household cleaners

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Here’s What Really Happens If You Drink Bleach, Drain Cleaner, or Other Toxic Chemicals

We’ll say this: it’s not pretty
household cleaners

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Not pictured: anything remotely edible. 

Every bottle of toxic household chemicals, including bleach, drain cleaner, furniture polish, and window cleaner, comes with a prominent warning: DO NOT DRINK. Clearly, if you should decide to drink a bottle of Drano, untold horrors will be visited upon you. But what would those horrors entail, exactly?

We did a little digging and found out exactly what would happen to you if you were to drink one of these toxic concoctions. A word of warning: it’s not pretty.  If you or someone you know consumed these chemical cleaners, call the poison control center at (800) 222-1222 immediately.

Bleach
Household bleach is a dilution of about 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite in water. Bleach is what’s called an oxidizer, meaning that it strips electrons from whatever it touches. But that’s on a molecular level. On a human level, it burns. If you touch bleach, you’ll receive a mild chemical burn. If you drink bleach, you’ll be burned all the way down your esophagus into your stomach. A small amount consumed will result in stomach pain; a large amount will result in “a gagging sensation, pain in the mouth and throat, burns in the esophagus, chest pain, low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, delirium, coma, shock, vomiting, and stomach or abdominal pain,” according to reference.com.

Drain Cleaner
Most drain cleaners contain a cocktail of really nasty corrosive chemicals; liquid Drano, for example, contains sodium hydroxide (lye) mixed with bleach. Lye is incredibly caustic and corrosive, and begins to break down tissue as soon as it comes in contact with it. And bleach, well, we already know how nasty that can be. Consume even a small amount of drain cleaner and you’re going to have a really, really bad day.  

Furniture Polish
Furniture polish, like all other organic solvents, contains hydrocarbons as well as a lot of other nasty toxins. Drinking it will result in severe pain in the throat and stomach, vomiting, throat swelling, dizziness, and eventually unconsciousness. And because of the chemical makeup of hydrocarbons, it can easily make its way into the lungs during ingestion, which can result in asphyxiation.

Window Cleaner
Windex contains cleaning agents, solvents, surfactants, and ammonia. Drink any amount of glass cleaner and you’ll experience serious abdominal pain, throat swelling, and difficulty breathing; your odds of serious injury or death depend on the quantity consumed and how quickly it’s treated. 

Related

To learn about nine chemicals that are lurking in your fast food, click here.