Are your eyes burning as soon as you take a shower, light a candle, or clean your kitchen? You’re likely using a product which contains chemicals that are irritating your eyes. In fact, there are many household items that can cause irritation, such as household cleaners, hygiene products, and cosmetics, to name a few. To learn what products to avoid purchasing, here are ten household items that could be irritating your eyes.

Household Cleaners

Several household cleaners contain harsh ingredients, such as ammonia, triclosan, and formaldehyde. These are known to cause inflammation, irritation, and severe burning if they come in contact with your eyes. To avoid contact in the first place, it’s important to wear safety goggles or regular glasses if that’s all you have, to protect your eyes from any serious damage. This is especially important when dealing with oven cleaner, stain remover, degreaser, toilet bowl cleaner, and any other potent disinfectants.


If you’ve ever got shampoo or dish soap into your eye, you know just how painful it can be. Soaps that are not considered “tearless” will likely contain alkaline-based chemicals that can irritate and sting your eyes. Fortunately, the effects are temporary, and most soap can be easily removed by flushing your eyes with water for several minutes.


The makeup you use can also irritate your eyes, especially if you’re sensitive to certain ingredients. Additionally, small particles in powder and eye shadow can become lodged under the lid, causing irritation and inflammation. That’s why it’s important to wash your makeup off each and every night to avoid any discomfort or redness and to discontinue use of the brand if any irritation persists.

Insect Repellent

Insect repellents contain a number of compounds that can be both irritating and even toxic. To avoid getting it in your eyes, make sure to cover your eyes when spraying yourself with any type of insecticide. If the chemical happens to touch your eye, first flush with water and then follow the instructions on the can.

Candles and Air Fresheners

Who doesn’t love lighting a nice, fragrant candle? But as lovely as they are, did you know these could also be causing your eyes to tear up and burn? Unfortunately, a number of potentially hazardous chemicals are commonly used in fragrance, including acetone, Linalool, and benzaldehyde which can irritate your eyes, skin, lungs, and cause other health conditions. Unscented beeswax candles with a cotton wick are the safer option.


We’ve all experienced the painful stinging effect that sunscreen can cause when it gets in your eyes. Although sunscreen won’t cause any permanent damage, it can cause some serious discomfort and eye inflammation. If you get sunscreen in your eyes, flush your eyes with water or lubricating eye drops. A cold, wet cloth can help to ease any stinging and alleviate the pain a little quicker.


Your red, irritated eyes could be the result of volatile organic compounds exposure. In fact, VOCs are everywhere inside your home, including the solvents, paints, furniture, and carpets. These can easily seep out and impact the air quality of your home, making your air 10 times worse than outside. To lower the VOC levels in your home, switch to VOC-free cleaners, avoid carpet cleaners and stain guards, and get an air filter that is designed to  remove toxic VOC particles in your home.

Laundry Detergent and Softner Sheets

We all love the smell of fresh laundry, but did you know that it could be what is causing your watery, itchy eyes? Laundry detergents are in fact, a strong eye irritant. Chemicals, such as ethanol, sodium silicate, and bleach can cause a number of health issues and cause your eyes to water up and burn.

Lawn Care

Your quest for lush, green grass could also be a cause for your eye discomfort. Certain plant and lawn care chemicals are harmful to your eyes and body. Switching to organic products can help reduce your chances of experiencing acute and chronic health effects.

Mattress and Bed Sheets

Those pesky dust mites might be what’s causing your eye sensitivity. If you’re allergic to dust, over the counter pills and eye drops may help. If your symptoms are persistent, then a prescription medication might be the best option.

If you’re experiencing any eye irritation in or around the home, don’t suffer in silence. Instead, visit us at Laurier Optical to get an eye exam! We’ll check the condition of your eyes, look for any underlying health issues and also answer any questions you have about common eye allergens and irritants that you may have in your home. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.