Every day, we handle mundane objects that are surprisingly dangerous. Cleaning supplies, for example, can often cause more harm than good if not handled properly. Here are some of the most dangerous household cleaning products that can be found in almost any home:

Furniture Polish

Although rather obscure, furniture polish is an often-overlooked household item that many people use from time to time. Although not used as frequently as other products on this list, chemical-based furniture polish is highly flammable and dangerous to touch, due to the chemicals phenol and nitrobenzene. These compounds are carcinogenic and can be absorbed through the skin. Some furniture polishes also give off heavy fumes, which can be potentially dangerous as well.

Antibacterial Cleaning Solutions

The first of many cleaning products on this list, antibacterial cleaning solutions like Lysol may not be deadly, but can greatly irritate the eyes and skin. Plus, most antibacterial cleaning products contain ammonium, which can be highly toxic in large amounts.

Air Fresheners

Air fresheners may not seem like something to worry about, but poor storage or placement can lead to some serious problems. Since most air fresheners contain formaldehyde, it is crucial to store them away from pets and children. Fumes from an air freshener can also allow formaldehyde to enter the body. These fumes are especially harmful to pets, even in small amounts.

Bleach, Toilet Bowl Cleaners, and Oven Cleaners

Bleach, toilet bowl cleaners, and oven cleaners all have one main thing in common: they cannot be mixed with antibacterial cleaning solutions. Mixing any of these chemicals can create dangerous inhalants like chloroform. These chemicals all have caustic ingredients, including lye (oven cleaners), sodium hypochlorite (bleach), and hydrochloric acid (toilet bowl cleaner).

Laundry Detergent

Eating soap is bad, but laundry detergent is worse. Laundry detergents are strong bases, making them effective cleaners, but dangerous to both people and animals. Some laundry detergents may also contain the chemical phenol, which can be absorbed through the skin to cause irritation and damage.

How can I Stay Safe?

Everything on this list is necessary, but how do we stay safe with such dangerous substances in our homes? There are quite a few steps anyone can take to handle dangerous chemicals safely:

  1. Store chemicals away from pets and children, and away from any heat source.
  2. Consider buying gentler detergents. Organic or “sensitive skin” detergents work best.
  3. Wear gloves when handling cleaners like bleach, toilet bowl cleaner, oven cleaner, and any antibacterial cleaning solution.
  4. Use different cleaning cloths or sponges for bleach and cleaning solution.
  5. Check to see if your products are tightly sealed before putting them away.
  6. Avoid mixing chemicals at all costs.
  7. Wear a mask when handling chemicals that have harsh fumes.

What do I do When Exposed to Dangerous Chemicals?

If your bare skin touches something caustic, you will need to rinse the area with cold or room temperature water for fifteen minutes. Make sure the water is constantly flowing, so sticking your hand under the sink faucet or taking a cold shower is best. Remove and soak any clothes with chemicals on them in cold water as well. After the fifteen-minute rinse, you can wash the area with soap and water.

 

If you get a chemical in your eye, the process is quite similar. The first thing you’ll need to do is flush your eye. To do this, stand under a sink and let lukewarm water run over your open eye for roughly twenty minutes. Keep your head tilted to the side to flush any chemicals out most effectively. Afterward, wash your hands with soap and water, and then remove any contact lenses if they haven’t fallen out from flushing your eyes.

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