Friday, June 11, 2010
By Linda Cole
Some days, it's a constant battle trying to keep up with muddy footprints, nose smudges or footprints on the windows, and pet hair on our furniture. However, the household cleaners we use may impact the health of our pets. If you follow the instructions on containers, most pets can tolerate them. Pets with upper respiratory conditions, allergies or those sensitive to a product can have problems though, because many traditional household cleaners are not pet friendly.
I have a cat who loves to slide on a freshly mopped floor. He runs as hard as he can, hits the floor and slides across to the other side of the room. Kids! But he has a sensitivity to certain cleaners, so I have to make sure what he's sliding on is pet friendly.
Pine oil products. Any household cleaner containing phenol is not pet friendly. Phenol is found in pine oil products, and cats are especially sensitive to it. Phenol has been linked to liver damage. You will also find phenol in some air fresheners, so be sure to read all labels carefully and keep pets away from these products. They pick up cleaner on their paws when they walk over a wet floor or freshly dusted coffee table. When they lick their paws, some of the cleaner is ingested. Keep pets away from wet floors or tables.
Ammonia. Household cleaners with ammonia are not a good choice if you own pets. Spot removal cleaners want you to think they’re pet friendly, but in reality, ammonia draws pets to a spot faster than a bee to honey. Using ammonia to mop your floor or clean a spot on the carpet actually encourages your pet to go where they smell the ammonia. Avoid ammonia to clean up a pet stains. It acts like a flashing red sign that says, “Go Here.”
Dishwasher detergents. Residue on dishes will build up over time. Most of them use a highly concentrated form of chlorine which can become toxic over time. All dishwasher detergents are harmful if swallowed.
Laundry detergents work using enzymes, phosphorus and phenol, as well as other ingredients. Some residue is left on what was washed. Pets can be sensitive to certain kinds of detergents just like some people are.
Oven cleaner is not pet friendly. This household cleaner is probably one of the most toxic products we use in the home. It contains lye and ammonia which produce fumes that can linger in the air.
Toilet bowl cleaners contain hydrochloric acid, and many have bleach in them. Solid tablets placed on the inside of toilets designed to clean with each flush, or anything that's dropped into the tank can be harmful to pets who drink out of the toilet. Do not allow a pet to drink water from the toilet bowl if you use any product like this.
Furniture polish contains petroleum distillates (a concentration of vapors through a distillation process) making this product highly flammable. They also contain nitrobenzene which is quite toxic.
Carpet fresheners or cleaners, bleach, drain cleaners, liquid potpourri and window cleaners all contain toxic chemicals that are not pet friendly. Many cleaners can cause pets gastrointestinal problems and irritations to their respiratory tract.
So what’s a responsible pet owner supposed to do when they want to clean their house? Thankfully, there are some commercial and natural household cleaners that are pet friendly. These “green” products typically use vegetable-based cleaning agents that are safe for pets and people. You can find all purpose cleaners, detergents, toilet bowl cleaners and floor cleaners, to name just a few.
Baking soda can be used to scrub your tub and sink, or mop your floor. Sprinkle some into the carpet to freshen it. Use it to clean out the litter pan and sprinkle into the litter in between changes as a deodorizer.
Borax can be added to your regular laundry detergent to help remove pet odors from bedding and clothes. You can also use it as a tub cleaner, or sprinkle some into carpets to help control fleas. Rub it in with a broom and then vacuum; it acts like tiny knives to a flea population. You will find this in the laundry detergent aisle.
White vinegar works great as a deodorizer and degreaser, and helps remove stains. I mix half vinegar, half water and use it to clean up pet “accidents” (although I'm pretty sure some were on purpose). Vinegar also works great on windows and floors, in the kitchen and in the bathroom.
For more information on how to help your four-legged friend stay safe, read Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy.
Photo courtesy of Claudio Matsuoka.
Read more articles by Linda Cole