By Mary Oquendo
What if I wanted to use natural cleaning and disinfecting products for my day-to-day cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting needs? Do they exist and are they effective?
The good news is yes, they do. However, some of these choices are not labeled for this practice, so we do not have a handy reference for proper use.
What is the difference between sanitizing, disinfecting, and cleaning?
Cleaning removes the biological material. Biological material is hair, blood, urine, feces, and dander. Biological material is a vector for transmission of bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic disease and illness. Sanitizing reduces the bacteria on surfaces to a level that is considered safe. Disinfecting kills the bacteria. The basic rule of thumb is sanitizers and disinfectants work better on clean surfaces.
Some Alternate Cleaning Suggestions
Good old soap and water. It removes the biological material. Anytime you use soap and water on your equipment, dry thoroughly and oil. Wash hands between dogs for at least 20 seconds.
UV sanitizers use ultraviolet light to sanitize equipment. The cons are that the light must reach the surface for twenty minutes. That’s for each side of the equipment.
A piece of ceramic tile to cool down blades. It will take a couple of minutes. However, clean, well-maintained blades will not get hot as quickly.
Rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide undiluted will sanitize. They need a minimum of ten minutes in order to be effective. Spritzing and wiping is not sufficient to sanitize. What is nice about these choices is they are easily biodegradable. Cats cannot metabolize hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol. Be certain to rinse thoroughly before allowing cats access to the area.
50% vinegar to 50% water is my cleaner of choice. If I want it to smell nicer, I add lemon, lime, or orange rinds.
Steam cleaners use high heat to disinfect and sanitize. It also has the benefit of being effective on porous surfaces such as grout.
Enzymatic based cleaners use “friendly bacteria” to remove “unfriendly bacteria.” This product will clearly state the directions on the label, as well as the amount of time necessary to do the job.
Baking soda mixed with a little water to form a paste will clean tubs.
Charcoal bags will absorb odors and prevent mold. They are inexpensive and easily sourced on Amazon.
Himalayan salt lamps will neutralize bacteria, allergens, and odors when heated with a candle or electric bulb. A heated lamp will separate the sodium and chloride ions. The negative chloride ions will attach to the positively charged toxins in the air and disable them. Keep a plate under the lamp, as salt lamps flakes when heated.
Plants such as Spider plant, English ivy, Lady palm, Peace lily, Boston fern, Snake plant, Golden pothos, Wax begonia, and Red-edged dracaena removes formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, as well as other air borne toxins. However, many plants are toxic to both dogs and cats.
Air circulation. Intake and outtake fans will remove many airborne contaminants.
As consumers are looking more to natural products, many manufacturers are accommodating that upcoming market. It has become easier to find ready made supplies.
Education. Learn about the ingredients in your products. Products destined for human consumers may or may not have complete listings. If that label is not complete, their website will list full ingredients. However, products destined for the pet industry do not have to list them all, even though humans (groomers) are using them.
Essential oils with antifungal and antibacterial properties. I am a long time user of such products, however, it is important to buy from manufacturers with integrity. Barbara Bird, creator of The Scented Groomer line of aromatherapy products for groomers, says, “With the tremendous surge in the popularity of aromatherapy and use of essential oils, the demand is straining the supply. Unfortunately this has resulted in the appearance of adulterated products or oils that have been stretched by the addition of cheaper oils or poor grade distillates. It is important to purchase essential oils from trusted sources and companies with a commitment to quality and a history with aromatherapy. Expect to pay more for products using good quality essential oils.”
Note —the reason cats cannot metabolize essential oils is because the have an altered gluconidation pathway in their livers. It means they lack many of the enzymes needed to process essential oils. Instead of eliminating them out of the body, these oils are stored in their livers. Over time, this can cause premature organ failure and other health problems. And due to less than stellar manufacturing protocols, even “safe” essential oils may pose a problem. A shampoo manufacturer may not even be aware of the standards of the company they are buying their oils from.
Essential Oil Cleaning Recipes
Add 4 tablespoons of vinegar with 12 drops of lemon oil in a 32oz spray bottle. Fill with water and shake before using.
Start with 2 cups of water; add 1/2-teaspoon sodium borate,
¼-teaspoon liquid castile soap, and 36 drops of your choice of either lemon, tea tree, eucalyptus, or lavender oil. Add to a spray bottle and shake before using. (Eucalyptus is my favorite.)
In a one-gallon bucket of warm water add 2 tablespoons unscented liquid soap, 4 drops of lemon oil, and 2 drops of tea tree oil.
To 1-cup of baking soda; add 24 drops of tea tree oil, and 24 drops of grapefruit oil.
Do I have cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products with chemicals in them? Of course I do and will use them if I think it is necessary. However, I prefer to use natural products for my daily use.