10 Cleaners That Can Do the Most Damage

By Jennifer Noonan, bobvila

Bleach and Ammonia

Bleach and ammonia have long been part of the household cleaning arsenal. Bleach is commonly used to remove stains from surfaces and to whiten laundry, and ammonia is often used to clean bathrooms and kitchens. On their own, both bleach and ammonia can be dangerous, emitting fumes that can irritate the eyes and lungs. But when they are mixed together, they create a chlorine gas that can be deadly. Bottom line: Never use bleach and ammonia together. No exceptions.

Magic Eraser

Magic Erasers may seem like housekeeping miracles, removing dirt, scuffs, and even permanent marker from walls or furniture. But be careful with these little powerhouses. Their extreme effectiveness is what makes them so destructive; they can even remove the paint or the finish from your wood. Use them sparingly to save yourself additional maintenance headaches.


Vinegar has become a popular cleaning solution because it’s both inexpensive and natural. But all-natural doesn't mean problem-free. Because of its high acidity, vinegar can damage many surfaces in your home. It will permanently dull the appearance of stone countertops like marble or limestone, and it will damage the finish on a hardwood floor. Before you use vinegar to clean your household surfaces, do your research to see if these areas of the house can stand up to the cleanser.

Furniture Polish

Furniture polish is unnecessary for most modern furniture. Decades ago, furniture did not have the protective top coats that today’s wood pieces do. If you use polish on a piece of furniture that has a protective top coat, it will only serve to create a cloudy, dull buildup that is difficult to remove. For newer furniture, skip the polish and stick to a slightly damp cloth.

Silica-Based Powdered Cleansers

There are many powdered cleansers on the market, and they clean well because they contain abrasives that scrub dirt and grime from surfaces. Keep in mind that silica-based cleansers like Comet or Ajax will scratch porcelain, so you need to be careful where you use them. A nonabrasive powdered cleanser like Bon Ami, which is made of crushed feldspar, is gentle on all surfaces but still effective.

Liquid Drain Cleaner

Liquid drain cleaners contain caustic chemicals that can dissolve tough clogs. They can dissolve other things as well, including wood, fabric, and paint. They can even eat away at the metal of older plumbing, creating holes in your pipes that will cause even bigger headaches than a clog. If it gets on your skin, liquid drain cleaner can burn you, and it can be fatal if swallowed. Suffice it to say, use liquid drain cleaners only when you absolutely have to, and with great caution.

Oven Cleaner

Many oven cleaners contain lye, which is toxic and can burn the skin and eyes. They also contain ethers, which can irritate mucous membranes in the nose and throat. While oven cleaners can be effective at getting the burnt gunk off the walls of your oven, they should be used with great caution. And as with all cleaners, they should be kept out of reach of children and pets when not in use.

Powdered Laundry Detergent

Powdered laundry detergents often contain additives and fillers that don’t fully dissolve during the course of laundering. These undissolved particles settle and build up over time, which can cause damage to septic systems and may eventually require a professional to come out and fix.

Cleanser Pods

Whether they are made for the dishwasher or the washing machine, detergents that use pods as their delivery device are dangerous if you have young children in the home. Many of them are colorful like candy, and their attractive appearance can tempt children to swallow them.

Glass Cleaner

Glass cleaner does clean glass—and well—but it should never be used on other glassy surfaces, such as TV and computer screens, phones, or tablets. The ammonia in glass cleaner, after multiple applications, causes screens to yellow and fog, or to become brittle and prone to cracking. Similarly, glass cleaner should not be used to clean eyeglasses or sunglasses, because it can cause scratches and cracks to the lenses.



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U.S. Daily News: 10 Cleaners That Can Do the Most Damage
10 Cleaners That Can Do the Most Damage
U.S. Daily News
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