Nearly two out of three households in the U.S., or 85 million families, own a pet. We love our furry friends, and that number shows no signs of slowing down. But cats and dogs often take a toll on our homes. They shed, they chew, and they have accidents on the floor.
Here are six ways you can keep your house in good condition, even as your pets continue to rule the roost.
Take Care of Pet Hair
Ever look down at your clothing, and it’s covered in hair that isn’t yours? One of the biggest problems with pets is their fur. It’s everywhere — your carpet, your furniture, your rugs. You can manage the amount of fur in your home in a few ways.
- Put an old sheet or blanket down where your pet sleeps. Shake it out and wash it once a week.
- Get your pets groomed regularly. Brush them between groomings.
- Vacuum frequently. On carpets, use a rubber rake to get out all the hair.
- Call a professional. You should have your carpet cleaned at least once a year. If you have more than one pet or high traffic areas, do it twice a year. Have them clean your upholstery, as well.
- Use a lint roller or brush on clothing and furniture. Duct tape works great, too!
Freshen the Air
We live with them, so we may not notice but our pets have an odor. If you want to make sure visitors aren’t subjected to the smell, keep your home fresh. We’re fortunate to have great weather most of the year. It’s one reason South Carolina ranks so high on the quality of life index. So open the windows for at least 10 minutes a day before you start vigorously attacking odors.
- Sprinkle baking soda on carpet, rugs, and furniture, then vacuum it up.
- Have air fresheners, candles, wax melts, and a diffuser on hand. Consider some odor-neutralizing plants. We recommend spider plants since they can be planted in hanging baskets, out of the pet’s reach. A word of warning: Some odor-killing plants, such as philodendron, are toxic to pets.
- Spray enzyme products on soiled or smelly areas. It kills the bacteria causing the odor.
- Wash pet toys and bedding with vinegar.
Keep Their Paws Clean
Pets track in everything. Dirt, mud, grass, sometimes even animal waste. It ends up on your carpet and furniture. But you can control the mess in several ways.
- Put them in pet shoes or booties. Just take them off when they come inside.
- Put a towel and a shallow container of water by the door before you take them for a walk. Dip their paws in the water and dry them off when you get back. If your dog doesn’t like having his feet wiped, keep at it. He will eventually get used to it.
- *Keep your yard free of pet waste to avoid tracking it in.
Keep Up With the Litter Box
You don’t want visitors to your home to know you have a cat the minute they step inside. But if you don’t keep the litter box clean, they will! Make it easier on yourself.
- Use a litter box liner. You can pick it up all at once, instead of having to dump the box. A plastic garbage bag also works as a liner.
- Use a covered litter box or make your own by cutting a hole in a large plastic storage box. It will do a better job of keeping litter off the floor.
- Scoop it out every day and change the litter once or twice a week.
- Keep the box in a well-ventilated area.
- Put baking soda in with the litter.
- Wash the litter box regularly.
Keep Their Food Area Clean
Most of us leave the dog dish out all the time. But if you don’t take care of the area, it can be an eyesore. Putting it out of sight and getting it out again twice a day is a pain but there are things you can do to keep the floor around the dish free of pet food.
- Place something under the bowl. This can be a placemat or a towel, anything that’s easy to pick up and wipe off or wash.
- Use a cookie sheet for easy pick-up. If you decide you would rather pick up the entire thing each time, set it on a small cookie sheet. They are inexpensive and easy to find.
- Wash the bowls and wipe the floor and floorboards regularly.
- Feed at set times instead of leaving food out all day for pets to graze. Of course, water should always be available but it’s much easier to wipe up.
Clean Stains Quickly
When you have pets, accidents are going to happen. Reacting as quickly as possible can help prevent permanent stains or odors. Dog or cat urine in a carpet can alter the color.
- Blot stains with a cloth or a stack of paper towels, picking up as much moisture as possible.
- Use an enzyme-based spray to keep stains and smells to a minimum. Or use a mix of clear dishwashing soap and water.
- Call a carpet cleaning expert immediately, if you aren’t able to get the stain out.
These tips won’t prevent the need to have your carpet professionally cleaned, but they will make your house more liveable and your pets more loveable.
Annaliese Olson is a gardening and animal care writer. When she moved to the city from her family’s farm she decided she needed more nature in her life. She is dedicated to urban farming, she loves to creatively discover spaces for her animals and plants to blossom in her city home.