Is ammonia a safe cleaning agent? (with photos)

A bottle of ammonia. It can be a good cleanser, but it should never be mixed with bleach.

Ammonia (ammonium hydroxide) is commonly used as an ingredient in household cleaning products such as surface and glass cleaners, aerosol disinfectant sprays, and jewelry cleaning solutions. When exposed to the open air, it turns into a gas with a strong, distinct smell. Most household cleaning products contain a concentration of 5% to 10% of the substance, which is generally not strong enough to harm an adult, but can cause eye, nose, mouth and lung irritation in sensitive individuals or when not used. correctly. By taking basic precautionary measures such as properly ventilating a room during use and wearing rubber gloves, this inexpensive liquid can be a safe and effective cleaning agent.

Safety

Woman washing window with ammonia-based glass cleaner.

Like many other chemicals used to clean things in the home, ammonia has the potential to cause harm to people and pets. Before a person starts cleaning, they must open all windows and air vents and turn on the ceiling fans. If there are no vents or ceiling fans nearby, he should place a small box fan in the window to circulate air in the room he is working in. Pets and children should not be around while the ammonia is being used, as the fumes can affect them more seriously than an adult.

avoid bleach

Ammonia is dangerous for pets.

Ammonia should not be mixed with other common household cleaners or soaps, as they may contain chlorine-based bleach. When the two compounds come into contact, they chemically react and release toxic gases into the air. Inhaling these gases causes nasal irritation, swelling of the throat and lungs, and accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Some people may also experience chest pain, coughing and wheezing, watery eyes, and nausea when inhaling. Anyone exposed to high levels of chlorine gas may need medical attention.

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surface cleaning

Ammonia can come in the form of an aerosol.

Stainless steel surfaces, tempered glass stoves, glass windows, porcelain utensils and most types of kitchen counters can be cleaned with ammonia. Individuals can make a cleaning solution by mixing approximately one part ammonia with two parts water and adding it to a spray bottle. It can be used in the same way as any window or surface cleaner. The spray is particularly good for shiny surfaces as it does not leave streaks.

If a person wants to use ammonia to clean a sofa, they must first do a spot test.

The cleaner is also useful in the bathroom as it removes soap scum and hard water stains from porcelain sinks, bathtubs and tile. People can use it to remove soapy water stains from mirrors and glass shower doors and return grimy metal fixtures to their original shine. While the cleanser doesn’t need to be rinsed off, people who are concerned about lingering odors or chemical traces may want to go a step further.

exceptions

Rubber gloves must be worn when handling ammonia.

Ammonia can damage unwaxed floors, specialty tiles, and fabrics such as upholstery and carpeting. While some people may recommend using it to remove stains from sofas or rugs, it’s important to do a stain test first. There’s a good chance that the cleaner will discolor the material and leave a stain that looks worse than the stain.

As ammonia reacts with bleach, it should never be used on any surface that could also be bleached at some point in the near future. Even when not mixed directly, chemical traces left by one can interact with the other, leading to very serious results.

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toxicity

Bleach should always be kept away from ammonia, as the two combine to create toxic fumes.

According to the Agency for the Registry of Toxic Substances and Diseases (ATSDR), ammonia is a toxic or poisonous substance. Stinging gas is an irritant that can chemically burn the mucous membranes located in the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs. Exposure to high concentrations of the substance can kill. Symptoms of poisoning include coughing, wheezing, chest pain, and burning and tearing. Other symptoms include sore throat and mouth, swelling of the lips, hallucinations, blindness, and tachycardia.

Pets that are exposed to ammonia will show similar symptoms to those experienced by people, particularly breathing difficulties. Since household animals may walk on surfaces that have been cleaned with this substance, they can get it on their hair and skin, and may lick it off. Most pets are also smaller and so are closer to the fumes released by the cleaning solution, so many experts recommend that pet owners not use ammonia or use it only with caution. Anyone who has a pet that may have been exposed to the substance should take the animal to a veterinarian immediately.

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