In the kitchen
Dish washing detergents. The main ingredient in automatic and hand dish washing detergents is phosphate. Automatic dish washing detergents are known to produce skin irritations or burns and may be poisonous if swallowed. Hand dish washing detergents are milder than automatic dish washing detergents. If swallowed, they may cause irritation to the mouth and throat, nausea, but they are not fatal if swallowed.
Oven cleaners. The basic ingredient in oven cleaners is lye (consisting of either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide). Lye is extremely corrosive and can burn your skin and eyes. It can cause severe tissue damage and may be fatal if swallowed.
- Safety tips: When working with oven cleaners, always wear an apron, gloves, and safety goggles. Do not breathe the fumes. Make sure the work area is well ventilated. The best tip: Non-toxic oven cleaners without lye are available. Look at the label and select a product that does not contain lye.
Antibacterial cleaner. Antibacterial cleaners usually contain water, a fragrance, a surfactant (to break up dirt), and a pesticide. The pesticides commonly used in antibacterial cleaners are quaternary ammonium or phenolic chemicals. Antibacterial cleaners can irritate your eyes and burn your skin and throat.
- Safety tips: To help protect your skin when using these cleaners, wear latex dishwashing gloves. If you get some on the cleaner on your skin or in your eyes, wash it off immediately.
Window and glass cleaner. The basic ingredients of window/glass cleaners are ammonia and isopropanol. These products may be irritating to the eyes, skin, nose, and throat. If swallowed, they may cause drowsiness, unconsciousness or death.
- Safety tips: Always wear gloves to use these products and use in a well-ventilated area.
Bait traps for ants, cockroaches, crickets and other insects. The insecticides commonly found in insect baits include abarmectin, propoxur, trichlorfon, sulfluramid, chlorpyrifos, and boric acid. Since most insect baits are enclosed in containers, it’s unlikely that you’ll come in contact with the pesticides within them. If you do, wash your hands with plenty of soap and water.
In the bathroom
Toilet bowl cleaners. Toilet cleaners contain the chemicals sodium hypochlorite or hydrochloric acid, or bleach. Most disinfectant cleaners are very irritating to your eyes and skin and will burn your throat.
Never mix a toilet bowl cleaner with any other household or cleaning product . Doing so can result in poisonous gases being released and can cause very serious breathing problems.
- Safety tips: Always be sure when cleaning your bathrooms that the room has plenty of ventilation. Leave the door open and use the exhaust fan, if you have one. Wear latex dishwashing gloves to help protect your skin from splashes when using toilet cleaners. If you splash some on your skin, wash it off immediately.
Mold and mildew removers. Chlorine and alkyl ammonium chlorides are the common fungicide chemicals found in mold and mildew removers. Cleaners with mold and mildew removers may cause breathing problems and if swallowed, can burn your throat.
- Safety tips: Wear latex dishwashing gloves to help protect your skin when using these products. If you get some on your skin, wash it off immediately.
Drain cleaners. Lye and sulfuric acid are the main ingredients used to unclog drains. Lye can cause burns to skin and eyes, and if swallowed, can damage the esophagus and stomach. Sulfuric acid can irritate the skin and eyes and can damage the kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. These chemicals produce dangerous fumes, can cause skin burns, and can cause blindness if they come in contact with your eyes. Drain cleaners can be fatal if swallowed.
- Safety tips: Always use protective gloves and wear goggles when using these products. Also, make sure there is good air circulation in the room when these cleaners are used.
In the living room
Rug, carpet, upholstery cleaners. These cleaning product can contain perchloroethylene (used in dry cleaning), naphthalene and ammonium hydroxide. The fumes given off by these products can cause cancerand liver damage and have been known to cause dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, loss of appetite, and disorientation.
- Safety tips: Use these products in well-ventilated areas and try not to breathe the fumes.
Furniture polish. Furniture cleaners for wood may contain petroleum distillates and oil of cedar. Furniture polish typically contains one or more of the following substances: ammonia, naphtha, nitrobenzene, petroleum distillates and phenol. These chemicals may irritate your skin, eyes, throat, lungs, and windpipe. If swallowed, furniture polish can cause nausea and vomiting; medical help should be sought.
Air fresheners. Air fresheners contain formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p-dichlorobenzene and aerosol propellants. These chemicals are thought to cause cancer and brain damage. They also are strong irritants to eyes, skin, and throat. These ingredients are usually highly flammable. Additionally, solid fresheners usually cause death if eaten by people or pets.
- Safety tips: Do not spray air fresheners around an open flame. Use them only in a well-ventilated areas. Baking soda, which is not toxic, can be used as an alternative to air freshener.
Household foggers. Like insecticide and pet flea and tick products, household foggers or “bug bombs” contain many of the same pesticide chemicals, such as pyrethrins, permethrin, and methoprene. Exposure to these chemicals could cause burning in your eyes or your skin or can result in breathing problems. The contents of foggers can be flammable.
- Safety tips: Proper use of foggers requires that all windows and doors to the specific room or entire house be closed. Therefore, all people and pets need to get out of the house – even if the specific room being “bug bombed” is closed off. The gas emitted from these foggers will seep under doors and through air vents. Toys, food, plates, cups, silverware and cookware should not be left out anywhere. After the fogger is finished, clean all table and counter tops before using them. The house or room also should be aired out. Turn on your air conditioner or open the windows. Use fans to help air out the house.
In the bedroom
Mothballs. The pesticides in mothballs are chemicals known as naphthalene and p-dichlorobenzene. Breathing the fumes from mothballs may cause headaches and dizziness and may irritate the skin, eyes, and throat. Extended exposure to the vapors may result in cataract formation and liver damage.
In the backyard, pool and garden shed
Swimming pool chloride tablets. Disinfectants containing chlorine for use in swimming pools are the chemicals calcium and sodium hypochlorite. These chemicals are the same but in a higher concentration than those found in other household disinfectant cleaners because they will be diluted in a very large amount of water. Coming in contact with these chemicals before they are diluted cause breathing problems and a burning sensation to eyes and skin. If swallowed, the chemicals can burn the throat and could be fatal.
Algicides for the pool. The chemicals in algicides for swimming pools commonly include alkyl ammonium chlorides. These chemicals can cause breathing problems. If swallowed, they can burn the throat.
Insect repellents. The pesticides commonly found in repellents are pyrethrins and a chemical more commonly known as DEET. The chemicals in repellents may cause a burning sensation to eyes, skin and throat. The chemicals also may cause anxiety, behavioral changes, mental confusion and a loss of coordination.
- Safety tips: If the label says that you can apply the repellent to skin or clothes, apply it only to your clothes. It will work just as well. Keep repellents away from the eyes and mouth and away from any cuts on the skin. Don’t spray the repellent on your face. When you come indoors, take a bath to wash off the chemicals and launder your clothes.
Weed killers. The common pesticides in weed killers are diquat, 2,4-D, and glyphosate. Some weed killers can irritate the eyes and skin. Some of these chemicals can be very harmful if swallowed or inhaled or if large amounts get on skin and are not immediately washed off.
Baits for rodent control. The pesticide commonly found in baits is known as warfarin. This chemical causes internal bleeding if ingested in large amounts.