Pets are the best. They bring out the best in us as a species, and if you own one, I'm sure you'll agree that pets are integral members of the family. They offer us comfort, celebrate our achievements, and develop their own personalities over the years.
Cleaning up after them, on the other hand, is a labour of love. Dogs and cats in particular are fantastic companions, but they are still some of the messiest, clumsiest critters on the planet. In order to combat the inevitably messy results of the summer walking season (we also have tips for spring, just in case), we’ve compiled a list of the best cleaning hacks for pet owners.
1. RUBBER GLOVES CATCH HAIR
A simple pair of dishwashing gloves can become your best friend when it comes to shedding cat and dog hair. Put on a pair of traditional yellow cleaning gloves and sweep your hands over the carpet, area rug, or your animal themselves. The excess hair will stick to the rubber gloves with ease. Then, toss the gloves in the kitchen sink full of water and watch the hair float to the surface. Gather it up, and toss it in the trash.
2. BABY WIPES AND DAMP CLOTHS FOR SHEDDERS
Another tip for gathering up shedding hair with ease is to wipe down your animal with a damp cloth or a baby wipe. The dampness easily collects the shedding undercoats of both dogs and cats, which act like inexpensive hair magnets, gathering hair into manageable clumps.
3. SKIP THE MIDDLEMAN, TRY THE VACUUM
It may look funny to friends and guests - but skip the middleman and vacuum your dog directly. Maybe not the best idea to try with a cat, dogs can easily be vacuumed to rid the household of shedding harr in the spring, or any season. You can even go a step further and invest in pet-friendly vacuum attachments like the Dyson Groom, specially designed to remove loose undercoat fur without hurting the dogs skin. If they hate it, don’t worry - they’ll get used to it.
4. REFRESH BEDDING AND SOFAS
When we leave the house, you can bet that our furry friends are occupying our sofas, and even our beds. You can easily eliminate mattress and other fabric odours by adding a cup of bicarb soda to your laundry load, or mixin up a spray bottle of vodka and lemon juice to apply directly to your mattress or couch cushions. The alcohol lifts odours from the material and the fresh lemon scent brings a crisp fragrance into the room. Allow the mattress to air dry.
5. TACKLE THE COLLAR
For dog owners in particular, our pets collars can act as hotbeds for breeding odours and bacteria that stink. Remove the collar and let it soak for 20 minutes in boiling water with a touch of vinegar and lemon juice, or a few drops of dog-friendly shampoo. Place the refreshed collar out in the sun to dry.
6. TICKS & FLEAS
Springtime brings about ticks and fleas to our pets. These little pests can cause our four-legged companions serious discomfort, and can end up finding their way into our beds and furniture as well. In order to combat flea and tick infestations, consider applying a few drops of lavender oil in between your dog's shoulder blades, just as you would medicated flea treatments. Further, natural lavender essential oils smell great, so go one step further and make a spray bottle of diluted oil to mist your car or the dogs bed every now and then.
7. PREP A PET-WASH
Heading out into the bush for a muddy hike with Fido? Have an outdoor cat that thinks he’s a Lynx? Set up a pet-cleaning station at your back door so that you can clean their muddy paws and fur before they come back inside. Place a big bin of clean water, some clean rags and a bottle of pet-friendly soap (we dilute some All-in-One Concentrate with hot water - see a full list of our pet-friendly cleaning products here.) so you have all of the required accoutrement ready to go when they want to come inside.
8. WASH TOYS
A simple way to wash up your pets hard rubber toys is to place them in the dishwasher - but use a measuring cup of vinegar as a cleaner instead of harsh detergents. Arrange the toys in the top rack and run a full wash. The same thing can be said of soft toys, mice, play things, and bed covers. Use the dishwasher, or even washing machine for cat toys, dog beds, blankets, and cushions - using pet-friendly concoctions of vinegar and warm water as a cleaner (Unless you trust all the ingredients in your laundry detergent). You can add some oxygen bleach as a natural disinfectant, spot and odor remover to your laundry.
9. STOP DIGGING
Dogs don’t love citrus scent, so if digging is a problem for you and your garden, scatter some orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit peels into the garden to deter your pooch from digging up the petunia’s.
Not just for the fashion-conscious pet, bandanas can provide a huge help to pet owners of drooly, slobbery, messy eaters. Use it to gather, wipe, and remove slobber and drool from your dog’s jowls and mouth, then pop it in the wash at the end of the day. They’re inexpensive, fashionable, and functional pieces of garb that hugely help stains and drool from entering the house.
11. BAKING SODA IN THE LITTERBOX
Litter boxes are pungent, unpleasant, awful things, but baking soda can hugely help keep the stench and odour of ammonia down in the house. Typically we put our cat litter boxes in small rooms as well, but consider moving the litter box to a more open location - say a garage, or a sunroom in the warmer months to allow breezes and fresh air to contribute to dissipating the smell of a soiled litter box.
12. GREASE FOOD BOWLS
Pet food crumbs and slobber make for a particularly tough and sticky mess at the bottom of a food bowl. Try greasing your animals food bowls with a bit of olive oil to easily wipe out and clean stubborn food crumbs and dried slobber - plus, olive oil will help your pet to maintain a glossy and healthy coat.