Just as some common household cleaning products contain ingredients that have potentially negative effects on human health, they can also be harmful to animals
With our pets spending their days on floors and furniture, it’s extra important to avoid using chemicals that could potentially hurt them. Curiosity coupled with cluelessness means animals have a much higher likelihood of ingesting products that can make them sick, and because of their small size and faster metabolism, they can be poisoned by a very small amount of toxins.
The good news is you can easily make hardworking cleaning formulations that are non-toxic and pet-friendly with ingredients you already have in your kitchen cupboards, like baking soda, lemon, olive oil and non-toxic dish detergent. And there’s a hidden bonus: In addition to having a sparkling home, you’ll also save money.
Pet-friendly cleaning supply kit
Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need to make every eco-friendly cleaner you’ll need in your home:
- Non-toxic dish soap
- White vinegar
- Baking soda (this inexpensive staple is a natural odour absorber and carpet deodorizer)
- Table sat
- Epsom salts
- Hydrogen peroxide, 3% (available in the pharmacy aisle of most grocery stores)
- Organic coconut oil
- Rosemary and lavender oil (for fragrance, antibacterial and antiviral qualities)
- Rubber gloves
- Real lemon (a bottle of lemon extract is OK or use freshly-squeezed fruit)
- Spray bottles, microfibre cloths, microfibre rag mop and ringer bucket
- Pumice scouring stick (this 100 percent pumice product can be used to clean stubborn hard-water and rust stains in sinks, toilets and tubs; you can use it wet on ceramic tile and it won’t scratch.)
1. General household cleaner formula
This is the general in your army of home-cleaning products. Suitable for everything but windows and mirrors, it's great for counters, tables and chairs, sticky and smelly messes, as well as bathroom cleaning. Excellent for carpet and upholstery, but always do a patch test in a hidden area before using.
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup hot tap water
- 2 tsp of baking soda
- 2 drops of dishwashing liquid
Mix together the vinegar and water. Add the baking soda. This will fizz so add the soda slowly. Add the dishwashing liquid. Shake.
2. Window and mirror miracle formula
Use with a reusable cloth for windows.
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup hot tap water
- 3 drops of blue dishwashing liquid
Mix together vinegar and hot tap water then add the dishwashing liquid.
Tip: The hotter the water the better. But do not use boiling water as it will melt your bottle.
3. Floor cleaner
This is a tried-and-true method to clean ceramic, hardwood and laminate floors without needing a gas mask and worrying about toxic residue for pets and children.
- 1 cup white vinegar
- Bucket of hot water (hotter the better, not boiling)
- 10 drops of dishwashing liquid
Allow the mop to sit in the bucket of solution for two minutes before cleaning so the product penetrates the fibers. Wring the mop out very well before using as you do not want standing water on hardwood or laminate. It is the heat, not the ingredients, that makes this effective. The vinegar acts as a disinfectant. If the floor is very dirty you may need to wash on your hands and knees with a microfiber cloth. If you are cleaning a large floor area, make sure your water stays hot. Make another batch if it cools.
4. Carpet deodorizer
This is an easy way to refresh your carpets, neutralize pet odour and leave the room smelling fresh and clean.
- 1 or 2 cups of baking soda
- Several drops of lavender oil or patchouli mix
Mix well and sprinkle on carpet. Leave sit for an hour and then vacuum up. Avoid having your pets walk through the area unless you want tiny white footprints around your house.
5. Great grout cleaner and mold remover
This cleaner is tough on that orange and pink mold that builds up on bathroom grout.
- ½ cup baking soda
- 3 drops dishwashing liquid
- 3 drops rosemary oil
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup salt
- Water, enough to make a paste
Scrub the grout and around the bathtub with a toothbrush and let sit for a couple of hours. Rinse with hot water. If it’s black mold, you’ll need something more heavy-duty. Spray hydrogen peroxide 3% on the grout and let it sit for a few hours. Scrub with an old toothbrush.
6. Spectacular shower spray
To keep your shower and tub clean and smelling great between washes, try this simple spray. Squeegee the tiles and shower door after each time you shower and keep the door open between uses to decrease mildew buildup.
- Rosemary essential oil, several drops
- Water to mix
Spray a solution of the essential oil and water over the interior of the bath or shower each time it’s used, and let dry. Rosemary essential oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Household cleaners that are toxic to pets
Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on UnsplashHome cleaners containing acids, bleach, ammonia and glycol ethers can have negative— and potentially deadly—effects on pets if they are ingested. While most “ready-to-use” products you buy at retail stores are diluted and would only cause a mild reaction, like skin or eye irritation or stomach upset, those items need to be used properly to ensure the safety of pets in the home.
Bleach, toilet bowl cleaners, detergents, grill and oven cleaners can lead to corrosive injuries in both cats and dogs. These products are especially hazardous to cats if they walk through an area wet with the detergent and lick their paws and groom themselves after. Similarly, the vapours left behind when using products can be a skin and eye irritant, even in very small doses.
Here are the common household cleaners that can cause harm to our pets...
Corrosive products: Drain and toilet bowl cleaners
Acidic products in the home like drain, oven and toilet bowl cleaners and anti-rust compounds can result in severe poisoning, ruptured intestines and, most commonly, burns and tissue injury.
Pets can be harmed by drain and toilet cleaner when they drink water from the toilet. That’s also why pet owners, in particular dog owners, should never use the slow-release cleaning capsules in their toilet tanks.
Detergents aren’t just what you use to wash dishes and clothes, they’re also contained in many other household products, such as soaps, general cleaning sprays, soaps and fabric softeners.
Cats are more sensitive to the phernols contained in these products. These can cause corrosive injuries. Also, residue from laundry detergent on clothes and sheets can irritate pet’s skin. Use all-natural formulations where possible.
These ultra-concentrated detergent packages are designed to deliver a powerful punch of chemicals and can lead to drooling, vomiting, breathing issues and coughing if dogs chew or swallow them. That’s a problem because they’re extra attractive to canines, who can think they’re fun to chew on.
Pine oil, an essential oil that is used in floor cleaners and furniture polish, is poisonous and causes corrosive injuries to both cats and dogs. The biggest danger is if any cleaner is left on the floors and pets walk through it and lick their paws, turning that dermal exposure into an ingestion injury.
Bleach, dishwasher detergents, oven cleaners
Unlike acids, which burn on contact, alkaline products like bleach products, automatic dishwasher detergents and oven cleaners have little smell, taste or odour, so pets are more likely to ingest a larger amount. Exposure can cause a range of caustic injuries ranging from mild tissue irritation to eye and skin injuries for minimal exposure, which is thankfully the majority of cases. The worst poisonings, like if a dog chews on a bottle containing these products, can end in gastrointestinal and respiratory system issues. If a dog chews or eats an alkaline dry-cell battery it can cause deep-penetrating skin and mouth ulcers.
The respiratory systems of birds are particularly susceptible to pump and aerosol deodorizer sprays, so always take caution if you’re spraying these products around their cages. The same goes for the fumes from self-cleaning ovens and nonstick cooking surfaces: both can be toxic to birds, according to the ASPCA.