I Poured Bleach Down My Drain: The Do's and Don'ts Afterward (2023)

Sep - Discover Plumbing and Rooters Inc. - Blog

I poured bleach down my drain by accident.” And you now probably have many questions. Like: Is it dangerous? Does bleach clean drains? How to dispose of bleach? And of course, the “What do I do now?”

I Poured Bleach Down My Drain: Is It Dangerous? What Do I Do Now?

Is Pouring Bleach Down the Drain Dangerous?

Short Answer: YES.

Long Answer:

Bleach is a toxic and volatile compound that needs to be handled with care. Certainly, pouring it down a drain is dangerous and not the proper use.

What Happens After I Poured Bleach Down my Drain?

I Poured Bleach Down My Drain: The Do's and Don'ts Afterward (1)

Pouring bleach down the drain is dangerous since it reacts with substances in your pipes, release toxic fumes when mixed with other household cleaners, clog or damage your drains and pipes, and kill the good bacteria of your septic system.

As professionals in the plumbing industry, we recommend that you follow these recommendations when handling bleach and similar cleaners:

  • Avoid at all cost contact with skin, eyes, mouth, and nose.
  • Wear eye protection and masks to avoid small amounts splashed into your eyes and breathing it.
  • Wear protective rubber gloves.
  • Always wash your hands before and after cleaning.

Bleach Can React with Other Substances in Your Pipes

Putting bleach into the sink is dangerous because bleach can mix with residual substances in the pipes.

As you know, your pipelines have P-traps. And when you pour a bleach solution into the sink, some of it will remain trapped in the P-traps.

The worst thing will be if the next person using the sink pours something like acids, alcohol, or ammonia. And bleach reacts aggressively to these substances.

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So, first: never pour bleach into the sink. Second, if you do by accident, you can flush bleach away with abundant water.

Bleach Releases Toxic Fumes when Mixed with Other Household Cleaners

Well, it is time to talk about toxic relationships (lol). But seriously, bleach is a very reactive and unstable compound. And it can create several hazardous toxins and fumes when it gets mixed with some household cleaners.

What Happens When Bleach Is Mixed with Ammonia?

You might think: I don’t think anything bad will happen afterI poured bleach down my drain.

Get ready for this. Only bad things could happen!

When mixing bleach and ammonia, toxic gases called chloramines are the product.

The resulting poisonous chloramine gas will scape the pipelines and circulate throughout the kitchen and house air.

Depending on how long someone is exposed or the amount of gas released, chloramine gas can make that person sick and even cause his/her death.

Exposure to chloramine gases can cause:

  • Irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and the respiratory system.
  • Shortness of breath and coughing.
  • Chest pain and wheezing.
  • Even Pneumonia.

What Happens If After I Poured Bleach Down My Drain I Add Acids?

Bad idea!

Simply put: Bleach should never be mixed with acids. Need I say more?

Well, I will just because we care about you and your safety.

Bleach plus an acid is one of the most volatile solutions, and the resulting product is chlorine gas.

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The highly toxic chlorine gas can cause:

  • Breathing problems.
  • Burning eyes.
  • Burnings on your skin.
  • Severe internal burnings when inhaled.
  • Vomiting.
  • Pneumonia, and even death.

So, think twice before pouring bleach down the drain and then adding acids to the mixture.

The most common acid that pops into our minds is vinegar. You can find acids also in conventional household products that are used to clean and disinfect like toilet bowl cleaners, glass and window cleaners, drain cleaners, and rust removers.

The unintentional mixing of chlorine with acids is one of the most common home accidents, resulting in thousands of injuries every year.

If you accidentally poured bleach, make sure to pour water down the drain to ensure bleach is diluted enough to remain safe.

Household Cleaners & Substances You Should Never Mix with Bleach:

  • Ammonia
  • Vinegar & acids
  • Rubbing alcohol & acetone
  • Toilet cleaners
  • Disinfectants
  • Pesticides

Mixing bleach with any of these household cleaners will create toxic gases that can contaminate the air in your house, and it will make you sick.

So be careful.

Bleach Clogs and Can Burst Your Household Drains and Pipes

You might think like this: “I poured bleach down my drain because it’s the easiest way to dispose of cleaning bleach.” Sure thing, it’s easy to pour it down the sink, but it’s very problematic afterward.

The thing is that bleach clogs and can burst your drains and pipes.

And there are other people that put bleach into the drains because they have heard bleach can bust clogs.

We’ll say it loud and clear:

BLEACH DOESN’T CLEAR DRAIN CLOGS.

Bleach is a powerful disinfectant and stain remover. But it has no value as a drain clog remover.

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Bleach cannot dissolve built-up drain gunk. It cannot dissolve things like food waste, breadcrumbs, grease, and hair.

Instead, pouring bleach into a clogged drain will make things worse. The bleach could react with other chemicals, creating dangerous fumes, and if the reaction is violent, it can even burst your drain pipes.

If you are looking for tips on how to unclog your kitchen sink, click here to read our step-by-step guide.

Bleach Kills the Good Bacteria of Your Septic System

I Poured Bleach Down My Drain: The Do's and Don'ts Afterward (2)

If you use a septic system instead of the main sewer line, pouring bleach into the drain pipes will kill the good bacteria that break down septic waste.

These bacteria digest your household waste, and if you kill them by adding bleach, all of the solid waste will soon clog your septic system.

By killing the ecosystem in your tank and drains, you may permanently damage it.

So, in simple words: bleach is harmful to your septic system.

How to Dispose of Bleach?

Well, if you have an excess of bleach that you won’t use, we don’t advise you to pour bleach down your sink or toilet. So, how can you dispose of bleach?

We advise two things: Donate it to a friend or a local organization.

As you know, chlorine bleach has a lot of uses. So, someone else might make good use of it.

Give Bleach to a Friend:

Instead of pouring unused bleach down the drain (which is dangerous), you can ask friends or family members if they need bleach.

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Donate It to a Local Organization:

If you have some bottles of chlorine bleach that you won’t use, you can ask local organizations such as churches, homeless shelters, nursing homes, etc. if they would take some bleach.

You can call them or ask them in person. In the end, bleach is very useful, so it won’t be hard to find someone to donate it.

I Poured Bleach Down My Drain, What Do I Do Now?

I Poured Bleach Down My Drain: The Do's and Don'ts Afterward (3)

Well, for the umpteenth, we’ll say it: POURING BLEACH DOWN YOUR DRAIN IS QUITE DANGEROUS.

Time after time, bleach has proved how volatile and troublesome it’s when mixed with other chemicals, substances, and acids.

If you poured a considerable amount of bleach into your sink or toilet, the solution is quite simple. You will need to dilute it by pouring down abundant water.

To put into perspective how dangerous bleach is to wildlife, here we give you an example. If you pour one ounce of pure bleach down the sink, it’ll take as much as 9,928 liters of water to be safe for fish.

We are not saying that you should pour that humongous amount of water down the sink to dilute the ounce of chlorine-based bleach. We are advising you to stop pouring bleach down the sink altogether. And if by mistake, you poured chlorine-based bleach down the drain, you should use as much as 20 liters per ounce to somehow be diluted.

Never Pour Bleach Down Your Household Drain

From any perspective, pouring chlorine-based bleach is a BAD IDEA.

Bleach has many uses. You can use it effectively to clean and disinfect surfaces and floors, to do your laundry, even to increase the longevity of your vase flowers, and much more. And these uses won’t present any risk.

Just like cooking oil, bleach is one of those things you shouldn’t pour into your sink.

You should also never use bleach to unclog your drains. Doing so can even burst your drain pipes, and you’ll be left with a nasty and expensive mess.

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Last but not least, it’s harmful to the environment and sea life.

It’s time to say goodbye. I hope you learned that bleach is one of the chemicals you should never put into your household drains.

Stay safe, be happy, and see you the next time we bring more valuable tips and advice.


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