10 Pet-Safe Cleaning Products You Can Use Throughout Your Home

Updated: Jan. 02, 2024

Pet owners, do you know what cleaning chemicals to avoid? We rounded up the best pet-safe cleaning products—plus some DIY options to try.

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woman wiping kitchen counter with dog watching from the floorGrace Cary/Getty Images

From floor and carpet cleaners to sink scrubs and all-purpose sprays, keeping the house clean requires a full quiver of products. However, many of the most common ones may contain ingredients that are dangerous for your pets to ingest, inhale or even absorb through the skin while moving about and licking their paws.

“There are a number of common household cleaning products that contain harmful and potentially life-threatening ingredients,” says Anthea Schick, a veterinary dermatologist.

Toilet bowl cleaners, especially the kind that stick inside the bowl, often contain bleach and can be a risk for dogs who like to sneak sips from the toilet. Other problematic products include laundry detergent containing sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), 1,4-dioxane and nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE). These can cause skin irritation, as well as severe vomiting and diarrhea if swallowed in the concentrated pod form, which can look like a toy or treat.

Here are our recommendations for pet-safe cleaning products for the entire home, including DIY suggestions, as well as a list of ingredients to avoid.

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Roccoroxiestain Rocco Roxie Oxy Stain Remover Megan Wood
Megan Wood for Family Handyman

Pet-Safe Stain and Odor Eliminator

When our beloved pets are the ones creating the mess, a cleaning product that’s tough on stains and stink (even that dreaded cat urine), yet gentle on the pets creating them, is a must. Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator is Certified Safe by the Carpet and Rug Institute. It’s guaranteed to remove pet stains and odors from carpets and upholstery, as well as pet carriers, kennels, concrete and tile—or this family-run business of 15 humans, five dogs and one cat will refund your money.

We put Rocco & Roxie to the test—it works! That’s why it’s our top pick for best products for getting pee out of carpet, too.

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Eco Me Natural Plant Based Concentrated Multi Surface And Floor Cleaner
VIA MERCHANT

Pet-Safe Floor Cleaner

If you’re looking for a pet-safe floor cleaner, look no further than EcoMe’s floor cleaner. This multi-surface formula is made from natural plant extracts and essential botanicals to work on stone, sealed wood, vinyl, linoleum, laminate and other sealed surfaces. It comes in four scents, including a fragrance-free option.

As five-star reviewer, MikeL, writes, “Cleans MUCH BETTER than the chemically laden cleaners from the name brands. Smells great and lasts a long time. Bought my first bottle four years ago, use it every week and still have a third of the bottle left!”

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Aunt Fannie's Glass & Window Cleaning Vinegar Wash
VIA MERCHANT

Pet-Safe Glass Cleaner

Although you can make your own—Tonya Harris, an award-winning environmental toxin expert and founder of Slightly Greener recommends 1:1 distilled water and white vinegar—sometimes streaks are an issue with DIY glass cleaners. Enter: Aunt Fannie’s glass and window vinegard wash.

This plant-based solution cleans safely and gently—sans streaks. It also works on chrome, light fixtures and stainless steel. It was awarded the highest health and safety rating by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

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Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
VIA MERCHANT

Pet-Safe Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Skip the potent, hanging toilet cleaners that pets may be tempted to lick or paw. Instead, opt for a brush-and-flush product like Better Life’s natural toilet bowl cleaner.

Plant-based ingredients and a Leaping Bunny certification mean this product is safer and cruelty free. However, be sure to keep the bathroom door closed while cleaning a toilet so pets don’t get tempted. Although the ingredients in Better Life’s Toilet Bowl Cleaner are all-natural, they’re not intended for ingestion. Pets should be kept away until the cleaning is complete and the solution has been flushed.

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Better Life All Purpose Cleaner
VIA MERCHANT

Pet-Safe All-Purpose Cleaner

Better Life also makes an all-purpose cleaner that tackles soiled surfaces, including countertops, tables, showers, toys and even boats, cars and sporting equipment. The unscented cleaner contains no synthetic fragrances, dyes or harsh ingredients, so it’s safe around children and pets.

As verified purchaser, Patrice E. Hubbell, writes, “Um wow! This stuff works better than bleach! I finally decided to switch to a natural cleaner because by dogs have been having a reaction to something, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to use something without harmful chemicals. So glad I did. Not only is it better for us all, it works great!”

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Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soap
VIA MERCHANT

Pet-Safe All-in-One Cleaner

Harris recommends keeping Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-one pure castile soap on hand. A little bit of this concentrated, organic and  biodegradable soap goes a long way. Dilute it for use all around the house, from the shower to the laundry, floors to sinks and even dishes, humans and pets.

You can feel good about your clean house and your purchase. Dr. Bronner’s aims to support people and planet—”farm to shelf to shower”—paying fair wages and using recycled bottles and healthy ingredients.

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Puracy Professional Carpet Cleaner Machine Detergent
VIA MERCHANT

Pet-Safe Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo

Pets and children spend a fair amount of time sprawled out on floors and furniture, so a pet-safe cleaning product that removes pet stains on furniture and carpet is essential. Developed by a team of chemists, evaluated by medical doctors and tested by parents, Puracy’s professional carpet cleaner is guaranteed to remove stains and odors from washable surfaces while keeping the human and fur children (and your wallet—no professional cleaning bill!) safe.

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Natural Cleaning Products For Pets
Eskay Lim/getty images

DIY Pet-Safe Cleaners

The best way to know what’s in your cleaning products is to make them yourself. Schick recommends these DIY options to get you started:

  • Use baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) instead of bleach when cleaning your home. This milder form of salt works well to absorb and neutralize odors.

  • The acetic acid content of white vinegar makes it a powerful cleanser without being outright harmful to your pets. To create your own cleanser, dilute white vinegar with club soda (1:1), which has been shown effective in reducing household bacteria. It can help get pet urine smells out of clothes, too.

  • If you’d like to make your home smell cleaner without using air fresheners, try steeping lemon peel in vinegar for at least a full day, then spray the natural freshener throughout the house.

What Cleaning Products Are Unsafe for Dogs and Cats?

Schick says even products labeled as “natural” aren’t always a safe bet, either, including essential oils, which can irritate airways and even exacerbate asthma. A good rule of thumb, “Don’t let your pets ingest anything you wouldn’t eat!” she says. “Carefully read the labels of everything you use in your home to ensure no harmful ingredients are present.”

Harris recommends scanning labels and avoiding products with the following ingredients:

  • Ammonia: Can damage the respiratory system

  • Chlorine bleach: Skin, eye, and throat irritant, corrosive to mucous membranes

  • Glycol ethers: Propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol

  • Benzalkonium chloride: Often found in disinfectants

  • Fragrances: Individual ingredients are not required to be listed, because fragrance is considered to be a trade secret. “Fragrances” may contain ingredients that are allergenic, hormone-disrupting and toxic to the brain and nervous system, or carcinogenic.

  • Phenol: It’s common in Lysol and PineSol. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it can cause liver and kidney damage.

  • Hydrogen peroxide: It causes irritation to the esophagus and stomach lining, induces vomiting and can cause severe gastritis and ulceration and bleeding.

  • Formaldehyde: It’s known to cause cancer. Some preservatives, known as formaldehyde releasers, release formaldehyde slowly into a product over time to extend the shelf life. Look for formaldehyde-releasing ingredients such as dimethylol-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea and imidazolidinyl urea.

Pet-Safe Cleaning

Pets are often curious by nature and may be tempted to sniff, lick or swallow cleaning products they find around the house. Even products with none of the above listed on their ingredients can pose some risk to your pets, as labels can be deceiving.

“It’s sometimes hard to know exactly what ingredients are in cleaning products,” Harris says. “That’s because the EPA requires companies to only disclose active disinfecting ingredients and ‘chemicals of known concern’ on their labels.

“The problem here is that there aren’t any testing requirements for most of the chemicals in cleaning products—by the companies or the EPA,” she continues. “And companies aren’t required to disclose their ingredients, because formulations are considered to be proprietary.”

Harris recommends that dog and cat owners follow these cleaning tips to minimize risk, even when using products that appear safe:

  • Keep pets away from the room or area you are cleaning.

  • Ensure the area is well ventilated.

  • Allow surfaces to dry completely before allowing pets back in the room.

  • Store disinfectants out of pets’ reach.

If your pets do ingest cleaning products, call the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 and bring them to a vet immediately.

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