How To Store Cleaning Supplies Safely Away From Your Pets

Cleaning products can be hazardous to your pet's health. While some cleaning products may be marketed as pet safe, that doesn't mean pets should be able to access them. And others could be very dangerous.

What Happens When Pets Get Into Cleaning Products

Pets can access cleaning products, which may result in getting the products on their fur, in their eyes, or consuming them. Generally, surface cleaning products won't cause serious harm. Dogs that ingest these types of products, such as sprays for your windows, will have symptoms limited to vomiting and diarrhea as their body clears itself of the substance.

But some household cleaning products are more dangerous, such as concentrated dishwasher packs, oven cleaners, concentrated toilet cleaners, and drain cleaners. Products with the word "CAUTION" may be less hazardous, but be on high alert with products that have a "DANGER" warning sign. These products can be corrosive or caustic and cause chemical burns, which can lead to tissue damage and even death.

Safe Storage And Use Is Key

Cleaning products can cause discomfort or death for your pets, and it's best to keep them well out of reach or under locks.

  • Put cleaning products up high. Think about where you're storing your cleaning products. If they're in a lower cabinet, closet, or other area easily accessible by pets, there's always a chance they could get into them.
  • Lock them up, just in case. Even if you're storing cleaning products high enough that pets shouldn't be able to reach them, some pets can still get there. For example, cats might be able to jump up on counters and paw open cabinets. Use locks to keep cleaning products secure, such as child proof latches for sinks.
  • Keep labels on cleaning products and chemicals. Just in case your pet accesses a cleaning product, you'll want to be able to read the label and find out how dangerous it is and what precautions or actions you should take if they are exposed to it. Store cleaning products in their original packaging so they are secure and easy to read.
  • Don't leave cleaning products unattended. You might be cautious about storage of cleaning products, but what about when you're actually using them? If you're leaving products out while you clean, then walk away for a few moments, that might be all the time your pet needs to lick cleaner off a table or knock over a bottle.
  • Use only what you need. Excess product leftover from not being wiped up all the way could be hazardous, too, so make sure you're finishing the job before pets have a chance to get to products.
  • Consider putting pets out of reach while cleaning. It can be tough to juggle cleaning and pets safely, so it may be best to put pets in another room as you're going through cleaning tasks.
  • Properly dispose of towels and rags. Don't forget that cleaning chemicals are on the paper towels or cleaning rags you used to clean, so those need to be secured as well. Put them in your washer right away, or if you're throwing away paper towels, go ahead and take out the trash right away and make sure your trash can is secured.
  • Be ready with emergency numbers. If your pet gets into contact with hazardous cleaning chemicals, you'll want to act fast. Having the numbers you need to get help readily accessible can save you valuable time. Call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. It's also a good idea to have your veterinarian's phone number handy, along with your local emergency vet.

Keeping your home clean is a healthy habit for you and your pets, but cleaning chemicals can be dangerous. Make sure they are inaccessible by storing them safely, and be prepared for any emergencies if your pets accidentally get access to your cleaners.

Susan Austin is a family research specialist with Family Living Today. A mother of three and small business owner in Texas, Austin spends her days juggling work and family life -- sometimes expertly, sometimes not.