Go to fullsize image  You would think that with my recent postings on how to prevent toxic exposure from chemicals in your home, that I would know better.  But I didn’t!  I swear that I was totally ignorant about this!  I didn’t realize what I had done until I saw the toxic gas cloud rising from the chemical soup I inadvertantly created.  I am talking about mixing chlorine bleach and ammonia.  Yes, I did it and no, I didn’t mean to.

I was trying to hurry and get a bunch of household work finished while I had 2 kids napping at the same time.  Yes, I did say 2 kids.  It’s amazing, I know.  I was doing laundry and noticed a certain stench coming from the cat litter box.  You might be able to see where I am going with this already.  If not, hang in there for the fun.  Since I had a few extra minutes, I decided to go ahead and clean out the litter box. 

I went over to the box, looked in and thought “Holy cow!  I don’t think we remembered to scoop this thing out last week.” (Or was it the week before?  Gross, I know but try to forget about that fact).  So, of course, I look for the closest thing to clean it out with.  I spot a bottle of Clorox Bleach Cleanser that is in a spray bottle.  Perfect, I will just totally empty out the cat litter box and then spray it down with the bleach.  I want to use up the last of this bleach and be done with it.  I emptied the cat litter into a trash bag.  It is loaded with cat excrement.  It is totally disgusting.  Now I am wondering exactly when the last time anyone really cleaned this thing.  It really needs to be hosed down and scrubbed.  Our poor cat!  She has been living in filth!

Well, this is where the fatal error occurs.  I spray that bleach into the cat litter box as if it is going out of style.  The litter pan is soaking in it.  Suddenly, my eyes start to sting.  Kind of like when you chop an onion.  Then my throat starts to scratch.  Then my eyes are watering.  Then they are stinging so badly that I can’t see out of them.  Then I am coughing.  I scream out some choice words as I grab the litter pan and bolt up the stairs as fast as a blinded wheezing person can.  I make it outside into the fresh air.  My eyes started to clear up a little bit and I grab the hose to spray down the pan with water.  I finally look at my lovely litter pan.  It is literally smoking with hazardous chemical vapors.  I realized that I could have just made me and my children very, very ill.  Possibly fatally ill depending on how much material was available for the chemical reaction to continue.

What happened is this:  I never thought about the fact that cat urine is loaded with ammonia.  Thus, the it’s characteristic smell.  I never thought about the fact that I was pouring bleach onto ammonia.  For those of you who are not aware, you NEVER want to mix bleach and ammonia.  The reaction between these two chemicals creates a noxious chlorine gas.  Chlorine gas causes irritation to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract in small doses.  In large doses, it can kill.  It was used as chemical warfare (mustard gas) in previous world wars.  Sounds great right?? Can you imagine what could have happened if it had overtaken me quickly?  This all occurred in a matter of minutes, let’s not think about if I had been in a confined area.

My friends, to all of you who love your bleach and bleach products, GET RID OF THEM!  Get them out of your house, so you don’t have an accident such as this.  It was not fun and it could have been much worse.  I literally couldn’t see!!  What if my kids had been in the room?  My little baby with her delicate body?  Thank goodness we are all safe and healthy.  But learn from my stupidity.  Never, EVER, combine anything that contains bleach and ammonia.  I will definitely use some safe nontoxic mild soap next time around.  I just might excuse myself from cleaning the litter pan from now on.  I am obviously not qualified to complete such an important task.  I guess Tomas will just have to do it from now on.  Oh darn!

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