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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Public Service Announcement

posted by on October 17 at 11:01 AM

This weekend a friend of mine lost her sister to a household accident: The 32-year-old Edmonds woman was cleaning her bathtub and her tub drain simultaneously and the combination of the two products created a lethal gas. Her family asked me to remind everyone to never mix cleaning products. Specifically: Do not mix bleach and ammonia. Do not mix bleach and acids. Do not use two drain cleaners together, or one right after the other.

Thanks for noting it. Now, back to our program.

RSS icon Comments


This has been a message from the Terrorist Advisory Committee for 'explosive' results ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 17, 2006 12:06 PM

Jesus Christ, Will. Do you feel fucking compelled to make a smart-ass "humorous" comment on every single story? Someone *died*, you shithead...

Posted by You Jackass | October 17, 2006 12:23 PM

it's not enough to remind people not to mix ammonia and bleach together.i'm sure that people are more familiar with product brand names and what they purport to do rather than whats in them. people need to check the ingredients of their household cleaners carefully to note what specific toxins they contain. i was a professional housecleaner way back in the day and had to use tilex to mop a floor that had black mold growing in the tile grout. i then rinsed the floor with mr clean. i noticed the mist rising from the floor probably at the same time i began inhaling it. i fled immediately but still sufferd a burn on my lungs which resulted in a trip to er and a lifelong affiction with asthma ( of course i'd probably primed the affliction inhaling oven cleaner fumes). an innocent stupid mistake which is way more common than people realize..
so again..
DO NOT mix household cleaners ever. EVER !

Posted by riz | October 17, 2006 12:43 PM

What a tragic and unnecessary loss :(

Why don't we all do our bodies and the environment a favor by switching to vinegar or baking soda as our primary household cleaners?

Posted by Otter | October 17, 2006 12:49 PM

*DO NOT mix household cleaners ever. EVER !

To be precise, it's entirely possible to create WW1 poison gas at home:

Posted by Orson | October 17, 2006 12:58 PM

Vingegar, Baking Soda, Salt, and Lemon can get you a long way towards what you want to do, cleaning-wise.

Bleach is good too - so good that it doesn't need a companion. Respect the bleach.

And the best way to keep your shower drain clean is to use one of those little screeny things. Yes, they can get some gnarly stuff in them, but that's better than having to try to unclog the pipes later.

The only purpose I know of for Ammonia is for stripping the finish off your linoleum, which is a necessary evil from time to time.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 17, 2006 12:59 PM

Thank you for posting that Amy Kate. I have heard that you shouldn't combine cleaners, but I didnt' know why or which ones. Much appreciated.

Posted by thank you | October 17, 2006 1:01 PM

Does baking soda and/or vinegar work on tub scum? I tried switching to a safer, ecco-friendly citrus-based cleaner but it doesn't touch the stuff. It's hard to be a neat freak and avoid harsh chemicals.

Posted by Amy Kate | October 17, 2006 1:18 PM

A 1:1 mixture of lemon juice and vinegar will dissolve soap scum, and if you need some scrubbing power sprinkle baking soda over the scummy bits after they've had a good soak in the vinegar solution.

Hydrogen peroxide is also a good cleaning product, I use it on mildew stains.

It's also a good mouthwash if you dilute it. Go figure.

Posted by Soupytwist | October 17, 2006 1:54 PM

Bon Ami is really good for tub scum and it's completely non-toxic, but you have to put some elbow grease into it.

I think the best message is to let people know that their homes don't need to be as sterile as a hospital. Use all non-toxic cleaners and a little bleach to kill mold. Anything more than that is overkill.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 17, 2006 1:54 PM

It's a sad fact that when we are constantly exposed to "household" chemicals, we get complacent about them. Someone who would never step into a laboratory and start pouring things into beakers won't think twice about letting random chemicals mingle, just because they bought them at the grocery store.

For the same reason, if you're taking prescription medications, for gods' sake, talk to your physician about what over-the-counter medications you might use. This includes herbal concoctions and "dietary supplements" which are just as likely, and sometimes more likely, to interact poorly.

Posted by BC | October 17, 2006 1:58 PM

Good point, BC

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 17, 2006 2:17 PM

oh, and it's not that I don't care, it's just I've seen way more than my fair share of dead people from explosions. So, if I'm not "shocked", it's because it's more common than you realize.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 17, 2006 2:20 PM

More and more reason why products should have their active ingredients displayed clearly on the front label, not buried in the back mess. I recently lost a shirt to a new formula of dishwasher detergent, which secretly contains quite a bit of bleach. Now, losing a shirt may not be a big deal, but what if you're running the dishwasher during the same cleaning spree as mopping the floor, and spill some detergent?

In other news, Seventh Generation makes a line of cleaning products based on hydrogen peroxide and orange oil that can probably replace some of the crazier cleaning chemicals out there.

Posted by K | October 17, 2006 2:24 PM

Amy, this is absolutely terrible. I wish the best for your friend's family. :(

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 17, 2006 2:31 PM

..and your friend too of course.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 17, 2006 2:32 PM

Yes, never mix cleaning products, and WEAR A MASK.

Posted by Gomez | October 17, 2006 3:17 PM

I gave up using ammonia or ammonia-based products some time ago. There are just too many stealth-bleach products out there, and I really don't need a lungful of chlorine gas.

I use a lot of baking soda and vinegar. I love using them together to keep kitchen drains clear; stuff a couple cups of baking soda down the drain, then pour in a cupful of ammonia. Mini-volcano! And it is good for helping a slow drain, although it won't do squat for one that's already clogged.

Posted by Geni | October 17, 2006 3:30 PM

Duh, a cupful of vinegar, of course, not ammonia. I do actually know the difference!

Posted by Geni | October 17, 2006 3:31 PM

A mask. Right. Unless you've got a full-on gas mask it's not going to help much against chlorine gas.

Posted by Fnarf | October 17, 2006 3:56 PM

Actually, don't wear a mask. Open the kitchen window - and turn on a fan.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 17, 2006 4:39 PM

The best cleaning product is Borax. Great for cleaning and deodorizing kitchen and bath surfaces, works like more abrasive baking soda. It also works good as a combo with laundry detergent, like bleach. It's non toxic if you don't eat it or rub it into open wounds.

Posted by Some Jerk | October 17, 2006 5:59 PM

Dare I even mention the perils of eating pop rocks and drinking diet cola at the same time?

Posted by Napoleon XIV | October 17, 2006 7:33 PM

DING!...Darwin hands out another award!
Read the effing lables, people...

Posted by misterblue | October 17, 2006 10:24 PM

Duh, open a window and turn on a fan too, and of course it's not gonna help if you're mixing chemicals like you're NOT supposed to. But don't tell me with a straight face that wearing a mask is a complete waste.

Posted by Gomez | October 18, 2006 9:03 AM

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