Home Topics Cleaning
Sunny FitzgeraldUpdated: Apr. 11, 2023
Pet owners: Do you know what cleaning ingredients to avoid? We rounded up top-rated pet safe cleaning products, plus some DIY options to try.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Grace Cary/Getty Images
What Cleaning Products Are Unsafe for Dogs and Cats?
From floor and carpet cleaners to sink scrubs and all-purpose sprays, keeping the house clean requires a full quiver of products. But many of the most common ones may contain ingredients that are dangerous for your pets to ingest, inhale or even absorb through the skin while moving about and licking their paws.
“There are a number of common household cleaning products that contain harmful and potentially life-threatening ingredients,” says Anthea Schick, a veterinary dermatologist.
Toilet bowl cleaners, especially with the kind that stick inside the bowl, often contain bleach and can be a risk for dogs who like to sneak sips from the toilet. Other problematic products include laundry detergent containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), 1,4-dioxane and NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate). These can cause skin irritation, as well as severe vomiting and diarrhea if swallowed in the concentrated pod form that can look like a toy or treat.
Schick says even products labeled as “natural” aren’t always a safe bet, either, including essential oils, which can irritate airways and even exacerbate asthma. A good rule of thumb: “Don’t let your pets ingest anything you wouldn’t eat!” she says. “Carefully read the labels of everything you use in your home to ensure no harmful ingredients are present.”
Tonya Harris, an award-winning environmental toxin expert and the founder of Slightly Greener, recommends scanning labels and avoiding products with the following ingredients:
Ammonia: Can damage the respiratory system.
Chlorine bleach: Skin, eye, and throat irritant, corrosive to mucous membranes.
Glycol ethers: Propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol.(Video) Are Cleaning Products Safe for Pets? (2023)
Benzalkonium chloride: Often found in disinfectants.
Fragrances: Individual ingredients are not required to be listed because fragrance is considered to be a trade secret. “Fragrances” may contain ingredients that are allergenic, hormone-disrupting, toxic to the brain and nervous system, or carcinogenic.
Phenol: Common in Lysol and PineSol. It can cause liver and kidney damage;
Hydrogen peroxide: It causes irritation to the esophagus and stomach lining, induces vomiting and can also cause severe gastritis and ulceration and bleeding.
Formaldehyde: Known to cause cancer. Some preservatives, known as formaldehyde-releasers, release formaldehyde slowly into a product over time to extend the shelf life. Look for formaldehyde-releasing ingredients such as DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea and Imidazolidinyl urea.
Even products with none of the above listed on their ingredients can pose some risk to your pets, as labels can be deceiving.
“It’s sometimes hard to know exactly what ingredients are in cleaning products,” Harris says. “That’s because the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] requires companies to only disclose active disinfecting ingredients and ‘chemicals of known concern’ on their labels.
“The problem here is that there aren’t any testing requirements for most of the chemicals in cleaning products — by the companies or the EPA. And companies aren’t required to disclose their ingredients, because formulations are considered to be proprietary.”
In addition, pets are often curious by nature and may be tempted to sniff, lick or swallow cleaning products they find around the house.
Harris recommends that dog and cat owners follow these cleaning tips to minimize risk, even when using products that appear safe:
Keeping pets away from the room or area you are cleaning;
Ensuring the area is well-ventilated;
Allowing the surfaces to dry completely before allowing pets back in the room;
Storing disinfectants out of pets’ reach.
If your pets do ingest cleaning products, call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 and bring them to a vet immediately.
Here are our recommendations for some pet-friendly cleaning products, including DIY suggestions.
Best Pet Safe Stain and Odor Eliminator
When our beloved pets are the ones creating the mess, a cleaning product that’s tough on stains and stink (even that dreaded cat urine) yet gentle on the pets creating them a must.
Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator is Certified Safe by the Carpet and Rug Institute. It’s guaranteed to remove pet stains and odors from carpets and upholstery as well as pet carriers, kennels, concrete and tile — or this family-run business of 15 humans, five dogs and one cat will refund your money. We tried it — it works! That’s why it’s our top pick on our list of the best products for getting pee out of carpet, too.
Best Pet Safe Floor Cleaner
Made for animal lovers by animal lovers, plant-based Bean & Lilly Floor Cleaner can be used safely on all flooring surfaces. Inspired by and named for the founders’ family dogs, this pet safe floor cleaner is gentle for people, pets and the planet. It’s biodegradable and Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free.
As one Amazon reviewer writes, “I am very sensitive to artificial strong fragrances and my dog is allergic to everything. I tried this product and found the fragrance very subtle and the product does not bother my dog at all. I have hardwood and marble and have had no issues with it leaving streaks or film — just a nice clean.”
Best Pet Safe Glass Cleaner
Although you can make your own (Harris recommends 50/50 distilled water and white vinegar), sometimes streaks are an issue with DIY glass cleaners. Enter Aunt Fannie’s Glass & Window Vinegar Wash.
This plant-based solution cleans safely, gently and sans streaks. It also works on chrome, light fixtures and stainless steel. It was awarded the highest health and safety rating by the Environmental Working Group.
Best Pet Safe Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Skip the potent, hanging toilet cleaners that pets may be tempted to lick or paw. Opt instead for a brush-and-flush product like Better Life’s Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner.
Plant-based ingredients and a Leaping Bunny certification mean this product is safer, and cruelty-free. Be sure to keep the bathroom door closed while cleaning a toilet. Although the ingredients in Better Life’s Toilet Bowl Cleaner are all-natural, they are not intended for ingestion. Pets should be kept away until the cleaning is complete and the solution has been flushed.
Best Pet Safe All-Purpose Cleaner
Better Life also makes an All-Purpose Cleaner that can tackle soiled surfaces, including countertops, tables, showers, toys and even boats, cars and sporting equipment. The unscented cleaner contains no synthetic fragrances, dyes or harsh ingredients, so it’s safe around children and pets.
As one Amazon reviewer writes: “I was looking for a safe, natural product that didn’t have any ingredients requiring a hazardous waste disposal label. A lot of so-called ‘natural’ cleaners have ingredients that need an EPA use and disposal label. This doesn’t. It is strong enough to really go through grease and grime like a clear, organic tornado.
“I haven’t found anything that can’t be cleaned with it yet. Plus it’s odor-free, unlike Simple Green which has a heavy scent. And, I feel comfortable spraying it in places where pets, children or myself in bare feet might absorb it by stepping in the residue.”
Best Pet Safe All-In-One Cleaner
Harris recommends keeping Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure Castile Soap on hand. A little bit of this concentrated, organic and biodegradable soap goes a long way. Dilute it for use all around the house, from the shower to the laundry, floors to sinks, and even dishes, humans and pets.
You can feel good about your clean house and your purchase. Dr. Bronner’s aims to support people and planet — “farm to shelf to shower” — paying fair wages and using recycled bottles and healthy ingredients.
Best Pet Safe Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo
Pets and children seem to spend a fair amount of time sprawled out on floors and furniture, so a product that will remove pet stains on furniture and carpet is essential.
Developed by a team of chemists, evaluated by medical doctors and tested by parents, Puracy’s Professional Carpet Cleaner is guaranteed to remove stains and odors from washable surfaces while keeping the human and fur children (and your wallet — no professional cleaning bill!) safe.
Eskay Lim/getty images
DIY Pet Safe Cleaners
The best way to know what’s in your cleaning products is to make them yourself. Schick recommends these DIY options to get you started:
Use baking soda (AKA sodium bicarbonate) instead of bleach when cleaning your home. This milder form of salt works well to absorb and neutralize odors.
The acetic acid content of white vinegar makes it a powerful cleanser without being outright harmful to your pets. To create your own cleanser, dilute white vinegar with club soda (1:1), which has been shown effective in reducing household bacteria. It can help get pet urine smells out of clothes, too.
If you’d like to make your home smell cleaner without using air fresheners, try steeping lemon peel in vinegar for at least a full day, then spray the natural freshener throughout the house.
Originally Published: October 29, 2021
Sunny Fitzgerald is a Hawaii-based writer covering travel, sustainability, culture, home, health, wellness, and more. You can find her work in National Geographic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel+Leisure, BBC, Lonely Planet, Forbes Travel Guide, and elsewhere. Find out more at https://www.thisissunny.com/
Cleaners with powerful odors that promise results should alert pet owners, particularly cat owners, to danger, experts say. The ingredients that make disinfectants effective make them toxic for companion animals: alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, chemical compounds that contain the word “phenol,” etc.What cleaning product is good for dogs? ›
- FurHaven Muddy Paws Towel & Shammy Dog Mat. ...
- Dechra MalAcetic Wet Wipes for Cats and Dogs (25-Count) ...
- Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Grooming Wipes for Dogs & Cats, 100-Count. ...
- Earth Rated Dog Wipes (100-Count) ...
- Heinz Apple-Cider Vinegar (One Gallon)
DIY Pet Safe Cleaners
Use baking soda (AKA sodium bicarbonate) instead of bleach when cleaning your home. This milder form of salt works well to absorb and neutralize odors. The acetic acid content of white vinegar makes it a powerful cleanser without being outright harmful to your pets.
We do not recommend using Dawn to wash your dog. It's better to use soap that doesn't contain harsh chemicals and won't strip the dog's skin of its natural oils.Is Pine-Sol safe to use around pets? ›
Q: Is it safe to use Pine-Sol® cleaners around pets? A: Yes, all Pine-Sol® products are recommended for use in pet areas. Please note that we do not recommend using Pine-Sol® products as a pet shampoo.Is Lysol safe for pets? ›
One of the active ingredients in Lysol is Phenol. Phenol is especially dangerous for cats- but can also be problematic for dogs. Cats can absorb phenol through the air, through their mouth by licking or through their skin. Cats cannot process phenol, and can lead to many problems, including liver failure.Are Clorox wipes safe for pets? ›
Clorox® Green Works® Cleaning Wipes, Simply Lemon effectively clean and wipe down messes without harsh chemicals or fumes, so they're safe to use around kids, pets, and food-contact surfaces.Is Windex safe for pets? ›
Household cleaners: Most general purpose cleaners (e.g., Windex, Formula 409) are fairly safe, but concentrated products like toilet bowl or drain cleaners can cause chemical burns.Is Fabuloso pet friendly? ›
No, don't use Fabuloso to bathe your dog. The product contains chemicals that can irritate the skin. Even certain fragrances can cause skin irritation. If you want to wash your dog, it's best to use a dog shampoo specifically made for pets.Is it safe to use Febreze around pets? ›
It is only intended for use on fabrics; it should not be sprayed directly on any pet, and pets should be kept away from sprayed fabrics until the product dries.
Pine Sol is a common all-purpose cleaner made by Clorox, meant for cleaning and disinfecting non-porous surfaces like counters, sinks, and floors. Pine-Sol is not safe for pets.What is the safest disinfectant for dogs? ›
Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP): This non-toxic, pet-safe disinfectant contains surfactants, compounds that acts as detergents and foaming agents. AHP is a more stable than the traditional hydrogen peroxide. Dish Soap: This tried-and-true cleaner disinfects without causing harm to pets.What floor cleaner is safe for dogs? ›
- Eco-Me Natural Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner*
- Aunt Fannies Vinegar Floor Cleaner*
- Better Life Floor Cleaner*
- Puracy Natural All Purpose Cleaner*
- Aunt Fannies Vinegar Wash Floor Cleaner Eucalyptus*
- Better Life Naturally Dirt-Destroying Floor Cleaner, Citrus Mint*
Shower and Bathroom Cleaner
Fill a bottle with 1 cup of vinegar, 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, a teaspoon of liquid soap (optional), and water. Hydrogen peroxide serves as a powerful germ-killing agent, but it breaks down quickly, leaving behind water and oxygen, making it safe to use around pets.
Baking soda works to remove odors from your dog's skin and fur. The baking soda paste should be applied before the shampoo and can be washed off as you lather homemade dog shampoo and then rinse both items off the dog with warm water. In a big spray bottle, put 2 cups of warm water with 1/2 cup of white vinegar.Can I use Clorox wipes on my dog's paws? ›
It's probably not a good idea to use a disinfecting wipe, like a Clorox Wipe or a Lysol Wipe, on your dog's paws. The same chemicals that do the disinfecting are harmful if ingested… like if the dog licks the paws after using that kind of wipe.What is the safest dish soap to use? ›
- a) Attitude Dishwashing Liquid.
- b) Aunt Fannie's Microcosmic Probiotic Power Dish Soap.
- c) Better Life Dish Soap.
- d) ECOS Dishmate Dish Liquid.
- f) Cleancult liquid dish soap.
Skunks use dens in two seasons, in the spring/early summer when mothers are raising kits, and in the winter when they spend much of their time in deep sleep. If there is an important reason to evict the skunks, here is a simple way to do it—skunks hate the smell of original scent Pine-Sol.Is Murphy oil Soap toxic to dogs? ›
Murphy's oil soap is fairly safe to use around pets, in fact, it is recommended several places online as a bath soap for dogs (I'd be careful about that… ask your vet for his/her opinion). Your pet could become sick if they ingest Murphy's oil soap directly, or if they get it in their eyes or on their nose.Is Murphy wood cleaner safe for pets? ›
SAFE FOR EVERY FAMILY MEMBER
Another reason to use a natural or organic cleaner is if you have young children or pets.
- Power Bathroom Cleaners. Caribbean Grapefruit & Lime Power Bathroom Cleaner. Sweet Freesia & Jasmine Power Bathroom Cleaner. ...
- Midnight Blooms Multi-Surface Cleaning Wipes. Sunshine Escape Multipurpose Disinfectant Cleaner. ...
- Sweet Pea Disinfectant Mist. Raspberry & Juniper Berry Disinfectant Mist.
- Sunshine Escape. Sweet Pea.
Simple Green products are also safe for both the environment and pets because they are non-toxic and biodegradable. Clean Conscience, Dog Friendly Magazine, and Green Cleaning Magazine endorsed Simple Green as an environmentally friendly product.Should you wash your dog's paws after a walk? ›
Wash their paws thoroughly after walking your dog in areas that may have been gritted with rock salt," explain the RSPCA. To avoid this, it's important to thoroughly brush down their fur and paws, paying special attention to their legs and tummies too, as salt could flick up.What are pet safe wipes? ›
What are dog wipes? Dog wipes are wet tissues that are used to clean dirt, debris, and odor from your dog's coat. They often contain ingredients like aloe vera or vitamin E to moisturize the skin. Some even have a light fragrance to leave your pet smelling fresh and clean!How do I disinfect my dog's paws? ›
Dog wipes or other moist wipes labeled safe for pet use can help clean muddy, sandy, or salty paws quickly, and are convenient to carry in a bag if you're traveling. You may need to upgrade to a warm, soapy washcloth, however, for serious messes.Is Dawn and vinegar safe for pets? ›
Is Dish Soap Toxic for Dogs? According to Rhoads, "Like any cleaning product, Dawn dish soap could be harmful when ingested." Dawn can also be irritating to your dog's eyes. If this happens, gently wash your pet's eyes and if the eyes look red or swollen and continue to be irritated, call your veterinarian.Is vinegar cleaner pet safe? ›
You can use either white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar (ACV), both of which are edible and completely non-toxic. Your pup might not appreciate the smell, but don't worry—the strong vinegar scent fades once it dries.Is vinegar a good cleaner for pets? ›
Yes. Vinegar used for cleaning is typically diluted and can be used in households with dogs. It is considered a natural cleaning product, and it may help to neutralize odors and remove pet stains. When using vinegar as a cleaning agent, ensure your dog is kept away from the products to avoid accidental ingestion.What do you clean floors with when you have a cat? ›
Use a vinegar and warm water solution on wood, ceramic tile, linoleum or vinyl flooring. Since cats are so low to the ground, using a non-toxic cleaner on floors is especially important. If you're using a carpet steam cleaner, use a water and vinegar solution (one part water to one part vinegar) in the reservoir.Is Mrs Meyers pet safe? ›
Meyer's cleaning products safe for pets? Actually, yes, Mrs. Meyer's offers pet safe cleaning products just like method does. They're made with plant-based ingredients and essential oils that are safe to use around pets of all kinds.
You could certainly use one of those; Mr. Clean makes a good one, as does Lysol. In my own life, I use Fabuloso.Is Glade safe for pets? ›
No, plug-in air fresheners are not safe for pets. If you use them, make sure to ventilate the area.How often should I change my dogs bed? ›
Most dog beds need cleaning around weekly, or perhaps fortnightly. Peaceful older canines tend to keep their sleeping quarters in good nick. Still, an enthusiastic puppy is very likely to have an accident from time to time - and so a dog bed with washable cover is going to save a lot of problems!Are candles safe for dogs? ›
Most of the time, candles are relatively harmless to dogs and will not make them sick. The common candle waxes, such as soy, paraffin, and beeswax, are all non-toxic and usually soften and pass safely through your dog's digestive system. Soy-based candles in particular are the softest and pose the least amount of risk.Do you need to rinse off Pine-Sol? ›
General cleaning, wood floors and similar surfaces: use 1/4 cup per gallon of water. No rinsing required, except on rubber or asphalt tile. For extra tough jobs, use full strength and rinse immediately.Is Zep floor cleaner safe for pets? ›
I have heavy use with several pets. Q:Is zep safe for original hardwoods? A: Yes. Always test in an inconspicuous area prior to use.Does Pine-Sol keep bugs away? ›
Keep Pests Away
The pine smell is repulsive to most animals. There's a bonus, too. You get clean cans, and no flies. Insects aren't fans of pine, either!
Alcohol. Alcohols are one of the most popular antiseptic and disinfecting products, used every day in veterinary clinics and laboratories. Although many alcohols are germicidal, the two most commonly used as disinfecting agents are ethyl and isopropyl alcohol.What do you wash dog blankets with? ›
Use a pet-safe laundry detergent to wash the load and add in some pet hair dissolver to get rid of any leftover hairs. Avoid using fabric softener or any other products in the rinse cycle as this could irritate your pet.What is the best floor cleaner for pet pee? ›
Hydrogen peroxide is the best cleaner for dog urine on hardwood floors if you're looking for a DIY fix. Fill a small bowl with 3% hydrogen peroxideand a squirt of dish soap. Soak your rag in this mixture and gently wipe down the area. Side note: This also works on cat urine and other types of pet urine, too.
Mix one cup of vinegar into a warm water-filled bucket and the add some drops of grapefruit oil to the solution to get rid of the odor. Scrub the floor with this safe cleaning solution, concentrating on the most prominent spots. As you scrub, the odor and stains should be disappearing.What is the best DIY floor cleaner with dogs? ›
All-purpose Floor Cleaner: Vinegar and Water
Simply combine 1 cup and 1 liter of water and mop your floors. There is no need to rinse but if you want to brighten and add a shine to the surface of your floor, after it dries mop it again with club soda.
If you're cleaning floors or other areas pets use, keep them out of the room while you're mopping floors or wiping down surfaces. If using chemicals, rinse the area with clean water afterwards. Don't let them back into the room until everything is dry.What cleaning products do dogs hate? ›
Products with chlorine, bleach, ammonia or other citrus scents as ingredients will cause your dog to leave the room when you begin cleaning. The smells are intense and overwhelming to your dog. Please don't use cleaning products to keep your dog out of areas of the house.What is a pet friendly household disinfectant? ›
You can use SupaClean as a steriliser for washing down and cleaning all surfaces, including utensils, feeding/drinking bowls etc, however, it's also a highly effective kennel disinfectant. It is safe to use around cats, dogs and other furry friends, so you won't harm your pets health by using this product.Is vinegar and water cleaner safe for pets? ›
Yes. Vinegar used for cleaning is typically diluted and can be used in households with dogs. It is considered a natural cleaning product, and it may help to neutralize odors and remove pet stains. When using vinegar as a cleaning agent, ensure your dog is kept away from the products to avoid accidental ingestion.Is cleaning with Lysol safe for pets? ›
One of the active ingredients in Lysol is Phenol. Phenol is especially dangerous for cats- but can also be problematic for dogs. Cats can absorb phenol through the air, through their mouth by licking or through their skin. Cats cannot process phenol, and can lead to many problems, including liver failure.Is Lysol all purpose safe for pets? ›
some disinfecting products are not pet friendly. Phenol can cause liver damage to pets, and Lysol gives off potentially volatile organic compound in its vapor. Additionally, if your dog licks or ingests Lysol, it can cause serious chemical burns in the tongue of upper esophagus.Are disinfectant wipes pet safe? ›
So, this central question – Are antibacterial wipes toxic to pets? – is clearly a hugely important consideration. And unfortunately, the answer is yes.Is Fabuloso safe for pets? ›
No, don't use Fabuloso to bathe your dog. The product contains chemicals that can irritate the skin. Even certain fragrances can cause skin irritation.
Baking soda contains no harmful chemicals and poses no danger to children or pets unless it is ingested in large amounts. Always consult your veterinarian before using baking soda on your pet and spot test before using baking soda to clean carpets and furniture.What does white vinegar do for pets? ›
Vinegar can be a natural remedy for diminishing your pet's discomfort when it comes to muscle soreness, ear infections, itchiness, fleas, or other skin conditions, such as hot spots. Additionally, dogs usually tolerate vinegar well as a topical remedy for certain ailments.Is it OK to spray vinegar around dogs? ›
Keeping Fleas and Ticks Away
To make your own flea and tick repellent, mix one part vinegar with one part water and spray it on your pet's fur. You can also add a few drops of vinegar to your pet's drinking water to help repel fleas and ticks from the inside out.
Use a handheld vacuum or an upholstery attachment to clean every crevice of the memory foam. Spray a combination of ½-cup of laundry detergent and water on the bed without soaking it. Sprinkle the bed with baking soda and let it sit for a few hours to remove odors. Then vacuum it for a final time.