Cleaning is a round-the-clock job for many pet owners. Our furry friends have the habit of shedding, drooling, and tracking in dirt and grime after potty breaks and playtime, requiring their human companions to be on constant clean-up duty. Keeping your home germ-free is important for every member of your family, including your pet, but it’s a task that needs to be proceeded with caution. After all, there are a lot of ingredients in cleaning products that can poison your pet, which can cause irritation, illness, or even death.
Pet parents needn’t worry, though — there are a lot of ways to keep your home clean without threatening the health of your pet! Our guide shows you how to find cleaning products that are free of pet poisons for every part of your home.
Avoid Dangerous Ingredients in Household Cleaning Products
The most important action you can take to prevent your pet from ingesting potentially-poisonous chemicals is to keep them out of your home as much as possible. These substances are especially dangerous to pets (and even humans, in some cases), and keep in mind they may be found in both indoor and outdoor cleaning products:
- 2,4-D herbicide
- Ammonia (sometimes called “ammonium hydroxide”) – Warning: never mix ammonia and bleach products together — this combination produces a noxious gas that can be fatal to humans and animals.
- Essential oils
- Ethylene glycol
- Formaldehyde (sometimes called “formalin”)
- Glycol ethers
- Propylene glycol
- Sodium chloride (sometimes called “de-icing salt” or “rock salt”)
Of course, it may not be possible to keep every one of these items out of your arsenal of cleaning supplies. Most people have a bottle of bleach in their laundry room, and it’s nearly impossible to keep a pool clean without chlorine. Be sure that your pet can’t access these products when they’re stored, in use, and immediately after using them by following these tips:
- Keep harmful products out of reach by storing them on high shelving or baby-proofing low cabinets where they’re kept.
- Secure trash can lids to ensure curious critters can’t swipe used cleaning products and containers, including bottles and wipes.
- Store outdoor cleaning products outside of your main living area, such as a shed or the garage, and don’t allow your pet inside.
- Baby-proof your toilet’s lid, or keep the bathroom door closed after cleaning the commode. If you use a continuous cleanser, like toilet tank tablets, you need to ensure your pet never has access to the toilet’s water.
Be Mindful of Pest Control
Keeping bugs, rodents, and other pests out of your home is important for the health and safety of every family member. Not only are they unsightly, they can carry and spread germs in and outside your home. However, it’s important to be extremely careful when choosing pest-control products, especially because they tend to be put in low places where pets can easily find them. Because of the potentially-fatal hazards they pose to pets, do not use these products or any pest-control materials containing ingredients from the list above:
- Ant poison
- Fly bait
- Glue traps
- Moth balls
- Rat poison
- Slug and snail bait
You should also be mindful of your pet’s flea- and tick-prevention treatments. Be sure to read product directions carefully (many topical solutions for dogs are fatal to cats within the first few hours of application, for example), and keep them out of your pet’s reach.
Don’t Forget Your Vehicle
If your pet spends any time in the car with you, it’s important to ensure you don’t use cleaning products containing potentially-poisonous materials the same way you do in your home. If you use any chemical solutions to clean your vehicle’s interior, keep the windows open for a few hours to get rid of any fumes, and don’t put your pet inside until all liquids are dry. Even then, it’s best to discourage your pet from licking any parts of the car — not only could there be dangerous chemicals still lingering, but your cleaning efforts will be for naught!
Look for Pet-friendly Cleaning Brands and DIY Alternatives
While many products are perfectly safe to use around critters, you can go the extra mile in protecting them by choosing products designed especially for pet parents. These cleaners are free from substances that can be even mildly irritating to pets, and many are organic, making them an all-natural pet- and environmentally-friendly solution. These brands are consistently rated as favorites by pet owners (but always read their ingredient labels, just to be extra safe!):
- Angry Orange
- Aunt Fannie’s
- Bean & Lily
- Better Life
- Clean + Green
- Common Good
- Dr. Bronner’s
- Mrs. Meyer’s
- Nature’s Miracle
- Pet Stain & Odor Miracle
- Rocco & Roxie
- Seventh Generation
- Simply Green
It’s also easy to make your own effective, animal-safe solutions with products like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. Take a look at our Essential Guide to Green Cleaning for Pet Owners, which features easy-to-make, eco-friendly recipes for cleaning your home, dishes, laundry, and more.
It may feel impossible some days to keep a clean home when you have pets, and even more so without using harsh chemicals that pose serious health risks to our furry, feathered, and scaled friends. The truth is that there are plenty of ready-made and DIY options that can come to your rescue without risking poisoning your beloved pet. Know which ingredients to avoid using as much as possible, keep all of your cleaning materials out of paw’s reach, and opt for green, animal-friendly formulas whenever you can.