While a lot of people don’t give it much thought, the products you use to clean your home have a significant impact on your health—and even more so on the health of young children and animals, including assistance dogs and pets. When you coat the surfaces in your home with chemicals, your hearing, guide, or service dog is regularly exposed to them in a variety of ways.
For one, she’s breathing in the fumes they give off; or, as with something like aerosolized sprays, she may be inhaling them straight. She also picks the chemicals up on her paws and coat, where they can be absorbed by the skin and ingested during grooming. Chemicals also end up on her bedding, toys, and other supplies, presenting plenty of other opportunities to absorb or ingest them.
A number of the most common household cleaning agents are well-documented to cause liver and kidney damage, asthma and other respiratory problems, certain cancers, and other conditions in dogs. Clean your home with dog-friendly products to protect the health, happiness, and longevity of your assistance dog.
Dangerous Cleaning Chemicals
Certain compounds commonly found in household cleaning products are potentially toxic to your assistance dog. Incidentally, they’re not good for humans, either. Don’t clean your home with products containing any of the following ingredients:
- Glycol ethers
Harmful chemicals are found in most standard all-purpose cleaners, floor cleaners, carpet cleaners, bathroom cleaners, glass cleaners, air fresheners, furniture polishes, laundry detergents, drain openers, and other household cleaning products. Check the ingredients on the label of all the products you buy.
Typically, to avoid them, you have to opt for natural cleansers specifically made to be pet-friendly and environmentally friendly. But again, don’t just trust a word on the front of the label or an advertisement; read the ingredient list.
Safe Cleaning Solutions
In addition to commercially available pet- and eco-friendly cleaning products, there are some standard household items that effectively and safely clean many of the surfaces in your home. Here are some easy, affordable, natural, assistance dog-friendly cleaning options:
- Baking soda is fantastic for absorbing odors, including dog odors. Sprinkle a light coating on carpets, rugs, spills, and other surfaces, let it sit for about 20 minutes, then vacuum it up.
- Mix 3 cups of hot water, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of baking soda to create a potent, all-natural all-purpose cleanser that disinfects and deodorizes.
- Combine equal parts hot water, baking soda, and table salt and stir it into a paste to make a scrub for dog dishes, laminate floors, counter tops, and other surfaces.
- Add ¼ cup of white vinegar to ½ gallon of water and put it in a spray bottle. This is a handy all-purpose cleaner, as well as an effective glass cleaner; the only downside is the vinegar odor, which tends to linger for a little while.
- Stir 2 tablespoons of salt into ½ cup of white vinegar to create an all-natural stain remover for carpets. Add in 2 tablespoons of borax for heavier or more stubborn stains.
- A squeeze or two of lemon juice added to mineral oil makes a natural furniture polish.
- Use ½ cup of borax instead of laundry detergent when washing your assistance dog’s bedding.
A Word of Caution
Some natural ingredients will damage certain materials. For example, lemon juice and white vinegar are likely to damage marble, limestone, and travertine surfaces. As you’re learning to clean your home in dog-friendly ways, check labels and even perform a few quick Google searches as needed when you’re uncertain. Or, at the very least, test out a little bit of a new cleaning product on a small, inconspicuous area of the surface you’re cleaning.