What Is Household Ammonia Used for?

Updated February 21, 2017

Ammonia comes from the breakdown of organic material in the environment. Manufacturers use ammonia in a variety of ways, including creating household products. Some of the products you use to clean your home, grow your garden or as a beauty treatment likely contain ammonia. While safe in small doses with proper usage, ammonia can lead to serious health risks.


You can purchase ammonia to use as an all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant. The ammonia sold for household cleaning contains a small amount of the chemical and large amounts of water to dilute the chemical of its potency. Several premanufactured cleaning products also contain ammonia. For example, kitchen disinfectant cleaners often contain small amounts of ammonia. General bathroom cleaners, tub and tile cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners can also contain ammonia. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when using any cleaning product that contains ammonia. Never mix straight ammonia or a cleaning product with ammonia with any other cleaning products. The mixture could cause a hazardous chemical reaction.

Lawn and Garden Care

Many fertilisers contain ammonia. Homeowners use fertiliser on their lawns, landscaping and in flower or vegetable and fruit gardens. Fertilisers help new lawns take root and grow. Fertilisers also help plants and flowers grow to their full potential and bloom. Take proper precautions when working with a fertiliser that contains ammonia. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Store the product out of reach of small children and pets that could accidentally ingest the fertiliser.

Beauty Products

Several permanent hair dye products contain small levels of ammonia. When applied to dry hair, the ammonia causes the hair follicle to open. The dye itself absorbs better into the open hair follicle. When used correctly, the ammonia in the hair dye will not damage the hair follicle but may cause irritation on a damaged scalp. Some semi-permanent or demi-permanent hair dye brands use an ammonia alternative known as monoethanolamine.


Ammonia usage can cause serious adverse health effects. In small doses, ammonia can irritate the eyes and skin or lead to a sore throat. If you inhale large doses of ammonia, the chemical can cause lung damage bad enough to result in death, according to the Health Protection Agency. If ammonia comes into contact with bare skin, it can cause chemical burns. If the chemical comes into contact with the eyes, it can cause damage or even blindness. Only use products with ammonia in well-ventilated areas to prevent inhalation. Wear gloves and eye goggles to prevent damage to the eyes and skin.

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About the Author

Amelia Jenkins has more than eight years of professional writing experience, covering financial, environmental and travel topics. Her work has appeared on MSN and various other websites and her articles have topped the best-of list for sites like Bankrate and Kipplinger. Jenkins studied English at Tarrant County College.