Clean Freaks Beware: Your Products Could Be Nuking Your Pets

working cat cleaning couch dust buster funny rspca

OK, I’ll admit it, right off the bat: I am a clean freak. There, I said it.

There is a medical term for my diagnosis, it’s known as obsessive compulsive disorder. Otherwise known to unsympathetic family members as Mollie the clean freak.

My poor grandmother was the victim of one of my cleaning insults to her kitchen, when I accidentally removed the varnish on her recently refinished kitchen cabinets with some corrosive cleaner that only someone with OCD would love. After that, she took to hiding the Comet when I came over, poor thing.

I’m better now, thanks to a combination of opportunistic immersion therapy, courtesy of living with a total slob and volunteering to clean the bathrooms in the worst possible place you can think of.

cat cleaning house sad

There is another lesser known treatment, not published in any accepted medical journals, which I believe is a shure-fire cure for getting over the obsession to maintain an Architectural Digest/Martha Stewart style showroom of a house, and that is – living with 9 cats.

That’s right, my advice is just fire your psychiatrist, flush the Valium down the toilet and get a shit load of cats. Prior to having cats, my house was a showplace, glittering with priceless antiques, fragile heirlooms, and a bedroom adorned with white antique linens, hand embroidered by nuns in Italy.

kitties will puke on everything you love

Oh, and no story would be complete without my lamenting over my gorgeous antique couch with carved cornucopia of nature’s bounty springing from horned baskets on either end, lovingly upholstered in an ivory silk damask Regency stripe from Schumacher.

That gorgeous couch now resembles a piece of shit you would gladly pass up at the Goodwill after my cats got through with it. Fred used the hand-carved wood cornocopias as a scratching post, the fruit now resemble the shredded remains of an old salad. Blackie jr. took to peeing in the corner of it, and one day after it rained really hard, all my cats came running in the house with their muddy little feet and decided to play on the couch. That couch managed to survive 160 years without a blemish, but, put it in a house with nine cats and that couch’s days are numbered.

I could pee on this and other poems

I still cringe when I think of that couch. The days are over for white silk anything, and curtains, forget it. And just in case you don’t have the full picture of the treatment – picture it: a pair of exquisite kid leather shoes in a soft peach by Donna Karan (don’t even ask how much they were) that perfectly matched my Donna Karan suit resting, innocently, on my closet floor…until one day, my cat, Blackie jr., decided they would make a lovely, peachy soft spot to PEE in!! I hung on to those poor shoes forever, hoping, by some miracle, I could muster the courage to take them to Micheal’s, my favorite shoe repairman, in San Francisco.

My Mom just says, like any good Mafia housewife from Queens would advise: “Just cover it in PLASTIC!” OMG. I would rather die than cover my stuff with PLASTIC. How tacky! Well, had I listened to my mother and her tacky advice, I would still have those shoes and my gorgeous couch!

On that note, I leave all my fellow cleaners with a infographic of caution (click to enlarge):


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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (5) Write a comment

  1. Hi Moll,

    Are perfumes and colognes and eu de toilettes equally bad? I never knew I was spraying poison on myself…should I really throw them out? Maybe I’ll just use the bottles up and then switch to essential oils…

    Sis Sarah


    • Oh my Lord, yes! They are the worst! They are the basis of all the “fragrances” in products from dryer sheets to laundry soap to perfumes.

      The thing you have to watch out for is that ubiquitous word “fragrance” in the ingredients. That’s basically a license to put whatever God-awful chemical cocktail they can dream up to mask the real scent, which is probably chemicals that don’t smell so nice.

      The main problem with fragrances is an evil class of chemicals called phthalates. They are in everything from nail polish, hair products, deodorants to mascara. Anything that is artificially scented has phthalates. Phthalates are dangerous chemicals. The problems associated with phthalates are too numerous to mention here.

      Go to EWG’s Not to Pretty report it: And the best site on the net is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database: They have done the most exhaustive research of cosmetics ingredients in products. It is a must read!

      After going to Skin Deep years ago to find out what the Hell was wrong with my skin, I threw all that shit out. I mean all of it. And you know me, I was such a glamour puss, I had garbage bags full of products. It’s a wonder I’m not dead yet from all the hairspray I used over the years. Now I won’t touch ANY of that crap with a ten-foot-pole!


  2. Funny, but true! I’ve had my share of household chaos from my cats (3) but haven’t suffered nearly as much as you! The worst of my feline problems is that one cat likes to periodically express herself by peeing on my bed. I’ve determined it’s her way to define her territory or if she feels jealous over one of the others getting more attention (in her mind), she lets me know she feels jilted by peeing on my bed. I overcame feeling angry over these occasional episodes, so I just wash everything and cover my bed with a tarp. But if I forget the tarp one day, oh oh…..

    Also, I’d like to warn folks about the danger of dryer sheets, like Snuggle. Those things are so popular, but also dangerous. A couple years ago, I used Snuggle dryer sheets in some type of vanilla-floral fragrance. Then I broke out in a mysterious, painful skin rash in a most embarrassing place. Let’s just say that I had to go see my gynecologist to get a diagnosis! He asked me if I used any kind of laundry dryer sheets. I told him about the Snuggle. He said the chemicals in the dryer sheets caused my very private skin rash. He said to stop using it at least on my underwear and towels. He gave me a prescription cream, the Snuggle was trashed, I switched to hypoallergenic laundry detergents and bath soaps, and voila, the painful rash disappeared!

    I must be very sensitive to most household chemicals because I can’t even walk near the grocery store aisle as my eyes water, my nose feels like it’s suddenly on fire, and the smells make it hard for me to breathe. I usually just hold my breath, grab my product off the shelf and get the heck away from that aisle as quickly as possible.

    If humans can react so adversely to these household chemicals, just imagine how our small pets react to them, for it would take a much smaller concentration of chemicals to affect our pets. I totally recommend simpler, more environmentally friendly products for personal hygiene and household cleaning.

    Thanks for this informative post!


    • OMG! Me too! Not the rash from Snuggle, but I used to have the WORST “itchy fits”, especially after bathing when my skin was most vulnerable. It was horrific, I would bathe in vinegar and scratch my skin raw with a boar bristle brush. It got so bad, I had to stop using nearly every single product that came in contact with my skin, hair and nails. Everything caused my skin and eyes to burn and itch like crazy. Lotions, bar soaps, liquid soaps, hair spray, nail polish, laundry detergent, dish washing soap, household cleansers, air fresheners, perfume: OUT. All of them went in the garbage.

      After doing a couple of years of research into chemicals, cosmetics, and environmental toxins, I converted to all Certified Organic products for my body, my house, my cats, my food and their food. I only buy products that I have thoroughly researched and know the contents of. I buy lotion and body soaps from a local companies at the farmers market and Dr. Hauschka’s products. Today, I have perfect skin. No more problems – ever.

      I clean the house with vinegar, diluted bleach, rubbing alcohol and mild dish soap. OK, OK, I still use Comet in the bathroom. I can’t help it! Old habits die hard. And besides, nobody’s perfect!

      Thank you for sharing the Snuggle story. Which reminds me, synthetic perfumes and fragrances contain Godawful ingredients – throw them out too. Bye bye Chanel, I shall miss you very much…



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