Can You Mix Hydrogen Peroxide and Bleach?Faizan Khan
As a natural instinct, we think mixing two potent cleaners will add up their cleaning abilities. Although, does it really work like that?
According to CDC’s global health committee, mixing hydrogen peroxide and bleach is a bad idea. The reason is the eruption of toxic fumes in the process. These vapors are hazardous for people inside the environment.
Besides that, mixing these two compounds gives an enormous amount of oxygen vapors. They are exothermic and supply massive heat to the environment.
Therefore, the chances of an unintentional explosion jump up a notch. Even if you somehow stayed safe from fumes and excessive heat, there are other consequences that you might have to face.
The peroxide-bleach mixture is highly corrosive. For that reason, instead of cleaning, it may damage the surface to a great extent.
The Chemical Nature of Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a colorless, odorless, highly reactive liquid that is an essential oxidizing agent. It has the chemical formula of H2O2.
The peroxide ion, HOO−, has a single unpaired electron in its outer shell. Therefore, we classify it as an oxidation-reduction (redox) couple.
Hydrogen peroxide exists in different forms. These can vary according to their molecular weights and boiling points. For instance, microperoxide (mP) or molecular hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), macroperoxide (MPO), and the most stable form, mesoprotozine (MPZ), are some of its natural forms.
Its production is possible in the chemical laboratory by reacting water with sodium hypochlorite.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a strong oxidant. It has a high pKa value of 4.7, which means it is completely ionized at physiologic pH values.
That is the reason why it is highly reactive. Moreover, it quickly breaks down into water and oxygen as soon as it encounters another molecule or substance with which it can react in a chemical reaction.
Hydrogen peroxide is unstable at room temperature. Therefore, it will rapidly decompose if left exposed to air. The decomposition of hydrogen peroxide produces oxygen, water, and heat. However, you can reverse this reaction by adding a catalyst such as manganese dioxide (MnO2).
Moreover, hydrogen peroxide decomposes when exposed to sunlight. The reaction is:2H2O2 → 2H2+ + O2. In addition to the extra oxygen molecules emission, the compound gives a massive amount of heat that can be a potential fire hazard.
The Chemical Nature of Bleach
In chemical terms, we can call bleach sodium hypochlorite. It’s a relatively inexpensive and stable substance used to disinfect surfaces and clean clothes.
In simple terms, it is an inorganic salt of hypochlorous acid. The chemical formula for sodium hypochlorite, aka laundry bleach, is NaClO.
It occurs naturally as a mineral known as chlorine, which comes from the element chlorine.
Sodium hypochlorite does not occur on its own in nature.
It must be made by electrolysis or by combining chlorine gas with sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate in the water to form hydrochloric acid and hypochlorous acid:
- NaClO + H2O = HCl + OCl-
As for its natural existence, bleach does have a slight odor. It isn’t as strong as ammonia. However, you can feel its sensation during use.
Besides that, the household bleach that most individuals use has additional constituents in it. For instance, it has small quantities of sodium hydroxide and calcium hypochlorite.
Therefore, we can say the chemical nature of household bleach isn’t just a single chemical. Instead, it is a mixture of two or more distinct chemical compounds.
What Happens When You Mix Hydrogen Peroxide and Bleach?
Hydrogen peroxide and bleach are effective against stains on the clothes. Therefore, people mix them to enhance their cleaning properties. However, this misconception has an exponentially dangerous impact on their lives.
Mixing hydrogen peroxide and bleach is a common household mistake. The resulting mixture is a powerful disinfectant but also highly acidic.
The two ingredients react with each other to form highly toxic compounds. Hydrogen peroxide and bleach are oxidizers that combine with other substances to form oxygen gas.
When you mix these two, the hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen gas (O2). The constant exothermic eruption of oxygen gives off heat, light, and toxic gases that may ignite when they come in contact.
Furthermore, if the bleach has some sort of acidic character in it, things take a turn. It creates an unstable mixture known as “bleach gas.”
The fumes of this gas can burn the skin or eyes. Moreover, It also causes serious irritation to the respiratory tract when inhaled.
Moreover, mixing these liquids is safe to some extent only if their concentration is extremely low. Anything above 3% hydrogen peroxide becomes highly reactive and dangerous.
The Chemical Reaction
Mixing both these compounds is no joke, especially if you are doing it in high concentration. Mixing them gives instant heat and oxygen along with water and sodium chloride.
The reaction is spontaneous in itself. Therefore, the reaction pace is pretty rapid. It can start instantly and give pure oxygen concentration.
- NAOCL + H2O2 = H2O + NaCl + O2
From the above reaction, you can see the end product includes oxygen. In addition, excessive heat dissipation can be dangerous at higher concentrations.
The end product may include chlorine gas if the bleach has an acidic constituent such as HCLO. This gas is highly poisonous and causes skin burns and eye irritation.
The end products of every bleach-peroxide mixture reaction are the same. You’ll get a considerable amount of pure oxygen supply with excessive heat eruption.
Moreover, the mixture may or may not yield toxic bleach gas or chlorine gas fumes. It depends on the bleach’s chemical composition.
In smaller concentrations, the reaction is somewhat controllable. However, when you jump to a 3% hydrogen peroxide, and 5% bleach mixture reaction becomes violent, and the final product’s concentration upsurges.
Can You Mix Bleach and Hydrogen Peroxide for Laundry?
If you are willing to mix bleach and hydrogen peroxide to create a better cleaning compound, unfortunately, it won’t serve the purpose. In contrast, it will damage your clothes even more.
If you use chlorine bleach, there are higher chances for toxic fume production.
Besides that, bleach single-handedly destroys your clothes because of its corrosive aspect. Therefore, it is better to go for hydrogen peroxide only. It is an excellent stain remover and disinfectant that may eliminate your need to use the bleach again.
Long story short, chemists do not suggest mixing hydrogen peroxide and bleach for laundry, considering its dangerous reaction and products.
Should You Mix Hydrogen Peroxide and Bleach?
You may wonder, is there any case where mixing hydrogen peroxide and bleach may sound beneficial? The answer is “definitely not!”
Firstly, there isn’t any specific need to mix these two. You won’t be getting much benefit from the mixture. Instead, it only harms you and the surrounding individuals.
The only thing that can be a bit beneficial is the pure oxygen that erupts from it. However, associating heat production with oxygen molecules makes it too much dangerous.
Therefore, it would be best to refrain from mixing these two substances simultaneously.
Does Mixing Hydrogen Peroxide and Bleach Have an Added, Compound Effect?
Mixing hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite bleach does have a compound disinfection effect to some extent. According to recent studies, the mixture of these two compounds handles the elimination of microorganisms better than hydrogen peroxide alone.
For that reason, we can say that adding bleach to the hydrogen peroxide can facilitate its disinfecting property. However, the reaction is safe only to minute compound concentrations.
Using 0.1% to 0.3% sodium hypochlorite bleach and 1% to 2.5% hydrogen peroxide reaction is safe and controllable. Anything above this limit increases the explosion risks.
Moreover, this reaction is not suitable for chlorine bleach as it may produce toxic fumes.
Drawbacks of Mixing Hydrogen Peroxide and Bleach
From the detailed review, it is crystal clear that mixing bleach and hydrogen peroxide is not a good idea for anyone.
Considering the fact that bleach is highly corrosive and hydrogen peroxide is exceptionally oxidizing, there are several drawbacks that you can face while mixing these two.
Some of these are as follows.
- Hydrogen peroxide has unstable oxygen free radicals. When exposed to bleach, the chemical emits oxygen gas with spontaneous heat. The scorching heat can become a problem.
If the concentrations are high enough, there is an excellent chance that fire can start if the heat reaches any organic compound.
- The chlorine bleach and hydrogen peroxide mixing reaction give heat and toxic fumes. Therefore, it makes the entire process more hazardous.
- Chlorine bleach-peroxide mixture gives bleach gas, which is a complex form of chlorine gas. It is highly toxic and causes skin irritation and respiratory tract infections.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, both these compounds are excellent for cleaning purposes. Bleach is an excellent choice to clean the stains on clothes. However, it damages them.
On the other hand, hydrogen peroxide is an excellent laundry agent to eliminate stains and disinfect the clothes.
However, mixing these won’t bring any good to you. Instead, the mixture will be extremely dangerous to use.
So, if you want to ensure extra hygiene, you can use compounds one at a time. However, it can damage your clothes excessively. Preferably, it is better to go for the hydrogen peroxide only as it gives you two perks in a single package.
That’s not all; the most crucial part is to buy your hydrogen peroxide from a credible source. Only the high quality and pure one can serve the purpose.
So, order your set and get rid of stains and dirty clothes instantly.