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Never Mix Bleach and Vinegar — and Other Deadly Cleaning Mixtures You Should Be Aware Of

Keep you and your family safe.

You’re in the middle of spring cleaning, trying to scrub a stubborn stain off the tile floor, and vinegar just isn’t cutting it. So, you look in your cabinet for something a bit stronger. Bleach ought to do the trick, right? Actually, that would be the worst choice you could make.

In a TikTok video that went viral earlier this year, a young woman mixed bleach and vinegar while cleaning her kitchen and created toxic chlorine gas. For the rest of the day, she and her grandparents huddled in one bedroom with the door tightly closed as they talked on the phone with Poison Control. The family was fortunately safe in the end — but the video became an important reminder to never mix bleach with vinegar.

Other Chemicals That Should Never Be Mixed With Bleach

As TikTok user Kate Bacon pointed out in the video above, the back of every bleach bottle warns you to not mix bleach with anything other than water. That’s because bleach combined with nearly any household cleaner will create a toxic chemical gas. Here are the deadly combinations you should know:

  • Bleach and vinegar → chlorine gas
  • Bleach and lemon juice → chlorine gas
  • Bleach and rubbing alcohol → chloroform
  • Bleach and lysol → chloramine gas
  • Bleach and Windex → chloramine gas

In addition, you should never use bleach to clean urine, which contains ammonia. In 2017, someone at an animal shelter in South Carolina added bleach to a load of urine-soaked laundry, and a man who later visited the laundry room became severely ill and was rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, he was okay after receiving treatment.

What To Do If You Mix Bleach With Another Cleaner

“If you mix cleaning chemicals in your home and accidentally create poisonous fumes, move to fresh air immediately,” says Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, medical toxicologist for Poison Control. The fumes are invisible, but they will have a pungent smell.

If the weather or something outside prevents you from leaving your house (e.g. there’s a severe storm), stay in one room far away from the fumes with the door closed and a towel wedged under the door. Crack all windows to let in fresh air. “Do not allow children, pets, or other adults to enter the are where the chemicals were mixed until the area has been fully ventilated by opening windows and doors to allow fresh air in,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor adds.

Is there a safe point at which you can re-enter the room? And if so, should you try to dilute the area with water? “I don’t think there are any firm recommendations for the length of time needed to ventilate a room, but I think staying out for 30 to 60 minutes is reasonable,” says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. “People should not try to douse the area with water, because some chemicals can react with water to form other toxic byproducts (like chloramine and chlorine).”

Ultimately, your best bet is to call Poison Control for expert advice. “There are two ways to contact Poison Control — online at or by phone at 1-800-222-1222,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor adds. “Both options are free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day.”

Symptoms You Should Know

You should also make sure you know the symptoms of poisonous fume exposure. “You may experience irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat including coughing, tearing, and nasal burning,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor explains. “These symptoms should resolve relatively quickly after moving to fresh air. However, some people — especially those with lung disease (like asthma) or heart problems — may experience prolonged or severe symptoms.”

If severe or worsening symptoms occur, or if you have questions about any signs or symptoms that occur after inhalation of cleaning product fumes, contact Poison Control immediately.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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