10 Cleaners That Can Do the Most Damage

While most people don’t love to clean house, it's a job that must be done. But in doing that job, we're often relying on cleaning products that can harm our homes and our health. Always be sure to use cleaning products safely and sparingly, and be especially careful with these 10 cleaners that can do the most damage.

  1. Bleach and Ammonia

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    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.

    Related: 11 Chores You've Been Doing Wrong All Along

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  2. Magic Eraser

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    magic eraser warnings

    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.

    Related: These Are the Only 9 Cleaning Supplies You Really Need This Spring

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  3. Vinegar

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    vinegar for cleaning

    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.

    Related: 10 Handy Household Uses for Vinegar

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  4. Furniture Polish

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    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.

    Related: 7 Ways You May Be Ruining All Your Furniture

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  5. Silica-Based Powdered Cleansers

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    ajax cleaner

    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. 

    Related: 10 Reasons You Shouldn't Toss Silica Gel Packets

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  6. Liquid Drain Cleaner

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    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.

    Related: 10 Plumbing Tips Everyone Needs to Know

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  7. Oven Cleaner

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    oven cleaner danger

    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.

    Related: 12 Household Cleaning Mistakes That Are Making You Sick

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  8. Powdered Laundry Detergent

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    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.

    Related: 12 Laundry Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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  9. Cleanser Pods

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    detergent pods danger

    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.

    Related: These Are the Most Common Ways People Hurt Themselves at Home

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  10. Glass Cleaner

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    glass cleaner uses

    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.

    Related: 9 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Windows Ever

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