Bleach Poisoning

Avoiding and Recognizing Bleach Poisoning

Couples with small children are usually aware of the dangers of bleach poisoning. They take precautions to prevent their child from gaining access to cabinets where bleach – and products containing bleach – are kept, but there are dangers even for adults.

Many do not realize that it takes ingesting just a small amount of any product containing bleach to cause a negative physical reaction. In some cases, merely breathing the fumes can cause bleach poisoning. 

The very first thing anyone should do if they suspect bleach poisoning is to call the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222.  The phones are manned 24 hours a day, and guidance can be offered based on specific information that you provide.

Here are some tips for avoiding bleach poisoning.

Never allow children or pets access to areas in which you store bleach.

When you are done with a product containing bleach, be sure to put it away in a secure location.

Do not allow bleach to remain on surfaces. Instead, when used for cleaning, be sure to thoroughly wipe the area until the product is gone.

When possible, only use bleach or products containing bleach in well ventilated areas.

NEVER mix a product containing bleach with a product containing ammonia.  Breathing fumes from this combination can quickly cause serious illness or death.

Even if you do make sure the area is well-ventilated, it is still possible to have a reaction to bleach products. If you begin to feel dizzy, lightheaded or short of breath, leave the area immediately and call for help.

Below are some possible symptoms of bleach poisoning.

Burning in the throat
Skin irritation
Stomach pain

Of course, there are many other symptoms that can be attributed to bleach poisoning. If you suspect bleach poisoning, here is what you can do in addition to calling the poison control center.


If the product made contact with the skin, flush continuously with water for a minimum of 15 minutes.


If swallowed, DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING.  Call poison control or your local emergency number and follow the advice given.

You will need to be able to provide as much information as possible such as how much of the product was ingested, when it was ingested and some basic information about the person such as age, weight and any medical conditions.


If one is feeling dizzy or unwell after breathing fumes containing bleach, move the person into fresh air immediately.

Again, calling the poison control center at 800-222-1222 is essential in all cases of bleach poisoning. Follow their advice which, in many cases, will include a trip to the emergency room.

Failing to act in cases of serious bleach poisoning can have terrible consequences. Even if the bleach poisoning turns out to be minor, it is best to play it safe and have the person checked out.

In many cases, bleach poisoning can be prevented with some simple precautions. If, however, you do suspect such poisoning act quickly in order to have the best chance of a positive outcome.