Our pets provide us with an enormous amount of comfort and love. We simply wouldn’t be without them. But one thing most of us could do without is the mess (and smells) they leave in their wake.
Whether you have an obedient cat or a house-trained pup, even the best-behaved pets cause problems in the home. But don’t think for one minute that you have to spend hours and copious amounts of elbow grease to clean up after your pets.
If you know how to approach smelly or messy issues, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort.
Whether it’s choosing the best vacuum cleaner for pet hair or restricting access to certain areas of your home, the decisions you make will determine how much pet-related housework you have to do.
We’ve put together 11 simple cleaning hacks that should make your life a whole lot easier.
1. Clean muddy paws at the door
Don’t let your dog run into your home without first having a thorough foot bath. Place a washing bowl of water at the door every time you leave for walkies. If you have a preferred, pet-friendly soap, you can add a little of it to the water. When you return, dip each of your dog’s paws into the water, remove any excess mud and dirt, and dry their paws with a clean cloth.
If you don’t want to leave bowls of water lying around, use some pet-friendly wipes. Even a clean, damp rag by the door can help you to stop mud being walked onto your carpets and wood floors.
2. Give your dog a bandana
If you don’t already know, dogs cool down through their mouths. They have to, as they don’t sweat efficiently. This means that even the best-behaved dogs have a tendency to drool a lot. And as you’ll already know, drool is bad for furniture and carpets.
Get your dog to wear a cut bandana to catch some of this drool before it does some damage. When it gets wet, you can simply throw it in the wash.
3. Vacuum your dog
If you have a dog that moults a lot, you’ll know how much of a problem hair can be. Once dog hair gets on your carpets and upholstered furniture, it can be very difficult to remove. But you can stop the problem at the source with regular vacuuming.
Once a day, use an appropriate vacuum cleaner accessory to vacuum your dog’s coat. This will remove loose hair, dander and allergens before they can wreak havoc in your home. If you have allergy sufferers in your home, this should minimise their suffering.
4. Mask smells with essential oils
Keeping pet smells at bay often feels like a losing battle. No matter how often you bathe your pet, there’s always a new smell waiting to be unleashed. While regular cleaning and vacuuming is the best defence against pet-related smells, you can mask those annoying whiffs when you don’t have time to clean.
Drop a little essential oil onto your dogs bed, and all the areas your dog likes to frequent. The best option is always lavender, as dogs find it soothing. Put a few drops of lavender oil on your dogs fur (between the shoulder blades), and you’ll neutralise at least some of the odour. You get the added benefit of killing fleas, too.
5. Mask smells with fabric softener sheets
Dogs are naturally inquisitive; they love to explore, particularly when they’re outside. But this leads them to mud, water and lots of outdoor nastiness. And the last thing you want is the smell of “wet dog” pervading your entire home after a long walk.
To fight this common problem, mask the smell with fabric softener sheets. Place them in the areas your dog frequents, and that unmistakable smell won’t be quite as overpowering.
6. Use throws and mats throughout your home
Owning a pet — particularly a dog — is tough on carpets and upholstery. Hair, dander, odours and messes can mark the end for fabric, so you have to take steps to protect them. Fortunately, introducing this protection is probably easier than you think.
Place throws on your upholstered furniture — particularly the areas on which your dog likes to sit. Every few days, simply wash the throw, and replace it with a clean one. This same principle applies to mats and rugs on your carpets.
7. Line litter trays
One of the most unpleasant pet-related tasks in the home is replacing cat litter. Even if you’re careful, it’s hard to stop odours from pervading your entire home. But the whole process is made a lot easier when you use a liner.
Place a liner or bag at the bottom of the tray before you add the litter. When it’s time to replace it, the tray itself should be relatively clean. And the removal of the litter should be a lot simpler.
8. Always have a lint roller handy
Whether you own a cat or a dog, hair on your carpets and furniture will always be a problem. Unless you have a powerful vacuum cleaner for pet hair in your home, you’ll need to think of alternative ways to remove this troublesome hair.
One simple, low-tech and cheap way is with the use of a lint roller. While your vacuum cleaner will pick up loose hairs, your lint roller will pull trapped hairs out of almost any type of fabric.
9. Always have rubber gloves and a squeegee handy
Pet hair seems to stick to carpet and upholstery with ease. And only the most powerful vacuum cleaners can remove it. But another option is to remove it with rubber gloves. Put on a pair of gloves, and dampen them. Run your hands over the pet hair, and it should readily stick to the gloves.
The same principle applies to a window squeegee. Dampen it, and clean your carpets and furniture like you’d clean windows. You might be surprised at how easily the troublesome pet hair can be removed.
10. Make your own urine cleaning agent
All pets have little accidents from time to time. Unfortunately, you’re not always there to witness them. The first you know is when the resultant smell emerges. You can throw a lot of expensive cleaning agents at the problem, or you can take a natural (and often cheaper) approach.
Mix some water and white vinegar in equal parts to create a litre of cleaning solution. Add four heaped teaspoons of baking soda, and give it a good stir. Pour the solution into a spray bottle, and you have your own urine obliterator. Spray the urine stain liberally, and leave it for a few minutes. Then, wearing a pair of rubber gloves, gently dab the area dry with a paper towel or a microfibre cloth.
11. Use your dishwasher
Everything your pet owns has the potential to smell. If you want to be obsessive about smells in your home, you could create your own pet cleaning schedule. And if you do, your dishwasher could become your most powerful tool.
Almost everything can be cleaned in a dishwasher, including your pet’s toys, collar and bowls. Wait until you have enough items to fill the dishwasher. And don’t mix your dishes with your pet’s possessions. Washing everything on a hot setting should be enough to kill the bacteria that cause bad odours.
Keeping a home spotless and odour-free is almost impossible when pets are present. However, you should be able to keep on top of the situation with these pet-related cleaning hacks.