We often find ourselves at the crossroads of choosing products that are both eco-friendly and safe for our families, especially the younger and furrier members. So, when it comes to cleaning agents, a pressing question arises: Are eco-friendly cleaning products genuinely safe for our pets and kids?
What Does “Eco-Friendly” Really Mean?
It’s a term that gets sprinkled generously across product labels, from household items to personal care. But wait a sec — what’s that label really saying? Let’s peel back the sticker and see what’s inside.
Imagine cleaning products as smoothies. Just as some smoothies use fresh, organic fruits, some cleaning brands use natural, earth-loving ingredients. Instead of harsh chemicals, they might use stuff like coconut (yes, the same one from your favorite tropical drink) to make their cleaners.
“Eco-friendly” cleaning products use clean energy for production. Renewable energy where possible.
How quickly and safely a product breaks down in the environment is another critical factor. An eco-friendly floor cleaner might break down into harmless components in the environment within weeks, whereas a non-eco-friendly counterpart might linger for years like that party guest who just won’t leave.
The packaging matters, too! Many genuinely eco-friendly brands opt for recyclable, biodegradable, or reduced plastic packaging.
Ingredient Transparency is Crucial
While terms like “natural” or “green” might sound reassuring, they can sometimes be used as marketing tactics to appeal to well-meaning shoppers. Companies committed to true eco-friendliness are transparent with their ingredients, ones they stand behind, allowing customers to make informed decisions.
To ensure the cleaning agent is safe for pets and kids, look out for these types of things and avoid them when possible:
- Some essential oils can be harmful to pets. Eucalyptus, tea tree, and citrus oils, for instance, can be problematic for cats and dogs if ingested or absorbed through the skin.
- Baking Soda: While often touted as a wonder cleaning agent, it can be harmful if ingested in large quantities, especially by smaller pets.
- Certain Plants and Extracts, while eco-friendly, might be toxic to pets. An example is the saponin in soapnuts or soapberries, which can be harmful to dogs if ingested.
- Phthalates are found in fragranced household products, like air fresheners or dish soap. They don’t always appear on labels, so a pro-tip is to avoid anything labeled as “fragrance.”
- Ammonia is common in glass and bathroom cleaners. It can cause lung irritation and be particularly harmful for pets with respiratory issues or birds.
- Chlorine is often used in scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, and even laundry whiteners. Inhaling its fumes can cause breathing irritation.
- Formaldehyde: Found in general household cleaners. It’s a known carcinogen and can trigger asthma and allergies.
- Glycol Ethers: Common in carpet cleaners and spot removers. Prolonged exposure can lead to anemia or lung damage.
- Perchloroethylene (PERC) is often used in dry-cleaning solutions and carpet and upholstery cleaners. It’s a neurotoxin and can also be carcinogenic if inhaled frequently.
- Sodium Hydroxide: Found in oven and drain cleaners. It’s corrosive, so skin contact can cause burns, and inhalation can lead to a sore throat.
- Borax and Boric Acid: Used in some laundry boosters and hand soaps. Prolonged exposure can be harmful, especially for pets if they lick surfaces cleaned with these substances.
- Phenols are usually found in cleaners that turn milky white when diluted with water. These can be toxic to pets, particularly cats.
- Alcohol-based products: Isopropyl alcohol is used in various cleaning agents. If ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other internal issues in pets.
- Bleach: While it’s a powerful disinfectant, it can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Pets, especially cats, can be sensitive even to the fumes.
If you’re seeking reliable cleaning pros for your facility, call us today to discuss details and obtain a quote.