Can you mix bleach and vinegar in the laundry?
In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you mix bleach and vinegar in laundry” with an in-depth analysis of the effects of mixing bleach and vinegar. Moreover, we are going to highlight what happens when you mix bleach and vinegar, what chlorine amounts are toxic, and how we can safely use these two compounds.
Can you mix bleach and vinegar in the laundry?
No, you cannot mix bleach and vinegar for laundry use as they can produce chlorine gas that when inhaled may be problematic in a lot of ways.
Bleach is best known for its cleaning benefits as it completely removes the stains from the surfaces and clothes and can also kill bacteria and viruses.
On the other hand, vinegar has been observed to possess good lethal activities against molds.
If you still want to enjoy the benefits of vinegar and bleach, try to use them separately.
You can also use one after the other, such as soaking the garments in vinegar first and after that wash them in the machine with a small amount of added bleach. This will make your clothes completely stainless and disinfected.(1-3)
What are the Results of mixing bleach and vinegar?
Mixing vinegar and bleach leads to dangerous chemical reactions that result in the production of chlorine gas. This gas is highly toxic and poses significant health hazards to humans, even in small amounts.
Individually, vinegar and bleach can have their own problems to a lesser extent or when exposed in higher quantities. However, when these two substances are combined, even minimal exposure can have lethal effects.
Bleach is composed of sodium, oxygen, and chlorine atoms. When it reacts with vinegar, which contains acetic acid, chlorine gas is released.
Additionally, bleach can also react with ammonia, certain oven cleaners, insecticides, and hydrogen peroxide, resulting in the formation of toxic compounds.
It is crucial to be aware of these chemical reactions and their potential dangers in order to prioritize safety and avoid harmful situations.(1,4)
What are the Symptoms of exposure to chlorine gas produced by mixing vinegar and bleach?
Inhaling chlorine gas,can lead to tracheobronchitis or acute adult respiratory distress syndrome.
This condition presents various symptoms including nausea, vomiting, coughing, difficulty breathing (dyspnea), and overall weakness. It’s worth mentioning that these symptoms may not immediately manifest and could have a delayed onset.
Exposure to high concentrations of chlorine gas primarily results in severe respiratory irritation, which can potentially progress to pulmonary edema, characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. (1)
The indications and manifestations of chlorine exposure can differ based on the method and duration of exposure, as well as the amount of chlorine involved.
Individuals with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or chronic lung diseases may experience increased sensitivity to inhaling chlorine compared to others.
When chlorine gas comes into contact with moist tissues, such as the eyes, throat, and lungs, it stimulates the production of an acidic substance.
This acidity can lead to harm to these sensitive tissues, intensifying the effects of chlorine exposure. It is crucial to recognize the potential risks and take appropriate measures to protect oneself from the damaging effects of chlorine. (5)
How does the concentration of chlorine gas affect its toxicity?
As stated by the Washington State Department of Health, even small amounts of chlorine gas, less than 5 parts per million (ppm), can cause irritation to the eyes, throat, and nose. It is strongly advised against mixing these two cleaners together.
Concentrations exceeding 400 ppm are typically fatal within 30 minutes, while concentrations above 800 ppm can lead to fatality within a few minutes. Direct exposure to liquid chlorine can result in corneal burns, ulceration, and blistering dermatitis.
Unlike certain hazardous substances like carbon monoxide, chlorine emits a distinctly strong and irritating odor. If you detect a potent smell after mixing cleaners, it is crucial to immediately leave the area.
The severity of symptoms experienced from inhaling chlorine gas depends on its concentration measured in parts per million (ppm) and the duration of inhalation. (4)
What to do if you inhaled chlorine gas vapors?
If you find yourself in an area where chlorine gas has been released, it is crucial to promptly move away from the affected area and seek fresh air.
Familiarize yourself with your local emergency notification system, if available, and follow instructions provided by emergency broadcasts and local authorities.
Take immediate action to remove chlorine from your body. Unless it is frozen to your skin, the most effective method is to remove all layers of clothing, including jewelry and accessories, and take a shower.
Ideally, undress and shower as soon as possible. If you are unable to remove all layers of clothing, remove as many as you can.
In case your clothes are frozen to your body, avoid trying to remove them until they have thawed. Instead, start washing with a substantial amount of lukewarm water, and then proceed to remove your clothes.
Seek assistance without delay by calling emergency services, heading to the hospital if local officials deem it safe to leave your home, or contacting the Poison Control Center for expert guidance and support. (5)
In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you mix bleach and vinegar in laundry” with an in-depth analysis of the potential effects of mixing bleach with vinegar.
Moreover, we discussed what are the effects of mixing vinegar and bleach, what are the symptoms of exposure to chlorine gas, what amounts of chlorine are toxic, and how we can safely use these two compounds.
- Luttrell, W. Toxic tips: sodium hypochlorite. Chemical Health and Safety, 8(6), 24–26. 2001.
- Rogawansamy S, Gaskin S, Taylor M, Pisaniello D. An evaluation of antifungal agents for the treatment of fungal contamination in indoor air environments. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2; 12(6): 6319-32. 2015
- Debra Rose Wilson, Daniel Yetman, Can You Get Rid of Mold Using Vinegar?, Healthline Media LLC. 2020.
- Debra Rose, Daniel Yetman, Why You Should Not Mix Bleach and Vinegar While Cleaning. Healthline Media LLC. 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Chlorine: Exposure, Decontamination, Treatment. National Center for Environmental Health.