Question: Have you ever changed laundry detergent or another housekeeping product and promptly broken out into a rash? If not, you’re lucky! If so, you probably have sensitivities or allergies to certain chemicals, compounds or minerals. The aforementioned scenario can also happen to pets, though we may not realize it—how many times have you seen your dog itching and chalked it up to insect bites, dry weather or their breed?
Maybe it’s time to look at your housekeeping routine, as pets can suffer from allergies, skin issues and even more serious conditions from ingredients found in everyday household products, just like us. They also have intimate contact with surfaces that humans don’t, like the floor, shelves and kitchen counters, (cat owners, we’re looking at you for those last two) making them a little more susceptible to the negative effects of certain cleaners.
Check out our list of common household products that may be doing you and your pet more harm than good.
There’s nothing like pulling out a load of warm, clean laundry out of the dryer to make you feel like a productive human being. As great as that feels, we’re here to tell you that your typical laundry detergent is not exactly great for you. Most laundry detergent formulas contain highly concentrated cleaning ingredients to loosen and remove dirt, grease, fungus and bacteria from clothes. Because the purpose of these ingredients is to clean, detergent formulas are amazing for human hygiene but never meant for human ingestion, and can cause nausea, vomiting or worse when consumed. Who eats laundry detergent, you ask? Actually, a lot of people.
Putting aside what happens when you eat laundry detergent, using it for its intended purpose can also be problematic, as ingredients found in traditional detergents are harsh and can cause itching, irritation and rashes. Because they spend so much time on beds, pillows and blankets, opt for a natural laundry detergent.
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We love bleach because it keeps whites white, makes mold disappear in minutes and reminds us of those long summer days at the pool. However, bleach contains dangerous compounds that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat when inhaled. Skin contact with bleach can lead to rashes and burns, and let’s not even talk about what happens when it’s ingested.
If you love to clean with bleach, dilute it according to the instructions on the bottle and let the room air out for a couple of hours after cleaning. Keep your pet out of the area for as long as possible. Also, just because you can no longer smell the bleach doesn’t mean some of it is not still lingering, so you may want to try a DIY cleaner or a natural product that is safe to living creatures.
If you’re a pet owner, we’d be willing to bet that you probably use some kind of air freshener. While they’re great for covering up the lingering effects of pet accidents, air fresheners contain some pretty harsh ingredients. Formaldehyde and p-dichlorobenzene are just two of the chemicals used in these products that cause irritation to the eyes, throat and skin and more seriously, are thought to cause cancer. And those plug in, sold air fresheners? They can be fatal if eaten.
While it can be hard to resist spritzing a smelly room, try filling a small cup with vinegar and placing it near the olfactory offense. Vinegar is non-toxic and absorbs odors. If you’d prefer your house not to smell like a salad, you can use baking soda, which also absorbs odors. Another head’s up since we’re on this topic: a number of essential oils are lethal to animals, so don’t try to combat a stench with eucalyptus, lavender, bergamot oils, just to name a few.
We’re going to make another bet…that you, our dear pet-owning reader, has used some kind of upholstery or rug cleaner at some point in your animal’s life. We knew it! Cleaning barf, pee or poop off of an upholstered surface is just one inevitable fact of pet ownership. While it’s tempting to try to restore your rug to the state it was in before you got your puppy, steer clear of certain upholstery cleaners. The ingredients found in those products can cause nausea, dizziness and disorientation and more seriously, have been linked to cancer and liver damage. There are some tried and true natural remedies for spot removal that don’t involve harsh cleaners, which you can easily find with a quick search. If your rug is in a truly sorry state, try a professional cleaning service that uses natural products.
Our animals spend most of their waking lives inside of our homes, which toxin-wise, can sometimes pose more of a threat than the great outdoors. Opting for gentler household products can make a big difference in the lives of you and your pet. So the next time Mr. Whiskers barfs his dinner upon the couch, remember to read your labels, know your product ingredients and consider natural solutions!