Every few years, an Internet rumor circulates, saying that the cleaning liquid used for Swiffer WetJet devices contains antifreeze.
The rumor usually claims that pets have died after licking floors cleaned with a Swiffer WetJet. Sometimes they mention liver failure. If you use a WetJet and have pets, you might be nervous that one of these rumors is true. Does the Swiffer WetJet really contain antifreeze?
The answer is no – the Swiffer WetJet cleaning solution does not contain antifreeze. It is safe to use around pets.
Let’s explore where the antifreeze and Swiffer Wet Jet rumor comes from, and why people are getting confused.
Like many conspiracy theories, the idea that the Swiffer Wet Jet cleaning solution contains antifreeze comes from a plausible-sounding idea that is not, in fact, correct.
The cleaning solution used in a Swiffer Wet Jet contains a material called propylene glycol (technically, Propylene Glycol Butyl Ether). It’s a common cleaning agent that’s used in all kinds of household cleaners.
Antifreeze contains a chemical called ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol sounds a lot like propylene glycol. But that’s where the similarities end. Chemically, the two compounds are totally different.
Ethylene glycol used in antifreeze is indeed poisonous to dogs. There have been instances of dogs licking up spilled antifreeze and passing away as a result.
That’s probably where the fear comes from. People hear the term ethylene glycol and confuse it with the common and generally harmless propylene glycol.
When they see propylene glycol on the ingredient list of the Wet Jet cleaning solution, they freak out and think that the solution contains ethylene glycol, the similar-sounding but totally unrelated material.
They may also get confused because the Swiffer’s refill bottles do say to keep the liquid out of reach of children and pets. But that’s common sense! Any cleaning solution–even all natural ones–shouldn’t be consumed by children, pets, or anyone else.
Debunking the antifreeze myth
The confusion and misinformation around these chemicals have gotten so intense that some pretty heavy-hitting organizations have felt the need to step in and clear things up.
- Firstly, the ASPCA has explicitly looked into the issue and said that Swiffer Wet Jets do not contain antifreeze and are not hazardous to dogs or other pets when used correctly.
- McGill University published a detailed explanation of the differences between propylene glycol and ethylene glycol and explained why the Swiffer cleaning solution is safe.
- Consumer Reports also clarified that there’s no antifreeze in the cleaning solution.
As I’ve shared in another story, I personally use my Swiffer Wet Jet around my dogs all the time, and I’ve never had any issues.
The people who send emails saying that the Swiffer Wet Jet‘s contain antifreeze may mean well. They’re probably trying to keep people’s pets safe.
The problem is that their scientific confusion creates unnecessary fear. Swiffer Wet Jets are great cleaning tools, especially for people with pets.
As major organizations like the ASPCA have shown, they are perfectly safe to use around pets and don’t contain antifreeze. In fact, they’re a great way to clean up after the messes your pets inevitably create!