Most modern households are well equipped in the household cleaning product side of things.

One quick look around most homes will net a veritable arsenal of chemicals such as bleach, disinfectant, all-purpose cleaner, detergent, glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner, dishwasher, oven cleaner, etc. 

More and more we are becoming accustomed to reading food labels, but most of us rarely bother to read the labels of these common products. As a result, we are often dangerously ignorant of how toxic, irritant, flammable or corrosive some of these products can be.

Do you know what happens if you inhale bleach fumes? Do you know what happens if you accidentally swallow disinfectant? Do you know what happens if glass cleaner comes into contact with your eyes, or if lye products come into contact with your skin?

The answers to these questions are alarming because often they include things like difficulty breathing, loss of vision, severe pain, burns to the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and in some extreme cases, even death.

Every product is different of course but one question I see popping up often is, 

Can Oven Cleaner Kill You?

Yes. Oven cleaner can easily kill you if used improperly because it contains large quantities of alkaline chemicals which are extremely corrosive and potentially fatal if swallowed.

How Dangerous Are Common Household Cleaning Products Such As Oven Cleaners?

Many of the chemicals that make up common household cleaning products present a very real threat to respiratory health.

According to recent research by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, these chemicals pollute the environment at the same level as motor vehicles and can be as harmful to our respiratory health as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

Is Oven Cleaner Dangerous?

Since most of us are ignorant of how truly toxic and dangerous these products can be, potentially fatal accidents can happen.

For example, if bleach is mixed with the ammonia found in other common household cleaners, such as oven cleaners, a dangerous cocktail of toxic gases called chloramines is created. This can often result in severe respiratory distress and has the potential to be fatal due to cardiac arrest.

If ingested, as often happens in households with small children, the toxic chemicals of oven cleaners and other household cleaners can cause serious harm.

A typical oven cleaner has a rather large and concentrated quantity of powerfully corrosive alkalis, the most common of which is lye. 

Lye, also known as caustic soda, is highly corrosive. So corrosive, in fact, that criminals have been known to use lye as a means to dispose of human bodies. Lye can cause chemical burn damage immediately upon contact with the skin or eyes.

If ingested, it causes a significant tightening of the throat, which can lead to a very painful death.

As if that weren’t enough, if you mix lye with aluminum, a metal often found in kitchen utensils, you can inadvertently produce hydrogen gas, and end up in a highly flammable situation.

What To Do If You Inhaled Or Ingested Oven Cleaner?

If you or someone in your household is suffering from the adverse side effects of inappropriate use of oven cleaner and other household cleaning products, seek medical attention immediately.

You should never induce vomiting in the affected person. The only exception to this rule is if a professional from a poison control center instructs you to do so.

Do not inhale oven cleaner
Do not inhale oven cleaner!

If the oven cleaner has come into direct contact with the eyes, flush the affected organ with plenty of fresh, clean water.

Do this for at least 15 minutes. If the skin has come into direct contact with the oven cleaner, flush with clean water for at least 20 minutes.

Make sure to remove any items of clothing which have come into contact with the chemical.

If the person has ingested an oven cleaner, give them a few sips of cold water or cold milk. This will soothe any burns along the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract.

For light inhalation of these chemicals, take the person outside and seek fresh air.

The sooner you can apply these first aid tips, the better the chance that you can reduce the impact these chemicals will have. Never rule out calling emergency services even for a situation you think is minor. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Preventing Oven Cleaner Accidents In The Kitchen

While is it important to understand what to do when an accident occurs, it is just as important to understand the steps you can take to avoid such accidents. Here are some must-follow rules for keeping you and your family safe.

  • Read labels and understand standard warning symbols
  • Invest in a good carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector
  • Do not mix cleaning products
  • Make sure the ara is well ventilated, especially when cleaning
  • Use protective materials such as a mask and latex gloves
  • Keep the poison control number nearby. The fridge is a perfect place.

Cleaning your oven can be a dangerous affair but it does not have to be. Understanding the dangers and taking precautions to avoid any mishaps.