Mixing Cleaning Chemicals, Do You Like to Breathe?

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May 26, 2008

Today I just want to first take a minute to Thank all those who serve our country in the Armed Services and Thank those families who have given a family member to keep this country safe and secure. We should really thank you every day of the year not just one. Their sacrifice lets the rest of us have the safest and best life of any country on this planet.

Ok, on to our subject of the day. I am very surprised in this day and age that this needs to to be mentioned, but it seems that these days everyone wants to clean quicker and faster and easier. However, in our haste, it seems that some of us are trying to make our own super cleaner. But lately people have been trying to mix Bleach and ammonia. It does make a very good cleaner but there is one BIG Problem…. it will KILL you.

Let’s see what happens when you mix the two. The first thing you notice is that it does clean well. The reason for that is it is somewhat corrosive. Then, you notice that you are getting dizzy, lightheaded; you may see halos around lights or blurred vision. If you continue to use it, you will pass out as it eats away at the lining of your lungs.

What happens is when you mix Bleach and ammonia they give off Chlorine Gas. This is the same gas that Germans used during WWI to kill enemy soldiers. It also happens to be a exothermic reaction (one that gives off heat), so that it warms up to give off more gases than it would cold and, just to put the final insult to injury, one pathway can produce hydrogen gas which is explosive.

Ok, what can you do to avoid this problem? Well, don’t try to make your own cleaners by mixing unknown chemicals. Just because Super Clean and Simple Green are great cleaners mixing the two of them does not mean they will work together better. I do not have personal knowledge of what would happen if you mixed them, and I don’t intend to try. Read and follow directions on the cleaners you do use and only use them for their intended purpose.

If you do find someone who has tried mixing bleach and ammonia or is playing amateur chemist and is feeling ill from the result, the first thing to do is to leave the area with the person if you can get them out immediately; if not, you need to leave to get help. Then call 911 and ask for a ambulance and fire company. The ambulance has trained medical personnel and Oxygen! The fire company has personnel trained to handle hazmat incidents and fans to ventilate the area and make it safe.

There is no home treatment for severe cases, and often the most damage is in areas that you can not see. The gas attacks the lungs and, if severe enough, will need to be treated in the hospital. So, everyone out there use chemicals (cleaning supplies) properly and take care of youself and friends and family! Have a happy and safe Memorial Day — Camping Season is finally here!

Your Obedient Servant,

Gary Smith, Jr.

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1 comment

  1. Jim Bryant

    We, as adults know, or should know, not to mix bleach and chlorine. Reminds me of the time that one of my teen-age daughters went out to clean her gelding’s stall. When she got to the bottom of the shavings, it was pretty ripe in one low spot. Brought out the bottle of bleach to “deodorize”. Luckily, she rapidly evacuated the stall when the low spot started to bubble and smoke!!!