23 Most Flammable Household Items & Materials

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 18, 2024

You never take home fire safety for granted. From evacuation planning to eliminating obvious hazards, you’re prepared for the worst. However, you may be surprised at the danger posed by a number of ordinary items around the house.

With more than 85 years of combined experience, ServiceMaster by Zaba has restored fire-damaged homes. We want you to stay safe, so we’ve put together the information you need to identify flammable materials in your home.

Read on for a revealing overview of common household items that can cause house fires.

What Makes Certain Materials Flammable?

Composition is the main factor that determines an item’s flammability.

For example, the gases used to propel aerosol sprays make the products highly combustible. The tiny particles in powdery substances ignite very quickly. Some liquids have low flash points that make them flammable.

While different materials burn easily for different reasons, they all have one thing in common: When exposed to heat, molecules in the flammable material react with oxygen in the air and generate the energy that causes combustion.

Once ignited, the molecules continue to burn and the flames spread quickly.

Flammable Household Items & Materials

Almost every room in the house has an item that can erupt into flames. It might be on a bathroom shelf, inside a kitchen cabinet or out in the garage. These are the most commonly overlooked household items that can start a fire.

Personal Care Products

1. Rubbing and Isopropyl Alcohol – Both antiseptics emit vapors that can ignite when exposed to an open flame.

2. Paraffin Creams – The liquid paraffin found in some skin creams is a type of combustible mineral oil.

3. Acetone Products – Nail polish removers, hair sprays and styling gels contain high levels of volatile acetone.

4. Space Heaters – These small appliances can ignite adjacent items and materials in the bathroom or bedroom.

5. Hair Styling Tools – When overheated, hair dryers, flat irons and curling wands become home fire hazards.

Fire Safety Tip: Read the labels on personal care products so that you understand which ones are flammable.

Pantry and Cooking Supplies

flammable kitchen supplies

6. Cooking Oil – Regardless of different flash points, all cooking oils can overheat and start a kitchen fire.

7. Flour – The carbohydrates in this kitchen pantry staple make its particles extremely volatile around open flames.

8. Powdered Spices – Cinnamon, chili and garlic powder are examples of oily spices that can become fire hazards.

9. Baking Powder – Baking soda can smother a fire, but open flames can quickly ignite baking powder.

10. Coffee Creamer – Many powdered creamers contain sodium aluminosilicate, a flammable anti-caking additive.

11. Counter Top Appliances – Toaster ovens, air fryers and microwave ovens are common sources of kitchen fires.

Fire Safety Tip: Keep ingredients away from open flames, and never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking.

General Cleaning Products

12. Aerosols – Many aerosol cleaning products contain dangerous combustible propellants such as butane and propane.

13. Laundry Supplies – Laundry soaps and softeners are commonly derived from flammable fatty carboxylic acids.

14. Oven Cleaners – Most oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide, which makes the products potential fire hazards.

15. Drain Cleaners – Drain cleaners also contain sodium hydroxide and are dangerous to use around open flames.

16. Liquid Cleaners – Ammonia and chlorine in many multi-surface cleaners increase product flammability.

Fire Safety Tip: Store cleaning products away from heat sources, and make sure the storage area is well-ventilated.

Items in the Garage

flammable items in the garage

17. Fuel – Gasoline and propane stored inside the garage are both highly flammable.

18. Car Maintenance Products – Flammable automotive products include antifreeze, car wax and brake fluid.

19. Paint Products – The solvents and oils in lacquers and enamel paints can combust if exposed to open flames.

Fire Safety Tip: Store flammables away from garage doorways so that the areas stay clear for emergency exits.

Miscellaneous Household Flammables

20. Lithium-ion Batteries – Overcharging a lithium-ion battery can cause it to overheat and explode.

21. Clothes Dryer Lint – High temperatures generated by a dryer’s heating element can ignite lint buildup.

22. Shoe Polish – Most shoe polishes and waxes contain highly flammable turpentine and naphtha.

23. Light Bulbs – Using light bulbs rated above a fixture’s recommended wattage can result in overheating.

How to Prevent Household Fires

It’s important to develop a fire prevention plan for your home, and it’s easy too. Just a few routines can add multiple layers of protection to the house. That small investment in time pays off with knowing you’re prepared for the worst.

As certified fire damage professionals, we recommend incorporating these safety tips in your fire prevention plans.

  • Consider installing smart home devices that can alert you to trouble when you’re away from the house.
  • Make it a habit to read the labels and instructions for use on products that might be flammable.
  • Keep several fire extinguishers within easy reach throughout the house, and learn how to use them properly.
  • Always store potentially flammable items in areas that are secure, dry and well-ventilated.

Dealing With Damage From a Home Fire in Chicago, IL? We Can Help!

professional fire damage restoration

We enjoy sharing information that can help you stay safe. If the worst does happen, we’re here for you. With locations in Chicago, Northshore and Lake County, we’re just around the corner.

When you need fire damage restoration backed by sincere customer care, call ServiceMaster by Zaba: (773) 647-1985.

Helpful Resources

Hazardous Substances Labeling – Consumer Product Safety Commission

Fire Extinguisher Information – FEMA

Fire Prevention Tips – Ready.Gov