Clean Safely: products that do the job without harming your dog


dog via gratisographyThese days it seems like nothing is safe anymore. Artificial ingredients, chemicals and GMOs, report after report caution against the dangers in using many commercial items, from beauty products to food to medicine. While it’s important to be an informed consumer regarding the products we buy for ourselves, how it affects our pets is a whole other animal (no pun intended).

Many cleaning products that you can pick up at the store contain chemicals that are known toxins with a long list of dangerous side effects in both humans and animals. Since our furry friends tend to be curious creatures, they won’t know better to not get into them, so it’s best to store all cleaning products in a safe place away from them. Even then, once they’re put away, fumes can linger. When it comes to the products we use on our floors and carpets, our pets walk on the surfaces after we’ve cleaned them, and when they lick their paws, they’re ingesting that product.

The worst ingredients we recommend avoiding in any household product are ammonia, bleach, chlorine and formaldehyde, as they are especially toxic to pets.

For me, I’ve tried to switch out all my cleaning products because it’s always better safe than sorry when it comes to my beloved fur babies. Nothing is worth the risk in my book, and the good news is there are many alternatives out there for a safer house.

To simplify the vast overload of information out there, we researched it to find the best resources to help you in your own shopping choices. Spoiler alert: If you’re into DIY solutions, vinegar, baking soda and essential oils are here to save the day!

Here are a few of the best tips we have to share.

  • Instead of using a boxed carpet deodorizer, try sprinkling plain old baking soda on your carpets before vacuuming. Add a small amount of crushed dry rosemary or an essential oil if you prefer a scent.
  • In place of a room or fabric refresher spray, all you need for a natural solution is some white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and essential oil (and a spray bottle).
  • Vinegar can also handle glass and mirror cleaning like a champ.
  • Instead of traditional laundry detergent, try making your own! All you need is some castile soap, Borax and washing soda. (The recipe I used is here.)
  • For an all-purpose cleaner, simply mix white vinegar, water and essential oils or lemon juice (I found this post most helpful).
  • To dust, water and a rag, or a regular microfiber cloth will do the trick, but if you’re so inclined, you can actually apply a bit of olive oil if you like a shine to your wood.

Note: While there are plenty of arguments both for and against the safety of essential oils around cats especially, what I took away is that as long as you select a high-quality oil, and it’s used in small amounts infrequently, your kitties should be just fine.

If you do prefer a store-bought ready-to-use product, just look for a “green” solution (often, these are in their own aisles in the natural/organic section of most stores), and preferably from a company that does not test on animals. Always look at the ingredients list on the back to be completely sure what you’re using in your house. You can’t always rely on claims made on the front panel of products to tell the full story. To help you select a quality formula, the Environmental Working Group has a great database that scores various products on the market based on its ingredients and toxicity, and even has a label decoder.

Happy cleaning, and happy and healthy pets!

Do you have any more pet-friendly cleaning tips? We’d love to try some more out for ourselves!



About Amanda Huggett Hofland

Amanda Huggett Hofland works as a writer in Fargo, N.D., and volunteers at a local dog rescue. She and her husband own two cats named Captain and Little Girl and a goofy Boxer-mix dog named Brick. ... Add Amanda to your Google+ circles at . You can also find her on Twitter @AmandaHofland.

  1. I only use natural products such as Method & Seventh Generation. For a room refresher to eliminate odors I use Fresh Wave odor eliminating gel. They (Fresh Wave) make a bunch of different products aimed at eliminating odors safely and effectively.