What Might Cause Ammonia Smells in the House?

Ammonia is a colorless gas that has an odor commonly used in farming, textile, and plastic production. It is also produced in the human body where it is important as a building block for making proteins and other complex molecules and in plants, animals, and animal waste when they decay. Ammonia is also known as anhydrous ammonia in its pure form.

Properties of ammonia

Ammonia can be detected through various forms due to its properties, it can, however, be very dangerous or super irritating if produced in high amounts. Its properties include:

  • It is a colorless gas
  • Has a very strong odor
  • Dissolves easily in water and forms ammonium hydroxide ( causes irritation and burns)
  • If exposed to high heat can explode.

Causes of ammonia smell in the house

In our daily activities and lives, we interact with products that contain ammonia, since they exist in a natural form. Many of these products are in our homes and we use them now and then. Some exposure can occur without one noticing, knowing, or due to ignorance. Ammonia can be produced through the cats and human urine, cleaning products, leaking refrigerants gas, pesticides, dyes, fertilizers, etc. According to health.ny.gov ammonia is produced in industries in large quantities to be used in manufacturing varies products.

Human urine: Don’t panic if you think your urine contains ammonia, you might need a medical check-up to confirm this, although you have to watch out for signs of ammonia in your urine. It has a strong smell, and the urine seems to have a darker concentration, monitor the urine for 24 hours and exercise drinking more water to dilute the urine. However, if the symptoms are accompanied by pain or a sign of infections seek medical advice.

Cats urine: Oh yes, that irritating smell from your cat’s litter box contains ammonia which you couldn’t stand its odor, nonetheless all this you be minimized by often changing your cats’ litter box to reduce the smell since cats’ urine contains a huge level of urea, clean your home frequently and train your cat to use its litter box to avoid more spread of cat urine around the house. According to Petmd, high level of urea can be harmful to your cat and cause diseases it is important to monitor the daily fluid level and have a check-up done regularly for urine tract infection by your veterinarian.

Cleaning products:

Most household cleaning products at least contain ammonia as an ingredient, unfortunately, the detergents used daily for cleaning expose us to ammonia. It is essential to check the level of ammonia in the cleaning products before you purchase, research more on the ingredients used to make the products and their effects on your health and the environment, and if they contain ammonia how to use them and store them properly to avoid being exposed.

Leaking refrigerant gas:

Ammonia was commonly used as a refrigerant mainly found in old model refrigerators as the new model uses Freon, however, the recreation vehicles still use ammonia in their refrigerators since, it is not easily flammable compared to Freon which is highly flammable. If your refrigerator the old model one and uses ammonia lookout for the smell and if you detect any afoul pungent odor call for assistance immediately to avoid the smell from spreading to the rest of the house. According to araner.com, it costs less to have an ammonia refrigerant since it requires smaller piping than other refrigerants and ammonia may work well in an industrial capacity since ammonia is cheaper, however, the people working their need to be vigilant and well equip and trained to look out for any leakages and if they detect it how to hand the situation.


Handling fertilizers requires care and attention, they should be stored properly and handled with care when using them in the field. Wear protective gear while applying them to avoid causing damages, ammonia is soluble in water, and when inhaled it will react with the body moisture in the lung and eyes. If the fertilizer remains after application, ensure they are stored properly, and if possible store it away from places that are commonly used or where someone might interfere with it.

Other external smells:

Smells from outside can easily seep into the house, identifying their sources is very important. Ammonia can be produced in factories during the manufacturing of various products like plastics, fertilizers, cleaning detergents, and pest control repellants. Check if there are factories around your area that could be using ammonia in their production and cause ammonia odors.

How to detect ammonia smells in the house

Ammonia has a strong smell that travels within the air, you can easily detect its presence by breathing it. The pungent odor can’t be mistaken with other smells, when the chemical is released in the air it will irritate the throat, skin, and nose if inhaled. Ammonia is easily detected in low concentration thus it can be fixed or corrected faster before causing major harm.


  • Have your home well ventilated to allow for air circulation, fix your air conditioners if not working properly to enable fresh air circulation.
  • Never mix ammonia with any kind of bleach; when mixed, they produce toxic and harmful chlorine gas.
  • Wear protective gear when using ammonia to clean, farm, or spraying repellants.
  • Store ammonia products properly and tightly close their lids
  • Seek help if you suspect any ammonia smells in the house or urine.
  • Carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions before using or purchasing any ammonia products.


Ammonia is a part of our everyday solution, and we can avoid using it, not only does it have a negative effect in our homes but also a positive one, all you need to do is to properly handle ammonia when using it. Cleaning surfaces, removing stains, oils, grease on items, and clothes with ammonia can give out a stunning and amazing job. However, keep in mind never, ever mix chlorine with ammonia.

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