Pets make great companions but they sure leave quite the mess (and stink)! Be a pet-loving home without looking and smelling like one with our top ten ways to keep your house clean when you have pets.
We all know that keeping a clean home can be a challenge as it is, but trying to keep your house clean when you have pets is just a whole ‘nother ball game. Any pet owner will tell you this. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re a pet owner yourself and you’ve found yourself blind-sided from time to time by just what a mess pets can make, even the super cute ones who do nothing but cuddle and sleep all day. It’s almost impressive how they can make such a mess while doing absolutely nothing! 🙂 I thought I’d put together a little list of things you can do to help keep your home clean with pets if you’ve been feeling like you’re up to your eyeballs in fur and um, all the other fun stuff that you have to learn to deal with if you want all the benefits of having a cute and cuddly pet in your family. OK, Oreo’s looking a little more judgmental than cute and cuddly in this picture, but you get the idea. 🙂
How to Keep Your House Clean When You Have Pets
Get the Right Tools
As with all cleaning, good, basic cleaning tools really are enough to do a good job. I never like to recommend getting every new cleaning gadget or potion that becomes available on the market, but in the case of dealing with pet fur, there really have been some pretty neat inventions that are actually effective. I went over quite a few of my favorites in this post about dealing with pet fur specifically, but I’ve also recently found this FURemover broom, which looks pretty awesome for people with a lot of very shed-y pets. It’s from the makers of those amazing Furminator brushes, only it’s a broom! I’ve also always wanted to try out the self-scooping litter boxes because I’ve heard a lot of great things about them. Unfortunately, the spot where we have the litter boxes in our back hall doesn’t have power yet! The joys of living in an old house!
Keep Your Pets Clean
Your pets may look clean, but you’ll definitely notice a difference if you start giving your pets baths a little more regularly. It’s not just about the fur, but pets rubbing up against the side of a sofa or against a doorway as they walk through will often start to make things look grungy before too long. Chuckers used to be terrified of the tub, but now he’s getting pretty good about sitting still, even if bath time isn’t really his favorite thing.
Use an Old Towel
If your pets have a consistent spot in your home where they like to rest during the day, try putting down an old towel or a pet blanket that matches your decor just for them in their spot. It will keep the carpet/sofa cleaner and less hairy and it will probably actually encourage your pets to gravitate to that spot because the extra layer of softness will just look super inviting to them!
Keep Good Habits, and Repeat
Brush Brush Brush
If battling fur is your number one pet-related cleanliness issue, then brushing is the best and most simple thing you can do. Daily brushing, preferably outside, will allow you to be proactive about your pet’s shedding and keep the fur build-up in your home from getting too out of control.
Freshen Freshen Freshen
Pets have a smell. All pets. Yes they do. And so do humans, of course. We’re just a little more used to that and we’re also more prone to taking daily showers, so that helps. 🙂 It’s a good idea to get into the habit of freshening your home regularly if you have pets to keep that “dog smell” or “cat smell” from getting too strong. Baking soda works wonders on soft furnishings, as well as in and around litter boxes. Also keep a healthy supply of things like candles and air fresheners around for times when guests will be coming into your home. If you like to keep things a little more natural when it comes to home scents, check out my recipe for homemade air spray or my spring essential oil diffuser recipes!
Vacuum Vacuum Vacuum
There’s no way around it, vacuuming is still the most effective way to pick up pet hair and keep it contained compared to pretty much any other method. All these different ideas and tips for dealing with pet fur do all work together for the greater good of your home, but vacuuming is still the very best thing you can do to keep your house clean when you have pets. So find a vacuum that you love and keep on it as much as possible!
Don’t Forget to do Your Chores
Clean Your Pet’s Dishes
You may not realize it so much, because it can be one of those things that we just get used to seeing, but your pet’s dishes get pretty gross. You really should be cleaning your pet’s dishes everyday, but if that just isn’t happening, try to give them a nice rinse out and wipe-down on a regular basis and wipe the floors, wall, and trim around their eating area as well. If this isn’t something that you’ve been doing regularly, you’ll be surprised how much cleaner that area of your home feels once you start!
Keep Up With the Laundry
Of course pet fur gets into everything, even if your pets are super well-behaved and don’t jump up on you or the furniture. Pet hair has a way of just floating through the air and landing in just about every nook and cranny around your home. Of course, keeping up with your own clothing laundry will help to keep you looking fur-free, but keeping up with the regular everyday laundry will also allow you to start getting to those other laundry items around your home a little more easily. Let’s face it, those cushion covers need a wash but you probably aren’t getting to that anytime soon if you first need to finish 27 loads of towels, jeans, and t-shirts. Do a little laundry everyday and allow yourself the time to clean things like pillows, throw blankets, and curtains that can get covered in pet fur and grime as well.
Wipe Those Little Paws
It’s always so nice to go outside for a walk with your dog, but you can be in for a nasty surprise at the end if it was a little muddier on the trails than you realized. You can end up with a mud-covered home pretty quickly after an episode like that and I don’t just mean floors. Carpets, furniture, blankets, walls, your pet can get in contact with all of these things in a matter of minutes. Get yourself in the habit of wiping those little paws when you come in from walks and you’ll nip that whole issue in the bud. If your dog is like Chuckers and is a little scared of getting their paws wiped, just keep at it. Be very calm and very kind as you wipe and they’ll start to relax about it over time.
*edit* One nice reader emailed me with concern for Chuckers’ nails so I thought I should add a little note in here. 🙂 We adopted Chuckers when he was 4 years old after he’d spent most of his life in shelters. It looks like his nails may have been neglected at some point because they’ve grown out to the point where they can’t be cut super short without hurting him. We have his nails trimmed professionally at our vet’s office every 5 weeks and they trim them as short as they can without causing him any pain. I used to ask them to trim them shorter every single time we went, but they explained that this is as short as they can go for that reason. Chuckers has always been super sensitive about his feet but over time with lots of kind words and lots of treats, he’s learned to trust us and the ladies at our vet’s office to keep his paws clean and beautiful. Thanks so much to everyone who took notice of Chuckers’ nails! And now, back to your regularly-scheduled blog post. 🙂
Have a System for Dealing with Surprises
Even if your stay proactive in your attempts to keep your house clean when you have pets there are definitely going to be times when your pet leaves you little “surprises” around the house that you’ll have to deal with. There’s no point in wishing that it didn’t happen, because it just does. You want to get those cleaned up right away and you don’t want it to be too big of a hassle, so do yourself a favor and be prepared with a system for dealing with these things. A caddy can work great for keeping all of these supplies together, or you can just keep them ready to go with all of your other cleaning supplies. I like to have a big roll of paper towel, a bunch of plastic bags to dispose of the paper towel quickly (folded for tidiness!), a basic all-purpose cleaning solution in a spray bottle, and a some big old towels for dealing with large scale surprises (usually just a knocked over water dish or a spilled drink, thank goodness).
So those are a few ideas for keeping up with all the fun messes our pets leave for us! It may sound like a lot of work, but thankfully there are more moments that make it all worth it! 🙂
What are your favorite tips to keep your house clean when you have pets?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.