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Swiffer WetJet Harmful to Pets?

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Netlore Archive: Online rumor claims Swiffer WetJet disposable floor cleaner contains an ingredient toxic to dogs and cats.

Description: Online rumor
Circulating since: May 2004
Status: False (see details below)


Example:
Email contributed by Lynn P., May 2, 2004:

Warning for your animal's health:

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. The dog is kept inside, and when he's outside, someone's with him, so the idea of him getting into something unknown was hard to believe.

My neighbor started going through all the items in the house. When he got to the Swiffer Wet jet, he noticed, in very tiny print, a warning which stated "may be harmful to small children and animals." He called the company to ask what the contents of the cleaning agent are and was astounded to find out that anitfreeze is one of the ingredients. (actually he was told it's a compound which is one molecule away from anitfreeze).

Therefore, just by the dog walking on the floor cleaned with the solution, then licking it's own paws, and the dog eating from its dishes which were kept on the kitchen floor cleaned with this product, it ingested enough of the solution to destroy its liver. Soon after his dog's death, his housekeepers' two cats also died of liver failure. They both used the Swiffer Wetjet for quick cleanups on their floors. Necropsies weren't done on the cats, so they couldn't file a lawsuit, but he asked that we spread the word to as many people as possible so they don't lose their animals. .


Analysis: No evidence exists to support or substantiate the claim that the Swiffer WetJet floor cleaner is poisonous or harmful to pets. Quite the opposite, in fact. According to veterinary toxicologists at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the chemicals in the Swiffer WetJet cleaning solution "are safe ingredients at levels used in cleaning products and do not cause kidney or liver failure."

Though the product label advises (as with all cleaning products) to "Keep out of reach of children and pets," Swiffer WetJet's manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, maintains that the Swiffer WetJet Mop leaves no appreciable residue and is therefore safe to use in a household with pets, even if they lick the floor after it has been mopped.

Low order of toxicity

The Material Safety Data Sheet for the product says it has a "low order of toxicity." The Swiffer WetJet cleaning solution contains the following ingredients:

  • Water (90% - 100%)
  • Propylene Glycol n-Propyl Ether (1% - 4%)
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (1% - 4%)
  • Minor Ingredients (< 1%)
  • Preservatives (< 0.1%)

Propylene glycol n-propyl ether is a solvent similar to, but much less toxic than, ethylene glycol, the antifreeze ingredient cited as a hazard to pets and children. The MSDS for propylene glycol (which is present in no greater than a 4% concentration in the Swiffer WetJet cleaning solution) states that the chemical has "low toxicity in animal studies" where ingested. Propylene glycol is also found in other household cleaning products.

Procter & Gamble statement:

Question:
Are the ingredients safe?

Answer:
We're glad you came to us for the facts about Swiffer WetJet. Let us assure you, this rumor is completely false. Our Wet cloths and WetJet liquid solution cleaners do not contain antifreeze or any ingredient similar to it.

We have pets too and their health is very important to us. All our products have been evaluated by internal and external veterinarians and scientists, and Swiffer WetJet and Swiffer Wet cloths are safe to use around pets.

We hope you'll help us put an end to this rumor by letting others know the truth.


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More on pet safety and care:

About Cats: Health
From About.com Guide Franny Syufy

About Dogs: Health
From About.com Guide Jenna Stregowski, RVT

About Veterinary Medicine: Toxicology
From About.com Guide Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM


Sources and further reading:

NIH Household Products Database: Swiffer WetJet Liquid Floor Cleaner Advanced
Safety information from the National Institutes of Health

MSDS: Propylene Glycol n-Propyl Ether
Material Safety Data Sheet

ASPCA: Is Swiffer Wet Jet safe to use around dogs?
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center


Last updated: 01/21/09


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