When it comes to keeping known hazards out of your home, you probably already have a good idea about the things that you need to get rid of — like that stack of junk mail sitting on your steps that has the potential to become a tripping hazard — but did you know there are other surprise dangers hiding in your home?
No matter whether you rent or own, you should be keeping an eye on these eight hidden dangers and tossing them as soon as they become problematic.
It’s never good to keep known toxins in or around your home, which is why Kevin Geick, manager of Bio Recovery, says you should dispose of hazardous materials such as old paint cans, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, or batteries following local regulations as soon as you’re done with them.
“Many communities have designated drop-off points for hazardous waste,” he adds. “These materials pose potential risks to the environment and human health if not disposed of properly, so it’s important to discard them as soon as possible to prevent accidents or contamination.”
Old Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are essential safety devices, but many people overlook the fact that they come with an expiration date, shares Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning. “Expired fire extinguishers might not work effectively during an emergency, which would put lives and property at risk,” she says. “It’s crucial to regularly check the expiration dates and replace or recharge them accordingly.”
Expired Food and Pantry Items
You may already know that it might not be a good idea to eat food that has gone way past its expiration date and shows signs of spoilage, but did you know it can be harmful to even have those items hanging out in your fridge or pantry? That’s why Geick says it’s so important to regularly check your pantry and refrigerator for expired or spoiled food.
“Discard any items that have passed their expiration dates or show signs of spoilage,” he says. “These items can harbor harmful bacteria or toxins, leading to foodborne illnesses, so it’s crucial to discard them promptly to maintain a safe and hygienic environment in your home.”
Expired Household Chemicals
Believe it or not, household chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, and drain cleaners can pose serious health and safety risks if mishandled, stored improperly, or kept past their “good by” date.
“People often forget about partially used containers or overlook the expiration dates,” Toner says. “These chemicals can lose their effectiveness or become unstable over time, leading to potential accidents or chemical reactions.” You should safely dispose of expired or unused chemicals at designated collection centers or hazardous waste facilities.
Outdated Baby Products
Parents, especially parents with multiple children or kids with large age gaps, know just how easy it is to accumulate baby products like car seats, strollers, and cribs. “However, safety standards and regulations for these items evolve, and older products might not meet the latest safety requirements,” according to Toner. “It’s crucial to stay informed about product recalls and dispose of outdated or recalled baby items properly to ensure the safety of infants and young children.”
Broken or Chipped Dishware
Angela Lee, a content writer for Hellamaid, says holding onto coffee mugs or dishware with cracks or chips in them is just a disaster waiting to happen. Not only do you run a risk of getting cut on the sharp edges of these pieces, but you’re exposing yourself to an additional risk of being burned or badly injured if your dish fails while you’re using it.
Perhaps even more concerning, you may be unknowingly exposing yourself to bacteria and mold by using these pieces. “The cracks and crevices in chipped or cracked items can harbor bacteria, especially in porous materials like ceramics,” she says. “Even with thorough washing, it can be challenging to remove all the bacteria from the damaged areas. This can potentially lead to contamination and increase the risk of foodborne illnesses.”
Keeping your favorite lipsticks, eyeliners, and mascaras in the rotation past their shelf life can have dire consequences, according to Rocky Vuony, founder and director of Calibre Cleaning. “Over time, these can harbor bacteria, leading to skin infections,” he says. “Dispose of any items past their [expiration] date.”
Air Vents and Ducts
Air vents and ducts accumulate dust, pet dander, and other allergens, which Muffetta Krueger, cleaning expert and founder of Muffetta’s Domestic Assistants, says can affect indoor air quality. “Regularly cleaning and maintaining these areas can improve airflow, minimize allergens, and enhance the overall indoor environment.”
The frequency of cleaning air vents and ducts depends on various factors, according to Krueger, including the environment, the presence of pets, and the overall air quality. “As a general guideline, it’s recommended to have your air vents and ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years. However, if you notice excessive dust buildup, mold growth, or experience worsened indoor air quality, it’s advisable to have them cleaned sooner.”