Bleach is a common ingredient in many home cleaning solutions, especially those that promise to disinfect or to kill mold and mildew spores. While bleach is an effective cleaning solution, it is toxic under certain circumstances. This is what makes it dangerous to use in a steam cleaning machine. Using it in a steam cleaning machine can cause serious health issues and it can damage the actual machine.
Bleach Health Issues
Bleach is a toxic chemical if you ingest it or if you breath the fumes that come off the liquid. This is why any cleaning solution that contains bleach will recommend that you use the solution in a well-ventilated area. If you don't, the fumes can give you a headache, make you dizzy, cause you to cough or cause more serious issues. Serious issues include slow heartbeat, chest paint, delirium and even coma.
Bleach Steam Health Issues
Bleach is toxic even when you use it normally. Adding it to a steam cleaner will only make the bleach more likely to get inside you as it dissipates in the room you're cleaning. Steam from bleach will cause burning and red eyes, gagging, blistering and pains in your throat. A high concentration of bleach could burn your esophagus.
Damage to Steam Cleaners
Steam cleaning manufacturers do not recommend using bleach in a steam-cleaning machine. They also mention to not use bleach to clean the machine itself, as the bleach can degrade plastic and rubber components in the machine. Don't use bleach to clean a steam cleaner machine unless the manufacturer recommends it. If it does, work in a well-ventilated area and don't operate the steam function with bleach in the tank.
Damage to Materials
Steam cleaning machines generally need only water to remove even very tough buildup in your carpet and home surfaces. Water is effective because it reaches a high temperature easily and it doesn't damage very many surfaces in your home. Using bleach in your home steam cleaning machine will damage carpets, wood floors, natural stone floors and upholstery.
Kaye Wagner has been working in the fields of journalism and public relations since 2006 and is a recipient of a National Hearst Award. She is particularly interested in home-and-garden projects, as well as beauty and fashion writing. An avid traveler, she also writes travel reviews and guides. Wagner earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University.