Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ammonia Poisoning?

My fridge had been wreaking for a few days. Even so much so that I didn't go to the grocery store because I didn't want to open it! (I secretly hoped my husband would clean it out, but no such luck.) Yesterday was the last straw. My husband and son went to church for choir practice and I had the house to myself. I decided tonight was the night that I would clean out the fridge.

When I got home from work I changed clothes, got my cleaning supplies together - complete with a few pair of latex gloves. I went old school on the cleaning method. I had Brillo pads, Clorox, and ammonia - along with some Dawn dish liquid. Yeah, this thing was gonna be clean and disinfected - maybe even sterilized!

I started taking all of the food (Mostly condiments. We don't keep much food in the fridge once the kids go away for the summer.) out of the fridge. After that I took all of the removable shelving and glass out. Anything that could be removed was and washed in the sink that had my cleaning mixture in it. I also had the same mixture in a bucket that I could use to clean out the fridge as well. So all of the shelves and bins went to the sink for a gold old scrubbing - Brillo style. I wasn't even going to wrestle with any stuck on mess - straight up scrubbing!

Those that had stick messes had to soak a while. All was good on that end. However, the trouble came when I went to clean out and wipe down the actual fridge. I got my bucket, Brillo, and cleaning towel and went to work. The top half of the fridge wasn't bad at all. It didn't require any scrubbing - just wiping down - cool. The bottom half, well, every time I looked at it I just shook my head. The further I got to the bottom, the worse the mess was.

Before I got half way down the fridge my eyes began to water. Then I started coughing and my nose started running. I was thinking, "man, what's up with this?" I kept scrubbing and things got worse. More coughing followed by gagging and eventually vomiting! Yeah, it was getting really bad. I ended up catching on that it was the mix in my bucket. But I couldn't stop cleaning the fridge. I moved the bucket away from me and just made trips back and forth.

By the time I finished cleaning out the fridge I was a mess. My eyes were constantly running water and I couldn't stop the coughing/choking/gagging and occasional vomiting. I even sucked on a few cough drops (and anyone who knows me knows I absolutely hate those things) and they did help a little bit. My fridge looked great, but I was a mess! I went upstairs to shower - hoping I would feel better. No haps! All of my symptoms continued on throughout the night. I ended up having to sleep with a face towel across my eyes because they continued to tear uncontrollably all through the night. Every time I would doze off, I began to cough again and that would keep me awake.

I woke up once during the night to use the bathroom and I decided to check the mirror because my eyes felt horrible. They looked even worse! They were swollen and bloodshot. I ran back to the bed before my husband could get up to see what I looked like. I still had time to get few hours of sleep and I was going to try. My efforts were futile as the coughing and watering eyes continued until morning. I must have fallen asleep in the wee hours because when my husband told me it was after 6:00am I could have died. I had just fallen asleep. Damn! I went into the bathroom and turned on the shower - no lights. Have mercy...when my husband turned those lights on, I screamed! He quickly shut them off and used the light from the adjoining toilet room to light up the bathroom. I was in bad shape and wanted to stay home from work, but I didn't.

When I got out of the shower and took a looking the mirror, I realized that my eyes were still swollen. I felt like I had been ran over by a truck - then drug for about 12 blocks. So more than 12 hours have passed since cleaning out the fridge at this point and I am still suffering from it.

I'm thinking all this time that maybe I was allergic to the cleaning mixture or something that had been left behind in the fridge...until I talk to one of my co-workers. I told him about me cleaning out the fridge and he says, "oh that sounds like ammonia poisoning." The look on my face is like huh? So I'm like, "What?" "Yeah, ammonia poisoning. If you breathe in too much of those fumes you can get poisoned." I immediately went to Google "ammonia poisoning" to see what I could find.

There were plenty of results that explained it and told of the symptoms. Here is one of the articles I found through Google. Guess what the symptoms are listed as:


Lungs and chest
Chest pain (severe)
Tight chest
Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and throat
Tearing and burning of eyes
Temporary blindness
Throat pain (severe)
Mouth pain
Lip swelling
Severe stomach pain

The symptoms in blue are/were the ones I have been experiencing. OMG!!! This is crazy. Now I just have to wait for this stuff to wear off. Chemicals are no joke. Needless to say, I will NEVER use ammonia to clean anything else again - ever!

*My fridge really is super clean though :o) *


  1. I have a friend who was forced to clean with ammonia at a young age, like every night, and now she can no longer smell.. Horrible. Stay away from ammonia!!!

  2. OMG!!! sweets, ammonia will straight out kill ya. Ask me how I know :-). If I have to use it, I dilute it with water......lots of water.