Home and Car Cleaning Guide for Pet Owners
Owning a pet is a great experience. They teach responsibility, they show love and loyalty, they are companions who are faithful and kind, and they can brighten up your life in innumerable ways. Pets can also be messy. They shed, or get dirty, or have accidents in the house, or just smell weird sometimes. Fortunately, it’s easy to clean up after pets, stay ahead of any messes they may make, and keep your home and belongings protected from mess while still enjoying the love and companionship of a pet!
Cleaning Up After Pets
Pets make messes. It’s a fact of life. But cleaning up after them doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety or even a ton of work! It’s important to think about what kind of messes you are willing and able to clean up before you start to look for a pet. You should always adopt, not shop, but what kind of pet you adopt will depend on your physical capability and temperament as well! Are you physically healthy and have time to spend with a pet? A dog might be a great home and travel companion! Is it hard for you to go outside or downstairs often and are busy? Maybe a cat would be better! Are you away from home a lot? Fish are low maintenance and just as cute!
Once you’ve decided on a pet, stock your house with basic pet cleaning supplies. For dogs, especially puppies, you need to make sure you can clean the floors, pick up any accidents, and maybe put floor protection by the doors to avoid muddy feet. Cats need litter boxes, and a lint roller can’t hurt! Fish need an extra bowl or clean tank in addition to their main one for when you need to clean it. Once you have these supplies in place, you should be able to transition your pet into their new life easily!
- Best Friends Animal Society: Choosing a pet
- The Humane Society of the United States: Choosing the right dog for you
- American Veterinary Medical Foundation: Selecting a pet for your family
Although cats and dogs shed, there are a few steps you can take to make cleaning up fur easier. First, if you really don’t like shedding, a long-haired dog or cat is not for you. Pick a dog that doesn’t shed as much, or a short haired cat. Second, make sure you have lint rollers or some other device to remove hair. If you live in a place with carpet, vacuuming often is a good idea and, for hardwood floors, sweeping often usually keeps hair from accumulating. For the car, regular cleaning and vacuuming is also recommended. Consider getting a portable vacuum for the car if you do not already have one.
Keeping Paws Clean
If you have a dog or cat, they are going to get their paws dirty. Dogs love to go outside and get in the dirt. Even if they are relatively clean dogs, they can still track mud and grass inside. Cats use a litter box, and so they can get litter on their feet and track it through the house. Having mats in front of doors and near the litter box is a great way to keep mud or litter from being tracked through the house or vehicle. Keeping your yard free of muddy spots and the litter box clean can also help!
- American Kennel Club: Keeping muddy paws out of your house
- Animal Humane Society: Dog grooming tip
- Community Concern for Cats: Litter box behavior
If a pet has an accident, or even if they’re just clumsy and knock something over, sometimes you may have to remove stains. There are many commercial pet stain removers on the market, and these are almost always non-toxic to pets, something that is essential when you have animals in the home.
- SPCA of Texas: Successful cleaning to remove pet odors and stains
- Consumer Reports: Remedies for three common pet messes
Smells and Odors
Pets can also smell. Fish tanks should be cleaned regularly, and dogs and cats should be bathed often. Cats clean themselves, but they can also benefit from a cleaning, even with special wipes for pets. If your dog gets outside and comes back in smelling bad, or if a skunk gets too close to them, there are many remedies. The “wet dog smell” can also be alleviated with candles, car deodorizers, and/or air circulation!
- Chicago Tribune: Tips for keeping a pet-friendly home clean and odor-free
Travel Crates, Fish Tanks, and Other Pet Containers
If you have to transport or, in the case of fish, house your pet in one place, you should also keep their containers clean. For dogs and cats, this means cleaning out the bottom of the crate, keeping fresh water and food in it, a litter box for cats, and maybe even an old shirt of yours to make them more comfortable and calm. For fish, making sure that they have a secure and clean space to travel or stay in is key.
- Caring Pets: How to clean a goldfish aquarium
Pets can damage surfaces in your home and car, but there are some ways to prevent that. Make sure that your floors are well-maintained and safe for pets and keep your pets’ nails trimmed to prevent snags or scratches. Never declaw a cat, but you can trim their nails! This is actually helping to keep them safe as well. For fish, try putting a mat under their tank in case of leaks.
Protecting Your Furniture
While you can choose to keep pets off furniture, it’s actually more effective just to protect your furniture. Pets probably won’t follow your rules when you aren’t home, plus your home is their entire world, and by keeping them off the furniture, you’re making that world even smaller. Putting blankets on couches and covers on seats in your vehicle can help with hair and wear and tear on seating, and if you have a young animal that likes to scratch or chew, consider wrapping your table legs in foil or another deterrent.
- American Humane: Pet-proofing your home
- National Resources Defense Council: Non-toxic ways to protect your pet
Staying Ahead of the Mess
Although there will be messes, you can do a lot to prevent them from becoming overwhelming. Basic maintenance can be a big part of staying ahead of any messes. It may also be worth it to invest in taking some time every day to pick up for 5 minutes, removing the clutter that can exacerbate pet messes.
One of the best cleaning tips for dealing with pets is to have a dedicated space for their personal cleaning. Dog and cat shampoo, wipes, sprays, and more should all be kept in one location for ease of use and to save time. Having an out-of-the-way location for the litter box is also a good idea. In addition, it may be helpful to have a cleaning schedule, particularly for litter boxes and fish tanks.