A couple of years ago now, our aging oven nearly burned our house down. I’m still not totally sure of exactly how it happened. I just walked into the kitchen and saw that the oven was on fire, and found that the oven door had locked itself shut. And while we did manage to get the fire put out before anything else was damaged, that harrowing experience really opened my eyes to potential dangers and fire hazards in my home!
In order to help us all be a little more safe in our homes, today I’ll be sharing a list of 7 dangerous household items that you might not know about. Some of these items contain dangerous chemicals, while others can be a fire hazard when used incorrectly. For each dangerous item, I’ll share a simple and safe alternative you can choose instead!
Learning about these hazards in your home can’t prevent an accident entirely, but it’s a great place to start when it comes to making your home a safer place to live!
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7 Household Items That Are Surprisingly Dangerous
1. Air Fresheners
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, many household air freshener products contain chemicals that can affect hormones and reproductive development, especially in children. 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! Learn about 10 natural ways to make your home smell great at this link.
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 Barkeepers Friend instead.
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 owners who failed to keep their 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 at this link.
4. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Store-bought toilet bowl cleaners are highly acidic, which helps 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! They can also produce caustic fumes when mixed with other types of cleaners.
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 at this link.
Most store-bought toothpastes bear the following warning: “Seek immediate medical help if you ingest toothpaste.” According to MedlinePlus, swallowing a lot of toothpaste can cause stomach pain and intestinal issues, or 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) know 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!
6. Gas-Powered Space Heaters
Faulty gas-powered appliances (like an old space heater) 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 CO 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!
7. Extension Cords
While the extension cord itself isn’t dangerous, the way that people use them can be. Many people aren’t aware of the voltage capacity of their extension cord, and end up plugging in more items than the cord can handle safely. This creates a big fire hazard, especially when the overloaded extension cord is placed near carpet or furniture. 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?