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Living With Pets? You Can Still Have Your Home Clean!

Many of us take pride in our homes and work hard to make them cozy and welcoming. Plus, a number of these homeowners enjoy having pets.

Now, on the surface, that appears to be a contradiction. We all know pets are hard on a home’s interior. Pesky carpet accidents, wet dog odors, bird droppings, and dirty cat litter are all part of it. Of course, these are all undesirable in your precious house.

But, people are willing to risk damage to their home to enjoy the benefits of owning a pet. Who doesn’t melt for a cute animal face, right? But, you accept new cleaning responsibilities with that bundle of joy. It is part of the deal.

The good news is the necessary steps are not overwhelming. You can have your pet and a home you are proud to brag about to friends and family.

But, it is like a number of other things we do. With a little knowledge and planning, it is not hard. You will need to stay on top of a few items. So, we have compiled a list of the most common cleaning issues below for you to consult.

Hair

One of the biggest problems with pets like dogs and cats is hair, or fur. It clings to carpets and fabrics and shows up as those fuzz balls on hardwood floors, or even on countertops if you have a cat. Not the pristine vision you have for your home.

So, you will need to: 1) Groom regularly to help minimize shedding, and 2) Clean the hair that is shed.

Deshedding:

Grooming is the first step in fighting the fur problem. A well groomed pet sheds less. It is easier to collect as much hair as possible while grooming than it is cleaning around the house later. Not all shedding will be eliminated, but it will greatly minimize the amount.

Interestingly, deshedding is also good for your pets, especially for cats. It reduces problems like constipation and hairballs. So, with pets that shed fur, deshed them two or three times a week, minimum.

You will find many deshedding products on the market such as MIU COLOR Pet Deshedding Brush. They are widely available and usually an inexpensive way to take a bite out of the volume of hair that sheds around your spotless home.

Another trick you can use, deshed outside when the weather allows. You will avoid letting loose that bit of fur that escapes while you deshed your pet. So, it is then not free to float around your home.

Hair Cleaning

Even if you meticulously groom your pet and deshed regularly, some hair will have to be cleaned in the house. On hard surfaces, you can sweep, Swiffer, or vacuum to pick up the hair. No matter your choice of weapon, you should clean hard surfaces often.

Some pets, like cats, get on countertops and other places around the house that dogs don’t. Like say, on the back of the couch. So, clean all of the places your pet may hang out regularly, not just floors.

Of course, one of the main “hangouts” will be the pet bed, if you have one. If not, there is usually a carpeted spot or a blanket where your pet likes to sleep. It will be a fur magnet and you need to focus on keeping it free of hair.

For pet beds and carpet, fighting pet hair means one thing. You need a good vacuum cleaner. There plenty to choose from and many are designed to lift pet hair. One like the Shark Navigator Zero-M Self-Cleaning Brushroll Pet Pro vacuum makes the job easier.

With some items or certain fabrics, like clothes or curtains, a lint roll, sponge, or rubber brush may be needed to remove hair. You can try the Nado Care Pet Hair Remover roller or the Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter sponge.

One last thing you need to keep in mind when keeping your home free from loose fur, check and change your air filters more often. Pet hair puts a strain on all your air filters and they will need more regular care.

Pet Specific Cleaning

Pets come in all kinds; birds, fish, cats, gerbils, etc. and each brings unique challenges. Fish tanks must be cleaned out at certain times. Cats bring litter boxes into play. It ‘s in a dog’s nature to get dirty and track it around the house. Birds leave droppings.

So, let’s look at the regular cleaning you will need to conduct for the most common types of house pets.

Birds:

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green bird pet animal in cage

Birds can live a long time. Anyone who has owned one knows how fast they become a part of your family. So, they are a great pet.

But they are not without some cleaning chores. Birds need cages and they leave droppings. Plus, they are very sensitive to their environment and chemicals. And a dirty cage can stink.

One thing you may not know, avian veterinarians recommend that the cage be attended to once a day. It is more sanitary but it also helps keep your bird healthy. 

Clean and change the food and water every day. Plus, you should clean the floor daily. It will let you see unusual activity or droppings that can be a sign of sickness or a problem. 

Then once a week, you should do a deep cleaning of the cage. Use products that are bird friendly like Poop-Off. These are also good to have on hand since they are also good for carpet cleaning. 

(Spot cleaning of carpets and floors is discussed below in the “accidents” section.)

Cats:

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Cat people love to point out to dog owners that cats clean themselves. But that does not mean a cat is free from all cleaning. Far from it.

First, you should protect your furniture. Cats climb and explore, so you should use covers or throws on their favorite spots to protect the furniture. Then you can remove the cover and wash it when it gets too dirty.

Second, we need to discuss that litter box. Yes, clean and change it often. We will get to that in a second.

But first you need to consider where to put it. The kitchen is a poor spot. You don’t want it near your food preparation area.

Instead, pick a spare bedroom or closet with a hard floor. If it has carpet, put a towel down first. Then confine the space to keep the dust contained. Everything around the litter box will get dirty.

Then, you need to scoop out the litter box once a day. That’s for one cat. If you have more you have to scoop more. If you have more than two cats, you need more than one litter box. It’s part of the responsibility of owning multiple cats.

Every two weeks you should empty and scrub the litter box. Do not use cleaners with ammonia as it is similar to cat urine and fights your cleaning efforts. Then add new, fresh cat litter to the clean litter box.

Also, once a year it is best to get rid of the old litter box and get a new one. 

Fish:

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For detailed information on how to set up an aquarium and adjust your water chemistry, you will find many good articles like this one from PetMD. But the following summary outlines the regular cleaning your tank should get.

Keep things simple and change the water on a schedule. Some experts recommend changing 25% of the water every two to four weeks. Others say 10-15% every week. It will vary depending on the size of your tank, fresh vs. saltwater, the number of fish etc.

Do not remove the fish when cleaning unless it is necessary. It stresses the fish and can make them sick, so leave them in the aquarium. The other thing to do is turn off the electronics. Pumps and other equipment could be damaged when the water level falls.

The next step is to remove heaters, pumps, filters, aerators, and all decorations. Clean these in warm, clean water and set aside. Depending on the make and model of your water filter, you may need a few extra steps to properly clean it before moving on.

Next, clean the inside of the glass with an algae scraper like API Algae Scraper. If you have a tough spot to clean, you may need something with a blade like the Hygger Aquarium Strong Magnetic Cleaner.

If you have plants, this is a good time to trim and care for them before moving on to the next step. 

Then siphon or vacuum the bottom with an aquarium gravel cleaner, till the amount of water you plan to take out is removed from the tank. Next, replenish the water with fresh, pre-treated water of the same temperature as the removed water. Purified water is the best as it has the least amount of impurities that support algae growth.

Then, replace all the equipment and ornamentations you removed earlier. You have stirred things up and the water may look like a disaster area at this point. But don’t panic. Plug in the electronics and turn on the filter. It will clean things up.

Then your biggest “house cleaning” chore is to keep the outside glass clean. Even though we should not do it, people touch and tap the glass and make a mess of it. So, clean the glass a few times a week to keep that outside of the aquarium crystal clear.

Dogs:

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Dogs are popular and they present a unique problem. They simply do not groom themselves like cats or bathe on their own like birds. And fish, well, they are in water already.

Dogs will need a bath every now and then. Plus, when they come in with muddy feet, you need to clean their paws first. So, there are a couple of things you might want to consider if you own a dog.

A formal bath, with shampoo, will be needed every now and then. Pick a spot with linoleum or other water resistant flooring. Also , you need a way to dry your dog before letting it back in the house. Lots of towels or a hair dryer are two most common picks.

An alternative is to bath your dog outdoors in a tub, weather permitting. It is easier to keep splashed water and suds from making a mess inside. But be sure to keep the dog clean and mud free after the bath so you can get it into the house unsoiled and dry.

Use a good product like Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo and follow the directions for how often to shampoo. Keep in mind dogs do have sensitive skin and using a harsh shampoo too often can cause problems.

There will be other times where you will just want to do a quick clean before letting Fido back in the house. Muddy paws are one of the biggest offenders. For this, you should have a dedicated cleaning area and routine. 

The laundry room or mudroom are the two common choices. The floors there are selected to deal with water and muck, so these rooms are ideal. Use them as the entry point for bringing the dog back inside.

Then you should have water and towels at hand near the entrance used by the dog. As an alternative, some people prefer commercially available products like Nature’s Miracle Deodorizing Bath Wipes for Dogs.

Whichever you use, a quick dog washing with even just water will go a long way to keeping your home clean. But then you must also dry your dog. Don’t let that wet dog smell in the house. It is hard to get out once it is inside.

So, you can let the dog just wait in the bathing area till dry. It is a simple tactic with one major problem. Wet dogs take forever to dry naturally.

So, most people will opt for towels or a hair dryer. This is the best strategy to prevent wet dog odor. Never let a wet dog into the house. Force dry them if necessary, always. If the odor doesn’t get in, it will not be a problem in your house.

Pet Beds

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Cats and dogs will often prefer a spot to sleep. Some of these places may be actual pet beds you buy for them. Or it may be an old blanket they like. 

But you do want to make sure that it is something that can be tossed into the washer machine every now and then. And if it has a cushion, you may need to clean it while the cover is being washed.

Beds are one of the most common sources of pet odors. So, clean it often, as an important part of keeping your home clean and smelling fresh. When it becomes worn, replace it.

Nail Clipping

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Why is this on our house cleaning list? Admittedly, it’s probably more of a “how to keep your pet healthy” to-do. And some people will say it’s not so much a house cleaning chore.

But clipping your pet’s nail’s plays a role in protecting your home. Really, it does and you can do it at home.

Long nails can scratch things like hardwood floors. And pets with long nails can scratch up a door when they want to go out. Cats, well, we all know what happens when they feel the need to sharpen their claws.

The damage pets can do is unsightly and force you to conduct repairs and refinishing. So, while not necessarily cleaning, keeping your pet’s claws trimmed is part of keeping your home looking good.

Keep your pet’s nails properly trimmed. The most common methods that homeowners use are clippers like the Gonicc Dog & Cat Pets Nail Clippers or the Invenho Pet Nail Grinder.

Accidents Happen, Be Ready for Them

If you think you can raise a pet and never have nasty accidents appear every now and then, you are not being realistic. That goes for cats, dogs, birds, ferrets, gerbils, rabbits, etc.

They will relieve themselves, vomit, or get some other awful sticky mess on a carpet at some point. The reality is you need to be ready to clean it up when pet accidents happen.

The first thing to keep in mind, you must clean a spot as fast as possible. The longer it sits, the more it sinks in and sets. And the harder it is to clean.

Also, use an enzyme based cleaner. These break down the pet waste embedded down into your carpet, and that helps to eliminate the foul odors it could cause. A product like Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover will help keep your carpets clean and odor free.

Another thing you can use to clean these groan inducing incidents, try shaving cream. Many people swear it is the best cleaner. Plus, it is a common item to have in the house. So, keep it in mind, especially if you do not have a pet cleaner on hand.

Food and Bowls

This is a no brainer. You have to keep your pet’s dining area clean. The grimy buildup they leave is hard to clean and it can become stinky real fast.

So, the first thing to decide is where to place the bowls. Pick a spot that is accessible to the pet but away from cloth or carpet. Also, avoid places you might trip on it and splatter water and food everywhere. (If you have to put it on carpet, put a towel down first.)

Then, you want to put a laminated or plastic mat underneath the bowls. This will keep the majority of the mess on a mat that can be picked up and easily cleaned or replaced as needed.

Also, feed your pets at a standard time. It keeps them from playing with the food and trains them to eat when food is put out. That means you can clean food from the area after mealtime and you only need to leave fresh water out for them.

Use large, elevated bowls for larger dogs. It makes a canine more comfortable. Plus, it helps keep the food from falling out onto the floor. That means less cleanup for you.

Some homeowners spray the food bowl with cooking spray or vegetable oil. It helps to keep the bowl clean, and makes it easier to clean. It is one trick that some love and the amount of “fat” consumed by the pet is minimal.

Another thing to consider is the food itself. Many pet foods contain dyes and these can stain. Dye or colorant free pet foods are gentler on your home.

Toys

Ah, that slimy tennis ball your dog loves. But you hate it more they love it. What’s a homeowner to do?

Well, for starters you can exercise your pet outside. You heard that right, get them plenty of outdoor exercise. That means many of its toys can be stored in a shed or the garage. The slobber and mess never comes into the home.

Inside, you should have a box or chest to put away the toys after playtime. Or even better, train your dog to put away the toys. Yes, it can be done.

Plus, keep the “inside” toys clean. They are unsightly and downright gross most of the time. So, it is a pain to do, but cleaning the indoor pet toys goes a long way to keeping your home looking good and feeling clean.

Air Freshening

One in a while, when you own a pet, your home will develop some “off odors” (we’re trying to be nice to the pets here!). So, what do you do to get rid of them?

Well, don’t ignore the obvious easy and free choice. Open the windows and air out the place. It is often enough to get that fresh, welcoming atmosphere back inside your house.

Sometimes you will need to resort to more drastic measures, like air fresheners. There are products made to specifically “absorb” pet odors (like Citrus Magic Pet Odor Absorbing Solid). These may help with the odors that persist.

You can also try the products like pet sprayed odor eliminators and candles. These are designed to break down and eliminate odors, not cover them up.

Then there are those problem spots, like a urine stain. This is where the tried and trued home remedy of baking soda may be of use. 

Simply sprinkle baking soda on the problem spot and let it sit overnight. This will give it time to absorb the odor. Then in the morning vacuum it up.