Sometimes we do for others what we won't do for ourselves. It was not until I had babies that I started to care about the toxicity of my environment, and I then made the switch to natural cleaning products. At the time, I didn't even think about what impact the "traditional" products I was using were having on my pets, but as I did more research and gained knowledge about the dangers of commonly used household cleaners, I began to realize that these products have an equal or greater impact on our animals. But, why?
Pets are closer to the ground. Floor cleaners and other household products often contain harmful toxins. Our pets' paws absorb these toxins even after the floor has dried. Our pets also lay on the ground, sniff the ground, and even sometimes lick the ground. They lay on the floor and lick their fur and their paws. Each time they get a dose of whatever cleaning products we used that have accumulated on them by walking or lying around. They are absorbing chemicals through their skin, mouth, and respiratory system.
They breathe the same air we do. Almost all household cleaners become airborne when we use them, so we breathe them in. Pets are even more susceptible to these the toxins in the air than we are. They don't understand that breathing in chemicals should be avoided, and since they are smaller and have faster metabolisms than we do, they process the chemicals at a faster rate.
They love their blankies. Laundry detergent used to wash pet blankets, beds, or other fabric your pet comes in contact with can be harmful. Pets rub their faces on these fabrics and some even chew on them, putting them at greater risk.
Pets lick their plates clean. Most dishwashing detergents contain harmful chemicals. It's bad enough that we're eating our food off of these dishes. Pets take it to the next level. Some lick and lick and lick...and lick their feeding dishes until not a morsel is left behind. If you're washing your pet's dish in a "traditional" dishwashing detergent, you're exposing him to these harmful toxins.
Their palates aren't discriminating. Not only to pets lick the floor or lick their fur and paws after being on the floor, they may also taste things we wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. Consider a dog who drinks out of the toilet. That's pretty gross in and of itself, but when you stop to think that he is likely ingesting the harsh, toxic toilet bowl cleaner you used, the prospect is frightening.
The most common toxins found in household cleaners are bleach, formaldehyde, ammonia, and chlorine. Regular exposure to these can put our pets (and us) at risk for cancer and liver and kidney damage. Even after the cleaners are sealed and put away, the residue and vapors remain and continue to be a risk. So what can we do?
The solution is not one-size-fits-all.
We can just not clean. While that may sound like a relief at first....eh...not so much. Try this for a couple of weeks and you'll be back.
Make your own cleaners. There are a gazillion great recipes out there for natural soaps and cleaners using baking soda, lemon, vinegar, etc. This is an EXCELLENT option, both in terms of health and economics. I tried, but just didn't have the patience for it. It came down to convenience for me. It's difficult enough to find the time to clean the house, much less produce the cleaners.
Purchase the natural cleaners at the supermarket. Another great option, but just read the labels and know what is in each product. There are some truly natural cleaners out there, and then there are the posers. Stay away from the posers. I tried just about every single natural cleaner on the market. Most were at least twice as expensive as Clorox and the like, and they were not as effective, in my opinion. If you've got lots of extra money and don't notice the difference, this is a great option for you.
Purchase your cleaners from a wellness company. I was super happy when I discovered Melaleuca. Are they perfect?–no, but their cleaners don't contain any chemicals, and they are economical. Plus, they are super convenient, delivered right to your door. This was a great option for our family.
Regardless of what option you choose, it's important to consider your pets' health when selecting which cleaners to use. We love our pets, and keeping them safe is a top priority. If their environment is as free of toxins as it can be. That means fewer visits to the vet and a longer, healthier life! If you're going to drink out of the toilet, at least drink responsibly.
If you'd like to learn more about Melaleuca, the Wellness Company, or the ways our family reduces toxins in our home for our pets and ourselves, please feel free to contact me.
This article written by me originally appeared on Hybrid Rasta Mama in April 2014.