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Pet-Safe Cleaning: A Guide to Natural Cleaning Supplies and Sustainable Practices

A clean kennel is essential for client satisfaction, health, and safety. Pet-safe cleaners are necessary to prevent the spread of disease, pests, and uninviting odors. For a chemical to be considered pet-safe, it must meet specific criteria that result in a safer product for the health and well-being of pets, humans, and the environment. 

What Are the Criteria for Pet-Safe Chemicals

Many cleaning products are too harsh or unsafe to use around pets. Pet-safe products need to allow pets to walk across recently cleaned surfaces without the risk of developing skin or respiratory irritation. To ensure the well-being of the pets under the care of your facility, look for non-toxic cleaning agents, biodegradable chemicals, irritation-free formulas, and low-volatility (low odor) chemicals. 

Additionally, to maximize the safe use of these products, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, you should make sure to not spray cleaning products in the vicinity of pets, as this increases the risk of irritation and adverse reactions. Instead, if pets are present in the vicinity, apply the cleaning solution directly to a rag. 

Non-Toxic Cleaning Agents

Cleaning agents used in pet facilities such as doggie daycares should be non-toxic and made from ingredients that are natural but still effective cleaners. Some common non-toxic cleaning agents include the following: 

1. Hydrogen peroxide: An effective sanitizer, hydrogen peroxide kills germs through oxidation. For best effect, allow hydrogen peroxide to sit on surfaces for at least 10 minutes at room temperature before removing.

2. Baking soda: a soluble salt (alkali) and mild abrasive that, when mixed with water, causes dirt, grease, and stains to lift away and dissolve from a surface.

3. Vinegar: A popular ingredient to mix with baking soda, vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps to neutralize odor and dissolve dirt, grease, and grime from surfaces. Additionally, according to a study published in the American Society for Microbiology, acetic acid is an effective disinfectant against a range of bacteria. 

4. Castile soap: A plant-based soap that is natural, non-toxic, and biodegradable, castile soap is a versatile cleaner that you can mix with water and use in a spray bottle or mop bucket. 

5. Lemon juice: The citric acid in lemon juice is an effective cleaner and deodorizer, especially on tiles, windows, counters, and hard floors.

Biodegradable Chemicals

A biodegradable chemical can broken down into their base components (ie. water, carbon dioxide, methane, etc.) by natural processes enacted by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. These microorganisms are unable to decompose non-biodegradable products, which causes significant accumulation of waste and leads to soil and water pollution. 

All of the above-mentioned non-toxic cleaning agents are biodegradable. Additional biodegradable cleaning ingredients include soap nuts, enzymes, corn starch, and plant-based surfactants. 

Irritation-Free Formula

Irritation-free formulas contain ingredients that have a low risk of causing skin or respiratory irritation. Avoid products with synthetic or harsh fragrances or preservatives. Look for non-irritating, baking soda or plant-based surfactants.

Low-Volatility (Low-Odor) Compounds

Cleaning products with low-volatility compounds have ingredients that release low, safer levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Examples of potentially harmful VOCs in cleaning products to avoid include naphthalene, formaldehyde, acetone, ethanol chlorine bleach, ammonia, and petroleum-based solvents.

Look for low-volatility cleaning compounds such as: 

  • Sodium citrate
  • Bicarbonate 
  • Plant-based surfactants and solvents
  • Silicates 

How Do You Know if a Cleaner is Pet-Safe? 

When choosing pet-safe cleaning supplies for your business, you’ll want to narrow down the list by looking for formulas that clearly state they are pet-safe. These labels should reflect that the company complies with government regulations and is tested for safety. 

Complies with Government Regulations

Depending on the ingredients in the product, cleaning label requirements are regulated by state laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA).

Tested for Safety

In choosing a pet-safe and environmentally-friendly cleaning product, you can look for the EPA’s Safer Choice label for chemical-based products that go through stringent human health and environmental criteria. According to the EPA, products with this label are considered “safer for families, pets, workplaces, neighborhoods, and the environment”. 

What Chemicals Should You Scrutinize the Most?

Disinfectants, odor neutralizers, pest repellants, and laundry detergents are all cleaning products that you should scrutinize the most. Make sure to thoroughly read the ingredients and check for pet-safe and the EPA’s Safer Choice labels.

Pet-Safe Disinfectants

KennelSol 1-Step Kennel Cleaner: biodegradable and EPA-registered, this disinfectant and                 deodorizer is effective against a range of pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This formula is specifically designed for, and widely used by, animal care facilities. 

Force of Nature Multipurpose Cleaner: utilizes electrolyzed water technology and just three ingredients- water, salt, and vinegar- to create a powerful cleaning product. Through the use of an electrical current passing through the water and salt, hypochlorous acid and sodium hydroxide are created. The result is an EPA-registered disinfectant and sanitizer that kills over 99.9% of germs using environmentally friendly and pet-safe ingredients. 

PureGreen24: with the EPA’s lowest toxicity rating, this pet-safe disinfectant uses silver ions and citric acid to eliminate a range of pathogenic microorganisms. Additionally, no ingredients in this product are on California’s list of toxic chemicals (CA Proposition 65).

Pet-Safe Odor Neutralizers

ECOS Pet Stain & Odor Remover: safer Choice certified, cruelty-free, non-toxic, biodegradable, and utilizes a plant-based and enzyme formula.

Biokleen Bac-Out Pet Stain Remover: uses natural enzymes, lime peel extract, and plant-based ingredients. This non-toxic, biodegradable, and versatile odor and stain remover effectively breaks down organic material and eliminates odors.

Nature's Miracle Stain & Odor Eliminator: pet-safe, enzymatic cleaner that is suitable for a range of uses in pet-care facilities, including in kennels, upholstery, and counters. 

Pet-Safe Pest Repellants

Vet's Best Flea and Tick Yard and Kennel Spray: pet-safe pest repellant designed to eliminate fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes in play yards and kennels. 

Ecologic Home Insect Control: utilizes plant and essential oil-based ingredients to target a range of insects commonly found in indoor environments. This product is great for use on a range of surfaces. 

Wondercide Flea, Tick, & Mosquito Spray: featuring a pet-safe formula with lemongrass and cedarwood oils, this pest repellant is great for use on pet bedding, upholstery, and carpeting. 

Pet-Safe Laundry Detergent

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent: EPA Safer Choice certified laundry detergent that utilizes a plant-based formula. 

ECOS Laundry Detergent: cruelty-free, EPA Safer Choice certified laundry detergent featuring a phosphate and dye-free, plant-based formula. 

9 Elements Natural Laundry Detergent: EPA Safer Choice certified, pet-safe laundry detergent with vinegar and citrus. This formula is free of synthetic dyes or preservatives. 

What is Toxic Use Reduction? 

Companies can implement a toxic use reduction plant to prevent and reduce pollution created through business practices. Environmentally friendly cleaning practices are best implemented through the creation and implementation of executive policies. When starting a pet business, it’s crucial to consider toxic use reduction. 

Your pet business can set toxic use reduction goals, identify and invest in safe cleaning products for staff to use, implement cleaner technologies (such as infrared, ultraviolet, and ultrasonic cleaning), and substitute hazardous chemicals for non-toxic and safer ingredients whenever possible.

Safety and Sustainability Start with Efficient Operations Managed by PetExec

Ensuring that your pet facility is consistently and thoroughly clean for your human and pet clients is crucial to maintaining excellent rapport and a safe business. Using PetExec, pet businesses can communicate about, manage, and streamline facility cleaning tasks by using the software’s must-have features for a pet business such as the scheduling and employee management functions. Staff can also keep updated through PetExec on any food allergies or sensitivities each pet may have, ensuring pets don’t eat certain foods that may upset their bellies and lead to additional cleaning tasks. 

Interested in learning more about how PetExec can help increase the safety and sustainability of your pet business? Sign up for our free self-guided demo or schedule a personalized demo with a PetExec team member. 

Commonly Asked Questions

Do non-toxic cleaners work? 

Yes, with the right ingredients, non-toxic cleaners can effectively clean, deodorize, and disinfect. 

How can I clean my business without toxic chemicals?

You can clean your business without toxic chemicals by looking for products with the EPA’s Safer Choice certification and by investing in plant-based, environmentally friendly products. 

What is a good natural disinfectant? 

A good natural disinfectant, such as hydrogen peroxide, can eliminate a wide range of pathogenic microorganisms. 


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