Are Household Cleaning Products Bad For Your Pets?

You have a dog, a cat, a bird or other pets in your home. While you love your pets dearly, they tend to make a mess. They may have an accident on the rug, drag mud and dirt and into your home, shed everywhere or cough up hairballs on your couch. After all, they are creatures, and they don't know how to keep an area clean.

British shorthair and golden retriever, indoor shot
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Having a tidy home, however, is a big priority for you. That's why you clean it on a regular basis by vacuuming, dusting, sweeping and mopping. While you enjoy a clean home, you are worried about what the household cleaning chemicals may be doing to your pets. They could contain harmful chemicals and hazards that may be affecting your pet's health.

First, it's important to look into the common chemicals you use and if they are known to cause harm to pets.

Common cleaning chemicals and your pets

One product you may use frequently is bleach, which can take up stains and make surfaces look shiny and new. If you are using bleach to clean a pet's toys or a cage, make sure you properly dilute the bleach, dry the object and air out the room before your pet comes into contact with the area.

Carpet fresheners are typically fine for pets, as long as the powders are vacuumed up. If pets step on the powder, they will need to be rinsed off in the bath.

Febreze is completely fine, but avoid spraying it when pets are near, because it can give them an upset stomach or irritate their skin. The same goes for Swiffer Wet Jet; it's best to use it when pets are not around. A vinegar and water solution is also OK, as long as safety precautions are followed.

Cats and Dogs
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Hiding cleaning chemicals from pets

Though many cleaning chemicals won't harm your pets, it's important that pets don't have access to them, because they could get sick of they lick up a chemical or eat it. For example, if a dog eats carpet freshener, it may lead to an upset stomach and require a visit to the veterinarian. If a cat ingests vinegar and water, he may have oral irritation, vomiting or diarrhea.

Always keep cleaning chemicals tightly closed and hidden in cabinets that pets cannot access. When cleaning, it may be a good idea to keep pets outside or at least in a different room, in case they have some sort of reaction. If pets do accidentally ingest or come into contact with a cleaning chemical, it's better to be safe than sorry and take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Buying pet-safe products

If you want to be extra careful, you can purchase or make your own non-toxic cleaning supplies that are proven to be safe for your pet. For example, instead of buying a wood floor cleaner, you can mix vinegar and water and then mop your wood floors.

A baking soda scrub is going to be safer than a commercial toilet cleaner, which can irritate pets' stomachs. All you have to do is combine equal parts salt, warm water and baking soda. Mixing one part apple cider vinegar, four parts water and a little bit of lemon juice together will create an effective all-purpose cleaner.

You can also make your own furniture polish by mixing 2 tsp of lemon juice, 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of olive oil together.

Golden Retriever and Kitten
credit: chendongshan/iStock/GettyImages

Another option is to buy cleaning products that are made specifically for pets. For example, instead of using bleach to clean up dog urine, you can use a special dog urine cleaner from a pet shop. Look on labels for words like "toxin-free" and "natural" when shopping for cleaning products.

By doing your due diligence and keeping pets away from known toxic cleaning chemicals, you can have a clean home as well as healthy, happy pets.