware of it. At issue is that mixing bleach with ammonia causes toxic chloramine gas to be released, Calello said. This also generates acid in your lungs and can cause chest pains, shortness of breath and even death.
3. Drain cleaner with drain cleaner
You have a small amount of drain cleaner leftover and decide to mix it up with product from a new bottle. This is a bad idea as combining drain cleaners can cause a fairly strong chemical reaction that can leave you with burns on your skin. Always wear gloves when working with drain cleaner and never mix products, Calello emphasized.
4. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide
Both vinegar and hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean dishwashers, and most items and surfaces, but they should never be used together. Doing so generates acid that can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, noted Calello.
5. Bleach and rubbing alcohol
Bleach is a dangerous product and mixing it with rubbing alcohol can generate a chloroform-like compound that can cause eye and skin irritation and can "cause anybody to pass out," said Calello.
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