This Common Household Item Is the No. 1 Cause of House Fires

The mere thought of a house fire is enough to make most folks think twice. Does your family have an escape plan? Are you aware of the potential fire hazards inside your home? These are important questions to ask, and they’re worth answering.

Because keeping your family safe is a top priority, it’s imperative that you’re informed about certain dangers lurking in your home. Turns out, some household products are far more dangerous than you think. In fact, cooking equipment is the leading cause of house fires (more on that in a bit). So, whether you already knew these items were highly flammable, or you’re surprised to see them on the list, it never hurts to brush up on your fire-safety knowledge.

Be extra careful when you’re around these 15 common, yet highly flammable, household items.

15. Non-dairy creamer

Non-dairy creamer

Beware of chemical additives. | Target

Who would have thought that a product as harmless as non-dairy creamer would make the list? Believe it or not, that bottle of your favorite coffee additive is packing much more than empty calories alone. Artificial flavorings, such as sodium aluminosilicate, is what makes your go-to-creamer so flammable. Be sure to keep it away from any open flames.

Next: Citrus, anyone? 

14. Oranges

Who would have known oranges are so flammable? | iStock.com

Oranges seem harmless enough, but be careful when squeezing them for all their juicy goodness. Turns out, the fruits of your labor could end up in disaster — if you’re close to an open flame, that is. The flammable chemical in oranges is limonene, meaning you need to use caution when squeezing this fruit, along with lemons and other citrus fruits.

Next: This item is a crucial prop in a beloved family game. 

13. Ping-pong balls

Ping pong ball with table

Keep your kids informed. | iStock.com/Fotokostic

Any good basement has a ping-pong table, right? And more likely than not, it also has a group of kids eager to test their skills at the weekly table tennis tournament. But be careful; ping-pong balls happen to contain celluloid, a flammable substance. Make sure your kids are in the know regarding the potential danger. 

Next: Just one more reason to stop buying junk food.

12. Doritos

Doritos in a bowl with colorful background.

Your favorite snack is highly flammable. | iStock.com/Paul Brighton

No one needs junk food lying around the house. And now you know that you especially don’t need Doritos taking up space in your pantry, either. “Snack chips are surprisingly a very good fuel source,” Strike First Corporation of America says. “Chips such as Doritos, Cheetos, and other common types all are quite flammable.” The combination of fatty foods and hydrocarbons is a recipe for disaster, as they burn quite easily.

Next: These common pantry staples are more dangerous than you think. 

11. Flour and sugar

making bread dough recipe

They say refined carbs are bad for you, but you probably weren’t expecting this. | iStock.com/Modesigns58

Both flour and sugar are carbohydrates. Each of these common cooking ingredients is already a pure molecule, which is highly flammable when it comes into contact with the wrong thing. In fact, when flour and air come into contact with an open flame, it can result in an explosion. So, never toss flour or sugar into a hot pan on its own.

Next: Most women have these products in the medicine cabinet. 

10. Nail polish and nail polish remover

Nail polish colorful bottles

Acetone is highly flammable. | iStock.com/AndreaAstes

Nail polish remover is one of the most flammable household items, and it can easily catch on fire. As one of the main ingredients in both nail polish and nail polish remover, acetone is highly flammable thanks to the vapors it produces. When these vapors travel through the air, they’ll ignite any flame in their path.

Next: Use caution when using this home-improvement product. 

9. Linseed oil

Linseed oil

This oil is often used in wood stains. | iStock.com/Al62

Often used in wood stains, this highly flammable substance requires extreme caution when you apply it, as well as all the way through the drying process. Similarly, you need to use the same caution when using other products in the same category, such as paint thinners and finishes. You certainly don’t want to light candles in a room where home improvement projects are taking place.

Next: This item is a first-aid kit staple. 

8. Rubbing alcohol

Hands with rubbing alcohol

You could risk severe burns. | iStock.com/Beest

While rubbing alcohol may be a more obvious culprit, it’s not unusual for folks to discount just how dangerous it can be. For instance, if you pour the liquid on any part of your body and then come close to an open flame, you could end up in the emergency room suffering from severe burns.

Next: Lots of folks keep this product on-hand at all times. 

7. Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer

The high alcohol content is the culprit here. | iStock.com/Miflippo

Similarly, hand sanitizer presents potential danger due to the alcohol it contains. Therefore, the same rules as above apply here, too. If you’re used to keeping hand sanitizer in your purse or bag, it’s time to reconsider, especially if you carry a lighter or matches around, as well.

Next: Be careful what you cook with.

6. Oil

Olive oil in a bowl

Remove the pan if it starts to smoke. | iStock.com

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Chopped or Top Chef, you’re well aware of oil’s fire-catching abilities. A chef pours oil into a piping hot pan, and it’s up in flames before you know it. Great TV? Sure. Great in your home kitchen? Not so much.

There are a few important things to know when it comes to cooking with oil, like the difference between a flashpoint and a smoke point, for instance. When an oil hits its flashpoint temperature, the oil is creating flammable vapors that can cause a fire. However, when that oil is at its smoke point, the oil has become too hot, and it will begin to smoke. When this happens, it’s your cue to remove the pan from the flame ASAP.

Next: Not keeping this household appliance clean could get you into trouble.

5. Dryers and washing machines

Washing machine or dryer

It’s vital to clean the lint out of your machine. | iStock.com

According to the National Fire Protection Association, failure to clean machines was the leading factor in home fires started by dryers. Remember how your mother would always stop the dryer before everyone left the house? Or how you can still hear her telling you to clean the lint filter? Hopefully these sentiments stuck with you, because she was right to worry.

Furthermore, while dryer-related fires typically start with a piece of clothing or lint igniting, washing machine-related fires are usually caused by a mechanical malfunction or electrical failure. So, be sure you’re cleaning each machine properly, and tending to a regular maintenance schedule.

Next: Lots of household products come in a spray version. 

4. Aerosol cans

man spraying through spray bottle

The flammable propellant makes these incredibly dangerous in a fire. | iStock.com

As most folks already know, aerosol cans are not your friend when you’re around an open flame. These cans, which include anything from spray paint to hair spray to sunscreen spray, are a disaster waiting to happen. That’s largely because they’re loaded with chemicals. More specifically, most use a flammable propellant such as propane or butane.

Next: Proper storage is key. 

3. Gasoline and lighter fluid

Red and yellow gasoline can

An obvious risk. | iStock.com/smartstock

Most of us know that these items are highly flammable, yet they still cause several fire-related incidents each year. And improper storage has a lot to do with it. Just think about where you store your gasoline. It’s likely in the garage or shed, often in unregulated temperatures. All it takes is the metal lid to spark from the heat, and the next thing you know, you’re facing a full-blown fire.

For these reasons, homeowners need to stay informed, and always store propane in the proper containers. Additionally, it’s important to know how to use lighter fluid properly.

Next: The second leading cause of home fires.

2. Space heaters

personal electric space heater

Keep it away from flammable fabric. | iStock.com/Mihail Dechev

As we just mentioned, heating is a huge contributing factor to house fires. In particular, failure to clean chimneys was a major culprit. Additionally, the NFPA said, “Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (56%) of home heating fire deaths.” So, if you absolutely have to have that space heater, keep it somewhere safe, always have it in eyesight, and never, ever leave it plugged in when you’re not home. 

Next: This item is the No. 1 culprit in house fires.

1. Cooking equipment

Frying pan is on fire

Keep an eye on your dinner. | iStock.com/Gpointstudio

Cooking equipment was the No. 1 cause of home fires between 2010 and 2014. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, “Cooking was the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries and ties with heating as the second leading cause of home fire deaths.” Furthermore, ranges or cooktops accounted for 62% of home cooking fire incidents, and “unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires and fire deaths,” NFPA reported.

Read more: Silent Killers: The 13 Most Dangerous Things in Your Home