Is Ammonia safe?

Household Ammonia is diluted with water, but you can (I do) further dilute it with water before you use it.  It can clean even the most stubborn grime in your bathroom, kitchen and other places, but it smells awful and for a reason.  Ammonia is a gas and you don’t want to be inhaling it.  So if you do decide to clean with ammonia, make sure the area you clean is well-ventilated.  Note that many of the cleaning products you buy have ammonia as a base ingredient, masked with pretty scents.  So if you choose to buy a window cleaner, instead of ammonia, for example (there are instructions on my jug of ammonia for how to make your own window cleaner-see below), still you should use it in a well-ventilated area.  This stuff is strong!  So strong that I love it for the bathroom because I like things to be extremely sterile in there.  But I use it sparingly because I don’t wantmy kids or pets to accidentally get to it.

The one bit of caution that I hear and read over and over again, although I have never seen in action is not to mix ammonia with bleach or toilet bowl cleaner ever!  Apparently that combination of fumes is completely toxic and harmful.

How to make homeade cleaning products (from


  • About 7 pints cold water (108 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup soapy ammonia
  • 1 pint rubbing alcohol

Fill a 1- or 2-gallon bucket with the water. Carefully add the ammonia and rubbing alcohol.

Mix well and pour into spray bottles.

To distinguish this clear liquid from other cleaners, tint it with a drop or two of blue food coloring.


  • 6 teaspoons light olive oil
  • 3 cups distilled white vinegar

Pour the oil and vinegar into a 1-quart spray bottle. Blend well.

Spray the cleaner onto wood, wipe over with a damp cloth, and finish drying with a clean, lint-free cloth.

(Note: Use this cleaner only on sealed wood.)


  • 1 piece aluminum foil (big enough to cover the bottom of the cleaning container)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 quarts very hot water

Lay the aluminum foil along the bottom of a plastic or glass container.

Place the tarnished silver on top.

Sprinkle the silver with baking soda, and cover it with very hot water.

Soak until bubbles stop, then rinse and polish the silver with a soft cloth.

In the chemical reaction, the silver sulfide (tarnish) breaks down and transfers to the aluminum foil, which you can then throw out. The result: shiny silver.

(Note: This technique removes tarnish uniformly, so don’t use it with antique or intricately patterned silver.)

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