Between chemical reactions and reduced effectiveness, there are a number of good reasons to avoid mixing certain cleaning ingredients at home.

If you're curious about how natural cleaning products work or why baking soda is such a powerful ingredient, you've come to the right place. We'll explain the science behind some of the most popular cleaning methods and tools, so you can you clean smarter—not harder. Follow along with Clean Science to see which technique we break down next.

If you've ever successfully concocted your own cleaning products (perhaps you combined peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap to fight a pet stain), you may be tempted to see what else you can whip up to clean and disinfect your home—especially now, when you're being more resourceful than ever with your supplies. But before you attempt to combine anything and everything you find under the kitchen sink, it's important to understand which ingredients or products can be safely and effectively used together—and, perhaps even more importantly, the ones that should never be mixed. Ahead, two experts weigh in.

woman cleaning blue tile bathroom
Credit: Getty / Rawpixel

Don't Mix Anything Off-Label

There are plenty of dangers to mixing chemicals at home and on your own, says Melissa Lush, the co-founder of Force of Nature. "All cleaning products are optimized from a safety and efficacy standpoint to be used as formulated," she says. "It's really important to follow the manufacturers' instructions." Unless the manufacturer recommends it, Lush says you shouldn't combine products together, since combination testing likely hasn't been conducted. "And safety testing across products made by different manufacturers isn't typically done either," she adds.

When in Doubt, Don't Mix

If you aren't sure about mixing two ingredients together, Alex Reed, the co-founder of Truman's, says you are better off not doing so until you have done your research. "I would not recommend combining home ingredients of any kind without researching how they might interact, as well as the proper rate of dilution," he says. "Otherwise, you may damage surfaces or create a health hazard." For example, ingredients like bleach and ammonia should never be used together; they can create a fatal substance known as chlorine gas. And a combination of vinegar and baking soda can cause a huge mess (it's the key ingredients in those volcano projects you made in elementary school).

Results Can Be Fatal

Many cleaning products contain harsh chemicals—which means you should always treat them as health hazards. "It's like bringing a bomb into your house," Lush says of certain formulas. "For example, bleach contains 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. If mistakenly mixed with something like vinegar, it can release enough chlorine gas to be fatal." With a bounty of available cleaning products on store shelves, there is no reason for you to mix up a batch of anything homemade, our experts explain. Instead, they recommend sticking to store-bought formulas.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
August 3, 2020
I love Martha Stewart and magazine but I have to testify that I’ve been using Baking Soda and Distilled White Vinegar for years to clean stove and oven- it bubbles up pleasantly and is totally effective in cutting grease and most importantly NON TOXIC.