Can You Mix OxiClean and Bleach? No! (Alternatives)

While OxiClean, an oxygen-based bleach, is a versatile and effective cleaning product, you may wonder if you can mix OxiClean and bleach to create a more potent and efficient product.

The short answer is no! You should never mix OxiClean and bleach. Mixing OxiClean and bleach can produce a violent reaction that releases oxygen gas, chlorine gas, and heat that could potentially result in a dangerous explosion.

Let’s explore the chemical reaction when mixing OxiClean and bleach and what you can mix with OxiClean instead to make an effective cleaning solution.

The Chemical Reaction When Mixing OxiClean and Bleach

OxiClean’s main ingredient is sodium percarbonate (Na2CO3·H2O2). 

This oxygen-based bleach also contains sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), surfactants, and polymers, as well as other potentially undisclosed ingredients. 

When dissolved in water, sodium percarbonate breaks down into its components, sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). 

Household bleach, sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), is a highly reactive chemical.

When OxiClean breaks down into highly reactive hydrogen peroxide and is mixed with chlorine bleach, it creates an unstable mixture and releases poisonous gases.

The reaction between bleach and hydrogen peroxide is as follows:

NaOCl + H2O2 = H2O + NaCl + O2

As sodium hypochlorite reacts with hydrogen peroxide, it releases water, sodium chloride, and oxygen gas. 

This rapid reaction is exothermic, meaning it releases heat. The resulting mixture is also highly unstable and corrosive.

The Danger of Mixing OxiClean and Bleach

As OxiClean is dissolved in water, hydrogen peroxide is released. 

When highly reactive hydrogen peroxide is mixed with equally reactive bleach an instant and potentially violent reaction occurs.

Oxygen Gas

We are all aware most living things need oxygen to survive. However, breathing oxygen at higher levels than normal can lead to oxygen toxicity

When the hydrogen peroxide released by OxiClean reacts with bleach, oxygen gas is released. 

Exposure to high oxygen levels can harm lung tissues. The lungs either fill up with fluid or may collapse (they’re not able to inflate). When the lungs cannot take in air, they can’t send oxygen into the blood and into the body’s tissues and organs, leading them to fail.

Oxygen poisoning can also harm the central nervous system.

Symptoms of oxygen toxicity include:

  • Coughing and chest pain
  • Throat irritation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Twitching muscles, especially in the face and hands
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Convulsions

If exposure is not extreme, the lungs may take several weeks or more to recover. Ventilators are often needed for collapsed lungs.

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any oxygen toxicity symptoms or fear you’ve been exposed to excessive oxygen levels.

Chlorine Gas

In the United States, there is no federal law that requires ingredient disclosure for household cleaning products because they are not for human consumption or use.

As a result, most manufacturers don’t disclose their entire formulation since they’re not required by regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).

If either OxiClean or bleach contains an undisclosed hypochlorous acid, such as ClOH, the reaction between the two products can also produce chlorine gas.

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

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 appear immediately. Some may even take several hours or days to appear.

Follow up with a healthcare professional after being exposed, even if you initially experience no symptoms.

Violent Explosion

Hydrogen peroxide and bleach (sodium hypochlorite) are highly reactive chemicals. 

The resulting exothermic reaction releases heat and gases so violently that it can potentially cause an explosion. 

Therefore, bleach should never be mixed with OxiClean, no matter how miniscule the amount of hydrogen peroxide released may be. 

Accidentally Mixed OxiClean and Bleach, What to Do? 

If you accidentally mix OxiClean and bleach indoors, it may be scary to see the sudden reaction or smell the strong fumes.

Do your best to remain calm, open windows and doors, and quickly move to a safe, well-ventilated location, preferably with fresh air. Do not attempt to clean up or remove the chemicals first!

Wait a few hours before re-entering a room. When you do, wear a mask. 

If you mix the products outdoors, leave the area and move to higher ground if possible as some gases, like chlorine gas, tend to sink into the lower areas. Alert your neighbors if necessary.

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.

Call your local emergency services immediately if you have trouble breathing. If you can breathe but have been exposed to chemical fumes, call your local poison control center. They will direct you on what course of action to take.

Carefully Clean Up

Make sure the toxic smell is gone before returning to the area.

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

If you’ve mixed OxiClean and bleach in the laundry, run it several times to rinse the items. Be sure to wear a mask and rubber gloves when handling any exposed items.

Discard any cleaning supplies that contacted the mixed cleaning solution as well, including brushes, sponges, and rags.

Do not pour any of the OxiClean-bleach mixture down the sink. If in doubt, call your local poison control center and follow their clean-up instructions.

Alternatives to Mixing OxiClean and Bleach for Cleaning

OxiClean is compatible with:

  • baking soda
  • laundry
  • dishwashing detergents
  • isopropyl alcohol

OxiClean and baking soda can make an effective yet gentle cleaner that can tackle stubborn stains, like blood and grease, as well as dirt and grime. The combination can also brighten colors.

OxiClean is meant to work with laundry detergent. However, it is also compatible with dishwashing detergent, especially when tackling difficult dirt and grime. 

Mixing OxiClean with isopropyl alcohol can be a great way to spot clean upholstery, such as hard-to-clean car interiors.

If you are ever in doubt, simply refrain from mixing it with other products, even if they are natural or non-toxic. It is better to be safe than to be exposed to an unexpected reaction, especially since companies don’t always disclose their complete formulations.

OxiClean is an excellent oxygen-based bleach anyway. In fact, for years it has been my go-to for removing accidental grease stains and those pesky underarm sweat marks from my delicate whites which are oh-so-common during the summer. 

To Wrap Up

Now you know what will happen when mixing OxiClean and bleach and why you should never mix these two. However, you might wanna try one of the alternatives.

Note: Not all ingredients may be disclosed by the manufacturers, so you have to be extra careful whenever mixing any household cleaning products.