Does Ammonia in Cleaning Products Kill Germs?

Save

Ammonia is a toxic gas common in Earth's atmosphere as well as the atmospheres of other planets, including Jupiter, but you would never use it for cleaning. Instead, you would use ammonium hydroxide, which is ammonia mixed with water. This compound is alkaline, which makes it caustic, and its cleaning action is that of a strong detergent. It's tough on germs, but it isn't listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a disinfectant and isn't a substitute for chlorine bleach.

How Ammonia Works

Because it's alkaline, like lye, ammonia has the ability to combine with fats and oils and turn them into soap. When you clean with ammonia -- or more properly, ammonium hydroxide -- you effectively create a layer of soap on the surface that, because it's wet, easily wipes away with a cloth. Any ammonium hydroxide left on the surface evaporates quickly without leaving streaks, which is why ammonia-based cleaners are recommended for smooth, polished surfaces, such as glass.

Ammonia Isn't a Disinfectant

The question of whether ammonia-based cleaners kill germs is a complex one. Some household disinfecting cleaners contain ammonia, and cleaners sometimes recommend it as an alternative to bleach. The fact that the EPA does not recognize it as a disinfectant, however, means that you shouldn't rely on it for this purpose. It may kill salmonella and e. Coli, for example, while being ineffective against the staphylococcus bacteria. The same can be said for vinegar, which is also often recommended as a disinfectant.

Warning

  • Never mix ammonia with bleach. The combination produces dangerous toxic fumes.

Even So ...

Reputable sources, such as Utah State University Extension, recommend mixing ammonia with detergent or with vinegar and baking soda to make an all-purpose household cleaner. Such cleaners may be effective disinfectants simply by virtue of their ability to physically remove microbes from nonporous surfaces.

Got Mold?

The EPA and other government agencies no longer recommend bleach for mold cleanup. Instead, they advise physically scrubbing the mold with detergent. Adding ammonia to a detergent solution increases the cleaning potential of the detergent and makes scrubbing more effective. It won't prevent the mold from growing back, though.

The Bottom Line

Don't rely on ammonia as a disinfectant. It's a strong cleaner that can make cleaning easier, and it may kill some germs, but if you need sterile conditions, use a registered disinfectant, such as bleach. If you have a product containing ammonia that claims to be a disinfectant, it probably contains other disinfecting ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide.

Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

You May Also Like

  • How to Clean with Ammonia

    Ammonia is an active ingredient in many of the expensive cleaning supplies found on store shelves. Save yourself some money and grab...

  • Quaternary Ammonium: Advantages & Disadvantages

    Ensure a clean and safe home or workplace by choosing the right disinfectant.

  • Does Ammonia Kill Grass?

    Does Ammonia Kill Septic Tank Bacteria? An ingredient in household cleaners and solutions, ammonia is effective in killing germs and bacteria as...

  • How to Disinfect With Rubbing Alcohol

    Three common disinfectants are isopropyl alcohol, bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Cleaning materials image by TekinT from Fotolia.com. How to Use Alcohol to...

  • Ammonia for Cleaning

    Many commercial glass cleaners contain some percentage of ammonia for good reason. Ammonia will not only remove dirt and fingerprints from your...

  • What Germs Does Lysol Kill?

    Germs are microscopic, infection- and disease-spreading organisms that can live in the body and air and on the majority of household surfaces....

  • Does Ammonia Kill Mites?

    Does Household Ammonia Kill Germs? Comments. Related Ads. View Photos Fabulous Fireplaces for Any Style You May Like. Does Vinegar Kill Dust...

  • How Does Lysol & Bleach Kill Microorganisms?

    Does Ammonia Kill Septic Tank Bacteria? An ingredient in household cleaners and solutions, ammonia is effective in killing germs and bacteria as...

  • Does Lemon Juice Kill Germs?

    Comments You May Also Like. Does Ammonia Kill Septic Tank Bacteria? An ingredient in household cleaners and solutions, ammonia is effective in...

  • Homemade Disinfectant Cleaner for Laundry

    Ammonia is a very harsh disinfectant that can be added in small amounts to laundry loads. Add about 1/4 cup to a...

Related Searches

Read Article

5 Small Entryway Decorating Ideas

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!