Tuesday, 27 September 2016
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Tips for Keeping a (Mostly!) Clean Dog-Friendly Home

Collage of dogs making messes and ways to clean the house

As a cat loving neat freak, amalgamating households with a dog owner meant plenty of changes and compromises.  Even Oli wasn't too keen on sharing with his "evil step-mother" at first, but times have definitely changed. Now with two dogs and a cat, there is even more pet chaos and all the mess that goes along with the love. Here are my experiences and a few tips for trying to maintain some semblance of order in a (very) pet-friendly home.

An Ounce of Prevention...

Where you have the opportunity, pet-friendly design, furniture, and decor can go a long way towards reducing your burden.  Tomorrow's guest post is all about home design for pet-friendly living and, so stay tuned for more!

Plenty of outdoor exercise is essential to a healthy happy dog, but will also help reduce wild behaviour around the house and all the mess that goes with it.  Feeding a well-balanced quality diet is also essential for general health, including helping to support healthy skin and coat.  Good health can also help to reduce other unpleasant doggy smells around the house as well...you know what I'm saying.  On the subject of smells, the best deoderiser I've come across is plain old charcoal/carbon (read more about DIY deoderisers and natural air fresheners).  Some of our homemade treats are super smelly as well. Open windows and cleaning mixing bowls/utensils straight away are helpful, but sometimes a little extra help is needed.  If you're a coffee fan, popping some used grinds into the still-warm cooling oven after your stinky treats are baked really does help and they're still good-to-go for your garden/compost afterwards.

Dalmatians have short coats, but they shed like crazy. Fur fur everywhere! Even if, like ours, your pet doesn't need frequent grooming, brushing is a great opportunity to bond and share a little TLC.  It will help to reduce free-fur shedding and if you can do it outdoors, you keep a little more mess out of the house. Win win! Remember, while routine brushing is great, over-washing can create or contribute to skin/coat issues.  Learn about appropriate coat and skin care for your breed, and be watchful for issues.  It may sound counter-intuitive for a trying to maintain a clean dog and a clean house, but we try to limit our all-out dog washing to an as-needed basis since Dalmatians have natural coat oils that are stripped away when washed and our boys also have sensitive skin.  If your dog is smelly and you can't seem to resolve it, consider having a chat with your vet about whether there might be underlying health or diet factors.  Generally, our boys (thankfully!) don't smell "doggy" with the exception of the classic wet coat smell on rainy days.

Having a good quality general purpose front doormat helps reduce inbound mess, and I've found that using an extra plushy absorbent door mat along our rear patio door makes a huge difference.  My special trick for the patio area?  Bathmats. They work great for absorbing moisture and catching dirt, feel good, wash/dry easily, and can be very attractive if you choose carefully. There are similar dog specific mats on the market (although not many options in my local area), but don't limit yourself to the pet section - all of mine at the moment are bathmats for size and style reasons. Shhhh...  We don't need to deal with snow and ice, but if you do, a rinse or paw wipe on arriving home from the streets is helpful not just for cleanliness but for your dog's health.  Some folks swear by this technique for all access general dirt as well, but it can be problematic if your dogs are frequently in/out like ours. For wet and stormy weather, I will put doggy towels at the door for a (preferably outdoor) full body towelling before heading indoors.  Sometimes, we are all so wet from wild weather that I need one too!

Keeping Things Clean in a Pet-Friendly Home

Try to keep ahead of the mess.  Do a poo patrol pick-up in your backyard frequently (preferably daily) for good hygiene and consideration for your neighbours. Thursday's guest post is all about pet-friendly gardening and outdoor living, so stay tuned for more! Around the house, frequent general clean-ups and vacuuming help to keep everyday mess from working into surfaces or accumulating.  Tackling special messes as soon as accidents occur reduces the risk or staining/discoloration and it's much easier anyways!

Invest in a good vacuum and quality attachments, especially for hard floors and carpets. I've used many different vacuums over the years, and can say without hesitation that I love my Dyson (affiliate link).  I loved it so much that we practically wore it out, and so we bought another Dyson!  In addition to the trusty Dyson, I recently added a little Bissell SpotClean (affiliate link) carpet cleaner to my arsenal.  It is small, portable, easy to store, and works great for taking care of little messes.  For our purposes, renting a large cleaner for occasional full-house carpet cleaning (or paying a service) works better than owning a high-quality full sized machine, but the ready access to small spot cleaning is awesome!  Whatever your go-to appliances may be, clean them routinely to prevent nasty smelly mank from building up.

Mopping hard surfaces with a dry/static pad is great for for loose fur and dirt, and a periodic wet mopping compliments household vacuuming.  Disposables are common but there are plenty of washable reusable products available if, like us, you are trying to be both cleaner and greener.

Dust for fur regularly and periodically tackle the annoying tasks of shifting furniture around to collect the giant furballs hiding under/behind. If you have awkward corners, blinds, or other tricky cleaning areas, treat yourself to a few handy task-suited cleaning tools to make life easier.  You'll be less likely to procrastinate (...like me...) if the jobs feel easy.

For upholstered furniture, vacuum upholstery tools help, but if you have difficult fur, like our Dalmatians, then you need to work very hard to try and remove fur from soft surfaces.  Lint rollers work well to remove fur from clothing but no so well to separate it from woven upholstery, in my experience.  I've used the damp rubber glove rub and rubber squeegee tricks, which are great for our cat's fur but require plenty of elbow grease for our dog fur.  I never seem to be able to get it all! This is still a problem area for me, so tips and tricks are most welcome if you have them! Covering our pet's favourite nesting and resting places with comfy blankets makes it much easier to keep things clean.  Not only are the snuggly, they can be easily removed and laundered.

Some nasty occasions call for disposable emergency clean-up supplies. I like to keep a roll of paper towels, enzyme cleaner, and a few plastic bags (salvaged from packaging) on hand at all times, as well as wet wipes (baby wipes) for a doggy wipe when needed.

Launder dog beds and blankets regularly.  Just like people, pets can have topical sensitivities so you may need to be careful with detergent or add-ins. A very hot wash (fabrics permitting) is often suggested for pet bed hygiene; however, we're a cold water wash household so I prefer to use a sanitiser add-in along with my detergent.  Always wash your pet's bedding, blankets, and towels separately for good hygiene and to reduce fur-transfer in the wash.  Shake them outside before putting them into the wash and rack/line dry outdoors whenever possible to keep as much fur as you can out of the house.  Since a little fur can still linger in the machine, don't follow a pet wash with anything fur sensitive (or, if you must, do a quick rinse in between loads). Clean your washing machine regularly and, if you use one, your dryer.  Fur and blanket fluff will clog your filters quickly! For mattresses or cushions that cannot be easily washed, air them out periodically and do a special clean (e.g.commercial laundry, bathtub, garden hose, whatever!) if you can whenever needed.  If you have an incontinent or otherwise messy pup (our senior boy Oli has occasional LBL...), consider adding a waterproof cover or mattress pad to your pet beds to help with cleaning.

Lint rollers are essential for professional/dress clothes de-furring.  Keep rollers handy in your closets and, for occasions when it truly matters, keep an extra lint roller in your car (or other last-minute location) or office so you can do a final de-fur after you bid the pets farewell. I confess that I have adapted my clothing fabric/colour preferences to be significant more fur-resistant since becoming a dog owner!

Try to create a convenient space for consolidating your dogs food, treats, supplements, medications, and other care supplies and apply the everything-in-its-place philosophy.  This may require different storage spaces in different usage areas.  We have a feeding zone in the kitchen area, a storage zone in the linen cupboard (extra towels, clothing, etc), and a go-zone by the doorway for leads, collars, etc.  The doorway area includes hooks for hanging/drying wet gear after rainy walks. Don't forget that all of those dog accessories need routine cleaning as well. Soak, scrub, rinse, and dry regularly.

Clean bowls are essential for good doggy health and household hygiene.  The right cleaning method will depend on the type(s) of food, frequency of feeding, material of the bowl.  I wash our dogs' porcelain and stainless dishes in the dishwasher.  Be careful with your choice of cleaning products as they may linger on the dishes leaving trace nasty chemicals, scents your dog dislikes, or icky tastes. Use something non-toxic and make sure that all traces are thoroughly rinsed away before drying for use.  Remember that any food/treat storage containers need regular cleaning as well.  Use a designated feeding area and, if your dog is a messy eater, using a mat can help contain mess and protect floors.  There are inexpensive easy-clean laminated placemats for bowls or sturdier edged eating mats for extra containment.  Our dogs can be  messy eaters and they are always messy drinkers - full head dunkers!  When we moved from a tiled home (great!) to heritage hardwood (uhhhohhh) we wanted ready access to fresh water all the time but needed to protect the floors.  The solution?  Bathmats to the rescue again!

For corralling dog toys, we use an open toy box method.  The dogs know where their toys are kept if they're searching for fun and we have a designated place for tidy up. We also have a toy hospital basket out of reach where damaged toys can be stored while awaiting for repairs.  Clean toys regularly.  Depending on the toy, this may involve simple laundry (soft/plush toys or fabric tug toys, use a sweater/lingerie sack if needed for smaller items), a cycle through dishwasher (solid toys of dishwasher safe materials), or hand-washing (complex shapes that are best scrubbed, squeakers to avoid filling with water). Be careful with your choice of cleaning products as they may linger on/in the toys leaving nasty chemicals, scents your dog dislikes, or icky tastes.  Skip the chemicals or use something non-toxic and make sure it is thoroughly rinsed away before drying.

My final tip? Learn to accept a little imperfection. There will be fur...and you'll learn to love it. Someday, you may even cry over how much you miss it or when you find it still lingering somewhere unexpected.

What are your top tips and tricks (please share!) for keeping your pet-friendly home clean and tidy?  If you have hilarious mess stories, feel free to share those too.  

This is not a sponsored post (although there are a few general affiliate links in here). We're just sharing some of the tools and techniques that do/don't work for us and asking our fab furfriends to share their top tips for making life a little easier and cleaner.  That said, if anyone out there wants us to put their cleaning products to the test, we do have an endless supply of mess! :) Let's talk.

Check out the other great house and home posts in our special mini-series:


  1. Annalise and Roxy the Rescue27 September 2016 at 09:49

    Our top tip is that we've started massaging a bit of baking soda or dog spray on Roxy then brushing it through her fur. Outside is best. She smells great and loves her spa treatment! :-) BTW they totally should. You'd be an awesome reviewer.

    1. Who wouldn't love a relaxing doggy spa massage and brush? Roxy sounds like a very lucky girl indeed. :) Thanks for the tips and the lovely comments! Big pats to Roxy.

  2. Thank you for that last tip. Love love love. I should have been thinking that way all along but I was just blinded by the work I guess. I would cry for gosh sakes I almost cried just thinking about it!

    1. I think we all get caught up in the frustration, Susan. I know I do as well and am trying to be more relaxed and mindful about it all. I still get cranky and have to consciously wind myself back.

  3. Awesome tips you have here! I'm sure this'll be very helpful for everyone. I think this'll be perfect for my home in rockwell land katipunan. Thanks for sharing!


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