When you’re really getting stuck into a good clean, it can be very tempting to combine your favorite products to create one super cleaner.
However, this is something I strongly advise against because this can cause dangerous chemical reactions like bleach and vinegar. So how can you use both these products safely? How long after cleaning with bleach can you use vinegar?
You should wait at least 12-24 hours after cleaning with bleach to use vinegar.
When it comes to chemicals, we all need to be very careful about what we use together to keep our families safe.
This article is going to explain precisely why you shouldn’t combine bleach and vinegar and how long to wait in between using them.
Gomestic Fact: Have you ever felt ill after cleaning with bleach? Find out how to feel better and fix this problem here. (link to feel better after bleach article)
Why and How Do Bleach and Vinegar React?
So, before we get into using vinegar after bleach, I think we need to look a little closer at why these two products aren’t friends.
The reason these bleach and vinegar can’t be mixed comes down to science.
Household bleach is made predominantly from sodium hypochlorite, while vinegar is diluted acetic acid.
When sodium hypochlorite and acetic acid (or any acid for that matter) mix, it causes a chemical reaction that creates chlorine gas.
This gas is very dangerous and can be lethal, especially if it happens in a poorly ventilated room.
For this reason, they should never be combined, and time needs to be left between using these products as the bleach will remain on the surface for a while.
However, it is not only bleach and vinegar that shouldn’t be mixed. There is always a risk when combining cleaning products because they are made up of a blend of chemicals that have a high likelihood of having a chemical reaction with one another.
For this reason, I strongly advise checking the ingredients and any possible reactions before mixing anything together.
How Long After Cleaning with Bleach Can I Use Vinegar?
To be safe, I recommend leaving 12- 24 hours between bleach and vinegar.
This time frame is not exact, but it covers any concentration of bleach and the amount of vinegar, so you know for sure that you will be safe.
Cleaning with bleach is already a risky activity, so we don’t need to be adding to that problem. Luckily, in most cases, if you have just used bleach to clean an area, then it is unlikely that you will need to go in with vinegar within 24 hours anyway.
When it comes to laundry, I advise leaving three to four washes between using vinegar and bleach in your machine.
This may seem like a long time, but you have to remember that the dilution of bleach can vary from use to use, and the residue from it can last on a surface for a while, depending on the concentration.
It is worth noting that bleach can react with many other products, including ammonia, insecticides, oven cleaner, and hydrogen peroxide. For this reason, I advise that you only use bleach on its own and leave the allotted 12-24 hours between using any of these products.
Gomestic Tip: When you are cleaning with bleach, it’s essential that you use the right kind of bleach for each job. Find out how to use each kind here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you combine bleach and vinegar in a washing machine?
This is not advisable. Both bleach and vinegar can be used to clean a washing machine effectively, but they should not be combined.
This will result in chlorine gas being produced, which is dangerous to inhale and will damage your clothes. It may even cause damage to your machine.
How do you get chlorine gas out of your house?
The quickest way to get the chlorine gas from this reaction out of your house is to open all the doors and windows. I would also suggest going outside yourself and bringing out any pets and other family members until the gas has had time to dissipate. If possible, turn on fans and air conditioning to hasten the process.
However, if you feel any lasting symptoms or the smell lingers, I suggest seeking medical attention.
What happens if you inhale chlorine gas?
It can be very dangerous if you inhale chlorine gas, even in a small quantity, like the amount produced by vinegar and bleach.
Symptoms can include pain, irritation, tightening in your chest, blisters, and burning in the eyes, nose, and throat.
As we now know, combining the cleaning power of bleach and vinegar is a lethal combo.
As a TLDR, you should leave at least 24 hours between using bleach and vinegar. This will prevent the creation of chlorine gas that is highly poisonous.
I hope this little bit of science in your cleaning knowledge helps you keep your house clean but safe for everyone in your home.