Using our Fantastic Four list of green cleaning ingredients (baking soda, vinegar, salt and lemon juice) is great in a variety of cleaning situations. But since these ingredients are nontoxic and safe to use around animals, they make special sense in households with pets.
From cleaning pet litter to bath time, check out these green pet cleaning tips to naturally sanitize your pet pad.
First up, learn how to green clean up accidents and odors without using harmful bleaches and toxins.
Accidents and Odors
If your pet has had an accident, scrub the area with club soda as soon as possible and let it dry. Then sprinkle the area with baking soda and let it stand to help control odors. After an hour or so, vacuum the rug thoroughly.
If a stain or discoloration remains, apply a generous amount of lemon juice to the area; let it soak for about 15 to 30 minutes. When the stain is removed, rinse the area well and blot it thoroughly. Another remedy to try is a paste made with lemon juice and cream of tartar, followed by the same rinsing and blotting technique.
After the stain removal, deodorize if necessary by rinsing the area with a vinegar and water solution. It's important to remove the odor -- doing so helps give your pet the signal that they should not do the same thing in that spot again.
If the accident was fairly small, say, a simple spot of urine on a rug, it can be cleaned up by applying straight vinegar to the area with a sponge or rag. Let it dry, then spend some time giving your pet a refresher course in potty training.
Does Whiskers smell funky? Has Mr. Sprinkles gotten into something rank? Baking soda is a great option for dry bathing your pet. This is especially helpful since most cats hate water.
To dry bathe your dog or cat, sprinkle your pet's coat with baking soda, then give the coat a good rubdown with your hands. Next, use a gentle brush to spread the baking soda throughout the coat until the baking soda is gone. And since it is nontoxic, there's no need to worry if your pet takes a liking to its taste.
If you want to minimize soap residue when using other dog-washing methods, add a little vinegar to the rinse water after the bath, then rinse your dog again with plain water.
Perhaps your dog has a favorite pillow it snuggles up with. This is all well and good, but every now and then you might want to make it smell a little less doglike. You can do this by sprinkling the bedding with baking soda, letting it stand 15 minutes, then vacuuming thoroughly.
Clean the cat litter pan by removing the soiled litter and pouring in 1/2 inch vinegar. Let it stand for ten minutes or so, then pour out and dry. To control odors before filling again, sprinkle 1/2 cup baking soda over the bottom of the pan.
Some people have environmental and health concerns about the type of cat litter available commercially. Pregnant women especially are at risk for a virus called toxoplasmosis, which can be contracted by handling cat litter, the litter box, or the box liner. Try to keep your cat's litter box area clean at all times to reduce the risk, but pregnant women should avoid handling anything to do with cat litter for the duration of their pregnancy.
If you're really ambitious, you can make your own natural cat litter. Just mix a small box of baking soda with two to three inches of dry, sandy clay soil.
The Flea Fight
You don't need to use a commercial flea shampoo to get rid of pesky fleas on your pet. The usual pet shampoos contain chemicals that we can all live without, and the truth is, soap and water will kill the fleas just fine -- the trick is to leave the soap and water on your pet for five to eight minutes.
Birds, Ferrets and Other Caged Critters
Most bird and rabbit cages, ferret houses, hamster homes, and the like can be adequately cleaned by wiping them down with a sponge sprinkled with baking soda or dampened with vinegar. Both of these are especially good with urine smells and stains. You might also want to add a thin layer of baking soda on the floor of the cage after cleaning to help control odors.
Fishy Fish Tank
When it's time to clean out the fish tank, clean the inside of the glass with plain noniodized salt by sprinkling it onto a damp sponge and scrubbing. This will remove hard water deposits or other buildup on the glass. Rinse everything well before returning the fish to the tank.
You certainly don't want to introduce strange organisms into your delicate aquarium, but you can still go out and collect some stones for the bottom -- just be sure to clean the stones thoroughly before adding them into your fish habitat. Clean the stones by scrubbing them with undiluted vinegar. However, if your rock fizzes up when you apply the vinegar, discard the stone, as it probably will affect the pH balance of your tank.