Don’t Mix Pine-Sol and Bleach for Cleaning! (4 Alternatives)

With its fresh pine forest scent, Pine-Sol is a popular cleaner, degreaser, and disinfectant.

Its natural scent may lead you to think it is all-natural and therefore safe to mix with other products to improve its disinfecting powers.

However, do not mix Pine-Sol and Bleach as the combination can lead to the release of a variety of hazardous fumes.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the dangers of mixing Pine-Sol and bleach, what you should do if you accidentally mix the two, and what some of my favorite alternatives are.

The Danger of Mixing Pine-Sol and Bleach 

Created in 1929, Pine-Sol has become a best-selling household cleaner beloved by many, including myself, for its degreasing, cleaning, and disinfecting properties. 

But most of all, it is that pine forest fresh scent that lingers after cleaning which is most alluring.

Originally containing pine oil, its use as an ingredient was discontinued in 2016. However, it was re-introduced and marketed as similar to the original formula in 2022. The pine oil formulation is currently available only online.

With a 3.5 pH, Pine-Sol is very acidic. Some of its main ingredients include:

  • PEG/PPG Propylheptyl Ether
  • C10-12 Alcohol Ethoxylates
  • Glycolic Acid
  • Methoxyacetic Acid
  • Formic Acid

Household bleach, sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), is a highly reactive chemical that when mixed with acids produces chlorine gas. Pine-Sol has three different acids listed on its label.

Furthermore, mixing alcohol (which Pine-Sol has two) with bleach produces chloroform, hydrochloric acid, chloroacetone, or dichloroacetone, which can all be hazardous to human health.

Additionally, Pine-Sol’s low pH and sodium hypochlorite’s alkalinity (pH 11, 13 in more concentrated solutions) means that combining the two can cause an exothermic reaction, especially when each is mixed at full strength.

Therefore, bleach should not be mixed with any cleaning products, including Pine-Sol.

Pine-sol and bleach

The Risks of Mixing Pine-Sol and Bleach

In the United States, there is no federal law that requires ingredient disclosure for household cleaning products since they are not for human consumption or use, most manufacturers don’t disclose their entire formulation.

Chlorox, Pine-Sol’s parent company, considers the product’s exact composition a trade secret.

However, it does disclose five ingredients that are known to produce toxic chemicals when mixed with bleach.

Mixing bleach with acids forms chlorine gas (Cl2) and chlorinated organics, all of which are toxic and/or carcinogenic. 

Chlorine gas can cause major damage to the lungs, eyes, nose, and throat and can be lethal. 

When chlorine gas reacts with water in the lungs, for example, it forms hydrochloric acid, which is destructive to tissue and can quickly cause death.

Symptoms of chlorine gas exposure include:

  • Teary eyes and blurred vision
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Burning in eyes, nose, and throat
  • Coughing or shortness of breath
  • Tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin inflammation, including red blisters, burning or pain

Symptoms of chlorine gas exposure may not always appear immediately and depend upon the extent of the exposure. Some may even take several hours or days to appear.

Combining alcohol with bleach produces chloroform, hydrochloric acid, chloroacetone, or dichloroacetone, which can all be hazardous to human health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chloroform (CHCl3), also known as trichloromethane, is a colorless liquid that is very volatile, thus evaporating into gas that can harm the eyes, skin, liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

It can be toxic if inhaled or swallowed and extended exposure can cause cancer. Additionally, chloroform can render you unconscious, so beware!

Hydrochloric acid (HCl), also known as muriatic acid, is a strong acid (pH 0-1.1) and is highly corrosive. It is colorless or with a light-yellow tint and a pungent smell.

Exposure can cause severe chemical burns on the skin, blindness, and respiratory irritation.

Although it is not combustible, it does react violently when it is mixed with bases (high pH).

Chloroacetone (CH3COCH2Cl) is a colorless liquid that turns yellow or amber when exposed to light. It has a pungent smell and a 4.3 pH. 

It is highly toxic. Exposure can cause skin burns, nausea, bronchospasms, delayed pulmonary edema, and death. Known as tear gas, it was used during World War I as it can cause lacrimation. 

Dichloroacetone (1,1-dichloroacetone and 1,3-dichloroacetone) is highly flammable, corrosive, and a health hazard as it is acutely toxic and an irritant.

Accidentally Mixed Bleach and Pine-Sol – What Now? 

If you accidentally mix Pine-Sol and bleach, don’t panic. In situations like this, it’s best to stay calm and think clearly.

However, do try to act quickly.

Open windows and doors, and move to a safe, well-ventilated location, preferably in fresh air. do not attempt to clean up or remove the chemicals first!

Wait a few hours before re-entering a room, and when you do, wear a mask to protect yourself from breathing in the toxic fumes.

If you mix the products outdoors, leave the area and move to higher ground if possible as some gases, like chlorine gas, tend to remain in lower areas. 

Notify your neighbors if necessary and ensure the area is off-limits to people and animals until it is safe to enter.

If you find someone exposed to toxic fumes, but unconscious, move them to an area with fresh air and call your local emergency services. 

If any of the byproducts has contacted your skin or eyes, wash or shower with soap and water, and rinse for at least 15 minutes.

If you ingest any of the mixture, it is best not to induce vomiting. Instead, rinse your mouth and take small sips of water.

Call your local emergency services immediately if you have trouble breathing, if chemicals have touched your skin or eyes, or if you’ve ingested any of the chemicals. 

If you can breathe but have been exposed to chemical fumes, call your local poison control center. They will direct you on the course of action to take.

Cleaning Up

Confirm the toxic smell is gone before returning to the area.

Gently remove the solution from the area, place it outside, away from people and animals, and dilute it with water.

Be sure to wear a mask and rubber gloves when handling any exposed items.

Discard any clothing exposed to the chemicals as some fumes can remain on them, causing further irritation.

Also, dispose of any cleaning supplies that have been in contact with the mixed solution, including brushes, sponges, and rags.

Wipe every surface with clean water to remove any potential residue. Discard all rags and sponges.

Call your local poison control center for further clean-up instructions.

What Can You Mix With Pine-Sol? 

Chlorox, Pine-Sol’s parent company, does not recommend mixing it with any other cleaners, including bleach.

If you’re looking for a disinfectant and deodorizer, Pine-Sol at full strength is excellent for getting the job done. 

According to the manufacturer’s recommendations, Pine-Sol should only be diluted with water and no other substances should be mixed with it.

However, Pine-Sol can be used as a homemade fly repellant. Simply mix 1/3 water, 1/3 vinegar, and 1/3 Original Scent Pine-Sol. Pour it into a spray bottle and apply to surfaces around the area you want to protect.

Pine-Sol can also be used in your laundry, but only on color-fast items and with detergents that do not contain ammonia or bleach. 

What Can You Mix With Bleach? 

Bleach is such a highly reactive chemical it should not be mixed with any other cleaning products, including Pine-Sol. 

No matter how harmless or natural-smelling a product may seem, you should avoid mixing anything with bleach at all costs.

If you intend to disinfect a surface with bleach after having cleaned it with other household cleaners, such as Pine-Sol, be sure to rinse off the cleaning product completely before adding bleach as it may react with any remaining residue, releasing harmful gases.

My Favorite Cleaning Solutions You Should Try 

Pine-Sol is one of my favorite cleaning products. I love its fresh pine scent and that it lingers long after using it. 

In fact, when I’d like a bit of a refresher for my home or there’s a foul odor, say from the trash can or garbage disposal (sometimes I forget to run it!), Pine-Sol is my go-to remedy.

After eliminating the source of the unpleasant odor, I like to sanitize and deodorize the area using Pine-Sol. Depending on the surface, I’ll dilute it or use it at full strength for more effective cleaning.

For example, I’ll scrub the sink using Pine-Sol at full strength.

I also like to splash a little bit of Pine-Sol in a designated jar, one that’s not intended for food use, and I’ll top it off with cold water. 

The light, gentle scent slowly diffuses throughout my home, which is quite invigorating.

As far as natural homemade cleaning solutions go, here are some of my favorites:

  • I like to use lemon in the kitchen and bathroom. Depending on the task, I’ll also add salt or baking soda for a more effective scrubber. Lemon is excellent for cleaning countertops, cutting boards, and oven racks.
  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an old-fashioned, powerful abrasive. It is perfect for deodorizing, lifting stains, neutralizing acid spills, and softening water.
  • Another abrasive cleaner readily found in your pantry is salt. I like to combine it with lemon juice or vinegar because it can make a powerful cleaning paste. 
  • As far as difficult-to-remove stains go, such as blood, hydrogen peroxide works great! It even bubbles to show it’s working. Just be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands immediately after using, as it is corrosive.

Related:

FAQs 

Does Pine-Sol and bleach make mustard gas?

Mixing Pine-Sol bleach does not make mustard gas. Instead, the combination produces chlorine gas (Cl2).

Mustard gas, also known as sulfur mustard, can be one of several compounds with the chemical structure SCH2CH2X or NCH2CH2X, where X can be chlorine (Cl) or Bromine (Br).

Can you mix Pine-Sol and bleach in small amounts?

It is not advised to mix Pine-Sol and bleach in small amounts.

Because there’s no federal law that requires ingredient disclosure for household cleaning products in the United States, most manufacturers don’t reveal their entire formulation.

As a result, it is difficult to know exactly what ingredients and in what amounts or concentrations they are present in any given product. 

Therefore, it is best to be safe and abstain from mixing the two products.

Does pine-sol have bleach or ammonia? 

No, according to its label, Pine-Sol does not have bleach or ammonia.

To Wrap Up

Don’t let Pine-Sol’s fresh pine forest scent fool you. 

Although it is a popular cleaner, degreaser, and disinfectant, its natural scent may give the impression that it is all natural and safe to mix with other products to improve its disinfecting powers.

However, do not mix Pine-Sol and Bleach as the combination releases a variety of hazardous fumes.

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