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Pet-safe coronavirus cleaners

While the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt everyone’s lives- people are searching for ways to protect themselves, their families and their pets. (Your pet can’t get or spread it) Whatever your stance is- from self-quarantine, social distancing or acting ‘business as usual’- there are some things that everyone needs to do to safeguard their environments. Everyone has heard time and again about washing your hands thoroughly and using hand sanitizer ad-nauseam. 

Probably the only good thing about the coronavirus is that it is a pushover when it comes to disinfectants, and is easily killed with a variety of products. This goes for COVID-19 and all other coronas. There are lots of products that can be considered disinfectants. So, what should you use to protect your household or office- and how should I use them? Just as important- what products are safe for my pets?

Soap and Water

This may not sound very glamorous, let alone potent- but you don’t necessarily need a fancy name-brand product with bleach, hydrogen peroxide or ammonia to kill coronavirus. That’s why proper hand washing is our number one personal defense. If it works on your hands, it will work on other surfaces, too- if done correctly. The great thing about soap and water is it is readily available and in most cases is free of harsh chemicals and odors. It is also pet-friendly.

Before we get into the rest of your options, I must stress that everything below can pose a threat to your pets. Household cleaners are the #6 reason for calls to the pet poison hotline, so always use with caution- and with pets well out of the way until dry.

Bleach Solutions

If you do laundry at the house, you probably have bleach. Unfortunately it is becoming a scarce commodity at most stores these days. If you have some bleach- you can make your own solution to clean with.

Before working with bleach- ALWAYS use gloves, protective eyewear, and do not mix it or apply it in the presence of your pets. To mix your own bleach solution, mix 1/3 of a cup of bleach with one gallon of water. Use caution when applying- as bleach stains fabrics as well as certain types of painted surfaces.

Never- and I mean- NEVER- mix bleach with anything except water. Combining bleach with other chemicals will cause chemical reactions that can result in injury or death. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

Although not as strong as bleach, hydrogen peroxide also gets the job done. It does not need to be diluted, and is less likely to discolor or damage surfaces- except for some fabrics.  Apply liberally and scrub. Let dry on its own.

What about vinegar?

I’ve never been a fan of cleaning with vinegar, as I’m not a fan of the smell. Some people love cleaning with it, but there is no data that shows vinegar kills coronavirus. If you want to ensure you’re killing virus, choose another option. BTW, Vodka doesn’t work either.

Store-bought products

There are hundreds of products available to purchase which are effective against germs, bacteria and viruses. The EPA has compiled a list of approved products which can be found here. 

If you’re on social media- you may have seen some posts about Lysol being dangerous to pets. In reality, all cleaners are toxic to pets, some are worse than others. One of the active ingredients in Lysol is Phenol. Phenol is especially dangerous for cats- but can also be problematic for dogs. Cats can absorb phenol through the air, through their mouth by licking or through their skin. Cats cannot process phenol, and can lead to many problems, including liver failure.  Phenols are found in lots of products ranging from household cleaners to essential oils. I wrote about the dangers of essential oils to cats in an earlier blog.

Almost any over-the-counter cleaner is likely to pose some form of danger to your pet. To be entirely safe, pets should be kept out of the areas being cleaned until the entire area is cleaned and dry. 

Put some effort into it

It’s best to use a little elbow grease when battling the coronavirus. Scrub the surface you are cleaning- and ensure the entire surface is wet. Don’t use a dry rag or paper towel to dry it. Let the surface dry on it’s own. Some products, like Clorox wipes recommend treated surfaces to remain wet for a period of at least 4 minutes.  Follow the manufacturers instructions- Always.

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