Kitchen and laundry safety

Your kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in your house – unfortunately it’s also one of the most accident-prone. Knives, heat, fire, cupboards, slippery floors and cleaning products cause tens of thousands of nasty injuries a year.

The laundry also has its own set of dangers. Water and electricity do not mix, while clothes left lying around create a tripping or slipping hazard. However, it’s easy to reduce the chances of you or your family getting hurt while they’re in the kitchen or laundry.

Stoves and cooking

  • Turn pot handles to the back of the stove so they're not easily pulled or knocked off.
  • Secure the stove to the wall so it won’t tip if a child climbs up on it.
  • Keep curtains, or anything else that could burn such as dishtowels, well away from the stove so they can't catch fire.
  • Keep a wall-mounted fire extinguisher handy and make sure you know how to use it.
  • Always use an oven cloth when handling hot saucepans and oven dishes, and make sure it’s dry – heat travels through a wet cloth very quickly.
  • Always stay in the room when you’re cooking, especially when you’re frying, and keep the stove, oven and grill clean – grease build-up could be a fire hazard.
  • Take your time in the kitchen. So often we’re rushing around cooking meals and that’s when injuries happen. Slow down and be safe.

See Cooking safety.

Knives and sharp utensils

Keep all sharp objects out of reach of children. Keeping your knives on a magnetic strip or knife block is much better than putting them in a drawer. Always be careful when using knives, and keep them sharp – sharp knives are less likely to slip and cut you. Closed-in shoes are also a good idea in case you drop a knife or hot liquid on your feet.

Cupboards and drawers

Keep cupboards closed so that you don’t walked into them, and keep drawers pushed in so children can’t climb up on to them. Try not to install cupboards at head height above the washing machine – you don’t want to hit your head every time you do a load of washing.

Electrical cords

Check your appliance cords regularly to make sure they haven’t frayed or burnt, and keep them well away from the stove. Never leave a cord hanging over the edge of a bench where a child could pull the appliance (and whatever is inside it, such as boiling water) down on themselves.

See Electrical cords.

Slips, trips and falls

Wipe up any spills as soon as they happen because water on tiles or lino is very slippery. Make sure the floor is always kept clear so you don’t trip, and that includes keeping pets and small children out of the kitchen as much as possible. In the laundry, put dirty laundry in a hamper so it’s not on the floor creating a tripping hazard.

See Preventing falls at home.

Chemicals and poisons

Keep all cleaning products and other household chemicals locked away in a high cupboard, or at least install a child-proof lock if the storage cupboard is at child height.

Safety tips for building/redesigning a kitchen or laundry:

  • If you can, don’t make the kitchen a travel route to other parts of the house, or the only route to the backyard - you don’t want it to be a ‘high traffic’ area.
  • Put the fridge at the entrance to the kitchen to keep traffic to a minimum.
  • Avoid putting steps between the kitchen and dining area or garage.
  • Ensure you can see the children’s main play areas (indoors and outdoors) from the kitchen and that it can be closed off from kids if you need to keep small children out.
  • Make sure the room will be easy to work in and that high-use items such as fridges and washing machines are easy to access.
  • All kitchen and laundry sockets should have a residual current device, to protect against electrical fires.
  • Put the stove’s isolating switch to one side of the cook top, not behind it, so you don’t have to reach over it if there’s a fire.
  • Kitchens and laundries should have a window or a mechanical extractor fan that vents to the outside of the house.
  • Choose built-in heating where possible.
  • Use slip-resistant flooring.

Last updated: 31 May 2011

Last reviewed: 23 January 2014