Three Toxic Common Household Items to Avoid

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253


1. Air Fresheners

Air fresheners seem to be everywhere now - as spritzes, gels, plug-ins and diffusers - with names like Crispy Cinnamon and Butterscotch Bonanza.  Many of them are horribly overwhelming - particularly in a house that is empty and closed up, but they are doing more than just annoying us.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, some air fresheners contain phthalates – a class of chemicals shown to cause cancer, liver toxicity, kidney toxicity and reproductive problems in animal studies. What’s more, some air fresheners contain harmful agents such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  

Lets hear it for taking the trash out and opening windows occasionally.  Maybe then we can skip a few of those fake scents.


2. Philodendrons

There are several plants that are toxic to children and pets.  Poinsettias quickly come to mind - so cheery at Christmas but dangerous to your beloved pets. Philodendron are another plant to approach with caution.  These hearty houseplants are very dangerous to humans and pets. Chewing a philodendron leaf can cause burning, blistering and swelling of the lips, tongue and throat; burning and irritation of the eyes; slurred speech; skin irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. According to the National Library of Medicine, the poisonous ingredient in philodendrons is Calcium oxalate, a chemical compound  known in plants as raphides.

The compound is also found in Peace Lilies, Calla Lilies and Elephant Ear, among other common houseplants.

3. Laundry Detergent Packets

I love being able to toss a laundry detergent packet into my washing machine - and they are perfect for anyone who has to take their dirty clothes down the hall to a common laundry room. But this advance in convenience can be very dangerous. When ingested, packets can cause loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling and difficulty breathing. What’s more, eye contact can cause ocular burns leading to temporary vision loss.

The colorful squishy packets with appealing smells are particularly enticing to children who think they are candy.  Last year, more than 10,000 children under the age of 5 were exposed to the laundry pods, which are more concentrated than old fashioned liquids and powder.  Proctor and Gamble is making the containers more difficult to open in order to keep the contents out of the hands of small children and recommending that households with children under the age of 6 use liquids or powders rather than the pods. 


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Debbie Reynolds 05/19/2017 08:43 PM
Home Improvement
toxic home furnishings
common toxic items
philodendron poison
chemicals in the home

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Rebecca Lewis
ODAT Realty Services, Inc - Grayson, GA

I had no idea that Philodendrons could cause those effects. Thanks for the heads up as I have one. Even though it is in my seldom used front room it will be leaving the house so my cats and dogs don't get hurt.


May 19, 2017 07:02 AM #1
Bruce Hicks
Best Homes Hawaii - Honolulu, HI
Your Lifetime Friend/Helper!

Thanks for this article Lise Howe  ! That's why we use Melaleuca Products in our home.  Much safer, I clicked like.

May 19, 2017 07:13 AM #2
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire


Not having kids or pets make the later two easy to follow. Never knew about air freshener's but fortunately I do use these either. Thanks for these tips, cheers cvc

May 19, 2017 07:17 AM #3
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Wow Lise Howe,  Lots of great things in your blog that I never knew.  Make it a great day!


May 19, 2017 10:29 AM #4
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I've read that Geraniums are also toxic to pets, so I no longer plant them outdoors.

No worries about air fresheners here - I'm allergic to perfumes and other chemicals, so I stay far away from them to avoid blinding headaches. There are some stores where I just don't shop because of their extensive Yankee Candle displays.

May 19, 2017 10:54 AM #5
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

I was totally unaware of this. I don't use the air fresheners often but love the convenience of the laundry and dishwasher detergent pods. I will continue to use them since I have no pets or small children in the house.

May 19, 2017 08:42 PM #6
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Lise what a great post and we have three cats and a dog, but I can assure you we have no Air Fresheners, No indoor plants and no toxic detergent packages:))Endre

May 19, 2017 11:02 PM #7
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is excellent advice to share.

Have an outstanding weekend.

May 20, 2017 04:43 AM #8
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Lise. This is hard to read but so very very important. Thank you.

May 20, 2017 06:41 AM #9
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Lise

Thanks for getting the word out on these toxic products. I can't stand air fresheners of any kind, and it drives me nuts to walk into a beautiful home that reaks of air fresheners, plugs and more.And they make me sneeze,and others as well.

It's surprising how many plants, beautiful to see, that are toxic to humans and/or to pets.


May 20, 2017 07:48 AM #10
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Sheila Anderson was it upsetting to read or visually hard to read? I want to make sure I'm not formatting wrong etc

May 20, 2017 12:35 PM #11
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Thank your for the heads up on the 3 common toxic household items.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

May 20, 2017 07:16 PM #12
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

None of these in my home. I'm highly sensitive to scents and it's a major problem these days with everything scented.

May 21, 2017 04:42 PM #13
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Hi Lise, Thanks for the great information.  We can often get caught up on a quick easy fix without thinking about the consequences of some of these items.

May 21, 2017 08:36 PM #14
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Items easy "not to see" and forget that there are dangerous consequences to them !  Bookmarked for one of our newsletters...thank you !

May 26, 2017 04:36 AM #15
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