Bleach is a very effective disinfectant that can be used to kill a variety of potentially harmful germs. Because of this, it’s a common ingredient in many household cleaning products.
By itself, bleach can irritate your lungs, eyes, and skin. Also, when it’s mixed with other chemicals, it can lead to a serious or potentially life threatening chemical reaction.
You may have heard not to pee into a toilet that’s been cleaned with bleach. Is there any truth to this? Keep reading to find out the answer to this question and more.
It’s generally not a good idea to pee into a toilet that still has bleach in the bowl. Why is this?
Second, it’s possible that the bleach may interact with your urine, leading to irritating fumes. Let’s explore this in more detail.
The bleach and urine reaction
The active ingredient in household bleach is a compound called sodium hypochlorite. The sodium hypochlorite in bleach can react with ammonia, producing a potentially toxic type of gas called chloramine gas.
If you’re exposed to chloramine gas, you can experience:
- irritation of your eyes, nose, and throat
- watering eyes
- runny nose
- wheezing or shortness of breath
- chest pain
Where does urine come into the picture? Our urine contains waste products and extra fluids that need to be removed from our bodies. One of the waste products in urine is ammonia.
If you pee into a toilet that still has bleach in it, it’s possible that a small amount of chloramine gas may be produced. Though this is unlikely to lead to serious health complications, it can cause unpleasant symptoms.
What if you pee into a toilet that contains bleach?
If you pee into a toilet that contains bleach and begin to experience symptoms of chloramine gas exposure, do the following:
- Leave the bathroom: Get out of the bathroom as soon as you begin to have symptoms to prevent further exposure.
- Ventilate the area: This can help fumes dissipate faster, so, if possible, turn on the bathroom fan or open a window as you leave.
- Take care of yourself: Get some fresh air to help ease your symptoms. If you have serious symptoms, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, seek immediate medical care.
Now that we’ve discussed the bleach and urine interaction, you may have a few other questions about cleaning with bleach.
Can I clean pet urine with bleach?
In addition to reacting with your own urine, bleach can also react with pet urine. Because of this, try to avoid using products that contain bleach when cleaning areas where pet urine may be present, such as carpets and litter boxes.
What household cleaners shouldn’t be mixed with bleach?
Peeing into a toilet that contains bleach may produce a small amount of chloramine gas. Yet mixing some types of household cleaners with bleach can lead to a larger-scale and potentially more serious reaction.
Never mix bleach with household cleaners that contain ammonia or acids. This can lead to the release of chloramine gas or chlorine gas, respectively. Some examples of products to avoid mixing with bleach are:
- glass and window cleaners
- all-purpose cleaners
- toilet bowl cleaners
- tub and tile cleaners
- oven cleaners
- furniture polish
- products used to remove rust
How can I be sure to clean safely?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a survey study of household disinfection practices in relation to COVID-19. It found that
Whenever you’re cleaning or disinfecting, it’s important to do so safely. Always be sure to:
- Know the ingredients: Being aware of what’s in a product can help you avoid a potentially harmful reaction.
- Follow the instructions: Read the instructions on the product label beforehand, noting any warnings or cautions. Carefully follow the instructions while using a product.
- Check ventilation: On their own, many household cleaning or disinfecting products can have strong fumes. Make sure the area you’re working in has good ventilation. It may be a good idea to open a window.
- Wear gloves: Household cleaners and disinfectants can irritate your skin, so be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands.
- Wash your hands: Always thoroughly wash your hands after using cleaners or disinfectants.
If you don’t want to use bleach for cleaning, there are some alternatives you can try. Several common household products can be used to clean surfaces. Some examples of these include:
Though these products may clean dirt and grime from surfaces, they don’t have disinfectant properties. That means they won’t effectively kill germs present on household surfaces.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used as an alternative disinfectant to bleach. The all-around cleaner can be found in Lysol, Clorox, and OxiClean products.
Alcohol (ethanol) can also help disinfect some types of surfaces, such as electronics and touch screens. Be sure to use products containing at least 60 percent ethanol for this purpose.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates disinfectant products. If a product is certified by the EPA as a disinfectant, it can be used according to the label instructions for that purpose.
What about green cleaning products?
A resource of interest may be the EPA’s Safer Choice program. This program certifies cleaning products that are safer for both the environment and human health. Search for Safer Choice-certified cleaning products here.
When searching for green cleaning products, it’s important to remember that certification indicates that a product is safer for people and the environment. It doesn’t indicate that the product is effective at killing germs.
You may have heard of using bleach and urine as a DIY pregnancy test. In this method, a sample of urine is slowly poured into a cup containing bleach. If you’re pregnant, the bleach is supposed to foam up.
Aside from the fact that mixing bleach with urine can lead to the formation of noxious fumes, this type of DIY pregnancy test is 100 percent a myth.
However, there are many types of home pregnancy tests that can help accurately indicate that you’re pregnant. You can find these for purchase at most grocery or drug stores.
Home pregnancy tests work by detecting human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced during pregnancy, in your urine. For most of these tests, a dipstick is placed directly into your urine stream or is dipped into a urine sample.
If hCG is detected in your urine, you’ll see a positive result after a few minutes. This can depend on the specific test, but could be a plus sign, two lines, or the word “pregnant.”
Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to pee into a toilet that contains bleach. This is because ammonia in your urine can potentially react with the bleach, producing irritating fumes.
Also, mixing bleach with other cleaning products can cause a serious reaction. Because of this, never mix bleach with products containing ammonia or acids.
There are several steps that you can take to clean and disinfect your home safely. These include being aware of ingredients, using products according to the label instructions, and ensuring good ventilation.