Family pets bring oodles of joy to our homes, but they also tend to bring messes in the form of hair, dander, slobber, and the occasional potty accident. Whether you're cleaning up pet messes or just conducting routine cleaning, if there's a pooch, feline, or other animal friend in your house, it's important to select pet-safe cleaners that will protect your four-legged friend while you scrub away messes.
"Calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) related to cleaning materials have increased 65% in the last year," says Tina Wismer, DVM, senior director, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
So how do you avoid a frantic call to a poison control center or your vet? We've rounded up the best pet-safe cleaners for polishing your home, plus what to look for on labels and ingredients to avoid.
Choosing the Best Pet-Friendly Cleaning Products
Read the labels of any cleaning sprays, wipes, or powders and follow all of the manufacturer's instructions for use. Ingredients that can be hazardous to pets include:
These ingredients might not always be avoidable and some might even have cleaning benefits. For example, bleach is a powerful disinfectant that removes harmful germs. So you can proceed with using them, just using caution.
"Cleaning your pet's cage or toys with a properly-diluted bleach solution, followed by a thorough rinsing and airing out, is not expected to cause harm," says Wismer. "If the odor of bleach seems overwhelming, open windows and use fans to air the room."
Adjust Your Cleaning Routine
You can avoid a lot of dangers by storing cleaning products out of your pet's reach and blocking them from entering the area where you are cleaning.
"Try to keep your pet away from your cleaning process until you're finished to avoid any mishaps with swallowing or chewing cleaning products and to keep your routine uninterrupted," says Lauren Bowen, director of franchise operations at Two Maids & A Mop. "For example, when wiping floors or low countertops, don't allow your pet back in the room until the surface has completely dried, or wipe it dry."
DIY Pet-Safe Cleaners
While ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar are lauded for their chemical-free properties, they are not without hazards. "Never assume that something 'natural' means it is safe for pets," says Wismer.
Vinegar is acidic and ingesting concentrated or undiluted vinegar can cause vomiting, diarrhea, oral irritation, and pain in pets. Similarly, baking soda and peroxide can cause severe vomiting. Essential oils can also be irritating or harmful.
Approach these ingredients with the same precautions as store-bought cleaners and keep pets away as you clean, let surfaces dry before readmitting the pet to the area, or rinse and wipe away cleaning solutions.
Consult with the Pros
Your vet is a great resource and can help answer any questions you might have about pet-safe cleaning. "Ask your vet, pet-sitter, or doggy daycare which products they use to clean their facilities, as these will certainly be pet-safe and heavy-duty options that you could purchase yourself," says Bowen.
If you suspect your pet has ingested or been exposed to something harmful, contact your veterinarian or call APCC's hotline at 888-426-4435 immediately.
Pet-Friendly Cleaning Products
When selecting cleaning products, read the label, check the ingredients, and look for brands that mention being pet-safe.
Hydrogen peroxide in this disinfecting surface cleaner kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. The unscented cleaner can be used on multiple surfaces, including plastic, glass, metal, appliances, furniture, and more.
Pet-Safe Floor Cleaner
This floor cleaner from pet-friendly brand Aunt Fannie's doesn't require any rinsing, which makes cleaning floors super simple. It's formulated for use on tile, linoleum, sealed hardwood, sealed stone, concrete, and other types of flooring.
Pet-Safe Carpet Cleaner
This pet-friendly carpet cleaner is enzyme-based, making it effective on tough-to-remove odors. The solution also removes pet allergens and can be used with a carpet-cleaning machine.
Pet-Safe Hardwood Floor Cleaner
Formulated for use on unwaxed, un-oiled, polyurethane-finished wood floors, this spray-and-mop cleaner is easy to use and dries quickly. It meets the U.S. EPA product standards and is Safer Choice Certified, which means it contains ingredients that are safer for people, pets, and the planet.
Pet-Safe Cage Cleaner
For smaller critters, pick up a specially-formulated cage cleaner. This spray is an enzyme-based cleaner and eliminates odors without leaving behind a strong scent that can be irritating to small animals. For feathered friends, use a cleaner formulated for bird cages like this one from Nature's Miracle.
Pet-Safe Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Everyone needs a trusty all-purpose cleaner that can tackle common dirt and grime and work across surfaces. In a house with pets, add "pet-friendly" to that list of criteria. Enter this Safer Choice Certified spray. Plus, it's better for the environment, too, as it is carbon- and water-neutral, and produced in zero-waste facilities that use 100% renewable energy.