Antifreeze in Swiffer Wetjet Kills Pets, Children-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
An antifreeze-like ingredient in the Swiffer Wetjet kills pets and cause liver failure in children.
Emails warning that antifreeze in the Swiffer Wetjet cleaning solution kills pets and can cause liver or kidney failure in young children have been circulating since the early 2000s — but they’re not based on credible threats.
One of the earliest occurrences of the Swiffer Wetjet warning was an email that circulated in 2004. An unknown author writes that someone they know had to put down an adult German shepherd suffering from liver failure after licking Swiffer Wetjet cleaning solution. Baffled after the pet’s death, the owner then supposedly read the label:
…He noticed, in very fine 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 that’s one molecule away from antifreeze).
The warning has understandably created quite a bit of panic among pet owners of the years. Much of that worry is not based in reality, but it’s true that Swiffer Wetjet solution can have some adverse health impacts on pets and young children. Manufacturer Procter & Gamble states in a material safety data sheet:
Ingestion of moistened sheet by a young child or household pet may lead to impaction of the gastrointestinal tract. A physician or veterinarian should be consulted.”
The phrase “impaction of the gastrointestinal tract” is another word for constipation. And, while constipation can create significant adverse health impacts if left untreated, it’s not on-par with liver or kidney failure (as the email warning claims). So, that portion of the rumor is “fiction.”
And the claim that Swiffer Wetjet solution contains antifreeze, or a compound that’s “one molecule away” from it is very misleading. The ingredient in question is propylene glycol. And, while propylene glycol is sometimes used as an antifreeze in food and drinks — it’s not the same “antifreeze” as the neon green chemical that’s added to cars. In fact, the CDC explains that propylene glycol is safe for use in food and drinks at limited levels:
“Propylene glycol has been approved for use at certain levels in food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products,” the CDC said. “If you eat food products, use cosmetics or take medications that contain it, you will be exposed to propylene glycol, but these amounts are not considered harmful.”
Given all that, we’re calling claims that the Swiffer WetJet kills pets or causes liver and kidney failure “fiction.”