Health Canada is warning Canadians about the risks of mixing household bleach with other household cleaners, which can create toxic gases, like chloramine, and lead to poisonings, if inhaled. Canadian Poison Centres received more than double the number of reports for chloramine exposures for October and November 2020 than they received for the same months in 2019.
Always read product labels and follow directions before using any household product. Never mix any cleaning product with household bleach.
When using household cleaners, Canadians should carefully read and follow the directions on product labels. Bleach will react with any cleaning product containing ammonia or an acid, including vinegar.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increased demand for, and use of, household cleaning products. Health Canada is concerned about the increased Poison Centre reports of toxic gas exposures from the mixing of household cleaners. These gases result from mixing bleach with products such as glass cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, or other products containing ammonia or acids—even vinegar. Effects from exposure to these gases include burning eyes and light-headedness, but can also be deadly. When used by itself, household bleach can irritate or burn your skin, eyes or lungs if not handled safely.
Health Canada is aware that there are posts circulating on social media encouraging the mixture of bleach with other cleaners. Claims that combining bleach with another cleaning product will make it more effective in preventing COVID-19 are false and misleading. Health Canada reminds Canadians that it is never safe to mix bleach with other cleaning products.
What you should do
- Always read and follow the directions on product labels.
- Properly vent your home during and after use of cleaning products by opening windows or doors and running exhaust fans.
- Use goggles and rubber gloves to protect your eyes and skin when using bleach.
- Keep bleach and other household chemicals out of sight and reach of children.
- When preparing a diluted bleach solution, only make as much as you need. Do not store leftover solution for future use, as you may forget that it contains bleach, which can lead to dangerous incidents.
- Never clean yourself or your child with bleach or diluted bleach.
- Never eat or drink bleach or any household cleaning product.
- If you or someone else has been in contact with household cleaning products and you think there is a risk of harm:
Find more information on Health Canada’s website about safely buying, using, storing and disposing of household chemical products.
For the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit Canada.ca/coronavirus.