People are engaging in extremely dangerous behaviors — including gargling with bleach — in an effort to prevent COVID-19, according to a report published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Such acts are not only harmful, they also do nothing to prevent infections and should never be done.
Researchers surveyed 502 U.S. adults in May for the report, asking about their household cleaning practices during the pandemic.
Nearly 40 percent of the respondents said they'd engaged in at least one high-risk behavior, such as rinsing fresh fruit and vegetables with bleach.
Eighteen percent of those surveyed reported applying cleaning agents directly to their skin, and 10 percent said they'd misted their bodies with a disinfectant spray.
Four percent drank or gargled bleach, soapy water or other cleaning agents.
"These practices pose a risk of severe tissue damage and corrosive injury and should be strictly avoided," the report's authors wrote.
A separate CDC report published in April found calls to poison control centers for incidents related to cleaning products rose by 20 percent, compared to this time last year.
The CDC recommends that chemicals not be mixed, and if using bleach, to do so only in a well-ventilated area.
"Mixing of bleach solutions with vinegar or ammonia," the researchers wrote, can generate gases that might cause "severe lung tissue damage," particularly when paired with hot water.
Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak
When cleaning fresh produce, rinse only with clean water, the CDC advised. The agency also offered a reminder to keep all cleaning agents, bleach and alcohol-based sanitizers out of the reach of children and pets.
Some of the best ways to protect against the coronavirus is through social distancing of 6 feet, frequent hand-washing, and cleaning surfaces that get touched a lot, such as doorknobs.