Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 28, 2023 by Crystal Uys


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.

Baking soda and vinegar
Image Credit: FotoHelin, Shutterstock

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.

Featured Image Credit: Depositphotos

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