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7 Dangerous Victorian Era Household Products Everyone Used

It’s a fact that the Victorian period was mainly about contradictions and bizarre things. The world may have believed it had advanced from the Dark and the Middle Ages, becoming civilized and sophisticated by the time Queen Victoria took the throne, but was this really the case? Not at all. The Victorian age was completely irrational.

While most history books focus mostly on the Queen’s political reign or the Industrial Revolution, there are plenty of weird things that books won’t even mention. Read on to discover some of the most bizarre Victorian household products that everybody believed were safe inventions but, in fact, were health hazards. We should consider ourselves lucky to be living in the 21st century!

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Toilets could burst

In the second half of the 19th century, cities “exploded” to house the booming middle classes. In just over 50 years, their numbers had grown from two and a half million to over nine. And this urban middle class took immense pride in their homes because they had money, and they wanted to spend it in order to have a beautiful, cozy space.

The cost of necessities fell dramatically, and mass production made everything available and pretty affordable. However, most of the things that were invented during the Victorian era were pretty dangerous and ready to kill almost everything that was around them.

This was the case with plumbing because it was a new invention that wasn’t tested well enough. It was something convenient, and having water running in your house was a luxury back then. Public sewage systems, on the other hand, weren’t yet fully developed. Methane would build up in the sewers and leak into houses, where it would ignite when it came into contact with candles that were lit. The person who was in the room at the time could have even died when the toilet erupted.

Gas lighting and the heating system suffocated people

In the middle of the 19th century, natural gas began being pumped into dwellings. This gas was utilized to heat quarters more effectively and power lighting fixtures that were brighter than candles. However, the gas would continue to silently creep into sealed rooms, smothering people while they slept or igniting with great force because the gas-powered appliances in residences lacked safety switches or release valves.

Victorian wallpapers poisoned people with arsenic dust

For most of the middle-class people that lived in the Victorian age, having a house that appeared cluttered and full of a lot of things that showed their wealth was a really important thing. One thing that particularly indicated both good taste and status was the wallpaper. Many people desired to have wallpaper on their walls, and the more colorful the wallpaper, the better.

And with the introduction of gas lighting for the first time in history, there was plenty of light in the house to enjoy the intense and vivid colors on their walls. However, while wallpaper sales escalated quickly, so did reports of weird deaths and illnesses in people’s homes, and that raised a lot of questions.

It was found that the amazing green hue in wallpaper was given by a poisonous substance called arsenic. Over time, this dangerous compound from the dye gradually peeled off and transformed into dust that could be easily inhaled. Arsenic was very toxic, especially for children who could get lung disease by simply inhaling the contaminated air.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Victorian toys

Despite the fact that many kids that lived in Victorian times didn’t have an easy childhood, they were still kids, and they enjoyed playing as much as possible. However, not all of them had the benefit of having a real toy. Most children from the upper and middle classes were the lucky ones who had real toys.

Because of the high demand, a lot of factories started making plenty of nice toys for those who could afford them. And a lot of them were painted with lead paint in very potent colors, but nobody knew that the paint was toxic. Children are children and will always be tempted to bite their toys, but in this case, contact with this type of paint was dangerous. Even mild lead poisoning can result in encephalopathy and harm a child’s development because lead damages the nervous system.

And because many horrible things happened during the Victorian Age, there were other kinds of toys that were made of plastic that were prone to exploding. The plastic was called “Parkesine,” and it was the first form of plastic invented. It became extremely popular and was molded into toys, billiard balls, and other things. The only problem with it was the fact that its components were very flammable and could explode on impact, making those toys quite threatening.

Dangerous staircases

During Victorian times, a lot of people wanted to explore new sizes for their homes. They wanted larger rooms, comfort, and a space that could be used for their servants. And then there was the time when the staircases were installed, but they were built too narrow and too steep, and a lot of the steps were made irregular. They were definitely a deadly construction that wasn’t going to last very long. The stairs could easily prove to be catastrophic if carrying trays or wearing long skirts were added.


The Victorian age was mostly known for the fact that a home became an ideal place, and it needed to be protected and nurtured as much as possible. As a result, purchasing items for the home became seen as a woman’s occupation while the men were out earning money for the family.

The woman’s “job” was to keep everything pure and comfortable for when the man came home after a long day. But while she is busy creating an ideal place for her family, she must take care of her looks as well. Corsets became an item that was slowly adopted as the main trend for this era.

However, the pursuit of this “perfect hourglass shape” wasn’t exactly safe because these pieces of clothing were doing more harm than good for the body. A lot of them were pretty affordable for everybody because corsets were advertised as being a necessity in every Victorian woman’s wardrobe. But it was proven that over time, corsets pulled against internal organs and bones, and if they were excessively tight, they restricted breathing.

Photo by magone From Envato Elements

Baby bottles infected infants

During the Victorian era, a new kind of infant bottle was produced. It was made out of a small rubber udder, a glass bottle, and a thin rubber hose. The bottle could be supported upright as the milk flowed down the tube, according to the invention’s creator, Mrs. Beeton, who also claimed that the hose and nipple were disposable and it didn’t need to be washed because it allowed for independent feeding.

That sounded incredible to all the nurses and mothers, but it was a fatal mistake. In the days before antibiotics, both of the disposable rubber pieces turned into bacterial havens and infected the babies, and a lot of them died.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article about what Victorian life was really like. And if you are interested in finding out more weird facts about this era, we highly suggest you check this out!

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