A pet will fill your home with love, but it will also fill your home with fur, odors and lots of mess.
A recent study by North Carolina State University researchers found that homes with dogs have more bacteria and more types of bacteria in them than homes without dogs, with the pillowcases and TV screens containing the most detectable dog-related microbes.
“Their coats act like big, hairy slippers, and they bring everything from the outside in,” said Mikkel Becker, a pug owner and a Seattle-based certified trainer for vetstreet.com, a veterinary and training website.
But it is possible to have pets without having your home look or smell like it’s housing animals as long as you take care to groom your pets efficiently and clean up after them effectively.
Get the right fabric for your couch
Some fabrics are simply going to be easier to clean (and they may even disguise the dirt and fur if you don’t have time to clean), said Samantha Lane, operations manager for April Lane’s Home Cleaning in Seattle. If you’re planning on letting your pets sit on the furniture, you’re going to have fur—and quite possibly vomit and other bodily specimens—on there too. So it’s a great idea to think about getting a leather couch or a microfiber couch, which are easier to clean than silk, which stains easily, or velvet, which is a pet-hair magnet, Lane said.
“Anything with a thick weave fabric is going to be good,” she said. Lane also suggested matching the color of your furniture to the color of your animal so that the shedding fur becomes less noticeable.
Get rid of the fur
Pet fur everywhere is inevitable, but you can get rid of this easily with the right type of vacuum. Donna Smallin Kuper, certified house cleaning technician and small space living expert at unclutter.com, said her favorite vacuum for pet hair is the PowerGlide Deluxe Pet Vacuum with Lift-Off Technology. “I like it because of the turbo tools, and because you can lift off the portable vacuum in order to vacuum stairs or your car,” she said. Those who really don’t like to see pet fur around their home should simply avoid those dogs that shed frequently: pugs, Labradors, golden retrievers and huskies. Those that don’t shed are poodles, Shih Tzus and Pomeranians.
Spot-clean messes ASAP
Marty Becker, author of 22 books, including “Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul” and “The Healing Power of Pets,” said techniques used at a vet hospital to keep clean and odor-free can also be used at home. Becker, a veterinarian at North Idaho Animal Hospital, said he always spot-cleans messes as soon as they happen, using cloth or a paper towel to get the bulk of the solids or liquids up. Then he uses a washcloth to wipe clean and to dilute the offending material with liberal amounts of water. After the moisture evaporates somewhat, he suggests using liquid enzymatic cleaner liberally. The enzymatic cleaner shouldn’t simply mask the odor, but should cannibalize the organic materials that are the source, Becker said, suggesting Anti-Icky Poo MisterMax Stain Remover ($24.95 at antiickypoo.com.)
Use your entrance wisely
Since dogs and outdoor cats carry dirt and allergens in from the outside, Mikkel Becker always keeps Earthbath All Natural Hypo-Allergenic and Fragrance-Free Grooming Wipes ($13.84 at amazon.com) next to her pet’s leash—and she wipes her dogs before they enter the house. “They’re fragrance-free, and they get rid of odor,” she said. Becker also makes her dogs step on a Muddy Buddy Paw Mat ($24.99 at bedbathandbeyond.com), which is a microfiber chenille doormat that is made to absorb and contain dirt, mud and water, soaking up to seven times its weight in water and mud. “I make it a positive experience by giving him treats when he’s on there,” Becker said.
Change the litter box often
Cats will not use a dirty litter box, Kuper said. If you have one cat, you need to scoop the litter daily, and if you have two, then it needs to be done twice if they share a box. “If you notice an odor, then scoop,” Kuper said. “If the odor lingers, it’s time to change the litter and clean the box.” Kuper suggests using Fresh Step Odor Shield with ClumpLock Odor Technology ($12.99 for a 25-pound bag at petco.com), and scooping and disposing of the waste in an outdoor trash bin. A covered cat litter box will help reduce unpleasant odors, and will minimize messy fallout from digging and burying action, Kuper said.
Wash your pet frequently
The new recommendation is to bathe your pet weekly or every two weeks, Mikkel Becker said. She recommended the Kong ZoomGroom brush ($10.49 at petsmart.com at bath time, to break up and scrub away loose fur during the lathering process. Becker also always covers the bath drain using a drain cover or steel wool so she can grab the hair and put it into the garbage so it doesn’t clog the drain. Between baths, use grooming wipes and keep them near the entranceway.
Get the fur out of the carpet
For embedded hair in carpet or the fabric, Marty Becker suggests using a balloon or latex glove to rub over the fur. “The static electricity makes it stand up, and then it can be vacuumed up or removed using a sticky tape roller,” he said.
Clean the pet beds
Make sure pet beds are machine washable, otherwise, odors collect there, Mikkel Becker said. They should be washed at least every month if not weekly. You can also use an odor-eliminating freshening spray in the crate if your pet uses one, in addition to on the bedding and on the furniture. Becker likes Febreze Fabric Refresher Pet Odor Eliminator Air Freshener ($9.99 at amazon.com.)