Pets bring joy, laughter, snuggles, and companionship into our lives. They also have a tendency to sprinkle our homes with evidence of their presence—hair on furniture and floors, nose print art on the windows, suspicious odors, and other “gifts”. Use these easy cleaning tips to keep your pet safe and your home clean.
WRANGLING PET HAIR
The easiest way to keep pet hair under control is to groom your pet regularly. Baths, frequent brushing with a de-shedding tool, and regular trimming will minimize loose hair and reduce shedding.
Cover pet beds with removable covers and put a towel, sheet, or blanket where your pets frequently lie down. Shake them outside and wash them regularly. This will help contain pet hair and keep it from spreading around the house.
CLEANING RUGS AND FLOORS
When it comes to cleaning rugs and floors, the vacuum and Swiffer are your best friends, but has the FURemover rubber squeegee joined your floor-cleaning arsenal? Vacuum your rugs and carpets in alternating directions then use a rubber squeegee on rugs and carpets to gather all the pet hair the vacuum couldn’t get.
To tackle any suspicious smells, sprinkle baking soda over carpets before you vacuum and let it sit for a few hours or overnight if possible. Then vacuum as usual.
Keep a clean towel and a small bucket of water at the door your pet usually uses. Gently dip each paw in the clean water and dry them off before letting your pet in the house. During winter and on wet days, this will significantly reduce dirt and smells tracked into the house. It will also help protect your pet’s paws from chemical deicers in winter and lawn fertilizers in spring.
Vacuums with upholstery tools or motorized beater-bar attachments are effective at getting pet hair off of upholstered furniture and even curtains. You can also use the rubber squeegee on upholstered furniture.
Consider using baking soda for funny pet smells in your furniture, just like on your carpet or rugs. Investing in quality furniture covers and pet throws will protect your furniture from scratches, smells, and fur. Just make sure to follow any upholstery cleaning guidelines from furniture manufacturers to avoid damage to materials.
TACKLING THE SMELLS
The easiest step to eliminating pet odors is to open the windows. Circulating fresh air reduces smells and makes the house fresher.
Opt for Candles
Avoid spray air fresheners. These only mask the smells rather than address the source and are harmful to your pets (and they’re not great for the environment). Instead, opt for a fragrant candle like the Pet Odor Exterminator Candle (it also works on those funky garbage, garage, and bathroom smells).
All Natural Odor Eaters
Some swear by the all-natural power of vinegar to cut through pet smells. Put some citrus rinds in a cup of white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) and leave it on the counter.
Odor absorbers like charcoal are also effective, especially around litter boxes and other places that tend to have persistent smells.
If you have cats, use low-odor litter and clean the litter box daily. Wash the litter box out weekly with a non-toxic cleaner. If you have more than one cat, make sure to have separate litter boxes.
If pet odors and allergens are of particular concern to you, invest in a quality air purifier that includes both an activated filter (charcoal or carbon) and a multi-level air filter reduces pet dander.
A very simple step is to replace the HVAC filters in your house every 3-4 months. This improves the quality of the air circulated throughout your house and will extend the life of your HVAC system.
CLEANING ACCIDENTS AND STAINS
Tackle pet stains and accidents as quickly as possible. Avoid using regular carpet cleaning products. Instead opt for products designed to clean pet messes. They contain bacteria and enzyme digesters that will attack odors and stains in the carpet and the padding underneath.
No matter how bad the stain looks or smells, don’t scrub it! Not only will scrubbing damage the texture of the carpet, you run the risk of grinding the mess into the carpet fibers.
First, clean up any solid residue. If it has hardened on carpet, use a dull knife to scrape it up. Use clean, light colored rags to soak up as much moisture as possible. Next, pour plain water on the spot and soak up all the moisture with clean rags. Keep repeating this until there is no yellow on the towels when you soak up water.
Next, use a cleaner or an enzyme-based ‘digester’ (like Nature’s Miracle or Urine Off) on the spot. Let it sit according to the instructions. If the urine has been there a while, you might need to use the cleaner several times to completely eliminate the smell.
Natural Cleaning Solutions
An option for a safe, natural way to clean up pet urine is to combine one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts water. Let the mixture sit on the stain for five to ten minutes then blot up the moisture. Repeat if necessary.
Undiluted white vinegar and baking soda are also natural cleaners that tackle odors. Soak the area of the accident with the white vinegar and let it sit for several minutes before blotting dry. Or, cover the accident area with baking soda and let it sit for several hours then vacuum the area.
TIPS FOR EXOTIC PET OWNERS
Bird and Mammal Cages
Give birdcages and small mammal cages a thorough scrubbing at least once a year. Clean the grate at the bottom and scrub down all the sides with hot, soapy water and a brush. Only use harsh chemicals if necessary but make sure everything is thoroughly rinsed. Don’t forget to wash the perches, food bowls, and toys as well. Many can be tossed in the dishwasher.
Reptile and Amphibian Habitats
At least once a year all the rocks and toys should be removed and scrubbed. If you use a water filter, be sure to clean and inspect it regularly. Replace any filters according to manufacture recommendations. Make sure any heat lamps and thermostats are working properly.
If your habitat includes substrate like peat moss, soil, sand, or other products, empty the substrates annually and refill with fresh materials.
Hot soapy water or a solution of soap, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol are safe cleaning agents. If you need a stronger cleaner, check with your veterinarian for safe options.
Cleaning fish tanks is very similar to reptile or amphibian habitats. Rinse the gravel and plastic plants with warm water and lay it outside to dry in the sun. Ultraviolet light helps kill bacteria.