The best cleaning products to use around pets

Throughout my life, there have been dogs, cats, ducks, bunnies, fish, and turtles that each played a special part in our family's history. As nature took its course, I found myself without pets for a period. Then, just a year ago, I walked into our county animal shelter and one little face captured my heart. She came home with me that day and it has been a year of fun, love, laughter, and quite a few messes to clean up.

Since she is a small dog and spends most of her time inside, I started to think about the toxicity level of the cleaners I was using. It occurred to me that when she licked her paws or ate something that dropped on the floor, she was ingesting some of the floor cleaners.

Just as some chemicals are toxic to humans, many chemicals regularly found in household cleaners are toxic to pets. Chlorine, ammonia, isopropyl alcohol, formaldehyde, and phenols are quite dangerous if ingested by animals. Many aerosol cleaners and air fresheners are toxic to a bird's respiratory system. A smaller animal's respiratory rate is faster than humans and they can suffer more toxic exposure. Indoor pollution, much of which is caused by household cleaners, can put pets at risk for liver and kidney damage, anemia, and cancer.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center answers hundreds of thousands of calls about the possible exposure of pets to poisonous substances. Of these calls, 10 percent are due to household products and 15 percent to insecticide exposure. Almost all pet poisonings nationwide are accidental poisonings in our homes.

Just as young children don't understand the dangers of some products, neither do animals. Even if they don't ingest the chemicals, pets can suffer burns to the skin and eye damage. The first line of defense is to keep all cleaners in closed cabinets or on high shelves. If you have an animal that chooses to drink from the toilet bowl, do not use a continual cleaning product and keep the lid closed at all times. Dispose of empty cleaning containers promptly and properly.

It is pretty simple to keep a clean home without using harsh chemicals. I've searched out the least toxic cleaners that still do a good job for areas of your home that most affect your pets. I've been reading ingredient labels and testing floor cleaners, carpet shampoos, laundry detergents, wipes, and insecticides for many years as a home economist for companies and publications. I'm always looking for the most effective, easiest to use, safest, and the best value in products for myself and others, including my dog.

Here are the best cleaning products to use around pets:

Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.

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The best pet-safe detergent for laundry

The best pet-safe detergent for laundry
Plant-based ingredients make Tide Purclean Unscented safe for pets but still leave you with clean, fresh laundry.

You probably don't think about how your laundry detergent affects your pet, but you should. Using a laundry detergent that is nontoxic to animals is especially important if you have a puppy or dog that likes to chew on fabrics. Choosing Tide Purclean Unscented will not only help keep your pet safe, but it will take care of tough stains on clothes.

Tide has long been a leading brand name in laundry detergents and one of the best in removing heavy-duty stains. Tide Purclean offers the same high level of performance as original Tide, but using 75% plant-based ingredients that are safer for your pets and the environment.

I use it for our laundry because my dog has sensitive skin. I don't need her scratching away due to blankets and bedding have detergent residue that contains dyes and irritants. I choose unscented but you can also pick Tide Purclean Honey Lavender that is scented with essential oils. With this product, I get clean laundry and she doesn't itch.

Here's an additional laundry room tip to protect your pet: Dryer sheets may do wonders for your clothes but they are toxic to cats and dogs. The ingredients coating the sheet can cause kidney failure and pulmonary edema when a pet chews on the sheet. If the animal ingests the polyester substrate sheet, an intestinal blockage can easily occur. Just be sure to dispose of used dryer sheets immediately and correctly.

Pros: Plant-based ingredients are less toxic to pets, performs well in removing tough stains, available in unscented and scented formulas

Cons: More expensive than some detergents

Buy Tide Purclean Unscented Laundry Detergent in a two-pack of 50-ounce bottles on Amazon for $15.99

The best pet-safe cleaning wipes

The best pet-safe cleaning wipes
Clorox Anywhere Wipes are strong and sturdy enough to clean-up messes, safe to use around kids and pets, and require no rinsing of the surfaces after use.

When spills and accidents happen on floors, having something handy that is disposable, does a good job, and is safe for pets is invaluable. Clorox Anywhere Wipes fit all of those criteria.

Many wipes contain bleach that is toxic to pets if they lick the damp area (and they always do). Clorox Anywhere Wipes is an unscented, nontoxic plant-based cleaner that I find to be strong enough to handle most messes. While they do not disinfect surfaces, the wipes are antibacterial and safe to use on most surfaces like hardwood, vinyl, marble, and plastics.

I keep a canister of the wipes near the feeding station to take care of spills promptly and one near the back door so I can use a wipe to clean muddy paws. They save me the much larger job of mopping the floor!

On Walmart.com, Clorox Anywhere Wipes has a 4.4-star rating and mostly favorable reviews from customers. If you shop at Petco, you'll find these same wipes under the Clorox Pet Solutions brand — same product, same excellent results.

Pros: Nontoxic to pets, strong and durable wipes, safe for most surfaces

Cons: Improper disposal of the wipe can cause a choking hazard for a pet

Buy Clorox Anywhere Wipes in a 75-count canister from Walmart for $5.18

The best pet-safe cleaner for floors

The best pet-safe cleaner for floors
Floor cleaners end up on paws and paws end up in your pet's mouth. With Method Squirt + Mop, you don't have to worry about your pet getting sick.

Floors take lots of abuse from outside dirt, food, and drink spills, but clean floors are essential to a well-kept home. I have found the perfect floor cleaners to keep my floors shiny and protect my pet: Method Squirt + Mop.

Most of my home floors are hardwood so I use Method Squirt + Mop for Hardwood (check out my other recommendations for people without pets, which I tested before switching to pet-safe solutions). But in the ceramic-tiled bathrooms and laundry room, where my pup eats, I use Method Squirt + Mop formulated for tile, vinyl, and laminate. Available in lightly scented Spearmint Sage or Lemon Ginger, it cleans and shines using nontoxic, plant-based ingredients. I love that I can literally squirt-on the solution and use a damp mop to clean floors with no sloppy bucket and no rinsing. And, I know that when my doggie walks on the wet floor she won't have any issues but a stern look from me.

Pros: Cleans floors with no rinsing needed, nontoxic, lightly scented

Cons: Refills are not available

Buy Method Squirt + Mop Spearmint Sage in a 25-ounce bottle on Amazon for $4.99

The best pet-safe carpet shampoo

The best pet-safe carpet shampoo
Carpet accidents happen but no pet should be exposed to toxic cleaners. With Nature's Miracle Advanced Deep Cleaning Carpet Shampoo you can have a clean carpet and a healthy pet.

I don't know about your pet, but mine chooses to head to the center of an area rug to have an accident. There's not a chance it will happen on an easy-to-clean tile floor or the edge of the rug. Always, right in the center.

In my previous homes, I had wall-to-wall carpet so I had to quickly learn how to keep the carpets clean and my pets, two boys, and me healthy. I've used carpet shampoos that reeked with a chemical odor that couldn't have been good for any of us. But then I found Nature's Miracle Advanced Deep Cleaning Carpet Shampoo that not only took care of pet odors and stains but is nontoxic to the animals and our own respiratory systems.

For wall-to-wall carpeting, I used Nature's Miracle Shampoo in a steam cleaner (following the machine's instructions). My carpets came out smelling fresh and looking clean and bright. The shampoo is low-foaming and contains a bio-enzymatic odor-locking formula to take care of embedded odors in the carpet fibers.

Now that I have area rugs, I still use it to spot-clean both rugs and upholstery. I give the bottle a good shake and blot the stained areas. You may notice a heightened odor while the fabric is wet, but let Nature's Miracle do its work: As the area dries, the odor will disappear. Since it contains no harsh chemicals, it's safe for my dog.

With more than 1,300 reviews and a rating of 4.2 stars, Nature's Miracle has mostly favorable reviews from customer. My favorite comment is from a customer who said the product effectively removed both stain and smell. This was important to her because if her puppy could still smell where he made a mess, the dog would continue to have accidents there.

Pros: Can be used with an electric carpet cleaner, with a mop, or as a spot remover, nontoxic, low-sudsing, lightly scented, performs well to remove stains and odor

Cons: Not readily available in mass-market stores

Buy Nature's Miracle Advanced Deep Cleaning Carpet Shampoo in a 64-ounce bottle on Amazon for $6.99

The best pet-safe insecticide

The best pet-safe insecticide
Zevo Ant, Roach & Spider Spray rids your home of unwanted pests while keeping your pets safe from poisoning.

Since there is a constant need to open the door for my pup to visit the backyard, other critters see the open-door policy as an invitation to come inside. While I respect all animals, there are just certain creatures that aren't welcome: ants, roaches, spiders, and flies, just to name a few.

I was always concerned about using insecticides and pesticides around my pets. I would crate them when applying treatments and wait for hours for everything to dry and just hope for the best. Then, I tested Zevo.

Available in several formulas, the product uses plant oils rather than chemicals to get rid of bugs. While effectively killing ants, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, spiders, flies, cockroaches, and beetles, it uses no imiprothrin, cypermethrin, or pyrethroids that are toxic to pets. While there is a non-aerosol trigger spray formula, the aerosol cans contain no butane or propane.

The sprays are lightly-scented and instantly effective. Just spray, wait a few seconds, and bugs are dead. You should wipe up the sprayed area with a paper towel because the spray can leave surfaces slippery.

Pros: Effectively kills insects, nontoxic to pets, available in several formulas for specific pests

Cons: Can leave surfaces slightly oily and slippery

Buy Zevo Ant, Roach, & Spider Spray in a 10-ounce can from Target for $6.99
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