The Best Pet & Baby Safe Floor Cleaner

Our pets and our babies spend a lot of time on the ground, so it’s important to clean the floor with products that don’t contain harmful chemicals. We’ve found safe floor cleaning options that work to clean your floors without any harsh chemicals. 

Woman Mopping

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Both pets and babies have two things in common – they’re naturally curious and they’re closer to ground level than the rest of us. We just got a new puppy, and there’s a lot of licking the floor, lying on it and putting his nose right to the ground to sniff. The same was true when my kids were babies – they were crawling all around on the floor, putting their little faces close to the flooring, and even licking the floor – gross!

With our most precious little ones (furry or not) so close to the ground, it’s important to not expose them to harsh chemicals from floor cleaners. Your floor cleaner shouldn’t leave behind a harmful chemical residue. It also shouldn’t release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), an off-gassing of fumes produced by cleaning products.

A 2020 Canadian study found that chronic low-level exposure to cleaning products triggered asthma symptoms and caused chronic inflammation (1). With this in mind, there are ingredients in conventional floor cleaners that you’ll want to skip. Review the list below of ingredients to avoid:

INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN FLOOR CLEANER

  • Chlorine Bleach: a common household cleaner that can irritate the skin, nose, eyes, throat and lungs. Long-term bleach exposure can lead to asthma. Bleach is also highly reactive and can form other dangerous gases when it comes in contact with ammonia or acids such as vinegar.
  • Ammonia: Ammonia is caustic and very dangerous in concentrated form. Ammonia is a respiratory and skin irritant, and the fumes can also cause severe damage to your nose, throat, and lungs.
  • Phenol: Phenols are volatile chemicals that appear in most cleaning products that contain the suffix -sol. Concentrated phenols are are corrosive, so they can damage skin and mucous membranes, and they’re also toxic if ingested.
  • Glycol Ethers– Acute exposure to glycol ethers can cause liver or kidney damage, and it can also cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs. Glycol ethers, such as 2-Butoxyethanol, are dangerous to ingest or inhale in significant quantities.
  • Phthalates: Phthalates are used to give cleaning products a long-lasting fresh scent. Exposure to phthalates may disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system.
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds or “Quats”: Quats are known asthma triggers.
  • Sulfates: at concentrations greater than 2%, sulfates have been linked to skin irritation in humans and animals. Sulfate exposure, including Sodium Laureth Sulfate, can also cause eye and respiratory irritation. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).
  • Antibacterials: Triclosan may still be found in cleaners. These banned substances have been linked to endocrine disruption and antibiotic resistance.

The following two floor cleaners have minimal ingredients that get your floor sparkly clean without exposing babies and pets to harmful chemicals – Aunt Fannie’s Floor Cleaner is vinegar-based, and Eco-Me Floor Cleaner has a plant-based formula.

Aunt Fannie’s Floor Cleaner
Aunt Fannie's Floor Cleaner

  • From Aunt Fannie’s website: Pet-friendly, kid-friendly and leaping Bunny certified. For floors clean enough to eat off. Contains only vinegar, fresh essential oils & plant-based ingredients. Grabs even tough dirt and grime. Use with buckets, floor cleaning machines or spray bottles. Aunt Fannie’s Floor Cleaner gives new life to tile, linoleum, sealed hardwood, sealed stone, concrete and more. EWG A-rated for your safety.
  • Scents: Sweet Mandarin, Bright Lemon, Eucalyptus, Lavender
  • Ingredients: Distilled White Vinegar, Sugar Surfactant (Caprylyl/Myristyl Glucoside), Polyglyceryl-6 Caprylate, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate, Juniper Berry Oil, Mandarin Orange Peel Oil, Tangerine Peel Oil, Orange Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil

Eco-Me Floor CleanerEco-Me Floor Cleaner

  • From the Eco-Me website: Safe for your family and your pets. Get your floors sparkling clean with this naturally powerful, multi-surface plant-based concentrated Floor Cleaner. It breaks down dirt, food, grease and grime with its plant-based formula. It contains natural plant extracts and essential botanicals that leave floors feeling clean and residue free. Eco-Me Floor Cleaner is perfect for tile, stone, sealed wood, vinyl, linoleum,laminate and other sealed surfaces. It deep Cleans, Shines & Protects with no harsh chemicals or toxins left behind and no synthetic Fragrance.
  • Scents: Fragrance-free, Herbal Mint, Lemon Fresh, Citrus Berry
  • Ingredients: Water, Coco Glucoside (Plant-derived soap), Decyl Glucoside (Plant-derived Soap), Capryl Capryl Glucoside (Plant-derived Solubilizer), Leuconostoc (Radish Root Antimicrobial), Xanthan Gum, Natural Plant Essential Oils, Glyceryl Caprylate Caprate (Vegetable-derived Thickener), Potassium Sorbate (Food-grade Preservative).

THE BEST PET & KID SAFE FLOOR CLEANERS

HOW TO MOP WITH A MICROFIBER MOP

  • Start with a floor that’s well swept or vacuumed. For sweeping, I like the Full Circle Bamboo Broom – the less plastic parts a broom has, the better. This year, we bought on a Dyson V11 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, and it was one of the best purchases we’ve made in a long time. A vacuum without a cord is seriously the best, and this vacuum doesn’t take up much space and works extremely well. It also goes from hardwood to carpet with no problem – I highly recommend this vacuum.
  • My favorite mop has a bamboo handle, the Full Circle Microfiber Mop. To use the mop, simply wet the microfiber pad and wring it out (you’re aiming for damp). Attach the damp microfiber pad to the mop head.
  • Using a spray bottle, spray a small section of the floor with natural cleaning solution. I recommend either Aunt Fannie’s Floor Cleaner or Eco-Me Floor Cleaner. Follow the instructions on the back for adding to a spray bottle. Mop over the floor section you just sprayed. When the pad starts leaving behind traces of dirt, rinse it out in the sink, then wring any excess water out. Mop in an overlapping pattern back and forth. Just mop, rinse the pad and repeat. When you’re finished mopping, you can toss the microfiber mop head into the washing machine and dry at low heat.

DIY BUFF & SHINE

To buff and shine your floors after cleaning, use a one-to-one ratio of vegetable oil and vinegar in a Glass Spray Bottle With Silicone Sleeve.  Rub the formula into the floorboards with a soft rag. I love The Rag Co. Microfiber Rags.

CLEAN VERSUS DISINFECT – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Cleaning and disinfecting are two very different things.

  • Cleaning removes contaminants from a surface (like dirt on the floor), so sweeping the dirt off the floor is a form of cleaning.
  • Disinfecting kills pathogens. Pathogens are what can make you sick, like flu-virus particles and raw chicken juice.
  • Force of NatureForce of Nature is on EPA’s List of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19. Force of Nature is a broad-spectrum disinfectant and sanitizer that’s EPA registered for use in hospitals, ICUs, daycares, schools, veterinary clinics, gyms, restaurants & more. It kills 99.9% of germs: Staph, MRSA, Norovirus, Influenza A, Salmonella, and Listeria. It disinfects & sanitizes with no toxic chemicals and is kid and pet friendly. How does it work? Salt, chemical composition of the solution into two new ingredients. The Force of Nature Starter Kit contains: Electrolyzer with power cord (compatible with any household electrical outlet), Spray Bottle (12 oz), 5 Activator Capsules (each makes enough multi-purpose cleaner, disinfectant & deodorizer to last 2 weeks). Just add your own water right from the tap.

HOW TO USE A BISSELL STEAM MOP

If you want to kill germs and sanitize, a steam mop is a good option for eliminating 99.9% of germs and bacteria. Sweep or vacuum the floor first. Follow these steps to deep steam clean the floor with your Bissell Power Fresh Steam Mop:

  1. Fill The Bissell Steamer’s removable water tank with hot water. The Bissell comes with fragrance disks, and I would not personally use these (they may contain phthalates). The hot water is what cleans and kills germs.
  2. Place the water tank into position and select the steam control.
  3. Push the cleaner forward, releasing the steam.
  4. Pull back the cleaner back so the cleaning pad wipes away dirt and grime.
  5. Start at one corner, working from one side of the floor to the other, continuing the process until the entire floor is clean.

REFERENCES

  1. Parks, J. et al. Association of use of cleaning products with respiratory health in a Canadian birth cohort. CMAJ February 18, 2020 192 (7) E154-E161; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.190819

Woman mopping floor with microfiber mop