Not Found Dead With A Toilet Brush

Seriously I should have paid much closer attention in chemistry class. Ok, I should have paid some attention in chemistry class.

Is it really common knowledge that ammonia and bleach create a toxic gas that can kill? Surely not every single other adult knows this except me, right? Damnit.

So as a substitute teacher I am not actually working so much yet. Ok, I haven’t accepted a single sub job yet this year. All the items on my summer to-do list I had back in June have moved to the fall to-do list. Honestly I didn’t complete a single item on my to-do list. Now that the kids are back in school I am diligently working on my to-do list which includes lots of big organization jobs, but I still have to fit in the typical cleaning house jobs too.

Yesterday morning I was busy scrubbing bathrooms. I was working on the tiny toilet closet on our main floor. It really is basically a closet with a toilet and sink. I squeezed some Clorox toilet bowl cleaner on the inside of the toilet bowl. I only got half way around the bowl before I ran out. I checked the cabinet under the sink, no Clorox cleaner but there was a bottle of Lysol cleaner. I’m not really a fan of Lysol products, I’m unsure why I had Lysol, my husband probably bought it. I thought, ‘well they are both toilet cleaners, just different brands’ so I coated the other side of the bowl with Lysol cleaner. Lysol is more watery and doesn’t cling to the sides of the bowl as nicely as Clorox does. So I watched as the green Clorox cleaner slowly dripped down the sides leaving a nice coat that would clean the bowl and I watched the blue Lysol basically race down the sides leaving very little behind on the sides. I remember thinking it was a good comparison of how each product worked and clearly Clorox was winning.

Then I remembered I hadn’t fed the dogs so I left the toilet closet and fed the dogs and warmed up my coffee.

I returned to the bathroom to scrub the sink, clean the mirror, and wipe down light switches, baseboards, and door handles. As I wiped things my eyes began to sting. I kept blinking in an attempt to clear the irritant. I thought it was the window cleaner I was using on the mirror that was irritating my eyes or maybe the Clorox wipes, although I use the wipes all the time.

I then used the wipes to wipe down the toilet lid, toilet seat, and toilet rim while observing how the Clorox side of the toilet seemed to gleam more than the Lysol side, confirming my belief that Clorox is a superior product. It was then time to scrub the bowl with the brush.

My eyes were still stinging and I felt woozy. It was weird. Still, I scrubbed away, excited about my new toilet brush that really got up under the rim and also looking at the basket of magazines in the basket on the back of the toilet and thinking, ‘why do I put these here, no one reads them in the bathroom, pretty sure my boys watch YouTube on their phones while they pinch one off, I should really have them use some Clorox wipes on their phones.’

I remember standing up and seeing black spots in my peripheral vision and feeling nauseated. The wooziness morphed into a full on disorienting spin and I tipped sideways. Luckily, because the bathroom is a tiny closet, the wall caught me and I saw the toilet bowl swirling in front of me and the green and blue cleaners swirling in the bowl. That is when I realized I was poisoning myself. I flushed the toilet and stumbled from the bathroom heading for my deck.

I fumbled with the door handle before propelling myself out into the rain.

I collapsed into a chair on my deck with my face to the clouds breathing deeply.

I stayed like that for about 15 minutes, unable to stand without feeling dizzy.

When I came in the air seemed thick with toxic fumes. I opened all the windows and went to flush the toilet again and rinse the toilet brush that I had dropped on the floor.

In the minuscule moment between hitting the wall and flushing the toilet I had a vision of my kids returning from school to find me dead on the floor with a toilet brush in my hand. As if that wasn’t enough I realized the chemical reaction would have continued in the small bathroom for hours putting my kids and pets in danger as well.

In case there are a handful of you that also didn’t pay attention in chemistry or who also don’t read warning labels on household products, please note that ammonia and bleach create chloramine vapor which can be deadly. To be safe never combine household cleaners or simply don’t ever clean.

I’m not glad this happened but I’m thankful it was a story I could share with my kids, not that they every clean anything, but in the future they will have to take care of their own home, maybe they will remember my story and not make the same mistake.

I am really grateful I did not become one of the statistics of most household deaths occur in the bathroom.

No, this post had absolutely nothing to do with diabetes, not everything does.

One thought on “Not Found Dead With A Toilet Brush

  1. Yeah, I must have missed that day in chemistry class too. When I first bought my house, the kitchen had an old linoleum floor that always looked dingy. Nothing would get it clean. One day, I mixed ammonia and bleach in my bucket – because if they each clean well, then they would both clean better! And they did, my floor never looked so good. But by the time I finished scrubbing on my hands and knees, I was practically coughing up a lung.

    When Pete found out, he told me how toxic it was and how lucky I was to be alive. The cough lasted about a week. But damn, that ugly floor never looked better!


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