Our pets scatter smelly toys, mud, and plenty of fur all over. They also fill our homes with love and companionship that’s more than worth the extra cleaning duties for most of us. As responsible pet owners, we know what’s healthy and unhealthy for our dog or cat. We watch what we feed them, keep their water bowl filled, and of course, love them.
If you have pets, the extra cleaning duties they create may be okay with you, but commercial cleaning products can be anything but okay for your pets. Products like all-purpose cleaners, stain removers, and disinfectants often contain ingredients that can be toxic to pets.
Read on to find out why cleaning products can harm pets, which ones to avoid, and what pet owners can do to remove the danger. You can also learn more about healthy cleaning and other pet-safe practices when you visit The Maids.
Why Are So Many Everyday Cleaning Products Bad For Pets?
When you buy mildew removers, carpet shampoo, and even laundry detergent, there’s a good chance you’re bringing harmful chemicals into your home. Most of these products are relatively safe for adults but can contain enough toxins to make pets ill. The ingredients in commercial cleaning products include ammonia, bleach, phenol, and formaldehyde—all of which can make your pet sick.
Most pet owners don’t intentionally spray or pour cleaning products near their pets. But even when we are extra careful and make sure our pets aren’t around during our housekeeping, the residue of cleaners can linger.
Dogs lick floors, cats roll around on the carpet, and all pets eat and drink. Those behaviors create opportunities for pets to ingest toxic chemicals or absorb them through their skin. So what kind of cleaning products do pet owners need to ditch? Any cleaning products that contain the ingredients listed above and other harmful chemicals can put your pet at risk.
10 Cleaning Products That Can Harm Pets
For those of us who take pride in keeping a healthy and clean home, not having our faithful commercial cleaning products for housekeeping can be unsettling. After all, few cleaning ingredients whiten like bleach, clean like ammonia, or freshen laundry like surfactants.
But some safer alternatives can get the job done and help create a healthier environment for your pets and family. Let’s look at ten cleaning products that can harm pets, and then we’ll show you how you can give your home a healthier, pet-friendly clean.
- All-Purpose Cleaners
For quick cleanup on counters, appliances, and other surfaces, it’s hard to beat your favorite all-purpose cleaner. While these popular cleaning products are convenient and effective, the ingredients they contain can make pets sick or even kill them. Because many of us use all-purpose cleaners so often, the chances of getting the spray in the air or in your pet’s water bowl are pretty high.
- Glass Cleaner
Most window cleaning products contain ammonia and isopropanol. Ammonia is extremely powerful and emits heavy fumes that can irritate pets’ eyes and lungs. Even though isopropanol is 70 percent water, it intoxicates at greater levels than ethanol (gasoline) and can cause health issues and even death. Depending on the levels of these harmful ingredients, frequent exposure to even small amounts of glass cleaner can harm pets.
- Furniture Polish
Wood furniture cleaners often contain petroleum distillates and potent oils, as well as ammonia and phenol. Don’t let the lemon-fresh aroma and sparkling shine fool you—there are a lot of harmful ingredients in furniture polish that could harm pets. These ingredients can irritate your pet’s skin and eyes, burn their throat and lungs, and even cause vomiting. Because furniture polish is typically used as an aerosol, the harmful ingredients can contaminate the air, water bowls, and fabrics.
- Floor Cleaners
Pets spend a lot of time on the floors of our homes, which means they can ingest or absorb floor cleaner residue, especially if the solution hasn’t dried. Floor cleaners can contain ammonium hydroxide, fragrance, and chlorine, all of which are harmful to people and pets. These chemicals can burn skin, cause respiratory problems, and wreak havoc on digestive systems.
- Carpet Cleaning Solutions
Many carpet cleaning solutions, both commercial and for home use, can contain unsafe chemical solvents like the ones commonly used in dry cleaning. The fumes alone from carpet cleaning solutions can contain formaldehyde, pesticides, and synthetic fragrances—all of which can make your cat or dog ill. These chemicals can also be absorbed through your pet’s skin, especially when the carpet is still wet.
Popular over-the-counter disinfectants, even those approved by the EPA, can contain phenol. Phenol can irritate your pet’s eyes, skin, and mucus membranes after short-term inhalation or absorption. If ingested, even as a residue, phenol can be highly toxic to cats and dogs, and phenol’s chemical formula allows it to penetrate the skin rapidly. Disinfectants kill bacteria and viruses and help minimize the spread of germs, but the dangers they pose to pets outweigh the positives.
- Toilet Bowl Cleaners
Toilet bowl cleaners are known for their sanitizing, cleaning, and whitening, making them the ideal cleaner for porcelain and similar materials. But the powerful ingredients in toilet bowl cleaners can make your dog or cat sick. Even if your dog doesn’t drink from the toilet, it could still chew or come into contact with cleaning cloths, toilets brushes, and other cleaning equipment with toilet bowl cleaner residue.
- Laundry Detergent
You may not see your typical laundry detergent on a hazardous product list, but the ingredients in many of them can harm pets. Great for clothes and getting out stubborn stains, laundry detergent is bad news for cats and dogs because they usually contain surfactants. These active agents in laundry detergent can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and worse even when ingested in small amounts. Cats sensitive to surfactants like those found in these cleaning products can be at much greater risk for more serious health issues.
- Fabric Softeners
Fabric softeners make our clothes smell nice and get rid of aggravating static electricity, but they can injure our pets. Fabric-softener sheets are a particular concern for pet safety because they contain ingredients that can cause various digestive problems. While unused fabric softener sheets contain the highest levels of chemical elements, even used ones can cause trouble if they are chewed or eaten.
- Mold and Mildew Removers
Because mold and mildew removers contain fungicides such as chlorine and ammonium, they can be highly dangerous to use around pets. These two toxic ingredients can inhibit breathing, burn your pet’s esophagus, and cause other dangerous symptoms. Outdoor mold removers can pose a high risk of health problems for cats in particular and could be fatal.
Safe Cleaning Products For Pet Owners
There are plenty of safe and natural alternative cleaning products you can use around pets, and many of them are in your kitchen. Lemons, white vinegar, baking soda, and olive oil are four non-toxic and completely pet-safe cleaning products you can use all around your home.
Distilled White Vinegar
White vinegar is a natural cleaner, deodorizer, sanitizer, and whitener. You can use white vinegar as a clothes detergent, stain remover, and fabric softener for an all-in-one laundry solution. Mixed with water for a safe all-purpose cleaner and for cleaning your carpets.
Water and vinegar also cut grime and leave a sparkling, streak-free shine on windows. A 1:1 ratio is a good starting point for most cleaning and disinfecting jobs, but you can reduce or increase the amount of white vinegar to fit the job.
Baking soda is an eco-friendly and readily available cleaner, deodorizer, whitener, and mold remover. Because of the mild abrasiveness and bleaching ability, baking soda is a pet-friendly way to clean toilet bowls, get stains out of clothes, and a whole lot more. Plus, baking soda is perfect for getting rid of pet smells in carpet and fabrics.
Good for your heart and for so many housekeeping chores, olive oil is more versatile than many realize. Mixed with lemon juice, olive oil is a natural and effective homemade furniture polish and floor cleaner that’s about as pet-safe as you can get. You get the same performance you love with your old spray furniture polish without the health dangers.
Natural lemon juice sanitizes, cleans, whitens, and gives you a boost of pleasing aromas. That versatility makes lemons an ideal cleaning solution in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and other rooms. With a handful of lemons, you can deodorize your drains, sanitize cutting boards, and even freshen up your dishwasher—all without cleaning products that can harm your pets.
Going green for your cleaning, disinfecting, and other household chores take some getting used to, but the benefits are worth the effort. The primary benefit of using natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly cleaning products around pets instead of toxic cleaners is simple—a healthier environment. As a bonus, these safe cleaning products are easy to make and usually much less expensive than their commercial counterparts.