TL;DR: Our best recommendation for pet safe disinfectant is the Rescue One-Step Disinfectant Cleaner & Deodorizer. It is a medical grade all-in-one disinfectant that’s very pet friendly.
Here’s our quick guide to finding the right pet safe disinfectant for your needs:
- Best all-in-one medical grade pet safe disinfectant: Rescue One-Step Disinfectant Cleaner & Deodorizer
- Pet safe disinfectant for animal kennels: KennelSol Dog Crate Cleaner and Disinfectant
- Best pet safe disinfectant suitable for multi-species usage: ProVetLogic Animal Facility Disinfectant
- Most convenient to use pet safe disinfectant: SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
- Best budget pet safe disinfectant: Best Shot 256 Disinfectant Concentrate
What disinfectant is safe for pets?
According to the EPA, if a product is registered with the Agency and is labelled as sanitizer or disinfectant, and it is used as instructed by the manufacturer, it should be safe. This is the general rule of thumb for household usage.
But we prefer medical grade pet safe disinfectants to more general disinfectants marketed to household use. Here’s why. A medical grade formulation is usually one that’s used in hospitals and professional settings.
In our case, a medical grade disinfectant is often used by veterinary hospitals, animal care facilities and animal shelters.
Efficacy tested for animal-specific pathogens: These disinfectants are usually tested for efficacy against many of the pathogens that are animal-specific, as opposed to human-specific.
A very good example is when you’re facing a suspected or confirmed case of a deadly virus, the canine parvovirus, in your home. Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus. It is deadly if left untreated, especially in young unvaccinated dogs.
To prevent the spread of the virus, you’ll need to disinfect thoroughly using a disinfecting formula that kills the virus. Many of the general household disinfectants are often only effective against human-specific viruses. In this case, using a medical grade disinfectant made for animal care facilities is your best bet.
Extensive data sheet: Most of the medical grade disinfectants have an extensive data sheet on its efficacy against certain types of virus, bacteria, fungi or mold/mildew. The efficacy claims sheet will also list how long the contact time should be in each case.
Contact time is how long the surface must remain wet in order for the disinfectant to achieve its claim. You should always observe the contact time guide to make sure the pathogen is properly eliminated.
Essential oils: One other thing to look out for in disinfectants is if the formula contains essential oils. From our research, some of the household disinfectants do contain essential oils. Thymol is a common essential oil that’s used for its efficacy against viruses and bacteria. There are potential dangers of essential oils when used around pets, and some of the dangers are very studied and documented.
Fragrance: Some of the best formulations for pet safe disinfectant do not contain fragrance. This is because “most fragrances commonly used are classified as VOCs [volatile organic compounds]”. Both dogs and cats have a far keener sense of smell than humans. Fragrance can often irritate their respiratory systems.
Medical grade disinfectants that are made for animal care facilities are one of the most foolproof ways to go about disinfecting your home. For years, good old bleach has always been a popular disinfectant. But here’s why you need to pass on using bleach as a disinfectant.
The dangers of using bleach: What’s wrong with bleach as a disinfectant?
Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) has been used as an inexpensive sanitizer and disinfectant for many years. According to the EPA, if used correctly with the right dilution, bleach can be effective in sanitizing non-porous surfaces. And because it breaks down quickly into non-harmful components. Bleach remained one of the most inexpensive methods to disinfect quickly.
But why is bleach bad then? For starters, bleach is a chemical irritant. It can irritate the mucous membranes, lungs, eyes, and skin. When handling and diluting bleach, you’ll need to take proper personal protection measures.
Ideally you’ll need to wear splash goggles and gloves. You’ll need to maintain proper ventilation when not wearing respiratory protection. This article by the EPA notes that “[s]ome recent research has linked the fumes of cleaners, sanitizers, disinfectants and other chemical irritants with asthma.”
Not only is bleach bad for humans, it is harsh on many types of surfaces as well. It damages vinyl, upholstery and carpets. It can also compromise and damage stainless steel.
But one of the most dangerous reasons why not to use bleach is its incompatibility with many other cleaning formulas. Bleach should be used as a standalone disinfectant. Mixing it with other cleaning formulas “containing acids, pine oils, etc. can result in either the release of a toxic gas and in more serious situations an explosive chemical reaction.”
This is why we don’t recommend using bleach as a disinfectant. And here are our top 5 picks for finding the right pet safe disinfectant for what you need.
Best all-in-one medical grade pet safe disinfectant
Rescue One-Step Disinfectant Cleaner & Deodorizer is an all-in-one disinfectant that’s commonly used in animal shelters and veterinary hospitals. It kills a broad spectrum of disease-causing pathogens in 1-5 minutes.
This includes Parvovirus, Panleukopenia, Ringworm, Influenza, Kennel Cough and others. Rescue uses Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) which is more potent for killing pathogens, but has reduced risk of toxicity than bleach.
It can be used on any hard, non-porous surfaces, from medical equipment to vehicles and computer keyboards. This makes it a wonderful cleaning solution for items like leashes, water and food bowls, cages and carriers. You’ll need to rinse the water and food bowls with water before using it.
It comes in 3 different applications: ready-to-use, concentrate and wipe. For quick sanitization on a small surface, use the ready-to-use solution (no dilution needed) or the wipes. A good practice is to wipe down the carries or leashes that’s been to the vet hospital right after you leave the premises.
If you’re looking for a more economical solution, you can get the concentrate. The manufacturer provides 2 different dilution ratios depending on the level of risk of outbreak. Once diluted, it stores well up to 90 days.
The concentrate is ideal for pet foster parents. It is also suitable for cleaning around the house if your pet is suspected/ confirmed to have the diseases listed.
This formula is very pet friendly and safe. It is more gentle on animals and humans alike. It also doesn’t corrode surfaces and is environmentally friendly. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen.
It is fragrance-free and the smell is not as offensive as the household bleach. This one step solution gives you a peace of mind and helps you save time with a very short contact time.
Pros: One step simple solution
Con: Pricier option
Pet safe disinfectant for animal kennels
KennelSol Dog Crate Cleaner and Disinfectant is what you’ll need for cleaning the living area of your pet. It kills off a broad spectrum of pathogens, viruses, bacteria and fungi.
This is a cheaper option compared to the Rescue, but the application is not as versatile. It also requires a longer contact time, minimum 10 minutes.
While the Rescue concentrate can be kept for up to 90 days after it’s been diluted, the KennelSol has a much shorter shelf life after dilution. You’ll need to prepare it fresh before each application. You can’t store any unused solution and will need to discard it.
This cleaning solution is formulated for different purposes than the Rescue. It has germicidal, deodorizing and disinfecting properties. The manufacturer recommends it to be used on hard non-porous surfaces. It is developed for cleaning the kennel areas in animal shelters, facilities and veterinary hospitals.
The dilution ratio is 2oz for 1 gallon of water. And you’ll need to increase that ratio up to 8oz per gallon of water if you’re faced with a suspected or confirmed case of parvo. This solution remains effective even when diluted with hard water.
Another key difference between this formula and the Rescue is the deodorizing properties. The KennelSol has a wintergreen scent, it leaves behind a fresh and clean smell. It doesn’t corrode or stain the surfaces, as long as it’s being used on hard non-porous surfaces.
Although it is not recommended by the manufacturer, some have had luck with using the KennelSol for laundry. Unless it comes in contact with the animal’s food or water, you don’t need to rinse this solution after application. However, always ventilate the area and let the solution dry completely, especially in suspected/ confirmed cases of Parvo.
Pros: Scented, can be diluted with hard water
Cons: Longer contact time, need to be prepared fresh
Best pet safe disinfectant suitable for multi-species usage
The PetVetLogic Animal Facility Disinfectant is made for animal care facilities but can work in home settings as well. It has a moderate pH of around 9.5 to 11.5 and is non-corrosive.
It is recommended for hard, non-porous surfaces. It can be used for wiping down countertops, walls, cabinets, door knobs and handles. With the exception of carpet, this disinfectant is safe to use on most types of floorings, including concrete, vinyl, ceramic, tile and sealed hardwood. However, it would still be advisable to test on a small spot before using it on an entire surface.
The dilution ratio for the PetVetLogic Disinfectant is 1.25 oz per gallon of water, and for suspected/confirmed cases of parvovirus use up to 4 oz per gallon. This is a more economical solution than the KennelSol and Rescue.
The contact time performance is similar to KennelSol. In most cases, you’ll need a contact time of a few minutes, but it can go up to 10 minutes to be disinfected completely.
The manufacturer provides efficacy data on this product here. It also lists how long the contact time should be for each type of bacteria, viruses or fungi. This concentrate can be used as a spray solution, wiping down surfaces, and also mopping.
It is a multi-use disinfectant that kills a wide range of common pathogens. This includes Canine Parvovirus, Kennel Cough, Canine Parainfluenza Virus, Feline Calicivirus, Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Leukemia Virus and Ringworm.
Aside from canine and feline specific viruses, this disinfectant is also effective against avian and farm animal viruses. While many disinfectants are limited to fighting pathogens that harm dogs and cats, this limited species efficacy may not be helpful.
The ProVetLogic disinfectant, on the other hand, is very ideal for households with farm animals or birds. It has a somewhat pleasant scent and is definitely safe for pets.
Pros: Multi-species usage, economical
Cons: Longer contact time
Most convenient to use pet safe disinfectant
The SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant is a multipurpose disinfectant and cleaner that is very versatile. It can be used on almost all types of surfaces including metal, wood, plastic, rubber and many more.
It is even safe for food preparation and packaging. This formula uses the highly effective biocide Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2). Chlorine Dioxide has been approved by the FDA and EPA for many applications including water treatment and the treatment of food.
It is an effective chemical to eliminate different types of pathogens including fungi, bacteria, viruses, and VOC’s. This formula is also registered with the EPA as “Hospital Disinfectant”. It provides a much broader range disinfecting properties compared to most household disinfectants which are usually labelled limited disinfectants.
The SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant is labelled a category 4 toxicity. This rating is for all exposure routes: inhalation ingestion, skin contact and eye contact. A category level 4 means that there is no need for exposure warnings required on the label.
This biodegradable formula is non-corrosive and non-flammable, it is very gentle on humans, animals and the environment. It doesn’t produce any offensive odor or harmful fumes.
This fragrance-less formula also has odor eliminating properties. It works well on most household pet odors. Like all the other disinfectants on this list, it doesn’t require rinsing. You can apply it and leave it to dry.
This ready-to-use solution does not need to be diluted before application. The contact time is similar to the ProVetLogic and KennelSol solution of 10 minutes. For effective disinfecting, you’ll need to keep the surface wet the entire contact time.
The shelf life of this formula is rather long. It maintains its efficacy quite well and degrades at a rate of no more than 2% per year.
Pros: Convenient (ready-to-use formula), has odor elimination properties, versatile
Cons: Pricey, longer contact time
Best budget pet safe disinfectant
The Best Shot 256 Disinfectant Concentrate is a one-step disinfectant that also deodorizes. It is effective against a broad range of pathogens. It is suitable for animal care facilities as well as for household use.
It can be used on all non-porous surfaces, including cages and crates, countertops, walls and floors. It can be used to disinfect most types of flooring and can even be used to deodorize carpets and litter boxes.
This formula comes in 4 different scents: fresh, lavender, wintergreen and lemon. The scent is light and not too overwhelming, and is not harmful to pets.
The formula is non-corrosive and has a rather neutral pH. This makes it ideal to be used on grooming tools and appliances. You can use it in a spray bottle, mop buckets or automatic floor scrubbers.
The non-rinse formula allows you to apply and leave it to dry, it doesn’t leave any residue once it’s dried. The manufacturer has provided a detailed safety data sheet on this formula. When used as diluted, no personal protection equipment is needed.
When used as directed, the toxicity level is at 2B. It can cause some eye irritation or damage, and is not as safe as the SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant.
The contact time like almost all the other formulas on this list is 10 minutes. The dilution ratio is 0.5 oz per gallon of water for normal disinfecting. And 2 oz per gallon for suspected/confirmed cases of canine parvovirus.
This solution can be diluted with hard water and the efficacy will not be affected. The solution should not be applied directly onto the animal.
Pros: Very economical, variety of scent, deodorizing properties
Cons: Caution need to be taken during handling
Is your cleaning product mislabelled?
According to the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Department of Pesticide Regulation, the terms “clean”, “sanitize” and “disinfect” are often used interchangeably. But under the EPA’s definition, they mean different things, and have different legal outcomes.
Cleaning is defined as “[t]he process that physically removes debris from the surface or area by scrubbing, washing and rinsing. It may be accomplished with soap or detergent and water.”
The difference between sanitize and disinfect is slight but important. To sanitize is to “[kill] 99.9% germs identified on its label.” But to disinfect is to “[kill] nearly 100% of germs identified on its label.”
In the US, if a product is not registered with the EPA as a sanitizer or disinfectant, it can only be labelled as a cleaning product. For all the sanitizing or disinfecting products that are registered with the EPA, stringent tests need to be carried out.
The product needs to be tested for its efficacy in eliminating all the viruses, bacteria, etc it claimed. It also needs to pass a health hazard test. To check if a product is registered with the EPA, visit their directory.
Is Lysol safe for pets?
The brand Lysol has about 1400+ products registered with the EPA. They have a large number of products in their catalogue, from sprays to multi-purpose cleaners to laundry detergent. Here are some of their most popular product lines:
Lysol wipes and sprays: They generally fall under 2 main categories: sanitizing and disinfecting. Generally speaking, sanitizing products are more forgiving and safer than disinfectants because the formulation is usually not as strong. That makes it slightly less throughout with killing pathogens.
The efficacy of both is tested only on non-porous hard surfaces, but it is recommended for soft porous surfaces like pet beds and mattresses. For it to be pet safe, it still advisable to rinse the surface after spraying/wiping.
Lysol bathroom cleaners and multi-purpose cleaners: These all fall under the category of “cleaners”. They do not sanitize or disinfect according to how the EPA defines those terms.
Some of these cleaners do contain bleach in the formulation. Avoid those if possible. Always stick to the best practice of rinsing the surface to remove any residue components to make the surface pet safe.
Is Clorox Disinfecting Wipes safe for pets?
According to the EPA’s records, the Clorox Disinfecting Wipes is registered, and with the label of disinfectant. This means that the product complies with the strict testing procedures. To be labelled a disinfectant, it needs to kill nearly 100% of germs identified on the label.
The pathogen includes Avian Influenza Virus A, Canine Distemper Virus, Salmonella and E. Coli.
According to Clorox’s own user safety guidelines, the Clorox Wipes are made for surface cleaning of inanimate objects. It is not to be used as a personal wipe. You should not be directly wiping your pet with Clorox Wipes.
The formula does not contain bleach but can cause eye irritation. The manufacturer’s instruction is to remove your pet from the area when cleaning. If you’re using the wipes as instructed by the guideline, then the Clorox Wipes is safe for pets.
To disinfect effectively, Clorox recommends using enough wipes to make the surface remain “visibly wet” for 4 minutes. This is the contact time that need to be observed for the disinfecting properties to work properly.
Is Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray safe for pets?
The Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray listed on EPA’s registra since 2019. This means that the “disinfectant” status is properly labelled.
It is effective against Influenza A virus, H1N1, Rhinovirus (type 37, the Common Cold virus), Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli on hard, nonporous surfaces.
Seventh Generation products are certified cruelty free by the Leaping Bunny program. The brand also provides safety data sheets on its products. The contact time is 10 minutes, and the surface needs to be wet during the entire 10 minutes. The manufacturer recommends there’s no need for rinsing the surface after air drying, even on food contact surfaces.
However, we think it’s better to err on the side of safety to rinse the surface, especially for your pet’s food and water bowls. This is because all Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray formulas contain a blend of essential oils. Many types of essential oils have been proven to be toxic to animals.