What Cleaning Products Are Not Safe for Pets?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

It’s no secret that pets make a lot of mess – both cats and dogs. From litter tracking and muddy paws to “accidents” that result in urine stains and persistent smells, pet owners tend to have their hands full if they want to keep their homes spotless. However, it can be difficult to find cleaning solutions that are effective against tough messes that pets make and yet made from pet-safe ingredients that won’t harm our four-legged besties. Still, when you know what to look for (or to avoid), you won’t have any issue finding the right type of  cleaning products for your pet-friendly household. 

What Cleaning Products Are Not Safe for Pets?

Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that can be harmful to animals if ingested, inhaled, or exposed to their skin. Here are some of the most commonly used cleaning products and substances that are generally considered as not safe for pets:


Bleach is used by millions of households worldwide. However it is highly toxic to pets and can cause respiratory issues, skin irritation, and gastrointestinal problems if ingested. Even the fumes can be harmful, so it’s best to steer clear of it.

Toilet Bowl Cleaners

Cleaning solutions intended for toilet bowls often contain strong acids or alkalis that can be corrosive and toxic to pets if ingested. If you have a cat that likes to play with the toilet (don’t ask me how I know this) avoid commercial toilet bowl cleaners altogether, otherwise keep the cleaning products safely tucked away out of your pet’s reach.

Oven Cleaners

An oven gets seriously dirty in no time, and you need a lot of “cleaning power” to remove layers of greasiness that accumulate all over it. In order to help clean that grime, oven cleaners are typically highly caustic and can cause severe burns or gastrointestinal distress if ingested. Keep your pets away from the kitchen when it’s cleaning time and vent out the space afterward.


Ammonia-based cleaners, such as certain glass and window cleaners, can be irritating to a pet's respiratory system and eyes. Inhaling ammonia fumes can be harmful. When using these, make sure ventilation is good and your pet’s not around while you’re cleaning.

To ensure the safety of your pets always read labels on cleaning products to understand their potential hazards. Of course, you should also keep cleaning products out of reach of pets, ideally in a locked cabinet. When using these products, make sure your pet is isolated in another room, and ensure the area is well-aired before allowing your pets back in. 

You can also opt for pet-friendly cleaning products or non-toxic natural solutions that are safe to use around pets and are based on powerful cleaning agents that are natural and chemical-free, such as enzymes.

I use  this enzymatic cleaner for my bathroom, as it is a bit more heavy-duty than your usual all-purpose natural cleaner, and it does a good job – even though it’s plant-based. Another great pet-friendly cleaning product that is a staple in my household is this  floor cleaner which makes both hardwood floors and kitchen tiles spotless. Just a heads up, though, it does smell a bit like vinegar (since it’s the main ingredient) but it dissipates rather quickly. 

In the end, whichever cleaning products you end up using, be sure to keep them out of your pet’s reach – just because something is not toxic for them, doesn’t mean that they should be sniffing about it. Ultimately, if you suspect your pet has ingested or come into contact with a harmful substance, contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal poison control hotline immediately for guidance.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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