The Ins and Outs of Ammonia Cleaning

Posted by Linda Merrill | Jan 01, 2011
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household ammonia

Household ammonia, also known as Ammonium Hydroxide, is an excellent and budget-friendly cleaner to use throughout the home. Ammonia cleaning solutions suitable for household use are generally 5-10% ammonia mixed with water. Ammonia cleaning solutions used in commercial settings may be as much as 25% ammonia, but they are highly corrosive. Ammonia leaves a relatively streak-free shine and is therefore used widely as a glass and surface cleaner, including on stainless steel and porcelain. Ammonia cleaning solutions are widely used in the kitchen and bathroom for these reasons.

Where to Use Ammonia

An excellent all-purpose household cleaner can be made from 7 cups of water combined with a cup baking soda and cup household ammonia. Cleaning hard surfaces will be particularly successful with this mixture, however it's recommended that more delicate surfaces such as wallpaper or fabric be tested first to make sure there will be no staining. Ammonia cleaning solutions in higher concentrations of ammonia will work well when cleaning an oven; or you can use them to soak pans with baked-on food in order to loosen those hard-to-clean areas.

Safety Precautions

While ammonia cleaning solutions are excellent tools to keep the house clean, many people have major concerns about ammonia's effects on their health. Generally speaking, low concentrations of ammonia, such as those found in household ammonia-strength cleaning solutions, are not harmful to healthy people. Of course, precautions should be taken to avoid excessive inhalation or splashing. When ammonia cleaning, it's always wise to open a nearby window; use gloves and even protective glasses when cleaning larger areas or areas above your head. Those with asthma or other lung problems may wish to avoid using ammonia, especially if they find it irritating.

A final word of caution: One must never, ever mix ammonia with bleach of any kind. Ammonia and bleach combine to make chlorine gas, which is harmful to the lungs and potentially fatal. Chlorine gas was used as a chemical warfare agent in World War I. And so, it’s very important to know what your cleaning solutions are made out of so you will avoid mixing potentially harmful chemicals. If you have been exposed, you might experience white spots in your vision and wooziness, which is a result of lack of oxygen to the brain. If you or someone else have been exposed, ventilate the area and call 911.

As with any chemicals, a little bit of precaution goes a long way to avoiding dangers. Ammonia cleaning is safe when done correctly, following labeling guidelines and good old common sense.

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