daphnusia/Shutterstock When it comes to whitening and disinfecting, bleach is a go-to household staple, but bleach itself is also a dangerous substance that can cause skin irritation, respiratory problems, and even death. “Used properly, bleach is great for disinfecting, but it is usually one of the most hazardous chemicals in the household,” says Rick Sachleben, Ph.D, expert for the American Chemical Society. “Put one drop of bleach in a gallon of water and you can drink it, but five percent bleach will burn your throat.” One study shows that children who were regularly exposed to bleach-cleaned environments had higher rates of respiratory-tract infections while a more recent study links bleach to an increase in risk for fatal lung conditions. Perhaps the biggest risk involving bleach happens when it is mixed with ammonia. When mixed, bleach and ammonia react to form chloramine, which evaporates into the air, and can kill you if you breathe it in, explains Sachleben. Bleach also wreaks havoc on kitchen faucets and surfaces. Bleach contains chlorine, and when it reacts to disinfect, it becomes corrosive, explains Sachleben. “If you use it around your house, the faucets will rust from the chlorine.” On the other hand, here are 12 smart ways to use bleach.
Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock Available in full-strength and in a variety of household cleaning products, ammonia in liquid form is an excellent cleanser. However, despite it’s cleaning prowess, it can cause serious health problems if not used properly. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ammonia is highly toxic and can severely corrode the lungs, eyes, and skin, causing blindness, lung problems, and death. Its pungent odor is highly recognizable, and irritating. “You have to be careful not to use ammonia in an enclosed space and breath it in,” says Sachleben. “And never mix ammonia and bleach—it’s lethal.”