Friday, June 19, 2009

Squeaky Green: Green Pet Friendly House Cleaning Safety Tips

If you haven’t guessed it, spring-cleaning is here. Time to clean out the attic, throw a yard sale, dust the shelves and mop the floors. Its time to get down to business & use some elbow grease to scrub the counters, those hard to reach nooks & crannies and rid your home of dirt, grime and those sneezing dust mites. Yes, its true cleaning is a hard job but someone has to do!

But some traditional household cleaning products can leave your skin itchy, irritated and you smelling like you've emerged from a bleach bath. An overwhelming smell that leaves you cracking open your windows for some fresh air. Bleach, detergents, & disinfectant products although effective can be very harmful to humans and pets. Some of these cleaning products can be very corrosive to your dogs mouth and digestive tract if inhaled or ingested. According to the ASPCA, last year they received more than 3,200 calls related to household cleaners.

So are their any reliable house cleaners our there that you can safely drizzle down the drain, use around your kids and pets, and feel secure about having on your skin? Hmmm....Well, we are happy to say your prayers have been answered and with green on everyone's mind and shopping list these days there are a lot more healthier, safer, and economical cleaning alternatives for you to choose from. Many of these eco-friendly options can be found on store shelves and even in your kitchen pantries & cupboards.

The Truth About Cleaning Products

Many people using cleaning products in the home figure if it’s available on store shelves then it must be safe. Well, we want you to know that not all cleaning product are created equal and not all are safe for your family and the environment. So with that said it is important to read the labels, anything that says the words “Danger”, “Poison”, or “Warning” can’t very well be good for you. Just keep in mind that some traditional cleaning products like bleaches, disinfectants & detergents contain harmful toxins. Everyday, we come in contact with these toxins which can be found on the clothes we wear, the plate Fido licks off, and the carpet he lounges on with his favorite chew toy. Since dogs spend most of their days so close to the ground it important to keep them in mind when choosing house cleaning products. As dog guardians it is up to us make sure their environment are safe, because they are like our children. So detox your home the all natural & eco-friendly way!

Now a day lemons in the produce section are challenging Lysol in the cleaning section (aisle 9 to be exact) as people choose the natural route. Like the saying goes when you are given lemons you make lemonade or in our case a natural cleaner & polisher. Even your dog’s bed, your clothes, sheets, curtains, and towels can get the royal washing without the chemicals with soap nuts (a natural nut shell with soap properties grown in India).

Humans and dogs have a lot in common, we can both develop sensitivities to harsh cleaners resulting in itchy & irritated skin. The downside is that unlike humans, dogs lack opposable thumbs, which makes it nuisance to itch those hard to reach places. By retiring those commercial cleaning products and upgrading to down to earth products you can help save your dog the headache of trying to scratch those hard to reach places . Opt for a more healthier and natural way to rid dust mites with the help of natural products (aka green cleaning).

What is green Cleaning?

Green cleaning is using products that don’t harm you, your children both two & four legged, or the earth. With so many green solutions you no longer need to rely solely on your dogs licking expertise to get the dishes & floors spic & span.

Many people think that going green means spending the green, but rests assure there are many economical & eco-cleaning solutions out there that are all natural, chlorine, bleach-free & contain no harsh chemicals. But most importantly they are effective, so fear not all you people against dirty. The best part is that they get your house clean minus the chemicals & harmful toxins . Not to mention green cleaning products don’t leave your house smelling of a strong odor or like a freshly sanitized hospital.

For all you Martha Stewart's out there, it’s time to get in the kitchen. In fact, some of these eco-solutions can be found in your pantry or cupboards, they are easy to pronounce & are edible. With just a few ingredients and a quick stir you can brand your very own cleaner that costs mere pennies. Magically, they can really stretch the budget by keeping the house clean and smelling fresh at the same time. Not to mention there many added great benefits:

Lemon - Dissolves soap scum and hard water deposits. It also cleans and shines brass and copper. If mixed with vinegar and baking soda it can be made into cleaning pastes. If mixed with vegetable oil it makes furniture polish. Hey, while you at it you can make a pitcher of lemonade.

Vinegar - Naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner. Add one part water to one part vinegar and you have a solution that can clean most areas of your home. Vinegar disinfects and deodorizes. The strong smell of vinegar goes away after it dries. Both vinegar and baking soda have the added bonus of being incredibly cheap. Perfect for heftier residue and can work as a drain de-clogger. With all those dog baths your dog is bound to clog a few drains along the way.

Baking soda - Use to scrub surfaces similar to commercial abrasive cleansers like Comet or Ajax. Baking soda is also a great deodorizer, just ask your fridge & freezer, those leftover Chinese takeout containers leave odor that lurks in the dark. This is great for bathtubs, drains, ovens, tile floors or countertops.

But for those of you who don’t have the time to make green cleaning products from scratch there are some wonderful alternatives. Many of these ready made eco-solutions currently on the market can be found on your local store shelves, online, or a health food store. With a little elbow grease your house will be clean as a whistle and Fido may be caught off guard by his handsome reflection on those shiny hardwood floors.

Many of these eco-solutions are backed by a Green Seal rating, which means they meet the cleaning product environmental standards. Some of these products include: Mrs. Meyer’s All Purpose Cleaner, Seventh Generation, Method, Ecover, EcoQuest, BioKleen and Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds. When purchasing green cleaning products pick multi –purpose; this creates fewer items in the home, less packaging, less waste, and less money spent. Also, look for biodegradable products and post consumer recycled packaging.

So now you are probably wondering how to break the news and get rid of your unwanted guests, no we are not referring to your in-laws, but those traditional cleaning products. When replacing your cleaning products, don’t just throw the old ones in the trash. If they’re too toxic for your home, they won’t be good for the drain or the landfill either. Many communities hold toxics & electronics recycling days and will take all of these off your hands. Throwing chemicals in the trash or down the drain means they might end up back in your water supply and come back to haunt you.

Its important to remember that although all of these green products are nontoxic and more earth-friendly than traditional cleansers. Like anything, the same care should be taken when using them around your dogs since dogs are curious & experiences the world with their mouths. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe for your pet to ingest, so watch them carefully when you are cleaning away. After you have finished your spring cleaning store your cleaning products & laundry supplies out of reach in a childproof locked cabinet, locked closet or in a high shelf area out of paws reach.

If you have suspected your pet has ingested household cleaning products contact your vet immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4335.

So roll up your sleeves and welcome spring with a squeaky green & clean house!

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Leslie, the cleaning coach said...

Love your article! If you would like to find more green recipes, there is a great book at
The Joy of Green Cleaning.

Dorothy said...

Thanks for sharing these with your readers out there. These tips are very useful to have. Always make sure that what cleaning detergent and solvents you are using to clean your house is safe for everyone and also to the environment.

Daphne said...

Sylvia's Professional Cleaning Service
"You name it, we clean it."

Serving the Los Angeles Area for over 20 years

Mobea said...

All I know is that when I switched to Pine Sol to clean the kichen floor, my dog refuses to come in there. So I've had to move her dog dishes to another room. To me that was a warning, if that product was too much for my dog, then it was too much for me. So I got rid of it.