Swiffer cleaners are safe to use around pets, no matter the persistent urban myth

Consumer Reports News: October 31, 2006 11:06 AM

The Swiffer WetJet cloths and Swiffer WetJet Multipurpose Cleaner promise to mop up spills without you're having to use a bucket, but a widespread e-mail-based rumor claims the products might actually cause Fido or Fluffy to kick said container. The missives suggest that the products' cleaning solutions contain liver-failure-inducing antifreeze, which pets are likely to lap off the floor or lick off their paws.

Not true, says Procter & Gamble, manufacturer of the products: "Swiffer Wet cloths and WetJet liquid solution do not contain antifreeze or any ingredient similar to it." According to the products' material safety data sheet (look under Household Cleaners), the cleaning solutions are mostly composed of water mixed with a small percentage of propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether and ethanol. Although propylene glycol is sometimes used in antifreeze, it is generally recognized as safe, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The misleading e-mails probably confuse propylene glycol with another chemical, ethylene glycol, a sweet, colorless, and toxic alcohol that is an ingredient in many automotive antifreezes.

A review of the Swiffer solution by veterinary toxicologists at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supports P&G, saying that the products' ingredients, when used as directed, are safe to use around pets.

The Swiffer pads still pose a choking hazard and can block a pet's gastrointestinal tract if ingested. If your pet has consumed large amounts of cleaning fluid or a new or used pad, contact the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. The hotline is open 24/7 every day and charges $55 per consultation.

If you're still concerned about using Swiffers, ditch the disposable mops and opt instead for a vacuum.

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