Ah TikTok, a place where people go to upload videos of themselves holding cute octopuses that turn out to be one of the deadliest creatures in the ocean and tutorials on how to accidentally inhale gases banned by the Geneva Convention while cleaning the toilet.
Ok, that's unfair and we know there's a lot more to it than that, but the fun sea shanties and skits tend not to make the news. Nevertheless, there's a new trend of TikTok "ASMR" videos that could feasibly see someone get gassed.
The videos, posted under such wholesome hashtags as "toiletoverload", tend to show people putting in a horrendous mix of chemicals and cleaning products into a toilet or onto other bathroom surfaces, before mixing it all together, sometimes while not wearing gloves.
Though not really our bag, that's not the main issue. If you like colorful liquids being poured into a toilet and mixed around, we're not here to judge that specifically. In fact, here's a few more for you to "enjoy".
You happy now?
However, this is very much a "don't try it at home" scenario, unless you've really, really looked at the ingredient lists on all your products and have a general understanding of chemistry. Should you mix the wrong cleaning products – and it only takes two – you could end up either destroying your toilet (this is a best-case scenario here) or giving your lungs a big hit of a gas banned by the Geneva Convention.
First off, if you mix bleach and acids, you're going to get chlorine.
"When chlorine bleach is mixed with an acid, chlorine gas is produced. Chlorine gas and water combine to make hydrochloric or hypochlorous acids," Utah Health write in a safety notice.
"Chlorine gas exposure, even at low levels, almost always irritates the mucous membranes (eyes, throat and nose), and causes coughing and breathing problems, burning and watery eyes, and a runny nose. Higher levels of exposure can cause chest pain, more severe breathing difficulties, vomiting, pneumonia, and fluid in the lungs. Very high levels can cause death."
Next up, if you should accidentally end up mixing rubbing alcohol (which contains ethanol, of course) with household bleach (which contains sodium hypochlorite) the two will react to make (among other things) chloroform. You will know it either as a very early anesthetic, or the chemical everyone accidentally huffs in cartoons before passing out.
Ammonia and bleach, meanwhile, will react to make chloramines, which in high quantities can cause chest pain, coughing, and in really high quantities, death. All these will make you wish that you had merely mixed vinegar and baking soda and exploded your toilet, or hydrogen peroxide and vinegar and ended up corroding your toilet.
If you didn't know of these potential reactions, don't feel bad. Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, poison control in the US saw a spike in calls after people took cleaning to an excess, and ended up poisoning themselves using some of the combinations above.