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Written by: Greg Wiszniewski
Pets tend to make a lot of messes in the home, which means that pet owners regularly need to mop or wipe up spills or sweep up stray hairs. While having a pet at home means more cleaning, a lot of the cleaners available aren’t ideal for use around pets. A pet can become very ill or even die if it accidentally ingests cleaning products such as bleach, ammonia, or disinfectants that contain phenols. Other common household products, such as pesticides and drain cleaner, also need to be kept out of reach of pets. When it comes to keeping a home clean and pet-friendly, people have a range of options.
Pet-Friendly Cleaning Products
When people purchase cleaning products for their home, they should read the labels carefully. If there are pets at home, it’s best to avoid any products that can cause respiratory irritation or that claim to be harmful if swallowed. Pet owners should also avoid products that can cause irritation or burns if they come in contact with the skin. For example, most commercial drain cleaners are corrosive and can cause burns if spilled on a pet.
Fortunately, pet owners have plenty of affordable options when it comes to pet-friendly cleaning products. If a person wants to purchase commercially produced cleaners, they should look for products made of plant-based ingredients and that are free of bleach or ammonia. Ideally, the bottle or package the cleaning product comes in will state that it is pet-friendly. Cleaners made from plant-based ingredients also tend to be safer in general for both the planet and for people.
DIY Pet-Friendly Cleaning Products
A pet owner can also make their own cleaning products at home, using common household ingredients. Homemade cleaners cost less than commercially available cleaners. A pet owner also knows exactly what is going into the cleaner. White vinegar is the main ingredient in many homemade cleaners. A person can combine one part vinegar with one part water to make an effective window cleaner. Full strength vinegar is effective at removing hard water stains and soap scum in the bathroom.
A person can combine vinegar with baking soda to clear up a clogged drain. If using baking soda and vinegar doesn’t work, they can try unclogging the drain with a plunger or by threading a drain snake through it. A person can also combine baking soda with a bit of water to make a paste that they can use to scrub sinks and tubs and to remove stuck-on food from pots and pans.
Pet-Friendly Pest Control
The products a homeowner uses to trap or kill rodents or other pests can also be harmful to pets. A dog or cat can ingest rat or mouse poison or get their paw trapped in a mouse trap. Pesticides are also harmful to pets if ingested. Pet owners can keep their furry friends safe by avoiding using chemical pesticides or poisons around the home. If fleas and ticks are an issue, a pet owner should only use a product prescribed by a veterinarian, not an over-the-counter flea or tick repellent.
Other Ways to Pet-Proof a Home
Along with cleaning products and pesticides, a number of other common household items are risky for pets. Electrical cords pose a threat if an animal can chew on them. Any cables or cords should be kept well out of a pet’s reach. Small pieces from toys or the buttons on human clothing can be a choking hazard to pets and should also be kept well out of their reach.
During the holidays, decorations can be toxic to pets or present a choking hazard. For example, cats can choke on tinsel used to decorate a tree. If a family has a live Christmas tree, the water in the bowl can be a hazard to pets, as it can contain bacteria or pesticides that can make the pet sick if it drinks the water. An artificial tree might be a better option at the holidays for people with pets.
- A Poison Safe Home – A list of cleaners, foods, and other substances that are harmful to pets from the ASPCA. It also includes a short list of non-toxic household products at the end.
- Pet Friendly Cleaners – An article from Feline Wellness magazine outlining cleaning products that are poisonous to pets. The article describes pet-friendly alternatives, such as natural cleaning products.
- Pet Safety – A short newsletter article from Carnegie Mellon University’s Environmental Health and Safety describing the risks of using certain types of mulch around the home if there are pets.
- Pet Proofing Your Home – A room by room list of ways to make a home pet-friendly, from the American Humane Association.
- Safe and Poisonous Houseplants – An article that describes the risks to both humans and animals of bringing a poisonous houseplant into the home. It includes a list of common, dangerous plants as well as a list of non-toxic plants.
- Safer Flea Control – A guide from Texas A&M University on safely keeping fleas off of your pets. The guide includes ways to treat your pet as well as the area inside and outside of your home.
- Common Household Dangers for Pets – An article from the Humane Society of the US describing the dangers of common household products, such as anti-freeze and glue traps.
- Holiday Hazards for Pets – A list of common holiday decorating items that are dangerous to pets, such as Christmas trees and strings of lights.
- Pesticide Use Around Pets – The National Pesticide Information Center provides advice to pet owners on the ways to use pesticides around the home without harming a pet.
- Safe Ways to Control Pests Around Your Home – An article from the National Resources Defense Council outlining the ways home and pet owners can deal with pests without using toxic pesticides or other chemicals.