Saturday, 21 November 2015


I had something else in my head to write about, but then I changed my mind. It's weekend right? So I figured this may save someone's life. This is my experience when I accidentally mixed death in a bottle.

It was a Saturday morning and I woke up with a plan to wage war against all dirt and germs present in my toilet, as well as get ready for a meeting scheduled for nine o'clock. I reached out for the bottle of harpic which was almost finished and was about to apply it to the toilet bowl when my eyes fell on the bottle of bleach I purchased the previous day and I paused. Well...I thought to myself, "I could just make a 'ready-to-use mixture' of both the harpic and the bleach in the harpic bottle since it was almost empty".....BAD IDEA. Plus, it will clean the dirt thoroughly (this was just a typical trust issue because I felt that the harpic scents too good to be doing any serious cleaning).

The bottle felt warm after the mixture, but this didn't dissuade me from applying it to the toilet bowl.....BADDEST IDEA. As soon as I did that, a harsh, offensive odour clouded the toilet which I ignored with the thought that it will stop in a minute or two. I went on to brush my teeth while allowing 'my poison' seep into the toilet bowl so I can achieve maximum bright white. I'm trying to brush and at the same time reminding my brain to tell my lungs that she's supposed to be taking in air.

Oh God! what's happening? My knees were getting weak, and I was getting dizzy and the same time I could feel my lungs closing while I was coughing intensely. Typing now, I could remember this feeling like it happened yesterday. I was able to make a call to my neighbour, but I couldn't say much, Her doctor instincts kicked in immediately she stepped in. First thing was to open the windows and the doors of the room, as the odour from the toilet had also polluted the room. I drank a lot of water but the pain in my chest didn't stop till the next day and the pungent smell stuck in my nostrils all through the day. Did I make it to the meeting? Yes....but as late as twelve o'clock.

Curiosity got a hold of me all through the day and I couldn't wait to find out what exactly happened. I went on google and searched and to my surprise, I had a thousand and one search result. It just dawned on me that this was a common accident that can be prevented if only we read labels of products before use (and to think I was taught this in an Environmental Health Course). I didn't read either until this event happened. and the irony is that it was clearly stated on the bottle of the harpic; "KEEP ONLY IN ORIGINAL CONTAINER, DO NOT MIX WITH DRAIN CLEANERS OR BLEACH PRODUCTS", and on the bleach (hypo bleach in my case), it was written: DO NOT USE WITH OTHER PRODUCTS LIKE ACID AND AMMONIA, MAY RELEASE DANGEROUS GASES [CHLORINE]". 'Acid and Ammonia'- the exact ingredients active in harpic.

If I had my chemistry at my fingertips, they would have been useful (unlike algebra), and I should have remembered that on adding acid to bleach, it will react to give off chlorine gas and water. Lesson learnt, and I hope this is helpful to you too......well! the story of my life!!

Hey!!! Don't just read and sneak out, I love to hear from you, your comments mean a lot to me!!!



  1. Now this better explains why I choke and almost cough my lungs out each time our house keeper cleans the bathroom...I've begged her to stick to one of the two ( though I was arguing based on health grounds) but she argues that it makes the toilet white, I'm going to give her some education tomorrow

    1. Please do Omoye....I can't imagine myself going through this experience repeatedly. I'm glad this article was useful.