Cleaning Danger

Reporter: Gavin Alder

"It just felt like my whole leg was burning like yeah it was on fire" says Kylie Mitchell.

It's like some flesh eating horror story; except for Kylie Mitchell it was very real!

"I fell down, I fell down to the ground holding the area and I was crying and I really got a fright because I didn't click onto what happened and didn't realise it was the oven cleaner."

The Queensland mum was cleaning her oven using one of the biggest selling brands on the market. She adhered the warnings on the can and to keep her children a safe distance. She sent them outside to play.

"I was scrubbing the racks and cleaning it and the baby cried...and the kids called out to me so I put the gloves off put them in the sink and the oven door was still open so I just kneed it shut."

Not realising there was Mr Muscle oven cleaner on the door. Almost immediately she felt the pain. She flushed it with cold water but the pain and the burning didn't stop. Kylie didn't realise how serious it was. She needed surgery twice. Once to clean and disinfect the wound then a second time for a skin graft.

The can displays a general warning on the front and then more specific safety directions on the back.

So just how much of a risk does this product pose? Well enough of a risk for the company to put a warning on the back to say when using it you should wear rubber gloves and eye protection...but we thought perhaps the best way of testing it would be to spray it directly onto some skin, not mine obviously but this chicken's.

As soon as the spray touches the skin you can see a chemical reaction. The skin begins to blister and become discolored. This chicken is cooking.

Toxicologist Peter Dingle says "Kylie should be thankful it came in contact with her leg and that she didn't breathe it in. This stuff is so toxic he says when they test oven cleaners, it is done under the strictest conditions."

"If we use any of these chemicals in a laboratory, any of my technicians then they would have to do a course to use them and would do them in a fume cupboard in a protected environment."

For that reason he's like to see them taken off supermarket shelves because it gives consumers a false sense that they're safe.

After her experience Kylie has offered SC Johnson, the maker of Mr Muscle products. The photos of her injuries to display on the can as a more noticeable warning. Peter Dingle thinks it's a brilliant idea.

"Some warning signs like that are appropriate. I mean we do it for tobacco. We put it on the cigarette packets, we can see the lungs, well this stuff is a hundred times, a thousand times more toxic, more corrosive and it's instant."