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These 7 Household Items Are More Dangerous Than You Think

dangerous household items

A couple of years ago now, our aging oven nearly burned our house down, and I’m still not totally sure how it happened. I had cookies in the oven, went to grab something in another room, then walked back into the kitchen and saw there was a fire inside the oven and realized the oven door had locked itself shut.

While we managed to get the fire put out before it did any real damage (to anything other the oven itself, anyway), that harrowing experience was a wake-up call to the dangers and fire hazards in our homes. So in order to help us all be more aware of those dangers so we can stay safe, today I’ll be sharing a list of 7 dangerous household items that you might not know about.

Some of the items are dangerous because they contain toxic chemicals, while others can become a fire hazard when used incorrectly. For each dangerous item, I’ll also share alternatives that are safer to have around the house. Learning about the hazards in your home won’t necessarily prevent freak accidents like my oven fire, but if you’re looking to make your home a safer place to live, awareness is the first step!

7 Household Items That Are Actually Dangerous

dangerous household items

1. Air Fresheners

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, many household air freshener products contain phthalates and other chemicals that can affect hormones and reproductive development. These chemicals can accumulate in the body over time and and cause adverse health effects.

Safe Alternative: Instead of using commercial air freshener products, use natural methods to freshen the air in your home. They’re safer to use, and often cheaper than the store-bought options! Here are 10 natural ways to make your home smell great.

dangerous household items

2. Oven Cleaner

Many store-bought oven cleaners contain corrosive alkalis that can cause harm to your gastrointestinal tract or respiratory system if inhaled or ingested. Find out more about the dangers of oven cleaner products at MedlinePlus.

Safe Alternative: Instead, try my easy overnight method for cleaning your oven. (Get the full instructions here.) This method uses ammonia, which is safe when used correctly. However, ammonia fumes can aggravate asthma symptoms, so asthma sufferers may want to try scrubbing their oven with Bar Keepers Friend instead.

dangerous household items

3. Dryer Lint

Dryer lint itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, but a buildup of dryer lint can quickly become a huge fire hazard! According to the U.S. Fire Administration, around 2,900 clothes dryer fires are reported each year. They estimate that 34% percent of those fires were caused by a failure to keep the dryer clean and free of lint.

Safe Alternative: Clean your lint trap every time you use your dryer, and vacuum out the inside of your dryer regularly. Find out everything you need to know about cleaning and maintaining your clothes dryer here.

DIY Toilet Cleaner Tabs

4. Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Store-bought toilet bowl cleaners are highly acidic, which helps them to dissolve tough stains and deposits in your toilet bowl. However, those corrosive ingredients that clean your toilet bowl can also cause burns on your skin and eyes, and they can produce caustic fumes if you mix them with other types of cleaners (which you should never do as a general rule).

Safe Alternative: There are plenty of safe, natural ingredients that you can use to keep your toilet sparkling clean. Learn how to make my favorite simple toilet bowl cleaner.

dangerous household items

5. Toothpaste

Most store-bought toothpastes bear the following warning: “Seek immediate medical help if you ingest toothpaste.” According to MedlinePlus, swallowing a large amount of toothpaste can cause stomach pain and intestinal issues, and if the toothpaste contains fluoride, can even cause convulsions, difficulty breathing, and other scary side effects.

Safe Alternative: The good news is that toothpaste is perfectly safe to use when used correctly. Just make sure that everyone in your family (especially young kids) knows how to dispense the correct pea-sized amount onto their toothbrush in the morning. And remind everyone to rinse their mouth thoroughly after brushing too!

dangerous household items

6. Gas-Powered Space Heaters

Faulty gas-powered appliances (like old space heaters) can release carbon monoxide into the air. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of poisoning death in the U.S., and even when it isn’t fatal, it can lead to permanent brain damage.

Safe Alternative: Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. (Click here to check out the many options available on Amazon.) You can also opt for an electric space heater, or you can use these 10 hacks to keep warm.

dangerous household items

7. Extension Cords

While the extension cord itself isn’t dangerous, it can be if it’s used incorrectly. Many people aren’t aware of the voltage capacity of their extension cord and end up plugging in more items than the cord can safely handle safely. This creates a fire hazard, especially if the overloaded extension cord is near carpet or furniture, and it’s one of the reasons why extension cords are a leading cause of household fires in the U.S.

Safe Alternative: Learn how to use your extension cords safely! Check out this article of do’s and don’ts for using extension cords from Safety+Health magazine published by the National Safety Council.

What’s your best tip for keeping your home safe?


Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Hi Jillee, that’s an important reminder about toothpaste. I want to mention that I heard on the news a couple of days ago that children under 3 should use no more toothpaste than the size of a grain of rice (reason being that they probably swallow most of it!)

  • Hi Jillee. I have a tiny spot in my shower recess floor that has mould on it and everything I’ve tried hasn’t worked on this spot. Any suggestions. Thank you

  • I’m a compulsive lint cleaner. Every time I use the dryer, I not only clean the lint screen, but I fish my hand around in the slot where the screen goes to pull out any lint that escaped. That’s because when I was in high school, my brother used the dryer and it started to smolder. My brother, being a dunce, went to school (I was home sick), and he didn’t bother telling me about the dryer. He said, “It was going to make me late for school”…!!! I said, you’d have been really late next week, when you had to go to my funeral! (I smelled the incipient fire, called the fire dept, and they cleaned the whole thing out.)

    The other thing I’d remind people, especially ones that have dryers where the air is vented far from the dryer to change the exhaust between the dryer and vent at least once a year. Lint also builds up in that piping (it’s usually made of some kind of foil and it’s bendable.) That was where the lint built up and where the smoldering started. Also, move your dryer at least twice a year and vacuum around it and under it. You’d be shocked by how much lint builds up, all over the place!

    • Yes! It is annual ritual at our house. Hubby checks the outside vent. I have a long flexible brush that I use often to clean down inside the dryer where the lint screen sits. Lint tends to hide in some of those crevasses.

      • We has a crazy experience with our dryer a few years ago . We started hearing chirping noises . Anyway it turned out the birds had made a hole and when my Dad checked it out he found a birds nest.It took about 2 tries to fix it.

    • How do you change the “exhaust” between the dryer and the vent? I’m not sure what that is. All I know about besides cleaning the lint trap as well as vacuuming below the screen and the aluminum vent hose (although mine is very short with a sharp curve because it is on the side of the dryer and yes directly out the wall and once when I tried to use one of those round vent tube brushes I ended up poking a hole in the tube and it was a pain to fix.

  • I had a fire experience almost 2 years ago kind of a crazy one. My mom had decided to run the self cleaning cycle on our oven before leaving the house. About 10 minutes later the smoke alarm was sounding very loudly and there was fire in the oven. She and my dad were out with friends and I had to call them. Anyway I had open the windows, turn off the oven and run the attic fan. When she returned home and checked – it turned out a hotdog had accidentally been left in the oven and caused the fire. My nieces and nephew had been at our house a few days earlier for us to watch. Lesson learned. ALways double check the oven before running the self cleaning cycle.

    • Also never self clean the oven when you are leaving the house or when you are going to bed. Run it while you are awake and alert. Most cycle 4-5 hours, so plan accordingly.

      • Even though I have a self-cleaning oven, I NEVER use it. It puts off an acrid smell which I can’t tolerate. So, I clean it the old fashion way with ammonia…………………

  • I agree 100% on a working CO2 detector! Last winter, just before bed, ours went off! Turns out the wall heater in our home had a leak, so I was glad that it went off – we might have gone to sleep and never woke up. We had some maintenance done in pour apartment recently, and the maintenance man brought up the CO2 detector. I told him the story, and he said, “In 20 years of doing this, I’ve never known anyone who had one go off.” I told him, “Because ours did, we lived to tell the tale!”
    A CO2 leak was responsible for the death of the parents of comedian “Weird” Al Yankovic.

  • #6 under dangerous items in your home: you need a CO detector for carbon monoxide in your house, not one for CO2, carbon dioxide, which is what we breathe out and plants use in their respiration process to make oxygen. Typo!

  • I stopped using fluoride toothpaste about 7 years ago. Not one cavity since. It has never been proven to prevent cavities.
    Fluoride is a neurotoxin (kills brain cells). Even though we aren’t ingesting it, it is being absorbed through the skin inside of our mouth and entering our body that way.

    • Hiya Lisa Glennie, So what do you use instead of fluoride? My Mam used to use breadsoda, (God rest her soul) but got us fluoride toothpaste as children.
      I only use coconut oil and breadsoda, and not to spit it down the sink because I found out the hard way of having a blocked drainpipe, and unblocking the drainpipe I used breadsoda and white vinegar left it for 20 mins, came back with a kettle of boiling water and pour it down the shower room sink. God bless.

  • Since stoves/ovens came up, a home inspector showed us the glasstop electric range wasn’t anchored to the wall by the original builder/installer. If something heavy was in the oven and the door was opened and the rack slid forward, the stove, being fairly lightweight, could tip over. This was in a house my elderly parents were moving into. I found the instruction manual, called the company and they overnighted the bracket to me which I installed myself. No charge at all.

  • Hi Julie, my question is out of subject but I really want to know how to do. Do you need to wash the steak after you buy it from Sam or Costco. If yes and how. Please help

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