Wow. I have the Clorox Ready Mop for wet and the Grab-it for dry - I wonder if they are a problem too?
I just found out that Swiffer floor cleaning products (dry and wet) are toxic to children! There have been two cases so far where mothers who used Swiffer products on their floor had a child or pet die after walking on the floor. With the dog, he had walked over the kitchen floor alot, then would lick his paws. His liver failed and he died. With the child, their little hands are crawling around all over the floor (not to mention their toys), and they put everything in their mouth. He died as well from poisoning. Both the child and dog had high levels of the chemicals found in these cleaning products in their systyems. This was on the news with the actual families, so no, it's not an urban legend. There is a warning on the Swiffer boxes, but I never saw it until hearing these tragic stories and looked at the warning myself. I for one will be throwing away my Swiffer stuff today!
Mama to "The Fantastic Four":
Wow. I have the Clorox Ready Mop for wet and the Grab-it for dry - I wonder if they are a problem too?
Mama to my guys, K (May '03) and Q (June '07)
It's an urban legend...we've had similiar things on our local news, as well, it seems they're quick to report the hysteria, less quick to retract it.
Swiffer WetJet Toxic to Pets
Netlore Archive: Forwarded email claims that the Swiffer WetJet disposable floor cleaner contains a substance toxic to dogs and cats
Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: May 2004
Analysis: See below
Email example contributed by Lynn P., 2 May 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 Wetjet, 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. .
Comments: So far, I've found no evidence or documentation to substantiate this rumor. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Though the product label advises (as with all cleaning products) to "Keep out of reach of children and pets," its manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, maintains that the Swiffer WetJet Cleaning System 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.
A low order of toxicity
According to the Swiffer WetJet Material Safety Data Sheet (.PDF file), the product has "a low order of toxicity." It 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 always cited as a hazard to pets and children. The Material Safety Data Sheet 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. It is also found in other household cleaning products.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has stated the following: "Propylene glycol n-propyl ether and propylene glycol n-butyl ether are very safe ingredients at levels used in cleaning products and do not cause kidney or liver failure."
Anonymous, secondhand and purely anecdotal
Note, too, that the email report is anonymous, secondhand and purely anecdotal, offering no means of authenticating its central claim that three animals died as a result of ingesting the Swiffer WetJet cleaning solution good enough reason to be skeptical.
Procter & Gamble response to the Swiffer WetJet rumor:
Are the ingredients safe?
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 youll help us put an end to this rumor by letting others know the truth.
Update: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Responds to Swiffer Wet Jet Rumor - May 7, 2004: "Veterinary Toxicologists regard allegations of liver failure and death from household cleaner as unfounded."
Unfortunately, most cleaners on the market are toxic to humans and pets - just look on the back of all of your cleaners and you'll see the warning. The fumes and ingestion are the most common factors in causing death, although with some stronger cleaners just contact on the skin/eyes can cause serious harm. I actually use vinegar and Dr. Bronners soap (plant derived) to clean my floors (I use vinegar for a lot of my cleaning). SOme products leave a residue that I don't want my DD getting on her (especially when she was crawling). There have been numerous studies about the level of toxins in children's blood being very high, and products like these are partly to blame. While it doesn't affect adults as much, it is highly concentrated in a child's/pet's body.
Thanks for bringing this up, I"m sure many people are unaware of the danger.
From the Snopes.com website:
Claim: The Swiffer WetJet poses a general danger to household pets.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2004]
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 Wetjet, 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 antifreeze 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.
Origins: So much about this anonymous message purportedly detailing the demise of someone's neighbor's dog and that neighbor's housekeeper's two cats is either wrong or unverifiable that we cannot see how it could reasonably be considered anything but false:
The message gives no information about its writer or either of the pet owners, and thus provides no avenue through which inquiries can be made to verify its contents. It appears to have been disseminated through its posting to many different dog-related newsgroups and mailing lists, always by a second-hand source who had "received it in e-mail."
The claims that the cleaning agent used with the Swiffer WetJet is "antifreeze" or "a compound which is one molecule away from" something else are quite similar to a number of other alarmist scares we've seen (such as one about margarine) and are indicative of an uninformed writer's making unwarranted assumptions.
According to P&G's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), most of the cleaning fluid used in the Swiffer WetJet system is water (somewhere between 90 and 100 percent), with propylene glycol n-propyl ether and isopropyl alcohol making up between 1 and 4 percent each, and the remainder of the solution composed of minor ingredients and preservatives.
The two most common compounds found in antifreeze and deicing solutions are ethylene glycol and propylene glycol. The former has been identified as posing a danger to pets, but propylene glycol is much safer than ethylene glycol it has been classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an additive that is "generally recognized as safe" for use in food, it is found in a variety of medicines and cosmetics, and it is recommended as a safe alternative to antifreeze for pet owners. Moreover, what the Swiffer Wetjet cleaning solution contains is not propylene glycol itself, but propylene glycol n-propyl ether, an ingredient found in many, many different brands and types of household cleaning products. If this compound truly posed a significant risk of causing fatal liver damage in cats and dogs, we should be hearing about many more pet deaths associated with cleaning products other than the Swiffer WetJet.
Also note that the danger posed to pets by antifreeze (i.e., ethylene glycol) has to do kidney failure, not destruction of the liver as claimed in the message quoted above.
The warning message claims that the anonymous writer found on his WetJet packaging a warning label which stated that the product "may be harmful to small children and animals." We examined the warning labels on every Swiffer WetJet product we could find at our local stores, and none of them bore such wording. The labelling on all these products (i.e., the Swiffer WetJet Power Mop with Jet-Action Sprayer, the Wood Floor Cleaner, the Multi-Purpose Cleaner, and the Cleaning Pad Refill) was identical and read: "AVOID ACCIDENTS: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS. In case of eye contact, flush thoroughly with water. If irritation persists, call a physician." This is the standard boilerplate warning label found on virtually every household cleaning product to inform users that cleaning agents are generally caustic and may be harmful should they come into direct contact with the eye. On Swiffer products, the first line of the warning (the one referencing children and pets) was presented in block letters and in darker type that the rest of the message, all of which was listed in three languages: English, French, and Spanish.
Only the warning carried on the Antibacterial Cleaner solution was different after an expanded caution about not getting the product into one's eyes and the procedure for flushing exposed eyes with water, it concluded, ''Contact a Poison Control Center or doctor for treatment advice. Have the product container or label with you when calling the Poison Control Center or doctor or going for treatment." Nowhere on this label was there mention of children or pets, and even the part of the warning devoted to Poison Control Centers and doctors might well have applied only to the preceding passage about getting the solution into one's eyes. No Swiffer product carried a warning cautioning users that its toxicity might pose a danger to children or pets, as suggested by the message quoted above.
On its web site, Procter and Gamble explains its Swiffer WetJet cleaning system as an all-in-one, ready-to-use mopping system. According to the entry in its "Swiffer Q&A" section devoted to the question of whether the product is safe to use around pets:
Great news for you and your pets! Swiffer Wet and Swiffer WetJet are specially designed to not leave a residue on the floor, so there's no need to rinse. We suggest you make sure the floor is completely dry before letting your pet walk on it, though, because wet floors can be slippery. Since there isn't a residue, there are no problems if your pet licks the floor.
No more worrying about the owner of those muddy paw prints. You can enjoy the convenience of our Swiffer products without any worries for your pet's safety.
In direct response to the e-mail's charge, Procter and Gamble has posted a rebuttal:
There is a false Internet rumor circulating rapidly among pet owners alleging that Swiffer WetJet may contain antifreeze and is harmful to pets. The Wet cloths and WetJet liquid solution cleaners do not contain antifreeze or any ingredient similar to it. In fact, all Swiffer products are safe to use around pets.
We evaluated the Swiffer Wet cloths and WetJet cleaners to ensure they're safe a fact confirmed by the ASPCA, independent veterinarians and scientists. In fact, for nearly five years, people in over 38 million U.S. homes have safely used Swiffer products on everything from the kitchen and living room floors to tables and ceiling fans.
We have pets too, and their health and well-being is very important to us. Please help us stop this rumor by sharing the truth with others.
The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center has also issued a statement declaring this rumor to be unfounded:
Veterinary toxicologists at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center have reviewed the claim described in a widely distributed email alleging a relationship between the use of Swiffer Wet Jet and liver failure in a dog. The email alleges that exposure to the ingredients in Swiffer Wet Jet caused a dog's death.
The Swiffer Wet Jet system contains water (90-100%), propylene glycol n-propyl ether or propylene glycol n-butyl ether and isopropyl alcohol (1-4%). These ingredients are safe to use around pets when used according to label directions and would not cause liver damage at product concentrations. Propylene glycol n-butyl/propyl ether differs significantly from ethylene glycol, the potentially toxic ingredient present in most antifreeze products. Ethylene glycol is frequently implicated in causing renal failure in dogs following antifreeze ingestion. Propylene glycol n-propyl ether and propylene glycol n-butyl ether are very safe ingredients at levels used in cleaning products and do not cause kidney or liver failure.
If this warning is as unsubstantiated as it appears to be, then why did someone write it? One possibility is that most pet owners are of course quite distraught when beloved, apparently healthy animal companions die for no obvious reason, and in their grief they understandably try to make sense of the otherwise unexplainable by finding something to which the deaths can be attributed. Unfortunately, this emotional reaction often leads people to lay the blame on agents that may have only a coincidental connection to events. For example, a pet owner re-carpets his home, and a week later both his dogs suddenly die. In this circumstance, many people would quite naturally assume that the new carpeting which draws attention as the most substantial and visible change to the household must have been connected to the death of the dogs, but much more evidence would be necessary to draw that conclusion. Quite possibly a factor (or combination of factors) unrelated to carpeting was the cause, and the timing of the dogs' deaths was completely coincidental. Or the connection may have been tangential perhaps after the new carpeting was installed, the residents took to removing their shoes upon entering the house; the dogs, now having convenient access to those shoes, began to chew or lick them, thereby picking up some kind of toxin or illness-causing biological agent carried in from the outside on those shoes.
Also, given this message's similarity to a different, unfounded e-mail warning about another Procter & Gamble product, Febreze, we'd have to consider the possibility that someone with a grudge against Procter & Gamble is maliciously trying to damage the company by deliberately spreading false information about their products.
Swiffer Pet Rumor
(Procter & Gamble)
Last updated: 12 May 2004
I use non toxic cleaners anyway but I figured the swiffer thing was a bit too far fetched to be deadly.
I wonder what makes propylene glycol safe for food use if it's in antifreeze? I've seen it in so many things lately (baby wipes, infants tylenol among other things) and I can't get past the fact it's antifreeze eventhough the fda says it's ok. Maybe it's the way it's absorbed??
I think since DS was born we've only swiffered twice. Good thing.
Juliet, mama to DS 10/03 & DS 11/06
But why does it specifically say "TOXIC to children and pets" on my Swiffer box? I have it right here. Granted, it is an old box (probably a year old), but still, kinda weird...(Amy scratches her head at this point...)
Mama to "The Fantastic Four":
Propylene Glycol is also found in many toiletries such as body lotion and shampoo (Bath and Body Works lotion is an example). I believe it acts as an emulsifier (keeps the final product from separating) and it keeps the product (whether it be medicine, antifreeze or lotion) from freezing at low temps. Antifreeze today isn't the same antifreeze of years past.
I'm guessing they mean more along the lines if a child or pet were to actually ingest the product itself.
Mommy to Annalia 03/03/03