Skip to Content

Can You Mix Hydrogen Peroxide and Bleach? (Explained)

Anyone who has ever cleaned their own homes has tried to mix cleaning agents. Most people have the notion that mixing up two cleaning agents can make the cleaner stronger.

In the hopes that the cleaner works better, many people add one strong chemical to another. Two such solutions are hydrogen peroxide and bleach. But is it safe to mix the two cleaning agents?

Can you mix hydrogen peroxide and bleach?

Mixing hydrogen peroxide with bleach will result in a chemical exothermic reaction that could violently produce large amounts of oxygen. Combining the two cleaning agents does not enhance their whitening effects on surfaces or clothes. The oxidant in bleach breaks down hydrogen peroxide.

You should not mix the two. It will create many fumes that can be harmful for you. But can you mix them for laundry? Let’s find out.

For laundry:

When washing clothes, whether by hands or in the washing machine, many people attempt to mix two cleaning agents so that clothes come out cleaner.

When you are using hydrogen peroxide or bleach, it is never a good idea to mix the two cleaners. While both are individually effective in making your clothes clean and removing hard stains, mixing the two can be risky.

The risk in mixing hydrogen peroxide with bleach, especially in a washing machine is the formation of excess oxygen.

If you are not wary of the concentrations, the reaction could produce too much oxygen inside the washing machine. And because it is a closed space, there could be a risk of blow off as well.

While you can still minimize the health risk by lowering the concentrations of the two solutions, mixing hydrogen peroxide with bleach in the laundry is not effective either.

When these two are mixed, your clothes are not cleaned any more than they would have with one cleaner. This is because the hypochlorite compound in bleach is a stronger oxidant between the two.

Hence bleach will always dissolve hydrogen peroxide in the reaction to produce water. As a result, when the two are mixed, only chlorine bleach is the one that can work on your clothes.

This is precisely why mixing bleach and hydrogen peroxide is never as effective as one would expect. However, you can be sure that despite producing oxygen, no other toxic fumes are produced from the reaction.

Is it safe to mix bleach with hydrogen peroxide?

Whenever you are searching for ways to make your clothes cleaner and double the white effect on them, mixing two cleaning agents can never be the answer.

Bleach, in particular, can be one of those solutions that, when reacting with other cleaners and chemicals, can produce violent or toxic fumes.

When bleach is mixed with hydrogen peroxide is mixed, there is an exothermic chemical reaction. The chemical reaction instantly produces a lot of oxygen. The risk in mixing the two is the risk of blow off, in case there is too much oxygen produced.

Although there is no production of toxic fumes that may be harmful to human health, mixing bleach with hydrogen peroxide can only be safe with the right safety precautions.

This would include adding the agents in a well-ventilated area while maintaining a safe distance. You’d have to wear goggles and gloves and use concentrations of both that do not produce too much oxygen.

Can you mix hydrogen peroxide and hair bleach? When do you mix hydrogen peroxide and bleach?

Whether you plan to use hair bleach or hydrogen peroxide to bleach the color of your hair, the process involves the use of strong chemicals.

Hair bleaching involves the removal of hair color by the use of an alkaline agent followed by an oxidant present in both bleach and hydrogen peroxide.

Since both these solutions are strong chemicals, you should not mix one with the other. Instead, it is advised that hydroperoxide should be mixed with water to tone it down before it is applied to the hair.

Although it is not advisable to mix bleach with any other cleaning agent, you can still mix both if you are cleaning stubborn stains off certain surfaces.

In that case, you would need to keep the concentrations and amounts of both solutions in a balance, so that too much oxygen formation can be avoided.

Balancing the among of bleach used is vital to keep the effectiveness of both the cleaning agents intact.

3 reasons why you should not mix hydrogen peroxide and bleach

By now you have already grasped the idea that hydrogen peroxide and bleach should not be mixed.

Here are a few reasonable explanations of why you should not think of mixing bleach with hydrogen peroxide:

There is a risk of blow off:

The basic reaction which involves bleach and hydrogen peroxide involves the production of oxygen.

While that might not sound dangerous, the reaction can be quite violent. If concentrated hydrogen peroxide is mixed with highly concentrated bleach, the exothermic reaction may be so violent that there could be a blow off.

This is particularly risky if the mixing is done in an area where ventilation is not enough.

One chemical nullifies another:

Since the sodium hypochlorite in any bleach is much stronger than the one in hydrogen peroxide, instead of the two compounds combining to form a stronger solution, one nullifies the other.

The breakdown of hydrogen peroxide would mean that one cleaner does not contribute to cleaning at all.

Since the breakdown produces water, the bleach could be diluted in effect. If mixing two cleaning agents does not enhance the whitening effect, there is no reason to mix the two!

Risk of injuries:

If too much of the two cleaning agents have been added together, without the addition of any water to dilute it, there is a chance that the vessel or container will overflow.

If the chemicals splatter into one’s eyes or skin, there could be possible irritation as well. If there is a buildup of too much oxygen, the blow off could physically injure people and ruin properties around.

What happens when you mix hydrogen peroxide and bleach?

If you wish to wholly understand why hydrogen peroxide should not be mixed with bleach, it’s important to know what goes down when the two are added together.

Here is what happens:

An exothermic chemical reaction:

If you wish to dissect the science of it, when hydrogen peroxide is mixed with bleach, a chemical reaction occurs which is exothermic.

An exothermic reaction is one in which two compounds react and energy is given off. In this reaction, the energy is given off as heat and oxygen.

Other than that, the reaction also produced salt and water. Since there is an approximately large energy change, the reaction can be a risky one when conducted in a small or less ventilated space.

An oxidation reaction:

We understand that oxygen is produced and good amounts of it as well. This is why lower qualities and less concentrated solutions should be used due to the risk of blow off.

Since bleach is a chemical that contains hypochlorite, it directly oxidizes and breaks down hydrogen peroxide. Not only does this cause violent release of oxygen, but it also ionizes the hydrogen peroxide since bleach happens to have the stronger oxidant.

What should you not mix with hydrogen peroxide?

No doubts that hydrogen peroxide is a great cleaning agent. Moreover, it is also a versatile solution that can be used as a disinfectant, oxidizer, and antiseptic as well.

When hydrogen peroxide is mixed with certain other chemicals, the reaction can be violent, sometimes toxic. In some cases, the resultant solution is highly acidic, while in other cases it could produce gases that can be highly poisonous.

One of the worst mixtures that can be irritating to human senses is when hydrogen peroxide is mixed with vinegar.

Mixing hydrogen peroxide and vinegar produces a strong acid called peracetic acid. This acid is highly corrosive to surfaces as well.

Other than that, bleach and baking soda should not be mixed with hydrogen peroxide as well. The two reactions are both exothermic and can produce violent aftermaths. High concentrations of the reactants can cause an blow off in some cases.

For better disinfectant abilities, you can safely mix rubbing alcohol.

Nevertheless, there are certain chemicals and solutions that you should never add to hydrogen peroxide. Here is a list:

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Bleach
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Other toilet cleaners or detergents

Final Thoughts

Mixing bleach with hydrogen peroxide is not considered to be safe, nor effective when used together as a cleaning agent. The reaction produces oxygen violently, running the risk of blow off. However, you can mix hydrogen peroxide and bleach in smaller quantifies and low concentration.