How to Keep Your Pet Safe While Doing Your Spring Cleaning

How to Keep Your Pet Safe While Doing Your Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung, and along with the emerging flowers and greenery, we have to think about something a little less pleasant: spring cleaning. Whether you’re tidying up inside or getting your garden and yard ready for better weather, there’s a lot to do. There’s also a lot to keep in mind if you have pets, as certain cleaners and yard care products can be a bit dangerous for them. With the right knowledge, though, you’ll both be able to enjoy your spruced up environment without encountering any danger. 

Pet-Safe Indoor Cleaning and Home Improvement

Cleaning Supplies

A good deep clean is one of the first things you may want to tackle in your home following the winter months, when a lot of mud and slush can be tracked in. When you’re choosing cleaning products, though, keep an eye out for a few things that can be less-than-safe for your furry friend.

Before you even start tackling the job, you may want to get your pet safely behind closed doors in another room, and ensure that everything has dried and the room is well-ventilated before they come back out. You can be even more careful by rinsing surfaces with water after your cleaning agents dry. You’ll also want to make sure all your cleaning supplies have been put back where they belong, out of paw’s reach.

Before choosing cleaning products, though, you’ll need to know which could pose a risk to your furry friend. Among the cleaning products or components that can be dangerous for pets are ammonia, rubbing alcohol, glycol ethers, and bleach. You may choose to steer clear of these to be safe, but using a diluted bleach solution, followed by a good rinse and a proper airing out, is generally deemed safe for pets.

Cats are also sensitive to essential oils. If they get too much of an exposure, it could impact their respiratory, digestive, and central nervous systems. Among the most dangerous are cinnamon, mint, lavender, citrus, and tea tree, though overly cautious cat parents may decide to keep their home free of these oils altogether.

There are some non-toxic cleaning and odor-eliminating alternatives that could be used, too, like baking soda, which works well as a scrubbing agent and for tackling odors. Vinegar and water can be used as a general cleaner, as well, but it may not be the best at eliminating bacteria or germs.


If you’re doing some serious laundry, perhaps before putting winter items away, you need to be careful with fabric softeners, which contain catatonic detergents. If your pets get ahold of a dryer sheet with these ingredients, it could ultimately lead to drooling, vomiting, and fever.

Home Improvement

Sometimes spring cleaning calls for a fresh coat of paint on some faded surfaces. It certainly brightens up the place, but there are possible dangers to your pets here, too. Paint and solvents can be toxic to them or cause serious irritation and chemical burns. Check the products’ labels to see if they're safe to use with a furry friend around.

Pet Safe Gardens

As you get ready for better weather, your yard is usually a bit of a project, too. Whether it’s choosing what to plant this year, or treating your garden and lawn to keep it in tip-top shape, there are definitely things to keep in mind with your pets.

Treatments and Mulch

Limiting your use of fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides – or finding safer alternatives altogether – may be a good plan. If you find yourself using them, though, be sure to keep your pet away from where they’ve been applied. Even rolling in grass with recently applied chemicals or licking paws after walking on it can lead to issues, particularly on the skin. Also, check to see if the ingredients are toxic, and talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions.

Cocoa bean mulch is a popular product in gardens, too, but it contains the same ingredient in chocolate – theobromine - that is toxic to dogs and cats. If your pets spend regular time near your mulch, it’s probably best to choose an alternative.

Choosing Plants

When choosing what to plant, meanwhile, be sure anything you intend to add is pet-safe if your pets can access the area. Check out this guide to toxic flowers to get a good idea of what to avoid. The ASPCA also has thorough lists of plants that are dangerous to dogs and plants that are dangerous to cats. Among the most popular plants that are unsafe for your pets are azaleas, rhododendron, daffodils, and lilies.

On the flip side, pet-safe ornamental plants include sunflowers, pansies, violets, and impatiens.

Gardens are also often a source of sustenance for the family, providing some fresh produce on the dinner table. If that sounds like your garden, you can choose to focus on foods that are safe for your pets. Here’s a primer on some of those human foods that dogs and cats can eat, including fruits and veggies. Both Fido and Fluffy can eat cucumbers, peas, strawberries, blueberries, seedless melons, and pumpkin.

On the other hand, onions, garlic, and chives are toxic to dogs and cats, so if you do grow them, you’ll want to do so in a spot your pet will not be able to access.

Cleaning Your Pet’s Things

If your cleaning list includes your pet’s items, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some tips. Hard items, like crates and rubber or plastic toys, can be cleaned with soapy water and disinfected with bleach or disinfectant spray. However, it’s essential that you let disinfectant products dry before your pet has any access to something to which they've been applied, and to be extra safe, you can also wash the item off with water after the product dries. If you use bleach, you should always wash it off thoroughly with water before your pet has access to the item again.

The CDC says while some people swear by vinegar as a safer alternative, it may not disinfect as well as products made for that purpose.

Meanwhile, soft items like your pets’ bedding and fabric-based toys can be cleaned and disinfected with the appropriate washer and dryer cycles.

Michelle Milliken

Michelle has a journalism degree and has spent more than seven years working in broadcast news. She's also been known to write some silly stuff for humor websites. When she's not writing, she's probably getting lost in nature, with a fully-stocked backpack, of course.

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