5 Best Pet Safe Floor Cleaners + DIY Tips

By Marilee Nelson |

5 Best Pet Safe Floor Cleaners + DIY Tips

If you have dogs, cats, or other furry pets, you'll want to consider what types of cleaning products you're using to clean the surfaces they sit on.

Your pets are particularly susceptible to injury due to their close proximity to the floor, so it's important to keep that environment safe for them! For the same reasons, babies and small children are also at greater risk of poisoning or injury.

Harsh chemicals found in floor cleaners, such as bleach, ammonia, and synthetic fragrance, can cause health problems for anyone. 

If you're a pet parent and are wondering how to manage your pet's environment safely, we've got you covered. Here, you’ll learn the five non-toxic pet-safe floor cleaners for all types of flooring, along with DIY options. Let's get started! 

Ingredients to Avoid in Floor Cleaners

If you're new to exploring pet-safe floor cleaners, you might be searching for terms synonymous with environmentally conscious options.

While that sounds promising, the realm of cleaning products labeled as environmentally friendly or green is often saturated with deceptive marketing tactics known as greenwashing.

(Greenwashing refers to marketing efforts aimed to make a product or company appear more non-toxic, environmentally friendly, or natural than they really are).

This means, just because a floor cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, etc. is labeled: “green”, “organic”, “made with natural ingredients”, “a blend of science and nature”, “vegan”, “not tested on animals”, “earth-friendly”, etc. doesn’t ensure it does not contain ingredients that can harm your pet.

As previously mentioned, pets are sensitive creatures (especially smaller pets) who cannot handle many common commercial cleaning ingredients. 

Here’s a list of ingredients to avoid in floor cleaners if you have pets:

  • Ammonia 
  • Bleach (chlorine, sodium hypochlorite) is problematic for pets when used in toilet bowls and floor cleaners and can kill smaller pets if too much becomes airborne.
  • Essential oils: You read right! Even all-natural, 100% pure essential oils can be toxic and/or irritating to cats and dogs. See Our Guide To Pet-Safe Cleaning for a list of which essential oils to avoid.
  • Ethanol
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals, including certain terpene-containing essential oils, which can react with ozone and create formaldehyde chemicals in the home. Learn more in: 23 Sources Of Formaldehyde To Remove From Your Home 
  • Glycol ether benzoic acid
  • Glycol ethers such as propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and diethylene glycol
  • Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • Perchloroethylene
  • Phenols, a type of chemical toxic to pets found in pine-scented floor cleaners
  • Phosphates 
  • Phthalates (found in synthetic fragrance)
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds (aka: Quats or Quacs). Quats are often found in disinfectant and ammonia-based cleaning products
  • Sulfates
  • Triclosan

Get more details on the dangers of these ingredients in: Our Guide to Pet-Safe Cleaning.

Being aware of these common cleaning chemicals is essential to keeping your pet—and your entire family—healthy and safe. However, cleaning product companies are not required to list all their ingredients on labels. Therefore, it can take some detective work to determine if a product is truly pet-safe.

How to Choose a Pet-Safe Floor Cleaner

Luckily, it's fairly simple to vet a pet-safe floor cleaner. Here's our best advice on how to find the products that are safe for your home and your pets: 

  1. Seek out brands that use safe and healthy formulas vs. mainstream chemical cleaning brands. 
  2. Check the label for any “Warning”, “Danger,” or “Poisonous” language or symbols. This does not necessarily indicate the product may be unsafe for pets but is worth noting.
  3. Use The Environmental Working Group’s Database to check the product’s toxicity score. Although this database is designed to analyze products for human safety, the score (1 being the least toxic and 10 being the most toxic) will give you a good idea of whether the product is worth further investigation for pet safety.
  4. If it passes the EWG test with a toxicity score of 1 or 2, inquire via the manufacturer’s website or by calling that all ingredients are disclosed on the label. Most manufacturers have a complete list of ingredients available on their website.
  5. From there, you can rule out any of the worst offenders from the list above and, if the product is safe, proceed with your purchase.
  6. If you’re still unsure or need verification, check with your veterinarian for their recommendation or blessing. 

You can also save time by using one of these five pet-safe floor cleaners and DIY options. Let's dive in: 

1. Branch Basics or Non-Toxic All-Purpose Cleaner

Non-toxic, all-purpose cleaners like Branch Basics are great options for keeping your floors squeaky clean for your furry friends. 

Branch Basics is a non-toxic, all-natural, Certified MADE SAFE®, EWG Verified cleaning product designed to replace every cleaner in your home, including floor cleaners.

Here’s how to use Branch Basics to clean your floors the pet-safe way:

  1. Use All-Purpose dilution for most types of tile and natural stone.
  2. For hardwood floors, dilute 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of Concentrate with 2 cups of distilled water. Place this solution in a spray bottle for use with a microfiber mop or directly into a spray mop for best results.
  3. For laminated vinyl plank and linoleum, combine 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Concentrate with 2 Cups of water and add to a spray bottle.
  4. For mopping, combine approximately 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Branch Basics Concentrate per 2 cups of water for hard floors.
  5. For carpet stains, always test Branch Basics in a hidden area first for colorfastness and compatibility. To remove a stain, spray All-Purpose directly on the spot and allow it to sit for 1-5 minutes. Agitate the area with a brush or rag until the stain disappears.
  6. For carpet cleaners, use 1/2 teaspoon Concentrate per cup of distilled water.

To learn more about the best tools and methods for non-toxic floor cleaning, check out: Branch Basics Ultimate Guide to Non-Toxic Floor Cleaning (it’s easier than you think).

2. Steam Mopping

Steam mopping is a wonderful way to clean almost any type of floor with no chemicals or cleaning products.

The only downside to using a steam mop for pet-safe cleaning is you’ll need to take care around curious pets, as the steam can cause severe burns.

We like the Hoover (steam) mops. 

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using these mops to clean the floor, and always use distilled water to extend the life of the mop.

If you purchase a new steam mop, we recommend using the sunning method to speed up the outgassing of VOCs before use.

If you use a steam mop that has been used with harmful chemicals, it is necessary to wash it out and outgas it from the chemical smell before use.

Generally, steam mopping is appropriate for all types of flooring, but check with the manufacturer to confirm.

Related Reading: 7 Floor Cleaner Alternatives

3. Vinegar + Water

All-natural distilled white vinegar is a popular DIY hack for non-toxic floor cleaning. Plus, vinegar is safe to use around dogs, cats, and most other pets.

Vinegar contains natural acetic acid, which breaks down dirt and grime while acting as a natural degreaser.

Vinegar also has natural sanitizing properties and has been shown effective in killing: 

  • E. Coli,
  • Salmonella,
  • And Listeria monocytogenes.

To make your own vinegar-based, DIY pet-safe cleaner, combine 50% vinegar with 50% water in a spray bottle or spray mop, and mop as you go.

Note: Although vinegar is safe and non-toxic, it is highly acidic. Therefore, undiluted vinegar should be kept out of the reach of children and pets.

If anyone in your home is sensitive to smells or has a respiratory issue, it’s best not to make vinegar or vinegar solutions airborne by spraying. Instead, try wiping it on versus spraying, and keep the windows open when you do.

To learn more about how to use vinegar around the house, including a recipe for a vinegar-based flea spray, check out: 12 Ways To Use Vinegar In Your Home.

4. Lemon Juice + Water 

Lemon juice contains natural antimicrobial acids and enzymes, making it an effective, non-toxic, and pet-safe floor cleaner for most types of tile and vinyl flooring.

Acidic cleaners, such as lemon juice, may not be suitable for hardwood floors, concrete tiles, natural stone, marble, or unglazed quarry stone.

To use lemon juice as a pet-safe DIY cleaner on tile, vinyl, or linoleum:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with either 100% fresh or bottled lemon juice or a 50:50 mixture of lemon juice and water.
  2. Spray onto floors and wipe clean.

5. Liquid Castile Soap + Water For Hardwood Floors

Pure, unscented liquid castile soap, like Dr. Bronner’s Baby, is an excellent ingredient to use in DIY, pet-safe, floor cleaner.

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Combine 1 teaspoon Dr. Bronner’s Baby with 1 quart (4 cups) of water.
  2. Add to a spray bottle or spray mop, mop your wood floors, and let dry completely.

If you wish, add a few drops of a pet-safe essential oil for a gentle, all-natural scent.

Tips To Minimize Risk To Your Pet When Cleaning

Even the most natural and non-toxic cleaning products, like those listed above, could cause harm if your pet swallows them, splashes them in their eyes or lays down in them.

Although the risk of a severe reaction is much less compared to chemical cleaning products, it’s still wise to take precautions.

Here are some tips to minimize risk while cleaning:

  • Keep your pets in a separate room or outside (if possible) when cleaning.
  • Always maintain good ventilation by opening windows, running a fan and/or air purifier.
  • Let surfaces dry completely before letting your pet in.
  • Keep all products out of reach of pets.
  • Call your vet or poison control if your pet ingests any products, natural or not.

The same advice applies to babies and young children; better safe than sorry!

Toss the Toxins With Branch Basics

Our pets provide us with so much unconditional love and health benefits. In return, we should strive to provide them with the healthiest and safest environment possible.

By eliminating toxic floor cleaners in favor of the top five pet-safe floor cleaners listed above, you’ll help avoid accidental poisonings while safeguarding your pets (and the entire family) from the possible health detriments of cumulative chemical exposure.

If you’re doubtful that cleaning chemicals pose true long-term health risks, we invite you to check out: The Most Toxic Cleaning Products To Avoid + Non-Toxic Swaps.

Interested in using Branch Basics as a pet-safe and human-safe cleaning system? 

Click here to check out our Starter Kits designed to replace every cleaning and laundry product in your home.
Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.