Spring cleaning is one of those annual rites that occurs in many households. But, those with pets in the house need to pay particular attention to the cleaning products that they employ. The majority of cleaning supplies these days include chemicals and other substances that can be toxic to cats, dogs, birds, reptiles and even fish. A bit of careful research and extra effort, however, can ensure that you are using the best pet-friendly cleaning solutions in your home.
Read labels carefully
An American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) study in 2017 found that household cleaning products and chemicals were the sixth most frequent cause of toxicosis in household pets. In order to avoid a similar fate for your critters, be sure to read product labels very carefully. While a label may claim that the cleaning agent is ‘green’ or ‘natural’, the contents listing may indicate otherwise when it comes to your pets.
It’s also important to know that while some substances (pyrethrins, for example) may be perfectly safe for dogs, they can be mildly toxic for cats and fatal to fish. Additionally, birds and reptiles are particularly sensitive to toxins that may be in aerosol containers.
What to look for in commercial cleaning products
There are hundreds of ‘natural’ cleaning products on the market. If you have neither the time nor the inclination to make your own pet-safe cleaning products, you need to look for several features on a commercial product.
The product needs to be chemical-free, biodegradable and non-toxic.
There are a number of enzyme cleaners commercially available that fit the bill, along with many others.
Home-made cleaning solutions
Many of the ingredients used in do-it-yourself cleaning products are commonly found in your pantry. Using these ingredients ensures safety for your pets while also being less expensive. It is also more environmentally friendly, as you can re-use your various containers and spray bottles, rather than recycling or trashing them.
The most commonly-recommended cleaning agent is white distilled vinegar, which can be mixed with a variety of other ingredients depending upon the intended use. Vinegar is a good disinfectant as well as a deodorizer. A gallon of lukewarm water mixed with a half-cup of vinegar can be used as a general all-purpose cleaner for countertops, floors, sinks, windows and walls.
Baking soda can also be used as an integral ingredient in your cleaning regime. You can sprinkle it on your carpets then vacuum to freshen them up. You can use it in a 1:1:1 ratio with water and salt to create a good scrub for countertops, feed bowls and other hard surfaces. Baking soda is also a good deodorizer if your pooch is smelling…well… a little doggy. Simply rub it into his coat and brush out to freshen up your canine buddy.
DIY Laundry Detergent
If you wash dog bedding, dog coats and sweaters and plush toys on a regular basis you can concoct your own pet-friendly laundry detergent with a combination of castile soap, borax, washing soda, baking soda and essential oils.
Socks with Essential Oil
Commercial anti-stat dryer sheets are not a good choice for throwing in the dryer with your pet’s gear, but if you just want to add a nice fragrance you can put a few drops of essential oil on a cotton sock, towel or dishcloth and include it in the dryer load.
A word of caution
Be sure, before you concoct your natural cleaning aids, to clearly label the container that they are to go in to. This will help you remember as you clean!
About essential oils
Essential oils can be a boon in masking unpleasant odours. You can add a few drops of oil to your water/vinegar spray to mask the smell of the vinegar or add it to doggie laundry to help leave a clean, fresh smell. These concentrated oils also have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties so they offer a range of benefits in your DIY arsenal.
Be aware, however, that not all essential oils are pet-friendly. Citrus essential oils such as lemon and orange should not be used in a home with pets. Some pet-safe essential oils that you can employ in your home include peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, geranium, eucalyptus, clary sage and arborvitae.
Cleaning house isn’t very often anyone’s favourite activity. But by employing natural cleaning products you can at least rest assured that your family, your pets and the environment are safe and healthy.
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