Several years ago, an Internet meme suggested that Swiffer Wetjet cleaning fluid is toxic to pets. The meme took off, and many people still worry about whether they can safely use their Wetjet around their domestic animals.
The great news is that the meme was a hoax. Swiffer Wetjet cleaning solution is safe for use around pets.
Still, there are a couple things you want to consider when you use your Wetjet in a home with a dog or cat. Here’s a look at the question of Swiffer’s WetJet and pet safety in more detail.
About the meme
Why did this particular meme takeoff? The claim in the meme was that the Swiffer Wetjet’s cleaning solution used a chemical that was similar to anti-freeze. Anti-freeze really is deadly to pets if they ingest it, so the meme felt like it had some truth.
Here’s an example of the meme’s text:
“I recently had a neighbor who had to have their 5-year old German Shepherd dog put down due to liver failure. The dog was completely healthy until a few weeks ago, so they had a necropsy done to see what the cause was. The liver levels were unbelievable, as if the dog had ingested poison of some kind…He called [Swiffer] to ask what the contents of the cleaning agent are and was astounded to find out that antifreeze is one of the ingredients. (actually he was told it’s a compound which is one molecule away from anitfreeze).”
The meme probably refers to the fact that Swiffer’s cleaning fluid contains propylene glycol n-propyl ether, which sounds very similar to ethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient in anti-freeze. Although the two compounds sound similar, the propylene glycol n-propyl in cleaning solutions like the Swiffer Wetjet’s is nothing like the ethylene glycol in antifreeze chemically. It’s also very different chemically from propylene glycol, which is also used in antifreeze.
The issue here probably stems from peoples’ confusion about how similar-sounding compounds can actually be totally different. Want a real world example? Common table salt contains sodium and chlorine.
On their own, sodium is highly explosive, and will readily blow up when you expose it to water. Chlorine is a toxic gas used in warfare. Just because table salt, or sodium chloride, has the names of these compounds in its own name (and in fact contains them), that doesn’t mean that it’s toxic or explosive.
Even similar sounding compounds–or compounds made up of chemicals that would be dangerous on their own–can be totally stable and totally safe.
How Do We Know It’s Actually Safe?
OK, put on your tinfoil hats. Just because Swiffer says that the Wetjet is safe for pets, how do we know if that’s true? Could it all just be a big corporate conspiracy?
Even if you don’t trust big corporations and their statements about their products, it’s helpful to turn to a trusted source about pets. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says clearly in an article that Swiffer Wetjet cleaning solution is not dangerous for pets. They are one of the most trusted authorities on animal safety, and are presumably making this conclusion independently. That adds a lot of weight to the safety of the cleaning solution.
Testing it myself
If you want another data point, consider one from me. I use a Swiffer Wetjet in my home, and my dog Lance routinely walks around on the floor right after I use it. He’s even been known to lick and eat things off the floor on a pretty regular basis. He’s had no health problems as a result of the wet jet solution. My dog Jack is almost 13, and has been around Wetjet solution for years. No issues there either.
Yes, that’s one data point from one person. But if I had any concerns about using Wetjet cleaning solution with dogs, I wouldn’t let my own pooches walk around on the floor when I just used it.
A few safety considerations around your pets
Even though there’s nothing especially toxic about the cleaning solution in your Swiffer Wetjet, there are still some common sense things you should do when using it around animals. Make sure that your dogs and cats aren’t near enough to your Wetjet that it will spray them with the solution. Even though the solution isn’t like anti-freeze, you still don’t want to get it in your eyes or in your pet’s eyes.
You may also want to wait until the solution dries on the floor before letting your pets walk around on it. Even if it’s not toxic, it’s possible that it could irritate their sensitive skin. Just let it dry out, and then you’re fine.
If you are really concerned about the cleaning solution, or you think that it’s strong smell may bother your pet, you can always make your own homemade cleaning solution for the Swiffer Wetjet, and simply spray it on the floor in front of the Wetjet using a spray bottle as you clean. It’s really not necessary for most people, but it’s one other option, especially if you like making home-brew products.
To be clear, though, as long as you use your Wetjet cleaning solution according to its label, it should be totally safe to use around pets.