When I think of springtime, I think of words like renewal, clean, refreshing, natural. You get the idea; this is a time when plants and animals come out of hibernation to begin a new season; a new opportunity to live and thrive on our amazing planet.
While I’m enjoying the sounds and look of spring, it brings to mind our home’s family of dogs and cats. The reality of ensuring their well-being and keeping our home smelling clean and odor free comes to mind. Putting these ideas and thoughts together made me curious about natural pet odor removal that’s good to the environment.
I wanted to discover methods of removing pet odors in ways that are kind to the earth. How do those “green” cleaning products work to remove pet odors without harming the environment? Do you know that we have been exposed to cleaver marketing called “greenwashing” to market “safe-for-the-environment” products that don’t live up to those claims? I buy them, use them and maybe you have too. There are cleaning and deodorizing products currently used that are not only harmful to your pets, but to the environment as well.
I learned a lot about something I don’t know much about. We recycle paper and plastic for our weekly garbage pickup but learning aspects of eco-friendly pet odor control was truly eye-opening. I hope you will learn something by reading about my discoveries.
How Do They Work?
The idea behind natural pet odor removal products is the use of organic compounds that remove dirt and grime from surfaces and consume odor causing bacteria without harming the natural environment. So how do they work? What active agents do these contain to perform this eco-friendly magic?
Enzymes – This group of natural pet odor eliminators uses special types of proteins produced by living organisms called enzymes. The enzymes cause chemical reactions between naturally occurring bacteria and soil. The chemical reactions break down the soil for natural bacteria to digest and break down into carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20). Different types of enzymes work on different stains to remove. Read container labels carefully for correct usage.
- Lipolases Fats or oil-based stains are most effectively removed with these enzymes.
- Proteases break down protein-based stains, like food, vomit, blood, urine, and feces.
- Amylases work to remove stains caused by carbohydrates and starches.
Enzymatic cleaners lose their effectiveness with age and when the cleaned surface has dried. When cleaning, don’t use disinfectants along with enzymatic cleaners. The disinfectant will remove the enzymes on the cleaned surface.
Probiotics – Another popular method of natural pet odor cleaner available uses probiotics for cleaning and odor control. Probiotics consist of “good” bacteria produced by fermentation. The probiotics live in a self-regulating community of microorganisms called a microflora. The probiotics break down the odor causing “bad” bacteria. Continued usage of probiotics helps sustain the microflora of “good” microorganisms by ensuring the dominance of good bacteria.
Unlike enzymatic cleaners, probiotic cleaners linger on surfaces after you’re done cleaning. The lingering bacteria leave a film of bacteria on the cleaned surfaces. This promotes more effective odor control for a longer period.
Effective Microorganisms – This is a brand name referring to a family of microbial-based products using a technology developed by Japanese scientist, Dr Teruo Higa. This idea uses a combination of yeast, photosynthetic bacteria, and lactic acid bacteria.microorganisms to provide truly natural and effective probiotic cleaning. These cleaners use the same principles found in probiotics. Instead of using bleach and other strong chemicals, the “bad” odor causing bacteria is crowded out of the microflora with “good” bacteria to maintain an odor free and natural environment.
I haven’t heard of this technology before researching this topic and I was amazed to learn that this technology has a lot of other uses besides odor control and is based on holistic principles for humankind.
Surfactants – These chemical components play a vital role in the odor neutralizing methods mentioned and many other products we use every day. They’re purpose in cleaning and odor removal is to remove soil by chemically breaking down surface tension around soil particles to isolate and separate them from surfaces being cleaned. These surfaces can be table and counter tops, the cloth fibers in our clothing, carpet fibers, and even our own skin.
Many of these cleaning products contain petroleum based synthetic surfactants. When the displaced soil and surfactants are rinsed down the drain, they eventually end up in our environment. Understandably this prospect doesn’t sit well with the eco-friendly consumer. Fortunately, there is a natural alternative solution.
Biosurfactants are a structurally diverse group of surface-active molecules synthesized by microorganisms. They’re effective in hot or cold water and are biodegradable. Some classifications include: Glycolipids, Rhamnolipids, Trehalolipids, Sophorolipids, lipopepdides, and lipoproteins. Careful research will reveal products using these compounds.
Enzymatic and Probiotic cleaning appear to be the most popular choices for pet odor removal and cleaning. There are other environmentally friendly methods available using “green” technologies.
CO2 – Carbon dioxide cleaning technology is widely used in industrial and commercial cleaning. A popular application of this process is used in dry cleaning. There are several products that use the power of CO2 to break down the proteins in stains and odors caused by pets. The surfactants used in these products may lead to question how environmentally friendly these products really are.
Ions – An Ion is an atom or group of atoms that carries a positive or negative electric charge as a result of having lost or gained one or more electrons. Odor control using ions is typically used in industrial and commercial applications. You may be familiar with ozone generators used for air purification. This principle is applied to an odor neutralization process that doesn’t use enzymes, fragrance or surfactants. Live Pee Free is such a product which uses Noble Ion® Odor Technology. These specially formulated cleaners contain millions of positively charged ions. When these positive ions react with the negative ions in pet stains and odors, they cancel out and eliminate the odor causing off-gas. The compounds in these formulations attack the odor causing bacteria leaving no residue, no discoloration, and no odors behind.
Harmful to Your Pets and The Environment
Here are some cleaners and odor neutralizers to stop using for the health and well-being of your pets and the environment. You should consider using a more pet and environmentally friendly alternative. If there are no other options available, follow label directions and use sparingly.
- Air fresheners – Most of these contain a volatile organic compound, cationic detergent, which is found in sanitizers, and disinfectants. Most are not friendly to the environment or your pets. Fortunately, there are easy do-it yourself recipes online.
- Ammonia – Ammonia is found in window cleaners, floor polishing waxes, furniture polish, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaners, and stainless-steel cleaners. They are all harmful to your pets and the environment.
- Chlorine – This substance is most often found in bleach. Bleach and other chlorine-containing products are some of the most common reasons pets are harmed. Even though chlorine is effective in killing bacteria, chlorine also damages a pet’s health and is not friendly to the environment.
- Fertilizer – Fertilizers are great for growing plants and keeping a green lawn, but copper, zinc, and magnesium found in some formulations, can be toxic for your pets as well as phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium, commonly found in compost. For the dogs and cats that eat grass, ingesting excessive amounts of fertilized grass can lead to seizures or illnesses. Runoff from over-fertilized yards isn’t good for the environment.
- Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is a compound typically found in shampoos, laundry detergents, and furniture polish. It is a known carcinogen, which causes cancer in tissues. This can’t be good for your pets exposed to these products or for the environment. In case you didn’t know, formaldehyde is used in the embalming process to preserve a body after death.
Is it Really Green?
I’m including this topic, especially for the eco-minded reader. As I mentioned before, I’m learning a lot by researching and writing this article. So, I’ll preface this next portion by saying that what I believe about the environmentally conscious is that most of these folks are well-educated and very passionate about this subject. When I learned about this next item, I began to wonder how many of us eco-minded consumers have been fed a bunch of lies and have swallowed the bait.
I learned about “Greenwashing”. Have you ever heard of that term before? Not me! Wikipedia defines the term as a form of marketing spin in which green PR (green values) and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization’s products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly and therefore ‘better’; appeal to nature. Common examples present in the marketing of food products, alternative medicine and natural medicine.
There are a lot of these kinds of advertisements out there. When I was researching this article, I discovered that finding ingredients to some of these products online is next to impossible. I bet for most of us, including me, just reading about the environmentally friendly claims and benefits is good enough. Now I admit that I’m not the most eco-friendly inhabitant on earth, but I’m not doing the planet any favors either!
The point I’m trying to make here is Buyer Beware! If you are one of those uber eco-minded consumers, do your diligent research to know what kind of cleaning products you’re really bringing into your home environment. I discovered that a Product Safety Data Sheet discloses a chemical product’s ingredients, usage precautions, and environmental impact. It’s like a food label on steroids! This should help you cut through all of that feel-good advertising to help you determine the best eco-friendly cleaning products for your home. You may be able to find the product’s data sheets online, or request one from the product manufacturer.
Being Kind to The Earth
This has been quite an education for me. I learned a lot about natural pet odor removal while being kind to the earth. I see stories in the news about how things return to their natural state when not disturbed by humans. This pandemic has shown me scenes of clear cityscapes in places like China and India, and wild animals walking around freely in Yellowstone National Park. It’s refreshing like springtime and a big reminder that nature is still in charge and can do just fine without us.
This pandemic will pass; we’ll be back to a semblance of a life as we knew before. We’ll be back to using the environment and taking the natural bounty this earth has to offer. I hope this article has enlightened you in some of the eco-friendlier methods of maintaining an odor free home for you and your pets. It has for me. If it has for you, then I have done my job.
Feel free to send me comments about eco-friendly ways you use to control pet odors.
I’m here to help,
sources:chicagotribune, clearlink, fizzonclean, greenlivingtips, natura.solutions, nobleion, whollymother, wikipedia, youtube