Down streets, avenues and cul-de-sacs across the country; houses are opening their windows, garages and lofts to commence the big spring clean. Weekly car boots are upon us; we’re dedicating time to sift through bric-a-brac for charity; we’re multi-tasking unlike ever before – all the while our pets and children are quite literally running (dusty) rings around the chaos.
With this in mind, we must take time to consider how the annual spring clean will affect the smaller beings – furry or otherwise. Because, as we know, many commercially available cleaning products will contain ingredients with the potential to cause harm.
In preparation, you may want to consider the following…
Always check product labels – even if it’s a brand you regularly buy. Manufactures may amend their product ‘recipe’ or formulas to something unfamiliar or higher in toxicity, without notifying consumers. If you are unaware of the chemicals listed in your chosen products, or you suspect they may be harmful, research what they are.
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Ingredients such as bleach, ammonia, chlorine, glycol ethers and formaldehyde are thought to be particularly harmful to pets and can leave behind vapours which are harmful to humans. Try your best to avoid using products which contain any of these substances.
Approach with caution.
Remember, words such as ‘eco’, ‘green’ or ‘safe’ do not necessarily indicate that the product is wholly free of noxious ingredients that may take effect on the respiratory system or environment.
Why not try using an alternative to commercially available household cleaners? Simple, inexpensive and non-toxic, natural agents such as baking soda, lemon juice and salt and vinegar may just do the trick! To try out efficiency, why not start off with one of these combinations:
- Wash windows with a mixture made up of four tablespoons of lemon juice and half a gallon of warm water.
- Mop floors with a solution made up of one cup of vinegar to one gallon of warm water (note: this tip isn’t ideal for marble or limestone flooring!)
- Make a paste with baking soda and water to clean the kitchen or bathroom, with a dash of salt and elbow grease applied to tackle stubborn grime.
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If you’re including the garden in your big spring clean (let’s be honest, the British BBQ prep isn’t going to do itself) then be aware that the chemicals which kill weeds or irritant bugs can also harm your pets. Avoid use of any strong fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides in every area your pets are likely to go.
Making these changes to your normal routine can feel overwhelming, so take it step by step. Start with introducing non-toxic cleaning agents specifically in the rooms where your pets – and kids – spend most of their time.
If you want to continue using commercial cleaning products, remember to ventilate rooms well, use advised dilutions and measurements and always rinse as thoroughly as you can. Lastly, never mix cleaning products; it’s incredibly unsafe. Mixing bleach and ammonia, for example, will produce toxic vapours that can cause serious injury.
Pet Hygiene: extra tips
- Avoid using any ammonia-based products, as the smell may encourage your pet to ‘mark the area.’
- Never use bleach when a pet soils the carpet or floors – the ammonia in the urine will react with bleach and produce harmful fumes.
- When cleaning floors, try to prevent pets from walking across them until they are completely dry – as pets groom their paws and fur with their tongues, they may ingest something they shouldn’t.
- If your pets are prone to drinking from the toilet, avoid any in-the-bowl toilet cleaners, or keep the lid closed.
- Avoid cleaning pet cages and fish tanks in your kitchen sink – to avoid any nasty cross-contamination. Clean them outside if you can, using a bucket of fresh soapy water, or a pet-friendly detergent.
- Always keep cleaning products safely stored away, with caps screwed on tightly, to avoid accidental ingestion.
- Pregnant women should avoid cleaning cat litter trays, as a harmful parasite in cat’s faeces can cause toxoplasmosis. If there is no alternative, wear rubber gloves or wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. If you have an outdoor cat, avoid gardening without gloves!
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