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Today, pet parents are being hit with new information weekly about how to raise healthier pets and with the release of The Forever Dog book by Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib, it seems like many of us are in the state of information overload. Instead of creating content telling pet parents how to prevent cancer or improve a dog's gut microbiome, I'd like to start simple with an easy step. Switching to pet-safe cleaning products.
Raising Healthier Dogs
I think the first steps I took to improve the lives of my dogs was to work with a private dog trainer/behaviorist (instead of thinking “how hard can it be to train a dog”) and switching from Frontline Plus to a natural flea and tick repellent.
The next step I took was improving my dogs' diet. First by adding fresh food to the bowl. This led me to cook for my dogs and then I found my way to raw feeding.
While these choices have helped me raise healthier dogs, there are so many other things that we can do – making it possible for all of us to find something that works within our lifestyle and budget.
And one of those things is to switch from caustic/toxic cleaning products and air fresheners to something that is pet safe.
18 Pet Safe Cleaning Products
When it comes to cleaning, I have my favorites. Vinegar for countertops, baking soda for carpet stains, and a mixture of water, vinegar, and essential oils for our floors. But I know that there are more options out there so I reached out to the Keep the Tail Wagging community for recommendations and they DID NOT DISAPPOINT. I cross-checked the following brand with the Environmental Working Group, which reviews ingredients to confirm the level of toxicity in a product and grades the product as follows:
- A – “very low hazard to health and the environment with robust disclosure of ingredients.”
- C – “an average cleaner that poses no overt hazards and provides some disclosure of ingredients.”
- F – “the product is highly hazardous or provides little to no ingredient disclosure.”
With the exception of the white vinegar and essential oils, the cleaning brands listed below offer products that received an A or B rating by the EWG. Personally, I don't believe in perfection, which is why a B rating is acceptable to me. I plan to stay away from any cleaner that is rated a D or an F.
1 – White Vinegar (and Baking Soda) with Water
This is the easiest, safest, and least expensive way to clean our home, in my opinion. For years, I've heard of folks using vinegar and water and I didn't trust that it would clean effectively. I was wrong. I use this mixture to clean countertops, sinks, floors, and my dogs' dishes.
I use white vinegar because it's not colored (so I'm not worried about potential staining) and it's slightly more acidic, making it a more effective cleaner. I mostly use baking soda on the countertops, sink, and carpet. It's great at removing small carpet stains.
2 – Essential Oils
I purchase my essential oils from Plant Therapy, AnimalEO, and Simply Earth – three brands I trust because they offer high-quality oils without harming the environment. When I started mixing essential oils with water (and sometimes a little bit of Dr. Bronner's Castille soap), I stuck with citrus oils (orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc.). Today, I'm a little more adventurous, choosing scents based on my mood that day. Last weekend, I mopped with frankincense. I have an oil called Germ Fighter that smells like Young Living's Thieves.
3 – 9 Elements
9 Elements has 10 products with an A rating on EWG.org. These products include General Purpose Cleaners, Hand Soap, Bathroom Cleaners, Laundry Detergent, and Fabric Softeners.
4 – Aunt Fannies
I've never heard of Aunt Fannies until I began reading up for this blog post. This is a line of cleaning products that contain vinegar and they all have an A rating with the exception of a probiotic line that has a C rating because of the ingredients, which may irritate the skin, trigger respiratory allergies, and harm the environment (sodium phytate).
5 – BioKleen
BioKleen is a brand that has been accused of greenwashing. The packaging gives off the appearance of a “natural” product, but some feel that this isn't the case. Marketing is a powerful thing. But, according to the EWG, BioKleen is a clean-ish product, with B ratings across the board. I use their lavender fabric/upholstery cleaner.
6 – Common Good
Common Good is a brand recommended by other pet parents and now I see why. When I looked up this brand in the EWG database, their products received an A grade across the board. All-purpose cleaner, hand soap, and laundry detergent.
7 – Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap
I've known about Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap for years and use it when making household products using my vast essential oil collection. This past year, I've started using it to clean our floors and it's great. Having four dogs running in and out of the house requires me to have a strict cleaning schedule to keep the house clean and smelling great. The EWG has awarded an A grade to most of their product and a B grade to two due to allergies concerns (fragrance).
8 – Kin+Kind
I use the flea repellent formulated by Kin+Kind, but I've never used any of their other products. Kin+Kind now has a stain remover that looks promising. They aren't listed in the EWG (I didn't see any high-end pet products listed), but I trust the brand and would love to give their cleaning products a shot to replace a product that I know is problematic – Nature's Miracle, which received a C and D rating by EWG.
9 – Method
Method was a cleaner recommended by several pet parents, but when I looked it up in the EWG database, most of their products received a C or D rating; there are F grades too – Yikes! Because this is a popular brand, I'm keeping it on the list and sharing that the products that received a B rating include…
- all purpose cleaner – grapefruit
- surface cleaner – ginger yuza
- surface cleaner – mint
- dishwasher packs – fragrance free
- dishwasher packs – lemon mint
- laundry detergent packs – free & clear
10 – Molly Suds Laundry Detergent
I tried a natural laundry detergent (not Molly Suds) a few years ago and it did NOTHING. My laundry came out smelling awful and I tossed the detergent and returned to using Tide pods. Molly Suds Laundry Detergent has two products with A ratings on EWG including their Molly Suds Laundry Powder.
11 – Mrs. Meyer's
Mrs. Meyer's is the reason why I came back to update this post. Several people who follow me on Facebook warned me that this brand is well known for greenwashing and not being honest about the safety of the ingredients in their products. I added Mrs. Meyer's to the list because the products I use received a B grade by the EWG. However, it's important that I share that only 27 (which is a lot) of their products received that B grade, including their bathroom cleaner, surface scrubs, laundry detergents, and dishwasher detergents. You'll have to visit the list on EWG to see specifically which products received the B grade.
The products that did NOT receive a B grade are the all-purpose cleaners and countertop sprays, which received a D grade due to their negative impact to the environment.
12 – PUR
PUR is another brand that was recommended by pet parents. PUR offers bathroom cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, surface scrubs, glass cleaner, floor cleaner, and laundry detergent. You can feel confident cleaning your home with products from this brand because they received an A grade by EWG, which means they pose a“very low hazard to health and the environment with robust disclosure of ingredients.”
13 – Skout's Honor
I was introduced to Skout's Honor years ago. When they came out with their probiotic line, I raised an eyebrow – really? probiotics in the shampoo? – but when I read up on their products, I decided to give them a try. Today, I have all three of their shampoos and coat fresheners.
Skout's Honor also makes cleaning products – carpet cleaner, stain/urine cleaner, litter box refresher, and laundry detergent. The ingredients are minimal and aren't problematic. They're not listed on the EWG but I think they should be listed so I'm going to look into what it takes to recommend a brand.
14 – Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation is a brand that I thought was crap – they look natural, but they're fairly toxic. So I never gave it a try until recently. Similar to other brands on this list, not everything Seventh Generation offers has an A or B grade. Products that received an A grade include laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, bathroom cleaners, and a couple of all-purpose cleaners. Products that received a B grade include disinfecting sprays and wipes, and some laundry detergent. The drop in the grade seems to be due to potential harm to the environment or due to the risk of skin allergies when coming into contact with these products.
There is a long list of products that received a C or D grade (and one product that received an F). You'll have to visit the EWG database to see where your products fall. Or you can download the Think Dirty app.
15 – TrulyFree
Truly Free is another brand recommended by pet parents. It's not in the EWG database and that surprised me because similar to Skout's Honor, the ingredients are pretty clean. TrulyFree offers all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergent, and cleaners for the bathroom and kitchen. The brand offers a subscription service through their website allowing us to buy products at a discount.
16 – Norwest
Norwex was also recommended by pet parents. I didn't find it in the EWG database, so I visited the site and, if this brand is legit, I'm impressed with their passion for providing a quality product without destroying the environment. Check out their “ingredients transparency” page.
17 – Force of Nature
Pet parents are also using cleaning products by Force of Nature. This product isn't listed in the EWG database and this surprised me so much that I searched several times. What I learned on the Force of Nature website inspired me to place an order because, according to the brand, their products are a replacement for bleach, Formula 409, Febreeze, Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles, and Resolve. What???? Take my money, please.
I ordered the Year of Capsules bundle on Cyber Monday. I'll update this post after using it for a bit.
18 – Branch Basics
The next cleaning I plan to try is by Branch Basics because their laundry additive (their version of bleach) is EWG certified. The first product I've seen with that rating. Another product that I'm curious about is their all-purpose cleaner. It would be fun to compare Branch Basics to Force of Nature because both brands offer something for every room in the house that replaces traditional toxic cleaners.
Are Natural Products Really “Natural?”
Sadly, “natural” hasn't been defined by the FDA and brands are using “natural” in their marketing when their products are anything BUT natural. So, how do we know? We have to do the homework because we can't trust that every brand that uses the term “natural” along with a minimalist design is selling a pet-safe product.
But, hopefully, this list will get you started.
I like seeing essential oils in my products, but I'm also seeing products that contain synthetic ingredients, which usually get a bad wrap. So how do we know if something is safe and something is toxic? Thankfully, there's plenty of information on the internet to guide us and I think we should follow our gut. While some people prefer to be 100% pure and natural when they are buying things that'll be used around their pets, I tend to be a little more relaxed, which I know will disappoint some.
- If I were to walk around my home, I'd find plenty of toxins that I shouldn't be using. At the top of the list is Dawn dish detergent, Cascade dishwashing detergent, Tide Pods (laundry detergent), and fabric softner. I know, I'm a monster!!! But I'm working on it.
- When looking at an ingredient's list, I have to wonder HOW dangerous the ingredients are when considering the amount used in the product. If an ingredient is one of the last two items on the list, how much is in the product? Is it still dangerous? And if it is, how dangerous? And should we accept the risk?
- And, lastly, I've learned that there needs to be a line or else I'll drive myself crazy trying to bubblewrap my dogs to protect them from the world. How far do we need to go? I struggle between the knowledge that my dogs aren't being harmed by the choices that I'm making while trying to incorporate new information (and products) into our home.
Pet Safe DIY Cleaning Products
Personally, I've found the easiest way to clean with pet-safe products is to make my own. While I still buy commercial laundry detergent and dry sheets (don't hate me), I clean with vinegar, water, and essential oils. I use this combination to clean counters, floors, and more.
- 13 Essential Oil Recipes for Dogs
- 5 DIY Natural Cleaning Products for Raw Feeders
- DIY Dish Cleaner for Dog Dishes with Essential Oils
- How I Clean Up After My Raw Fed Dogs
- Best Vacuum Cleaners for Pet Hair
This isn't my specialty. However, there are several recipes online that you can try. Personally, I try to keep it simple because I worry about creating a toxic cloud by mixing the wrong “natural” ingredients in a spray bottle. This is why I stick with vinegar, water, and essential oils. Using a natural household cleaner sold online or at our local grocery store.
Read More About Essential Oils
- Top Essential Oils to Calm Anxious Dogs
- 11 Essential Oil Diffuser Recipes to Freshen a Home with Dogs
- Why December is the Best Time to Buy Essential Oils
- Essential Oils that Help Dog Moms Chill Out and Enjoy the Day
- animalEO Aroma Boost RTU Collection