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Is Hand Soap Toxic to Cats? Vet-Reviewed Risks & Alternatives

Written by: Cassidy Sutton

Last Updated on July 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

person's hand holding a hand soap bottle

Is Hand Soap Toxic to Cats? Vet-Reviewed Risks & Alternatives


Dr. Nia Perkins Photo


Dr. Nia Perkins

Vet, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Sometimes, our cats like to stick their noses where it doesn’t belong and taste our deliciously scented cucumber watermelon hand soap. Or maybe your cat got some on her paw and tried to lick it off.

Hand soap isn’t genuinely toxic to cats, but it does irritate their GI system. Too much ingestion of soap, and you may have to take a trip to the vet. In any case, it makes you wonder if there are better cleaning options available, so you don’t have to take an emergency trip to the vet.

There are plenty of hand soaps and household cleaners that are non-toxic to cats. So if you have a cat that likes to lick things, keep reading.

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Soap Ingredients Toxic to Cats

Many household cleaners have toxic chemicals that are harmful to cats. You don’t have to worry about hand soap so much. Your kitty may get an upset stomach depending on how much she consumed. Still, it’s good to know which soaps to avoid if you have a curious kitty.

  • Bleach
  • Ammonia
  • Glycol Ethers
  • Phthalates (fragrance)
  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Formaldehyde
  • Phenol
  • Triclosan
  • Anionic and cationic surfactants
  • Some essential oils

As you can imagine, this isn’t a comprehensive list. But these ingredients can be found in many household cleaners like disinfectant spray and toilet cleaner. If you have pets, sometimes it’s best to go the old-fashioned natural route and DIY your cleaners.

sick grey tabby cat
Image Credit: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

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Homemade Pet-Safe Cleaners

The great thing about these homemade cleaners is that they’re cheap in addition to being pet-safe! They don’t cost an arm and a leg. Plus, they’re easy to make. You might have these ingredients somewhere in your house already. If so, you can have effective cleaners for all parts of your home in two minutes or less.


There’s a reason why your grandma always had this in her pantry. Vinegar is a natural and powerful anti-bacterial cleaner. It also has anti-fungal properties that help with getting rid of mold. You can use white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Both are non-toxic to cats and help keep your house squeaky clean.

Baking Soda

This is a tried-and-true cleaner that is safe around your cat. Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate and is excellent for absorbing odors and scrubbing tough stains. Baking soda is more alkaline, the opposite of acidic, so it’s paired wonderfully with vinegar to boost effectiveness.

baking soda
Image Credit: NatureFriend, Pixabay

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide has many uses around the home. Not only is it a great teeth whitener, it’s also perfect for removing tough stains and killing mold. Hydrogen peroxide is a mellow oxygen-based bleach with antiseptic and antifungal properties. Although it’s bleach-based, it turns into water and oxygen as it breaks down. You don’t have to worry about your cat consuming toxic chemicals.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a wonderful addition to tea, water, and natural cleaning products. It’s a great antibacterial and antifungal agent. It’s not as strong as vinegar, but it still gets the job done. Plus, there’s no lurking vinegar smell. Lemon juice is great for breaking down tough stains, lime, calcium deposits, and soap scum.

Castile Soap

Castile soap is a plant-based soap with no synthetic ingredients or animal fats. This soap is wonderfully versatile and great for making homemade hand soap. You can find this soap in liquid form or bar form. Either one is non-toxic for cats! If you use this soap to make homemade hand soap, make sure you dilute it. The ratio for hand soap is 2 tbsp castile soap per 12 oz of water.

pump green glass bottle with liquid castile soap
Image Credit: LuminoOne, Shutterstock

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5 Other Non-Toxic Cleaning Brands for Pets

Maybe the DIY route isn’t for you. No problem! Here are five non-toxic cleaning brands you can switch out for a healthier home and peace of mind.

1. Meyer’s

Mrs. Meyer's Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap, Cruelty Free Formula, Honeysuckle Scent

Most people know about Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products. They have a wonderful collection of hand soaps! Their products are made with plant-derived ingredients, essential oils, and other formulated ingredients that attack dirt and grime but won’t harm your kitty. All their products are cruelty-free and come packaged with recycled materials.

2. Bean & Lily

Bean & Lily Floor Cleaner - Cedar & Cypress

Bean & Lily doesn’t waste any time. They list their ingredients on their website for customers to see. Bean & Lily believes in cleaning without harming the environment, and that includes your little fluff ball. Their natural liquid hand soap is 100% safe for your cat, plus they sell a variety of other cleaners for the house.

3. Puracy

Puracy Natural Body Wash

Puracy strives to make natural products that are safe around kids and pets and effective as well. Their products are 99.3% plant-based and are safe for sensitive skin. Puracy not only sells home cleaners, but they also sell pet products! None of their products contain harmful ingredients and are cruelty-free.

4. Eco Me

Eco-Me All Purpose Cleaner

Eco Me wants to remove toxic chemicals from people’s homes to protect our bodies, our planet, and our pets. Eco Me is PETA vegan-certified, cruelty-free, and is 100% safe to use around your cat. They have a great collection of hand soaps, foaming, and non-foaming.

5. Better Life

Better Life Hand and Body Soap, Clary Sage

Better Life is another plant-based cleaning company started by concerned pet parents. All of their cleaning products are mineral-based, cruelty-free, and biodegradable. They have a variety of cleaning products, including hand soap.

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Final Thoughts

When you introduce a pet into your home, you start to think differently about how you clean. All the products listed above are safe around your cat, but it is best to keep them out of their reach as a general recommendation. But if your curious critter decides to try a taste or gets some on its fur, you can relax knowing that your kitty will be okay.

Featured Image Credit: Sarah Chai, Pexels

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