Can you mix white vinegar and bleach?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you mix white vinegar and bleach” with an in-depth analysis of the effects of mixing bleach and white vinegar. Moreover, we are going to highlight what happens when you mix bleach and white vinegar, what chlorine amounts are toxic, and how we can safely use these two compounds.

Can you mix white vinegar and bleach?

No, you should not mix white vinegar and bleach 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, white vinegar has been observed to possess good lethal activities against molds.

In this regard, people might find it more beneficial to mix the two chemicals. white vinegar lowers the pH of the bleach making it more efficient in dealing with germs and makes it one of the best disinfectants that may be liked by people but the gas produced is lethal when even a minor quantity of it is inhaled.

Results of mixing bleach and white vinegar:

The mixing of white vinegar and bleach results in harmful chemical reactions that produce chlorine gas. This gas is very toxic and poses humans with a wide range of health hazards when even a small amount is smelled.

Individually, these two chemicals may be problematic to a lesser extent or when exposed in higher amounts but after mixing them, even minor exposure can pose lethal effects. Bleach contains atoms of sodium, oxygen, and chlorine. When it is combined with the white vinegar, containing acetic acid, it releases chlorine gas.

Bleach can also react with ammonia to produce chlorine gas and to some oven cleaners, insecticides, and hydrogen peroxide to produce toxic compounds.

How long does chlorine gas take to kill?

Concentrations above 400 ppm are usually fatal over 30 minutes. Above 800 ppm, fatality ensues within a few minutes. Liquid exposure causes corneal burns and ulceration, and dermatitis with blistering.

Symptoms of exposure to chlorine gas produced by mixing of white vinegar and bleach:

The chlorine gas produced as a result of the reaction between white vinegar and bleach is a very strong toxic agent that can produce harmful effects in humans when inhaled. Some of the common symptoms of chlorine gas include blurred vision, skin injuries, coughing, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, shortness of breath, nose, eyes, and throat burning, tightness in the chest, fluid in lungs, and wheezing.

Toxic amounts of chlorine gas:

The severity of the symptoms produced after inhaling chlorine gas, released as a result of white vinegar and bleach reaction, depends upon the concentration of gas in ppm (parts per million).

  • 0.1-0.3 ppm is indicated as a pungent smell in the air.
  • 5-15 ppm can be indicated by mucus membrane irritation in the mouth and nose.
  • Over 30 ppm can be observed through chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath.
  • Over 40 ppm will be able to produce dangerous fluid in your lungs.
  • Above 430 ppm can be lethal within 30 minutes of exposure.
  • More than 1,000 ppm can cause immediate death.

Tips to safely use these two compounds:

  • The two compounds should be handled with great care when used in the laundry as there are more chances of accidents there. Therefore, the best is to label the bottles clearly and always pick the right bottle. For a single wash cycle, use either white vinegar or bleach.
  • The surfaces which have been exposed to bleach or white vinegar should be thoroughly washed after cleaning.
  • For bathroom cleaning, do not try to mix the two chemicals as they may be lethal. Try to make homemade cleaner by mixing the water with white vinegar or with bleach in the ratio of 1:1. Solution with such concentration would be appropriate to kill and remove the molds and bacteria from the surfaces of the bathroom.
  • Keep the white vinegar and bleach out of the reach of children.
  • Always handle these two chemicals in an open environment as the gases produced after any accidental mixing cannot be inhaled too much than in a closed room.
  • If you want to get benefits from both, you can use one chemical first and then the other. Like in the case of surfaces, you can spread white vinegar on them and then disinfect them with bleach, but make sure that the surface should be washed thoroughly in between.

You can read about 7 bleach alternatives for your home here.

Conclusion:

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you mix white vinegar and bleach” with an in-depth analysis of the potential effects of mixing bleach with white vinegar. Moreover, we discussed what are the effects of mixing white 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.

Citations:

https://www.healthline.com/health/bleach-and-vinegar#:~:text=Mixing%20bleach%20and%20vinegar%20creates,to%20breathe%20in%20fresh%20air.
https://www.bobvila.com/articles/bleach-and-vinegar/
https://www.thoughtco.com/mixing-bleach-and-vinegar-609281
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/tips/a32773/cleaning-products-never-mix/
https://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/can-you-mix-bleach-and-vinegar

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.