The bleach pregnancy test is an internet sensation. Type “bleach pregnancy test” into any search engine, and you’ll find stories that feed into that hype, complete with videos of women doing what looks like a whacky science experiment.
If you’ve ever taken a regular home pregnancy test, you might understand the appeal of this DIY hack. I still vividly remember how I sat in my bathroom watching that pregnancy stick like a hawk to see if I was pregnant.
The minutes seemed like hours.
The waiting was agony.
Enter the bleach home pregnancy test: it’s simple, it’s quick, and bleach is a common household staple that everyone is used to handling.
And the best part? It’s cheap.
You can buy a big jug of bleach for a couple of dollars. But before you start rummaging in the cupboard under your sink to see if you’re pregnant, here are a few things you should know about the safety and accuracy of the bleach pregnancy test.
What Is The Bleach Pregnancy Test?
The bleach pregnancy test is supposed to be a quick alternative to traditional home pregnancy tests.
The technique is simple – you grab a cup and pour in some bleach, add your fresh urine, and wait to see what happens. How much bleach? How much urine? Your guess is as good as anybody else’s because unfortunately there are no set guidelines or measurements out there.
If you’re pregnant, you’ll supposedly know it quickly with the bleach test because the mixture will bubble up and foam. If the mixture doesn’t do anything or just slightly fizzes, there’s no stork delivery in your future.
Bleach supposedly reacts with the HCG in a pregnant woman’s urine, and that’s why people believe this test works.
You should always ventilate any area that you are using household cleaners, solvents, or paint. Purposely mixing household cleaners and urine is dangerous. Stay safe. You may now be breathing for two!
Editor's Note:Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
Why Do People Think This Works?
A standard pregnancy test works by measuring the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin. Because none of us will probably ever need to know that full term again and we can’t pronounce it anyway, let’s call it hCG.
Early in a woman’s pregnancy, her body starts to produce hCG. The levels continue to rise each day dramatically during most of the first trimester.
That’s why home pregnancy tests typically work better if you wait until a week or so after your missed period – although there are tests that say they can detect pregnancy even before your missed period.
The Danger Behind This Method
In case you’ve had better things to do with your life than memorizing the mind-numbingly long and boring names of ingredients found in cleaning products, allow me to blind you with my science skills.
The chemical name for everyday chlorine bleach is sodium hypochlorite (1). Here’s some information you likely learned in high school chemistry class, but I’ll be glad to give you a quick refresher course.
Certain chemicals and compounds are not friends. They aren’t even frenemies. They shouldn’t mix at all.
Chlorine bleach and ammonia are like that. Combined, they create a toxic fume called chloramine gas that no one should be around, least of all pregnant women. Normal urine contains urea, which can break down into – you guessed it – ammonia (2).
Mixing urine and bleach is not only gross, but it can also create nasty chloramine gas.
Those who are around this gas can experience some terrible side effects, including nausea, coughing, breathing issues, chest pain, pneumonia, and throat, nose, and eye irritation. Inhaling the fumes created by mixing bleach and ammonia can even knock you out if you aren’t in a properly ventilated room (3).
Who Wants to Clean That Up?
If I were going to have two liquids bubbling, fizzing, and spewing in my house, my last two picks would be bleach and urine.
Watching YouTube videos of people who’ve done this test reminds me of the homemade volcano I made with my kids a couple of years ago. That was made of baking soda and vinegar, and it was still a pain to clean up.
I can’t imagine cleaning up a cocktail of bubbling urine and bleach. But you’d have to.
You can’t just announce over an intercom that you need a clean up on Aisle 5. It’s your house, so the only clean-up crew coming to your rescue is you.
I’ve seen videos of people doing this test on a floor, with is a towel placed under the cup. Well, I have enough cleaning to do at my house without adding to the workload by doing this. If I have to put gloves on to clean something up, I don’t want it to be something that could hurt the growing baby in my belly.
Questions About Accuracy
But let’s get down to the thing you really want to know: does it work? Sadly, do-it-yourself home pregnancy tests are seldom reliable.
Despite lots of YouTube videos of people’s bleach tests showing accurate results, this test is no better than chance. Some women have had a positive reaction even though they weren’t pregnant.
And even if the bleach test is sometimes right, you’ll likely still feel the need to go to the drugstore, buy a pregnancy test, and confirm the result at home anyway.
Waste of Time?
Learning about pregnancy is an emotional time for women and dads-to-be. If I’m riding an emotional roller coaster, I’d prefer to know that the results were accurate and that I wasn’t getting my hopes up because of a test that could well be wrong.
Is It Cheaper?
I remember when I was trying to get pregnant, I was so impatient. I wanted a baby so badly, and I couldn’t wait to find out if my dreams were coming true.
The first day of my missed period I would test to see if I was pregnant. When that test was negative, I would wait until the next day and try again. There were times I took two pregnancy tests in one day – one first thing in the morning and one right before bed.
My pregnancy tests didn’t show up positive until the third or fourth day of my missed period. For the women who have irregular periods, guessing when to take a pregnancy test is even harder. If they’re as impatient as I was, that adds up to buying a hell of a lot of pregnancy tests.
So, I get it. Pregnancy tests can be expensive. Some tests that say they can detect pregnancies days before a missed period can cost several dollars apiece.
I feel like I personally kept some of the pregnancy test companies afloat financially during the months I was trying for a baby. I was starting to feel like I had to take out a part-time job just to support my pregnancy test addiction.
But not all pregnancy tests will leave you broke. Some brands that receive great feedback cost less than fifty cents apiece. At that price, you can repeatedly test without feeling like you’ve been ripped off or needing to take out a second mortgage.
Who Needs the Worry?
Expectant moms worry all the time. They need to remember to take their daily multi-vitamin, they have to avoid certain foods, and they shouldn’t drink or smoke. And, even if they do everything perfectly, things can still go wrong.
You know who blames themselves at the first sign of trouble? Women. We feel responsible for everything. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. It’s not fair, but it’s a reality.
The bleach pregnancy test can give women just one more reason to beat themselves up. They aren’t only exposing themselves to toxic fumes – they are also exposing their unborn child, any other children who live in their household, and their significant other.
Even if nothing seems to go wrong while doing the bleach test inside your home, is it worth the extra worry when you can buy a cheap pregnancy test instead?
I hate the idea of women having one more reason to second-guess themselves. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if any of my actions caused my son’s peanut allergy or my daughter’s viral-induced asthma. Let me tell you, mom guilt is real, and it’s brutal.
A standard pregnancy test can be bought for less than $1 at Walmart, has a proven record of being accurate, and is a lot less messy. Isn’t that a better choice?
What do you think of the bleach pregnancy test? Why do you think it has become so popular?