Ammonia for Household Cleaning

Ammonia, technically named “ammonium hydroxide” is a commonly used household cleaning agent. Most often, you’ll see it as an additional ingredient in glass cleaners. Additionally, it’s often commonly used for jewelry cleaning and disinfectants. Ammonia has helpful purposes, but like many other cleaning supplies, you will need to keep in mind the safety recommendations for it.

The Smell

When ammonia is exposed to air, it becomes a gas with a terrible smell. Most of the household varieties of ammonia are a 5-10 percent concentration solution, making it not too terribly toxic to most adults in most situations. However, it can still burn the mouth, eyes, nose, and irritate the lungs of sensitive individuals or from prolonged exposure to fumes.

Ammonium hydroxide should be kept away from children and pets, and rooms must be well ventilated after using ammonia based cleaning agents. Any remaining solution should be disposed of properly.

It is also advisable to wear gloves when handling ammonium hydroxide to protect your skin, especially if your skin is prone to sensitivity.

What Can You Clean with Ammonia?

Porcelain, kitchen counters, stove tops, glass, stainless steel, and windows do well with ammonia. Simply add to a spray bottle and spray the surfaces you wish to clean. It tends to streak less than other cleaning products too, making it ideal for windows.

You can also spot treat soap spots and water spots on mirrors.

Despite its recognizable odor, it is a common household cleaner choice. It is inexpensive compared to other cleaning agents and works very well.


  • Use only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Ceiling fans will help with ventilation.
  • Keep from pets and children; they will be more sensitive to the fumes than adults.
  • Do NOT mix ammonia with any other household cleaners, especially bleach. Mixing ammonium hydroxide and bleach creates toxic gasses which may cause coughing, chest pain, and swelling of the lungs.
  • Test before using on any new surface. Sofas and carpets may respond well, but the cleaner may affect the coloring, so it’s best to test a hidden spot first.


Remember to use ammonium hydroxide safely, in well ventilated rooms, away from pets and children. Over exposure to fumes can cause burning feelings in the mouth, nose, eyes, and lungs. Other reported symptoms include pain, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, and blindness. Seek medical help or contact poison control if you accidentally ingest ammonia.