Are Swiffers Safe To Use Around Pets?

A clean house: there's nothing better, even though it seems as soon as you clean your house, your dogs and cats start leaving their fur all over the floor, your clothes and furniture just as soon as you put away the cleaning product. That doesn't mean you should stop cleaning, of course! Just that you might need to be sure the cleaners you're using are safe for your pets.

Cleaning service background with a beautiful home cat and checklist
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Early internet rumors about Swiffer products

Some internet rumors continue to persist, even after years. In the case of Swiffer products being dangerous to dogs and cats, we know that rumor started way back in 2004. It was fact-checked by Snopes even back then, but it started making the rounds on social media again.

In this case, an anonymous message started circulating that blamed the death of a pet dog and two house cats on liver failure caused by the Swiffer WetJet. The problem was that the info in the original message was wrong or unverifiable, according to Snopes.

The message claimed the primary cleaning product in the Swiffer WetJet was antifreeze, or a compound that was one molecule away from antifreeze. Antifreeze is dangerous to pets, but saying that it is "one molecule away" from antifreeze does not mean that it is chemically the same as antifreeze. Furthermore, at the time, Snopes explained that the cleaning product used in the Swiffer WetJet is actually about 90 percent water, with propylene glycol n-propyl ether and isopropyl alcohol making up the additional ingredients.

Snopes says the two most common compounds found in antifreeze and de-icing solutions are ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, but propylene glycol has been classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an additive that is "generally recognized as safe."

Bulldog dog looking at dirt from the ground
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Are Swiffer products safe for use around cats and dogs?

Since the rumor about Swiffer products started circulating again, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center stepped in to promote the truth about the Swiffer WetJet cleaning product. In January 2018, the ASPCA said that "There is no truth to the rumor, and this product can be safely used around pets."

They went on to say that the Swiffer WetJet cleaning product contains water (90-100%), propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether, and isopropyl alcohol (1-4%). These ingredients are safe to use around pets when the product is used according to its normal purpose, and that these small amounts in the fluid would not cause liver damage. While the chemicals in question are chemically similar, it is ethylene glycol that is the dangerous ingredient in antifreeze. Propylene glycol n-propyl ether and propylene glycol n-butyl ether are very safe ingredients at the concentrations used in this product.

Household products that are dangerous to pets

The ASPCA does have a list of common products that are dangerous to pets, and it's worth printing this list out and having it handy at home. The items to handle carefully are as follows:

  • bleach
  • carpet fresheners
  • carpet shampoos
  • essential oils
  • fabric softener sheets
  • grout
  • toilet cleaning tablets
  • vinegar

Believe it or not, the list of dangerous human medications and cosmetics on the ASPCA's list is even longer! Keep these things out of reach of your pets:

  • Adderall
  • petroleum jelly
  • aspirin/baby aspirin
  • bar soap and face wash
  • breath fresheners
  • cigarettes and nicotine patches
  • ibuprofen and naproxen
  • kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol
  • mosquito repellant
  • pseudoephedrine
  • sorbitol
  • topical creams/ointments

Also, if you are using any cleaning product that is either on the "dangerous" list or not, be sure to use it the way the package says to. Even very common and safe ingredients can become toxic or dangerous if used improperly or at very higher concentrations.

Mopping a Tile Floor
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Animal Poison Control Center

You never know when your pet will get into something they shouldn't, so keep the phone numbers for your local veterinarian, emergency animal hospital, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone numbers handy. The ASPCA'sAnimal Poison Control Center toll-free hotline is (888) 426-4435.

Conclusion

Swiffer products are safe to use around pets as long as you use them according to their stated directions. The Swiffer WetJet contains water (90-100%), propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether, and isopropyl alcohol (1-4%). These ingredients are safe to use around pets when the product is used according to directions.