The Ins and Outs of Ammonia Cleaning

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Jan 01, 2011 | Linda Merrill
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. Because ammonia leaves a relatively streak-free shine, it  is used widely as a glass and surface cleaner, including on stainless steel and porcelain, and is popular for cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom.

Where to Use Ammonia

An excellent all-purpose household cleaner can be made from 7 cups of water combined with 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup household ammonia. Cleaning hard surfaces will be particularly successful with this mixture. However, test more delicate surfaces such as wallpaper or fabric before use to make sure there will be no staining. Ammonia cleaning solutions in higher concentrations work well to scour an oven or to soak pans in order to loosen hard-to-clean, baked-on food.

Safety Precautions

While ammonia cleaning solutions are excellent tools to keep the house clean, many people have concerns about ammonia's effect on their health. Generally speaking, low concentrations of ammonia, such as those found in household-strength ammonia cleaning solutions, are not harmful to healthy people. Take precautions to avoid excessive inhalation or splashing. When ammonia cleaning, 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.

Ammonia and Bleach Don't Mix

A final word of caution: 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. For this reason, it’s essential to know what your cleaning solutions are made of so you will avoid mixing potentially harmful chemicals. If you have been exposed, you might experience nausea, white spots in your vision and wooziness, which is a result of lack of oxygen to the brain. Ventilate the area and call 911.

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

To get your home sparkling clean, hire a reliable professional cleaner

Updated December 18, 2017.

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