Petowners Tips to Keeping Your Home Fresh and Clean

When I got my very first place I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I walked through various different stores picking out all the perfect furnishings for my new perfect place. The most beautiful black and white area rug that would complement my brand new charcoal gray curtains, that would in turn complement my new couch, and in turn complement my new throw…and so on and so forth. After the initial scrubbing of the joint I began moving my furniture in, arranging everything just so, making everything loom perfect. I was so thrilled! Then it happened…

What was “IT”? It was my perfect dog jumping up on my perfect couch with his perfectly dirty paws and rolling around getting his not so perfect fur all over everything!!!! I must tell you dear friends that I all but keeled over and died. I realized at that exact moment that I was the worst combination of all…a dog lover and a clean freak. What in the world is a girl to do?

Well, over the years, I have discovered many effective, cheap, fast, pet and germ-o-phobe friendly ways to keep my home as pristine as that glorious day I moved in. Read on fellow pet lovers.

Enemy number 1: Pet Hair Everywhere!!!

Depending on budget there are several different vacuum cleaners out there that can be your best friend in this battle. I personally prefer the Bissell “Pet hair eraser” which retails for about $169.00, and sometimes even cheaper if you shop stores like Wal-Mart or Target. This is by far the best vacuum you can get for the money. This wonderful machine is lightweight, quiet, and has the ability to suction off even the most stubborn pet hair from just about any surface in your home. It really is worth the initial investment!

For when I don’t feel like lugging out the vacuum or am just too tired to be bothered I purchased the Scotch-Brite carpet roller. This product is amazing in its simplicity but yet also packs a pretty powerful punch. The carpet roller is basically a roll of jumbo-sized “sticky paper” on a nice long handle. It comes with its own docking stand so it will fit upright in almost any corner of your home. The great thing about this product is that if you “roll” your carpet every day the process only takes about 2 minutes, and you will likely only use one or two sheets of the paper. Another great feature of this product is that you can indeed use it on your hardwood floors to pick up hair, crumbs, and dirt in lieu of sweeping. You will of course have to sweep every few days, but in the interim this can be a total lifesaver for those short on time and energy. The whole setup retails for about $9.99 at your local Target, and the “refill rolls” retail for about $3.99.

If you have “Berber” carpet like me in your home you probably have the same problem as I do with both pet and human hair. The hair will drop to the carpet, fuse to fibers on the rug and refuse to come up, no matter how many times your vacuum or “roll” over it. I used to get on my hands and knees to pick each individual hair out of the carpet, but not since I discovered my secret weapon. Go to your local drugstore and purchase a hard bristled brush round brush. I use the Goody 53mm hot round brush. Rub the brush on the carpet in small circles lifting when you see that the brush has accumulated hair on it. Then, just pull the hair off it the way you would “clean” the styling brush you use on your hair in the mornings. You will be amazed at how much comes out of your carpet. This is a great way to deep clean the rug as well as keep the brushes on your vacuum clear, because lets face it, nothing is more gross than having to turn the vacuum over and clean those bristles out when its caught a mass of…stuff! You can get a whole room done within 5 minutes. It’s a bit hard on the knees, but it will keep your living area amazing clean. Plus the brush is completely reusable and only costs about $4.99 if you buy the Goody. Please note that I have found comparable brushes at the dollar store, and they work just as well.

We covered the carpet roller in the paragraphs above. I feel it important to mention that you can also purchase a hand held model that works great on couches, pillows, and throws. In addition to using a hand roller I sometimes go a bit lower tech, but still get the same results using a roll of duct tape and my palm. Open the roll of tape and loop it around your palm. Drag your hand across any plush surface you wish the pet hair to be removed from. As the tape becomes less sticky, just keep looping the tape around your hand. Once you are done, cut the piece you used and chuck it! Cost: $1.99, and it only takes moments to do each day.

Enemy number 2: Something Stinky This Way Comes….

Its not difficult to notice when your four legged friend doesn’t smell quite as fresh as he should, but there is something that you can do about it. Giving your dog a bath is usually a very time consuming task and sometimes messy in itself, so it’s not really practical to give him a bath every single day.

When giving a dog a bath, there are certain things you can do to keep him fresh past that 3-day threshold. The first is to not skimp on the type of shampoo you use on him. There are many different brands on the market, and most of them are pretty effective, but some are better than others. I prefer to use HARTS deodorizing puppy shampoo, which retails for about $4.99. It has a really nice lavender scent and is tear-proof so you wont feel guilty if it gets in your baby’s eyes. I would suggest using a washcloth or bath poof when scrubbing your buddy down. I find that the poof is much more effective in cleaning as well as removing stray hair than the most expensive “bath mitt” on the market. You can purchase a bag of 10 poufs at your local 99-cent store. I tend to wash him down twice taking care to really lather him up as best I can. You will be very surprised to see the dirt that the first wash didn’t remove when you pour that water over him! Takes a little effort, but worth it.

When giving your pal a bath is not convenient (pretty much every day in my house) I use “water-less bath cloths” on him. The wipes made especially for dogs are about three times the size of a standard baby wipe, usually lightly scented, and come about 10 to a package. They retail anywhere from .99 cents to $4.99 depending on brand and retailer. Of course, if you don’t have these cloths in stock at home, or simply cannot find them in your town good old store brand baby wipes will indeed do the trick. You can buy a package of 100 from Wal-Mart or Target for about a dollar. I promise you, if you wipe your dog down every day you will drastically reduce the amount of hair shed as well as keep him smelling fresh and clean.

You may be surprised to find out that a dogs feet can, and usually are, the worst smelling part of your dogs body. I can say that is particularly true in my dogs case, his feet are beyond stinky most of the time. The way to combat this problem is super simple and effective. Everytime I let my dog out to do his business he comes back into my home with dirty paws. I have trained my dog to go immediately into the bathtub as soon as he walks back in. Once there I stop the drain, run the water, and put a capful of his shampoo in the stream. Don’t fill the tub very much, just enough to cover the top of his paws when standing. Teach your dog to walk through the water, or even spin around a few times. This motion will cause his feet to be cleaned, without you even having to touch him. If your dog doesn’t mind having his paws cleaned, drizzle a bit of shampoo on a washcloth and rub for a few seconds. Let the water drain out of the tub, run fresh water and using a cup, pour over his paws. Let him out of the tub and dry. This will not only keep his feet clean, keep them smell free, but will also give you piece of mind! Think about all the dirt and germs he brings back into your home after he goes in the yard…yuck!

Make the “Shed-Ender’ your new best friend. This miraculous device looks like a thick comb attached to a big rubber handle. You pass it through your dogs fur and it removes all the loose hair, and will even thin out some of his undercoat, keeping the shedding down to a minimum. The fur gets caught in the bristles and stays put till you remove it, so there is no risk of big fur balls flying everywhere and making a mess. This product is most effective after a bath because it also aids in drying your dog by essentially “squeegee-ing” him. Since using this brush I noticed that I don’t really have to bathe my dog as frequently. Truly worth its price in gold! Cost is about $15.99 at Wal-Mart, and it only takes about 5 minutes to do.

Believe the hype, buy an ionic fan! I know, I was skeptical too, but believe me, it can really keep your home fresh and is much more cost effective than a filtration system. Now you don’t have to go to the sharper image to buy one of those 600.00 “ionic breezes” although I will not lie to you, those are top of the line, will last your entire lifetime, and WORTH the cost, if you can afford it. More reasonable are “no name” ionic fans that are sold at chain stores. Target sells several great models that retail from $19.99 to $199.99.

There are some forms of chemical help out there as well. I like to use Febreze for Pet odors or All pet odor eliminator. Spray liberally on the fabrics in your home, and let the freshness occur! I like to spray my pet’s bed every now and again, but there is a trick to this. You see, with these fabric refreshes, you must allow them to dry in order to work to their full capacity. They deodorize as they dry. My dog is a lazy bone and is permanently attached to his bed, so it is especially difficult to spray his space. What I suggest doing is spraying the bed before you take him out for a walk or before you give him a bath. By the time you come back in or are done bathing him, the bed should be dry and fresh! Careful you don’t spritz too often, as it can irritate his skin and his senses!

Another thing I like to do to keep the dogs bed fresh is use a cover sheet/blanket. If you visit your local Walgreen’s, you can find these great little blankets that sell 2 for $10.00. They come in various colors and patterns and just so happen to fit perfectly on top of my dog’s bed. I purchased about 10 of these and alternate them every few days. The great thing is that should you notice that your pet’s bed is soiled or particularly smelly, you can simply remove the blanket, spritz with febreeze, and put another blanket down. Works like a charm! The blankets are very lightweight and I can easily wash all 10 of them with room to spare in my very small washing machine.

Enemy number 3: Poop Happens…so Does Pee
(It happens to even the best pet, sometimes they just can’t wait to go.)

Even though my pet is housebroken, I still lay down the best defense out there on the market today. Wee Wee Pads!! Choose a tiled/linoleum corner to place the pads down in, if you just lay the pads down in the center of the floor chances are your pet will think they are a toy and rip them up instead of “go” on them. Placing the pads in a quiet corner will help your pet understand that the pads aren’t playthings, and are meant for “going”. Many people tend to think that if you start laying pads down in the home, it will actually encourage your pet to use them as a toilet, but the fact is if your pet is housebroken you can train him to understand that the pads are not there to use whenever they wish, but in emergencies only. My dog will only “go” in the house once in a blue moon, in the event of a true emergency situation, and boy am I glad that they are there! I like to use Arm and Hammer housebreaking pads. They are large, leak free, absorbent, and have baking soda built in so that the smell is kept to a minimum. Lay several down, overlapping them so that your dog doesn’t have to negotiate the width of a single pad and will be more successful in using them. The pads come 55 to a pack and cost $9.99 at Target. If you take your dog out periodically, and give him enough time to go when he is out, then the same set of pads should sit on your floor for weeks without a single use.

In the event that your dog does “go” on your floor you want to be sure that you clean up effectively. The littlest amount of pee or poop can cause your home to smell like a kennel. Although the conventional cleaners can do the trick they are very harsh and sometimes do not clean as effectively as I would like. There are two different methods that I use. For linoleum and tile I mix two parts water and one part vinegar in a spray bottle. After my little guy goes on the floor, rather than simply wiping it up I throw some baking soda on the pee and allow it to absorb the waste. I pick it up with a paper towel, and spritz the water and vinegar down on the area. Let it sit for about a minute and then “Swiffer” it up. For oopsies on the carpet I make a paste of two parts baking soda and one part water in a paper cup. After sopping up the urine as best you can, spread the baking soda mixture onto the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, rub into the carpet, and then blot with a wet towel. If you can still see the stain, repeat the procedure. For dried poop, let mixtures sit for a minimum of 5 minutes. It will come right up!

If you come home and see that your dog has vomited on your floor this can be a little trickier. Dried vomit can be as stubborn as cement! For linoleum or tile without exposed grout, spray a little bit of PAM on the area, let sit for 30 seconds and wipe up. Keep in mind that the spot you spray will be VERY slick and can be a falling hazard so you want to be sure that you clean the spot after with a commercial cleaner like Fantastic. Please be careful using this method, if the spot is in a high traffic area, you may want to forgo the PAM treatment, scrubbing is a better than falling any day of the week!

Well, those are just a few of my little secrets. I hope that they will help you and your best friend live in immaculate harmony!

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