We hear a lot about allergens, carcinogens and toxic substances for us humans, but many don't realize our animals are even more sensitive to these than we are. They are lower to the ground, smaller (usually!), and they lick what gets on their paws and fur.
Ill and elderly animals are even more sensitive to chemicals. In addition, smells can be disturbing to animals at the end of life and limited mobility makes it difficult for them to leave an unpleasant environment. On the other hand, ill, special needs and elderly animals often require more cleaning than younger animals.
So what should you do? We strongly recommend all natural, home made cleaning products made from simple ingredients you may have at home or can easily get. Here are our top 5 favorites:
1. Distilled White Vinegar. This is the wonder cleaner. It cuts grease and grime, leaves surfaces sparkling, is low odor and completely safe to breath and ingest. Mix it half-and-half with water, put in a squirt bottle and use a clean cloth to wipe off.
2. Baking Soda. Another wonder cleaner. You can find it in bulk - and it's worth having because you will use a lot. Deodorize carpets with baking soda by putting a heavy layer (i.e. it should look totally white) on the carpet, leave for at least 15 minutes and vacuum. Sprinkle it on bathroom surfaces to clean instead of harsher chemicals and on a sponge as an abrasive for scouring. Add to the rinse cycle of your laundry as a fabric softener.
3. Lemon Juice. Add to vinegar solution or soap for a citrus smell. Also useful in cutting grease.
4. Salt. Works as a scouring agent and helps to remove stains.
5. Sodium Hexametaphosphate. OK this one sounds scary, I know, but it is actually a naturally occurring mineral that acts as a water softener and reduces soap scum. You can purchase it on line at Darma Trading Co. Odorless and good for heavy duty cleaning. Add to your laundry instead of bleach (reduce soap by half when doing so) and it will brighten whites AND colors safely. You will have to play with the concentration to find the right amount for your water, but start with 1/4 cup per 5 gallons of water. You can increase this up to 1 cup per 5 gallons. Use in your dishwasher (again, use half the dishwasher soap) to remove spots.
Animal-Specific Cleaning Solutions:
1. General Cleaning. Mix 1 teaspoon of liquid soap (NOT detergent - use a pure liquid castille soap available at most health food stores and many grocery stores) with enough water to fill a squirt bottle. If you like a citrus scent, add the juice of one lemon. Shake & use.
2. Glass Cleaning. Use a mix of 50% distilled white vinegar with 50% water in a squirt bottle. Add lemon juice for fragrance if you like.
3. Scouring/Removing Tough Dirt. Use a wet sponge with either baking soda or table salt.
4. Carpet Deodorizing. Put a heavy layer of baking soda on the carpet (should look completely white). Leave for at least 15 minutes or over night for heavy odors. Vacuum up. Repeat if necessary.
5. Blood Stains. Sponge with cold water. Dry with a towel. Repeat if necessary.
6. Urine Stains. Mix 3 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar with 1 teaspoon liquid castille soap - add lemon juice if you like a citrus fragrance. Rinse the urine with warm water, then apply the vinegar-soap solution. Let sit for 15-30 minutes, rinse and rub dry with a clean cloth.
7. Removing Odors from Laundry. Add a cup of baking soda or a cup of distilled white vinegar to your laundry. This will remove odors without adding any fragrance.
8. Softening Laundry. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle.
If you want the complete guide to safe products for all aspects of your home, pick up a copy of Home Safe Home by Debra Lynn Dadd. This is the bible of non-toxic home products.
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