A few years ago, I adopted a vivacious and outgoing dog who got me outside and more active. Her sunny spirit brightened my home, and my life. But it didn’t take long for her sweet doggy ways to make my apartment a mess. There’s the shedding, the stinky dog smell and the occasional “accident,” not to mention the mud and dirt that always manages to make its way inside on those little paws. It seemed like no matter how often we swept the parquet flooring, a dozen “fur bunnies” would make their way out of hiding. And of course there’s that sinking feeling you get when notice a dog hair sticking out of your half-eaten sandwich.
So, how can we as pet owners keep our spaces clean while still enjoying the company of our furry pals? Trust me, it is possible. Read on for some tips and tricks.
Shedding can be one of the most frustrating parts of owning a pet. Depending on the species and breed of pet, different hair textures make it easier, or more difficult, to remove hair from surfaces. Long-haired cat breeds such as Persians, for example, have puffy multi-layered coats prone to filling the air with fluff during shedding season.
Regular visits to the groomer will remove loose hair that will otherwise make its way to furniture. However, if grooming bills don’t fit in your pet budget, don’t despair. De-shedding tools, which are designed to aid in detangling the undercoat and to comb away loose hair, are available at many pet stores. Their effectiveness can depend on how the tool is made to the thickness of your pet’s coat, as well as how easy it is to get your pet to hold still while you groom him. For my dog, a thorough brushing a couple of times a week helps control the shedding on my furniture.
While grooming can greatly reduce the amount of stray hairs in your home, a few are still bound to find their way off your pet. Luckily, there are several tried and true tricks that help frustrated pet owners maintain hair-free furniture and floors — and sandwiches.
One simple method is to simply run your hand back and forth over an upholstered surface while wearing a rubber cleaning glove. The dislodged hair will stick to the glove, so you can roll it into a ball and throw it away, or you can wash it off by dipping the glove in a pan of water.
You can also dampen the palm of your bare hand, or a sponge, and move it over your couch, chairs or pillows. Some pet owners swear by dryer sheets or a solution of fabric softener diluted with water, lightly misted over fabrics then wiped down. Some companies even make special tools specifically designed to swipe hair from upholstery.
Frequent vacuuming is the best way to prevent excess pet hair from sticking to your carpet. Erica Rupp, owner of Got It Maid, an all-natural cleaning business based out of Asheville, North Carolina, encounters pet hair disasters frequently while she’s on the job.
“I use a brush attachment on the end of my vacuum,” she says. “Any type of brush will get the hair off the furniture and onto the ground where you can get it with your vacuum.”
Rupp recommends vacuuming pet hair in four directions.
“If it’s in a cramped spaced, you can only go so many directions, but the more directions you move the vacuum head, the more you will pick up,” she says.
For those with laminate or wood flooring, normal sweeping along with use of a dry mop can take care of most stray pet hairs.
For more tried-and-true tricks for getting rid of pet hair, watch this video:
Getting Rid Of Pet Stains And Odors
From an overdue bath to a toileting accident, a home that smells (and looks!) like a barn is never good. Properly housebreaking your dog and giving him regular walks will often serve as the best preventive measure for going to the bathroom in inappropriate locations. Neutering male cats tends to reduce, or eliminate, spraying.
If you suspect an accident has occurred, noticing stains, a bad smell, or both, there are a few ways to deal with the problem areas. Blacklights, available at many home improvement stores, can be used in a dark room to identify soiled areas. If you do not get the smell out of the carpet, your pet will continue to think of that spot as his personal litter box.
For freshly soiled areas, absorb the mess with paper or litter. Commercial carpet cleaning solutions and pet stain removers can help as well. Extractors and wet vacs do a great job of lifting stains and cleansing away odors from older, set stains. However, steam cleaners rely on heat and can embed stains, making them even more stubborn, so avoid heat cleaning stains on carpet.
For all-natural stain and odor-removal, Rupp suggests using vinegar.
“Vinegar is your best friend,” she says. “It neutralizes odor and is a pretty solid disinfectant.”
She notes that bigger messes might need a few different applications. As for pesky stains, “baking soda and vinegar are good stain fighters. You have to apply it, let it dry all the way, and vacuum it like crazy, but it will get it out, especially the urine stains,” she says.
Rupp points out that vinegar is safe on almost any fabric or surface, even carpets, but you should always test it on a small area, prior to doing a large application.
Sometimes, unfortunately, replacing carpet is the only option, especially in situations where urine has seeped into the padding underneath the carpet.
In my own experience, it’s been important to realize that life with a pet means accepting a home that will rarely, if ever, be immaculate. We can do our best to prevent messes by grooming our pets and giving our dogs plenty of time outdoors, and when the inevitable occasional mess does arise, there are many options for cleaning it up. But few pet owners will disagree that the joy our pets bring us makes it worth the extra time vacuuming, and yes, even the occasional dog hair sandwich.