How to Clean Your House Without Harming Your Cats
I was raised with a standard of cleanliness that some people would find incredible. You probably really could eat a meal off the floors of the house I grew up in. Did we have indoor animals? Yes -- a cat and a dog and at for a short time, several kittens. But my mother kept a very clean house. Suffice it to say that my brothers and I all like to clean -- we find it relaxing.
However, my mother cleaned with products that I would never use today. I'm too "green" or "anti-chemical." Back in the day, there was less information available about what is harmful and what is not. Even if I didn't have cats, I would still use very inert products. Because both of the humans in our household have allergies, I have become very familiar with products that are "free and clear" of scents, perfumes, and allergy irritating components.
Having cats in the house brings a whole new variable into the picture. Cats are much smaller than we are. It is possible that chemical interactions we don't even understand have a much greater impact on a cat than on a full grown human. For example, some veterinarians suspect that the flame retardant in furniture or carpets accounts for hyperthyroidism in cats. Cats' paws also come into contact with a lot of surfaces. And, they lick those paws. If you're concerned about the effects of commercial housecleaners on your cats -- keep it simple.
I'll admit, I was brainwashed by cleaning advertising at first, but that has long since fallen by the wayside. If I can clean in the simplest way possible, I'll do that. I think my house is pretty clean. Here's how I approach cleaning:
Keep it simple
If you're washing windows, a simple solution of water and a little dish soap (very very little, so the solution doesn't streak) will do the trick. And so will plain water or water and vinegar. I hate to spray anything in the air where my cats (or we) can inhale it. If you want to dust furniture, you can use a damp rag rather than spraying on some product. A rag right out of the washer is the perfect moisture for picking up dust. If you do a lot of laundry (which cats can sprawl upon, depending upon where it goes after washed), you can avoid scented fabric softeners, and use laundry soap without the cloying fragrances. Your floor can also be washed with water and just a little dish soap. I use 7th Generation Free and Clear dish soap and laundry powder in my home.
Clean in a way that won't harm your cat
By this I mean that I try to do a lot of cleaning that does the job, yet doesn't harm the cat with exposure to products. I rely heavily on vacuuming, and I have a really good vacuum with a HEPA filter. It's a Dyson, and I love seeing all the hair it pulls up.
I also rely on dusting. We do have a small house and it's easy to keep clean. I'd probably drive myself crazy trying to keep a larger place clean to my standards (thanks, Mom!).
Clean the litter box every day
Cat boxes get cleaned every day, because I want the house to smell nice, and it's an easy and effective thing to do. Once, I used cat box liners. I no longer do so -- I don't want to add more plastic to the landfill, and I don't like the scent. Instead, I clean the boxes when needed with hot soap and water. I also, personally, prefer unscented litter. The cats don't seem to mind and if you really stay on top of the litter boxes, you won't need perfumed litter. I use a brand called Cattails. I have tried some of the greener products (such as a product made of wheat), but one of the cats liked to eat it, so that didn't work out.
Green products are expensive, sure -- so use less!
Long ago, when we began to shift to greener products, I balked at the price. I imagine this happens for a lot of us. But my priorities have shifted. I feel much better physically, and my cats generally are healthy and often live a long time. In fact, my vets have commented on how long some of my cats have lived.
If you're making the shift and the price tag is getting to you, try using the products without overdoing it. Very little soap is needed to wash the floor, for example. See if you can use a little less laundry soap than the recommended amount. My experience has been that once I switched over, I would never go back to the products I used to use.
If you clean up your act as to what cleaning products you use, you may be surprised if you notice new sensitivities when you're exposed to those products. For example, I usually clean my windows with water and a tiny bit of 7th Generation free and clear dish soap. When I got lazy the other day and grabbed Windex, the scent of it instantly made me sneeze. I could smell it in the air at least an hour later. If we react to this stuff, think what it might be doing to our cats.
What do you clean house with? What do you think are good housecleaning products to use if you have cats or pets in the home? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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