How to Use Ammonia Cleaner

Ammonia cleaner is a powerful and effective household cleaning product. When used properly, ammonia can cut through grease, remove stains, disinfect surfaces, and leave your home sparkling clean. However, ammonia also has potential health hazards if not handled correctly. Learning how to use ammonia cleaner safely and effectively is important.

Choosing the Right Ammonia Cleaner

There are a few different types of ammonia cleaners available:

Clear Ammonia

  • Clear ammonia is the most commonly used type of ammonia cleaner. It is a watery liquid that ranges in strength from 5% to 10% ammonium hydroxide.
  • Clear ammonia works well for cleaning glass, countertops, sinks, appliances, and other hard surfaces. It can cut through grease and grime quickly.
  • Choose a clear ammonia cleaner with a strength around 5% ammonium hydroxide for most household cleaning tasks. Stronger concentrations may cause irritation and be harder to rinse away.

Sudsy Ammonia

  • Sudsy ammonia cleaners contain ammonium hydroxide plus detergents and soap additives.
  • The detergents help sudsy ammonia cling to vertical surfaces longer before rinsing away. This makes it a good choice for cleaning walls, tile, or inside appliances and refrigerators.
  • Opt for a sudsy ammonia cleaner with around 5-7% ammonium hydroxide to avoid skin irritation. The soap additives also make it gentler than clear ammonia.

Lemon or Scented Ammonia

  • Many ammonia cleaners also come scented with lemon, pine, floral, or fresh scents. These help mask ammonia’s pungent odor.
  • Lemon or scented ammonia works the same as clear ammonia. The scent makes it more pleasant to use but does not affect cleaning ability.
  • Stick to mild 5% solutions of scented ammonia to prevent the perfumes from irritating lungs or skin.

No matter what type of ammonia cleaner you choose, always select a high-quality brand name product. Avoid bargain cleaners that do not list percentages of ammonium hydroxide. The cleaner should also display cautionary warnings about proper use and dilution.

Diluting Ammonia Cleaner Correctly

One key to safely using ammonia is diluting it down to a milder concentration for everyday cleaning tasks. Here are some tips:

  • Check the product label – Follow any dilution instructions provided. Never use full-strength ammonia cleaner at concentrations above 10%.
  • Start with a ratio of 1-part ammonia to 3-parts water – For light cleaning, dilute clear ammonia with an equal amount of warm water. Increase the water for heavier dilutions.
  • Use a clean bucket – Mix the ammonia and water in a clean plastic bucket or spray bottle. Never mix chemicals in sinks.
  • Add ammonia to water, not vice versa – Slowly pour measured ammonia into the water to avoid splashing.
  • No excessive fumes – The diluted ammonia should not produce harsh chemical fumes. This signals it is too concentrated.
  • Test on small area first – Before cleaning any large surfaces, test your diluted ammonia on a small, inconspicuous area first.

Diluting ammonia helps control the strength so you can clean safely. Always mix it in a well-ventilated area. Change out dilution water frequently to prevent a buildup of dirt and grime.

When to Use Ammonia Cleaner

Ammonia excels at cutting through oil, grease, and sticky grime that other cleaners struggle with. Here are some of the best uses for diluted ammonia cleaner:

Kitchen Cleaning

  • Ovens – Loosens burned on food residue inside ovens.
  • Grills and hoods – Degreases and removes grease buildup.
  • Sinks and countertops – Disinfects and shines stainless steel or laminate surfaces.
  • Appliances – Cleans inside of refrigerators, microwaves, and dishwashers.
  • Glassware – Removes cooking grease from casserole dishes and cups.
  • Floors – Lifts oil and dirt from vinyl or linoleum floors.

Bathroom Cleaning

  • Sinks and fixtures – Removes soap scum buildup from bathroom sinks andhardware.
  • Toilets – Disinfects and deodorizes toilet bowls.
  • Tubs and showers – Cleans soap scum and mildew from bathtubs, tiles and shower curtains.
  • Mirrors and windows – Ammonia cuts through dirt, water spots, and streaks.

Throughout the Home

  • Windows – Cleans greasy buildup and haze from interior windows.
  • Walls – Removes dirt, fingerprints, and grease splatters from painted walls.
  • Trash cans – Disinfects and deodorizes garbage cans and diaper pails.
  • Floors – Lifts oil stains from sealed hardwood floors and vinyl.
  • Carpets – Pre-treats oil-based stains before steam cleaning carpets.

Ammonia works on most water-safe hard surfaces including finished wood, sealed stone, laminate, metal, tile and more. Always spot test in an inconspicuous area first.

How to Clean with Ammonia Safely

When working with any chemical cleaner, it’s essential to take safety precautions. Here are some guidelines for safely using ammonia around your home:

Use Proper Gear

  • Rubber gloves – Wear non-porous gloves to protect skin from irritation. Avoid continuous immersion.
  • Eye protection – Wear shatterproof eye goggles if there is risk of splashing.
  • Long sleeves – Wear long pants and sleeves if using full-strength ammonia.
  • Mask – Use a mask or respirator if working with ammonia in enclosed spaces.

Ventilate the Area

  • Work outside if possible – Outdoor spaces allow for maximum ventilation.
  • Open windows – Always keep windows open to circulate fresh air.
  • Turn on fans – Run exhaust fans on high to remove ammonia fumes.
  • Avoid small spaces – Never use ammonia to clean inside closets, cabinets or other enclosed areas.

Follow Safety Precautions

  • Never mix chemicals – Ammonia mixed with bleach or acids create toxic fumes.
  • Limit exposure – Take frequent breaks if working extensively with ammonia.
  • Check for interactions – Ensure ammonia won’t damage any surfaces or finishes.
  • Use mild concentrations – Heavily dilute ammonia for regular cleaning tasks.
  • Spot test – Check ammonia on a small hidden area first before cleaning any surface.
  • Read all labels – Follow all cautions and directions provided on the packaging.

Taking appropriate safety measures helps prevent the potential risks of using ammonia cleaner. Never take shortcuts when diluting or using this strong chemical.

Using Ammonia to Clean Specific Surfaces and Areas

Ammonia cleaner works wonders on many household messes when used properly. Here are tips for cleaning some common areas and surfaces with ammonia:

Kitchen Oven Cleaning

  • Remove oven racks and soak in diluted ammonia solution first to loosen burnt on grime.
  • Place a large shallow pan filled with hot ammonia water on oven bottom. The ammonia steam helps soften grease.
  • Allow ammonia to sit for 15-20 minutes before scrubbing with non-scratch scouring pad.
  • For stubborn deposits, make a paste with baking soda and diluted ammonia. Spread onto oven walls and allow to set before scrubbing.
  • Rinse oven thoroughly with clean water several times after cleaning to remove all ammonia residue. Wipe dry.

Bathroom Mold Removal

  • Fill spray bottle with 1 part clear ammonia diluted in 3 parts warm water. Add a squirt of dish soap.
  • Liberally spray ammonia solution onto areas of tile and grout with mold or mildew buildup.
  • Allow it to soak for 10-15 minutes. This gives the ammonia time to kill mold and lift stains.
  • Scrub tiles with a stiff nylon brush or scouring pad. Reapply ammonia as needed.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water. Wipe area dry with an old towel.
  • Apply white vinegar after to help prevent new mold growth. Allow vinegar to air dry.

Refrigerator Cleaning

  • Remove all food from refrigerator before cleaning with ammonia. Unplug refrigerator.
  • Fill bucket with hot water and add 1 cup ammonia. Use rubber gloves to hand wash all shelves, bins, and drawers.
  • Soak glass shelves in ammonia solution to loosen stuck on spills and stains.
  • Dip a soft scrub brush into bucket and scrub interior walls. Lift grease with up-and-down strokes.
  • For stubborn deposits, make a paste from baking soda and ammonia. Apply and let set for 10 minutes before scrubbing.
  • Rinse all surfaces multiple times with clean water. Dry with a soft lint-free cloth.
  • Allow refrigerator interior to fully dry before replacing food and plugging back in.

Wall Cleaning

  • Fill bucket with hot water and several splashes of sudsy ammonia. The soap additive helps it cling to walls.
  • Dip soft sponge mop into solution and wash painted walls in circular motions. Overlap strokes to avoid streaks.
  • For heavily soiled areas, allow ammonia solution to soak in for several minutes before scrubbing.
  • Work from top to bottom when washing walls to avoid drips. Frequently re-wet mop in bucket.
  • Follow with a clean water rinse using a wet microfiber cloth. Wipe in downward strokes.
  • Don’t use ammonia on wallpaper. Test on inconspicuous spot of painted walls first before cleaning entire area.

Always thoroughly rinse surfaces cleaned with ammonia afterward with plain water. Ensure no chemical residue remains before allowing to dry.

Rinsing and Neutralizing Ammonia Residue

A crucial final step after cleaning with ammonia is rinsing away any chemical residue. Leftover ammonia can damage surfaces, irritate skin, and leave unpleasant fumes. Here are some tips for rinsing:

  • Rinse with plain water – Wipe cleaned areas with clean cloths dipped in plain water.
  • Multiple rinses – Rinse surfaces at least three times to remove all traces of ammonia.
  • Change rinse water often – Replace dirty rinse water with fresh clean water when it becomes soiled.
  • Work top to bottom – Rinse from the top down to avoid streaks and drips.
  • Scrub while rinsing – Use a brush or non-scratch scouring pad while rinsing difficult areas.
  • Dry immediately – Wipe wet areas with a soft lint-free cloth or microfiber towel after the final rinse.

You can also neutralize excess ammonia residue using:

  • White vinegar – Wipe surfaces with equal parts vinegar and water after rinsing.
  • Hydrogen peroxide – Spray light 3% peroxide solution and let bubble away residue.
  • Baking soda – Make a paste with water and wipe onto surfaces after rinsing ammonia.

Thorough rinsing and neutralizing prevents ammonia cleaner residue from damaging surfaces or causing health issues. Never skip this crucial final step!

Storing and Disposing of Ammonia

Like any chemical cleaner, ammonia requires safe storage and disposal practices. Here are some guidelines:

Storage Tips

  • Keep out of reach of children and pets in an upper cabinet.
  • Do not store in locations prone to high temperatures, such as near appliances.
  • Keep ammonia in original container with label – never transfer to an unmarked container.
  • Check containers for leaks periodically. Discard if leaking or corroded.
  • Always replace cap securely after each use.
  • Never mix ammonia with other cleaning products in a single container.

Disposal Methods

  • Use up ammonia completely according to label directions. Never dump excess outside.
  • Some local waste management centers accept household chemicals like ammonia for disposal. Contact your center to verify.
  • Allow ammonia evaporates naturally. Pour onto an old rag placed outside or in a well-ventilated area indoors.
  • Mix ammonia with baking soda – the soda helps neutralize it as it evaporates.
  • Absorb onto cat litter or sawdust in a sealed plastic bag before discarding normally.

Proper storage and disposal prevents accidents and contamination from leftover ammonia cleaner. Check local regulations for additional guidance on ammonia disposal methods.

Typical Mistakes to Avoid

Ammonia cleaner offers outstanding cleaning power but also requires care to use safely. Avoid these common mistakes:

  • Using too-strong concentrations – Always dilute ammonia down for regular cleaning tasks.
  • Failing to ventilate – Open windows or use fans when working with ammonia. Never use in enclosed spaces.
  • Mixing ammonia with other chemicals – Bleach, acids, and other chemicals can react.
  • Not wearing gloves and eye protection – Ammonia can irritate skin, eyes, nose, and lungs.
  • Skipping a final rinse – Residual ammonia left on surfaces can cause damages.
  • Combining with hot water – Ammonia vapors become stronger with heat. Use cool water dilutions only.
  • Leaving unattended – Never walk away from ammonia until it is rinsed away and surfaces are dry.
  • Using on unfinished wood – Ammonia can discolor raw wood or remove finishes.
  • Assuming surfaces are ammonia-safe – Always test on an inconspicuous spot first before cleaning any surface.

Avoiding these common ammonia mistakes helps ensure you stay safe and get the best results from this powerful cleaner.

FAQs About Using Ammonia Cleaner

Is ammonia safe for cleaning floors?

Yes, diluted ammonia is safe for cleaning sealed hard flooring like vinyl, linoleum, finished hardwoods, and tile. It easily lifts grease and oils. Always test in an out-of-sight spot first. Avoid using ammonia on unsealed wood floors as it could damage the finish.

What ratio of ammonia to water should be used for cleaning?

For regular light cleaning tasks, dilute clear ammonia with an equal part of cool water in a 1:1 ratio. For stronger cleaning, use a 1:3 ratio of 1 part ammonia diluted in 3 parts water. Always start with weaker dilutions and slowly increase strength as needed.

How long does ammonia take to work on stains or grease?

For best results, allow diluted ammonia to soak into heavy stains or grease buildup for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing. This gives the ammonia time to penetrate and lift the grime. Reapply ammonia as needed while scrubbing.

Can I mix ammonia with vinegar or bleach when cleaning?

Never mix ammonia with vinegar, bleach, or other acids. Combining ammonia with these chemicals creates toxic chlorine or chloramine gas that can be fatal. Always use ammonia as a standalone cleaner.

Is it safe to use ammonia in the oven for cleaning?

Yes, ammonia is an effective and safe oven cleaner. Be sure to turn off and cool oven fully before using ammonia inside. Wear gloves and eye protection and keep the kitchen well-ventilated while cleaning the oven with diluted ammonia.

How do I get rid of ammonia smell after cleaning?

Open windows and run fans to air out rooms after using ammonia. Baking soda also helps absorb leftover odors – set out small dishes around the room. You can also wipe down surfaces with white vinegar and water to neutralize ammonia residue and smells.

What should I do if I splash ammonia cleaner in my eyes?

Immediately flush eyes with running water for at least 15-20 minutes if ammonia splashes in eyes. Remove contact lenses if wearing any. Seek medical help if stinging, blurriness or other symptoms persist after rinsing eyes thoroughly with water.

Can ammonia damage my hardwood floors?

When highly diluted with water, ammonia is safe for sealed hardwood floors. However, never use full-strength ammonia or harsh concentrations as it can dull finishes or remove the sealant from wood floors. Always test ammonia in an inconspicuous area first before cleaning hardwoods.

Is ammonia abrasive to surfaces?

No, ammonia does not have any abrasive properties. However, scrubbing too vigorously while using ammonia can damage some surfaces. Use soft sponges, cloths and nylon brushes while cleaning with ammonia. Avoid stiff scrub brushes or scouring pads on delicate surfaces.


Ammonia cleaner offers an affordable, powerful cleaning solution for tackling grease, grime, and stains around the home. However, ammonia also requires careful handling to avoid potential risks. Diluting ammonia down to mild concentrations, working in ventilated spaces, wearing gloves and eye protection, and thoroughly rinsing surfaces are all key to using this chemical safely and effectively. With proper care taken, ammonia can be hugely helpful for achieving sparkling clean results on ovens, sinks, floors, appliances, and other messy areas around the home. Just be sure to follow usage and safety recommendations closely whenever using ammonia cleaner.