Never Mix These Toxic Products. The Potential Deadly Cause They Have When Inhaled In Cleaning Products

Cleaning is supposed to be one of the major requirements for maintaining good health. It’s supposed to keep our homes, schools, and workplaces safe. However, when it comes to cleaning spaces properly, we often overlook one of the most crucial things—the presence of chemicals in the cleaning products. 

It is often suggested that different products be mixed to clean the space effectively. However, when the chemicals in these cleaning products get mixed up, it can do more harm than good. When mixed, these cleaning products may emit toxic fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that harm overall health. 

A study published in Chemosphere reflected how the chemical products released in the air by cleaning products tend to linger for months. Therefore, the study advises purchasing green cleaning products to avoid potential dangers. 

This blog aims to help you understand the risk of mixing different products and how what seems safe can also be very unsafe. 

The Dangers of Mixing Cleaning Products



Mixing cleaning products poses the pose of emitting toxic gasses and VOCs and can often lead to an explosion. VOCs and other harmful chemicals released from cleaning products have a risk of causing different diseases like multiple sclerosis, respiratory disorders, severe headaches, and allergic reactions. 

A study published in Nature Neuroscience reflected upon researchers analyzing over 1800 cleaning products and discovering two chemicals that have a negative effect on brain health: quaternary ammonia compounds, or Quats, and Organophosphate flame retardants. While quats are found in disinfectants, Organophosphate flame retardants are usually found in building materials and electronic devices. 

Both these negative compounds target oligodendrocytes (brain cells responsible for forming a protective layer around the nerve cells). While Organophosphate flame retardants prevent oligodendrocytes from maturing, quats completely kill them. 

Common cleaning products that should never be mixed

The combination of certain cleaning products leads to the formation of chemical and toxic fumes that can cause allergic and irritating reactions. In fact, some of these also create liquid combinations which can be equally allergic. So whether it’s liquid or gas, it can be harmful either way. 

Some of the major cleaning products that should never be mixed at all are as follows:

  1. Bleach and ammonia: The mix of bleach and ammonia is known to be chloramine vapors, which can lead to respiratory failures when inhaled. 
  2. Bleach and vinegar: Bleach and vinegar combinations are known to produce extremely harmful chlorine gas. It is known to irritate the respiratory system. 
  3. Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar: This combination can cause the toxic peracetic acid, which, when inhaled, can irritate the eyes and respiratory system. 
  4. Bleach and rubbing alcohol: This duo forms chloroform that can lead to dizziness and respiratory health disorders. 

Potential health effects of inhaling toxic fumes

Some of the adverse health effects of inhaling the toxic fumes are as follows:

Respiratory irritation

Inhaling toxic fumes produced by the chemicals of the cleaning products can lead to respiratory diseases. The fumes directly attack the respiratory tract, causing constant sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and irritation. 

Chemical burns

Exposure to toxic fumes can also be one of the leading causes of skin damage. It can lead to cracks, reddening, or extreme skin dryness. Not taking immediate measures to address this issue can also lead to permanent changes in skin color if it comes in contact with certain skin conditions. 

Organ damage

Autism and multiple sclerosis are often related to the chemicals found in the cleaning products. Exposure to these chemicals for a limited time can cause damage to the skin and respiratory, but prolonged exposure can risk organ failure. Not only can it lead to an acute reduction in healthy organ function, but also various chronic health issues. Moreover, these can irritate the eyes and respiratory tracts. Although some of these products are non-carcinogenic, they can trigger kidney and liver damage. 


In certain extreme cases, prolonged exposure to a high concentration of VOC can cause asphyxiation, a condition in which the body becomes deprived of oxygen, thereby facing suffocation and eventually death. These toxic fumes can overwhelm the respiratory system, causing breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, and nausea. These toxic fumes can be fatal if proper precautions are not taken on time. 

Therefore, it is essential to understand the aftermath of mixing ammonia and bleach or other toxic chemical combinations, which poses a higher risk of asphyxiation and even death in extreme cases. Thus, safety should be important when dealing with these toxic chemicals, especially when cleaning. Handling these cleaning products carefully is advisable to avoid producing toxic fumes and protect yourself and your loved ones.  

Examples of Real-Life Incidents

The manager of Buffalo Wild Wings in Massachusetts succumbed to death after inhaling the mix of fumes produced by cleaners containing bleach and acid. The fumes formed from mixing Scale Kleen and Super Mix 8, which were then used to clean the floor. 

The mixture turned green, producing deadly fumes. Eventually, the worker attempted to drain the liquid out, but it overpowered him. The manager was soon taken to the hospital, where he died shortly after. The fumes also led to the other workers falling sick.

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Safe Cleaning Practices

Adopting safe cleaning practices is important to keep away major damage to health. Experts often recommend adopting ‘green’ cleaning practices and products for a safer environment. Here are a few tips that will help you easily transform to green cleaning practices:

Read labels and follow instructions

Before using a particular cleaning product, make sure to read the labels and the instructions. It is advisable to get a clear idea of the cleaning products’ components and what safety precautions are to be followed while using them. This contributes to safe cleaning. 

Use one product at a time

One of the worst cleaning habits to adopt is to mix different products to achieve better results. Well, it’s quite the contrary. Various cleaning products have different chemicals, which when mixed together cause toxic fumes and a wide range of other challenges, such as abrupt flames and unwanted accidents. 

Ventilate the area while cleaning

Keep the windows and doors open while cleaning to keep the area ventilated—properly ventilated areas at a lesser risk of being harmed because of the toxic fumes from cleaning products. Keeping the area ventilated allows the toxic fumes to be adequately dispersed, reducing the risk of indoor air pollution. Moreover, it also allows fresh air to be circulated, preventing the harmful air from taking over. 

Wear protective gear if necessary

It is important to wear proper gear while cleaning. The gear you wear should, however, completely depend on what you’re cleaning. Gloves, goggles, and masks are the basic items you must wear while cleaning. This plays an important role in avoiding further damage from the exposed fumes. 

Store chemicals properly and away from each other

Never keep the reactive cleaning products close to each other. Keeping them in a tightly sealed container out of the reach of kids and pets is important. It is advisable to keep the chemical-containing cleaning products in a closed and dry environment, away from direct light. Storing the cleaning products away from each other can play an important role in preventing potential hazards and accidental mixes that may cause further damage. 


One cannot fathom the health risks and dangers that the fumes from mixing the chemicals can cause. Posing great risk to mental and physical health, it is extremely important to adopt healthy cleaning measures. Thus, adopting safer cleaning methods and using ‘green’ products can be helpful. However, it is still advisable to read through the components of green cleaning to understand if there are any potential dangers to it.

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