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During the COVID-19 outbreak, good housekeeping practices are essential to safety in the workplace, as well as in the home. But even household cleaning products, if used improperly, can create serious dangers. With our increased reliance on these products for preventing the spread of COVID-19, we must always remember to handle them safely to avoid further risks in the home.

Here, we’ll talk about some general precautions and best practices you should exercise to help you avoid some of the most common hazards of household cleaning products.

Don’t Mix It!

Acids & Bases

Most cleaning products contain some form of an acid or base to produce their cleaning action. By themselves, this reactivity is generally low enough to be used safely, but mixed together, acids and bases can create severe hazards. NEVER MIX ACIDS WITH BASES!

Common cleaning products that contain acids are:

  • Hard water/mineral deposit removers
  • Toilet bowl cleaners
  • Rust removers
  • Tub and tile cleaners
  • Mold removers
  • Vinegar

Common cleaning products that contain bases include:

  • Bleach & bleach-containing products
  • Oven cleaners
  • Glass & all-purpose cleaners (often contain ammonia)
  • Drain cleaners
  • Laundry detergents
  • Baking soda

Bleach & Bleach-Containing Products

Bleach is one of the most common and effective household disinfectant cleaning products, but it is also one of the most dangerous, especially when mixed with other common household cleaners. Here are a few common household cleaners that should NEVER be mixed with bleach or bleach-containing products:

  • Bleach + Vinegar: Mixing bleach and vinegar produces chlorine gas which, even at low levels, can cause coughing, breathing problems, lung damage, skin burns, eye damage, or even death
  • Bleach + Ammonia: Bleach and ammonia produce a toxic gas called chloramine that creates similar hazards as mixing bleach and vinegar. Many glass and window cleaners contain ammonia, so never mix those with bleach
  • Bleach + Rubbing Alcohol: Alcohol reacts with sodium hypochlorite in bleach and produces chloroform gas (yes, the same chloroform you’ve seen used in the movies to incapacitate unsuspecting victims). Chloroform can cause dizziness and unconsciousness, damage nervous and respiratory systems, eyes, skin, kidneys, and other organs. Remember! A primary ingredient of many aerosol disinfectant sprays is alcohol!

For additional precautions on using bleach and bleach-containing cleaners, visit the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website here.

Drain Cleaners

Many drain cleaners contain strong bases (e.g., sodium hydroxide or sodium hypochlorite), while others contain strong acids (e.g., sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid). When mixed together or with other cleaning products, the reaction can produce toxic gas, intense heat or even explosions resulting in burns, melted plastic/PVC pipes and other potential hazards.

  • DO NOT mix drain cleaners with other cleaning products, including other drain cleaners
  • ALWAYS flush drains with ample amounts of clean water before dumping used cleaning solutions/mixtures. This will help prevent the unintentional mixing of cleaning chemicals that could remain in drain lines

Hydrogen Peroxide

  • DO NOT mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. These two seemingly safer alternatives to harsh chemical cleaning agents, when mixed, produce peracetic acid which is potentially toxic and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.
  • NEVER mix hydrogen peroxide with ammonia, acetone, any base (e.g. bleach) or any flammable liquids, including many petroleum-based solvents
  • NEVER use hydrogen peroxide on metal surfaces, especially copper, iron, or chromium

VelocityEHS Can Help!

To help consumers ensure the safe use of chemical cleaning products during the COVID-19 outbreak, VelocityEHS is offering free access to our SDS database containing up-to-date SDSs for the products on EPA’s approved list of disinfectants against SARS-CoV-2.

Click Here For More Household Cleaning Safety Tips & Guidance

Also be sure to check out our VelocityEHS COVID-19 Resource Site that features a growing library of helpful articles and free tools to help protect against COVID-19 and manage safety in both the home and workplace during this challenging time.

If you have any questions, please Contact Us at any time. We’re here to help.