Pet parents share their top cleaning hacks

How animal lovers keep their homes clean and stay on top of mess maintenance

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Anyone who appreciates a clean home might say the same is true for cleaning pet messes. The most effective way to keep your house mess-free is to prevent them from happening! However, some pet messes are unavoidable. Whether your home is filled with the love of dogs, cats, or both, you’re likely familiar with one if not all of the following: muddy paws during spring, urine or vomit on your new rug, and animal hair on everything.

We put out the call to see what other pet lovers use to keep their homes clean and prevent pet messes. Here are some of the tried-and-true tips that were shared.

Long haired dog with black fur being groomed

Controlling pet hair

First, let’s tackle pet hair. This one’s for you, Husky lovers.

Automated vacuums are a hassle-free way to prevent your home from being overrun by pet hair. Your floors and rugs will be cleaned while you focus your attention elsewhere. Pro tip: Only use these while you’re home. Automated vacuums can CREATE major messes, too (spreading vomit, feces, etc.). And yeah, it's as horrible as it sounds.

Want something a little more budget-friendly? We heard rave reviews about double-sided velvet pet hair rollers like the ChomChom. More dependable than a lint roller (and more environmentally friendly), this device scoops up pet hair in a few quick sweeps. You can use it on virtually any fabric or carpet. The best part? There are no refills or chemicals. It’s a win-win.

Some dogs and cats shed enough that something a bit more heavy-duty is required. Try a vacuum specifically made to remove pet hair from rugs and furniture. One vacuum with multiple pet-specific attachments can handle large rugs, upholstered furniture, and those small grooves between cushions.

Cat enjoying the vacuum

In one last attempt to rid soft surfaces of pet hair, try a rubber bristled brush to remove any remaining fur or hair. The rubber bristles will catch the hair still trapped in the fibers of your carpet or fabric.

Keep in mind that grooming and regular brushing can also dramatically decrease the amount of pet hair floating around in your home. Breeds differ in the type of grooming they require, so consult your vet and groomer for tips tailored to your pet. Seasons can also affect shedding, so you’ll need to adjust your grooming and brushing routine throughout the year.

Pesky pet stains

Keep an eye out for potty messes and treat them as soon as you notice them. This is particularly important when you have animals who aren’t housebroken/litterbox trained yet. Need help on this step? Check out our housetraining survival guide. Your best bet for removing urine stains is a handheld wet vacuum and cleaning spray of your choice. Sprinkling some baking soda and spraying distilled white vinegar on the area will help with any persistent, lingering odors. Additionally, use an enzyme-based cleaner like Nature’s Miracle which breaks down odors at a molecular level and helps to prevent repeat soiling.

Quit poocrastinating cat

When your pet goes #2, your priority #1 is to pick it up. The remaining mess should be treated with a spot treatment spray. Feces can carry harmful bacteria and you want to ensure it is taken care of with an anti-bacterial cleaning agent. Removing the stain will depend on the type of spot treatment you use. (Some powders require a dry vacuum while liquid sprays may require a wet vacuum.)

Dirt or mud on your carpet? Pro tip: Let it dry before cleaning. If you attempt to scrub those muddy paw marks when wet, you risk spreading the stain. Wait until dry, use a brush to loosen the particles, and vacuum them up.

Prevent pet stains on furniture by investing in slip covers and cushion covers. It’s much easier to remove and wash a cover than attempt to spot clean your sofa. Furniture covers are also a great way to prevent damage from claws. And if cushion covers aren’t your thing, opt for zippered couch cushions and pillows when shopping for furniture. This will allow you to wash each piece with ease.

Other helpful tips

Keep dark-colored towels for pet messes. You’ll never have to worry about what the towels look like. Enough said.

Set timers for bathroom breaks. Even if you don’t have a puppy, it can be easy to become distracted. Set a timer so you don’t miss bathroom breaks and walks.

Leave towels (your old ones of course) at the door so you’re prepared to wipe dirty paws as soon as you walk in.

Place a rubber mat with ridges at the exit of your cat’s litterbox. Is your cat treating its bathroom like a sandbox? A rubber mat will trap litter as your kitty exits the box. If you’re not a fan of clay litter, consult your veterinarian about various litter options. Pine litter/litter pellets track less and can be better for the environment!

Use fleece instead of bedding for your critter cages. Fleece will keep the cage floor from becoming messy. Plus, fleece can be easily thrown in the washing machine and dries relatively quickly. Keep extra fleece on hand for an instant swap.

Swap your paper towels for terrycloth rags. You can clean them in your washing machine and re-use them for years. This will save you money on paper towels and reduce paper waste. Shopping hack? These rags can be bought in bulk at most home improvement stores.

Use baby/pet gates to contain messes. For example, if you let your dog inside through a back door, use a baby gate to close them off from the next room. This will prevent the need to clean multiple rooms full of dirty paw prints.

Decorate with low-pile rugs. Rugs with a low pile are much easier to spot treat and messes are much easier to see. Plus, pet hair can get tangled in high pile rugs, making it more difficult to remove.

Plastic office mats can help prevent stains on carpet, especially at the entrance of your home. Use a plastic desk mat intended for rolling chairs in problem areas of your home. The spikes on the bottom of the mat will help the mat stay put, and any mess will be easy to clean up with a wipe and will not soil your carpet or rug.

Dog covering eyes

So fresh, so clean

We hope these tips help keep your home looking fresh and clean. But remember — when all else fails — the best way to avoid pet messes is to just close your eyes.

AHS does not endorse any products featured in this article. These products are recommendations from AHS supporters and community members.

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