Did you know that many commercial cleaning products can be extremely toxic, and even deadly, to your pets?  Cats are especially susceptible since they groom themselves by licking and as a result ingest anything that comes in contact with their feet or fur.

Dangers of chemical-based household cleaners

Many household cleaners contain contain hazardous ingredients such as organic solvents and petroleum-based chemicals which can release volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) into your indoor air. Some ingredients in household cleaners are known to cause cancer in animals and are suspected human carcinogens. Inappropriate use, storage and disposal of these hazardous household substances may impact your personal health and the health of our environment.

Lysol, Pine-sol and other products containing phenols are deadly to cats as they can cause serious liver damage.  Clorox bleach, especially when concentrated, can cause chemical burns when it comes in contact with sensitive paws.

Non-toxic cleaning products

With the wide variety of naturally based and non-toxic cleaners available, there is no need to continue to use unsafe products, but read labels carefully. Even brands advertised as “natural” aren’t always safe. Steer clear of any product containing essential oils.  Even though many manufacturers of essential oils claim that they are safe to use around cats, this is not always the case.  Tea tree oil in particular can be deadly to cats.

Some of the safest and least expensive cleaners are baking soda and white distilled vinegar.  Some suggestions for use are:

Baking Soda

  • Pour a layer in the litter box before adding fresh litter to quell odors.
  • Add 1/2 cup to the laundry to freshen pet bedding.
  • Use as an abrasive cleaner for sinks, bowls, and non-porous surfaces.

White Distilled Vinegar

  • Use to disinfect feeding dishes, the litter box, and non-porous toys.
  • Add one cup to the wash cycle to freshen and soften pet bedding.
  • Apply a diluted solution (one part vinegar and one part water) to help remove the appearance and odor of urine stains from carpets.
  • Baking soda and white vinegar combined make a great non-toxic drain cleaner – pour some baking soda down the drain, follow with a cup or so of vinegar.  The mixture will foam, and the foaming action will clear your drain.  Repeat if necessary.  For tough drains, follow with hot water.

If your pet does come into contact with toxic chemicals, contact the Animal Poison Control Center for help.

For more cat-friendly cleaning tips, click here.

This post was first published in February 2010 and has been updated.

Photo: Depositphotos

24 Comments on Cat-Friendly Cleaning Tips

  1. thank you. i try to only use non toxic cleaners in the house and no chemicals, in the yard, which is why i have lots of weeds. the vinegar and baking soda work great in the sink, bathroom drain, cleans as well. been using this for years.

  2. For sink clearing, it helps to have gthe mixture be half and half bak soda and salt….and it should be boiling water…just be careful if you ave a porcenlain sink.

  3. Ive resorted to using a steam mop for the floors and microfiber cloths for windows, surfaces etc. I chanded from clay/crystals for litter because when its moved about dust particles are put into the air which will then be inhaled. My mum read a handy hint to kill ants around the home: use cat litter crystals along their paths, the ants take the smallest bits back to the nest to eat. It kills them all cause its has tiny shards of glass in it!!!! I now use breeders choice recycled paper pellets.

  4. which essential oils are toxic to kitties? I have to have someone come in and clean my bathrooms/kitchen floor because I have a back injury, and I have found these products that didn’t seem to irritate my cat’s asthma: but now am worried regarding the essential oils. Can you tell me which are toxic to cats? thx a ZILLION!!

    • Cindy, I do not like any essential oils used around cats. Even though some manufacturers claim that their products are safe for cats, there’s no way to substantiate it. Some claim that hydrosols are safe to use around cats, but I don’t recommend using them, either. There are so many other options for natural cleaning products, why take chances?

  5. Penelope and Magellan, I’m a little worried about your propensity to sniff chemicals – in the human world, they send people to rehab for that :-)! Maybe you could ask your mama to give you some catnip instead?

    Marisa, you’re right, it is all connected. Non-toxic cleaning products are not only good for our pets, they’re also good for the planet.

  6. Great tips, Ingrid! If it’s pet-friendly, rest assured your cleaning will be Earth-friendly, too! It’s all connected. Who needs toxic chemicals? No one! It’s going back to basics like our grandmothers used to clean.

  7. Mason, the nice thing is that by using cleaning products that are safe for our pets, we’re also doing something good for us and for the environment.

    Debbi, I hope the suggestions work for you. Repeat marking is a tough problem to deal with.

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