Keeping your home clean with a pooch is easier said than done most of the time. In fact, it would be fairly accurate to say it’s like trying to brush your teeth while eating cookies.
While most of us accept that our homes will always have some dog hair attached to the couch and muddy paw prints by the door, but there are some top cleaning solutions that can help keep your home odor free and clean, and this is especially true for heavy-shedding dog breeds. So, without further ado, here are five easy cleaning solutions every pet owner should know about.
Find a Good Odor Neutralizer
While it’s common for many pet parents to be conscious of dog odor when visitors come over, often the routine is to have a mad dash around the house with an air freshener grabbed from under the sink. This may temporarily hide the odor, but what if you could prevent it from getting to that point?
Air fresheners use a process called volatility to take on odors. They break down and dissipate into the air, which changes its scent. A study carried out on 25 home fragrance products found a whopping 133 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is an average of 17 VOCs per product. Twenty four of these VOCs were classified as toxic or hazardous to humans under U.S. Federal Laws.
Dogs are more sensitive than humans on a huge scale. Their sense of smell is 40 times greater than ours. If air fresheners can seem overpowering to us humans, multiply this massively for the impact on our dogs!
For that reason, an odor neutralizer is a much better option. Baking soda works wonders! You can brush baking soda into carpets, fabric sofas, and soft furnishings. Let it sit overnight and vacuum in the morning. Most odors have a high pH level, so baking soda neutralizes the odor by lowering the pH.
Stock up on White Vinegar
Another household staple with dogs is white vinegar: an equally super odor neutralizer. This is great if you have a puppy or an older dog who sometimes has accidents in the home. The smell of urine is largely associated with its ammonia content. Ammonia is alkaline, and, because vinegar is an acid, it neutralizes urine odor.
If your pooch does have an accident, mop up the urine as best you can and then apply vinegar to the area. Your house may smell like vinegar for a while, but what would you rather? By neutralizing the area, it also reduces the likelihood that he’ll go potty there again! Some pet owners dilute white vinegar in a mop bucket of hot water and mop their non-porous floors with it in between their typical disinfectant mop runs; just to keep any odors at bay.
Check Their Bedding
It’s easy as pet parents to get caught up with buying that new bed for Fido—the blue one, the brown one, the memory foam one, or that one with sides? While we’re so busy looking at the appearance and how comfy it is, we often forget to check the label. Can it be washed? It may sound like such a simple thing, but you’d be amazed how many dog beds are on the market and you can’t actually wash them or at least strip the covers. Most owners would wash their dog’s bed at least once a week, but this may vary depending on how much time they actually spend on their bed, or how active the dog is. If they’re always getting muddy in the yard, or if you spend your weekends hiking and he’s swimming in the streams, you may find he gets a little smellier than most and warrants a few more bed washes. Again, simple detergent is enough to keep his bed clean; don’t worry about using those scented conditioners. You don’t want the smell overpowering his nose to the extent that he doesn’t want to use his own bed!
Don’t Just Hide It
As we’ve already mentioned, as pet parents we are conscious of our homes smelling of dog. It’s super easy to get into that cleaning routine where you just plug in scent diffusers, light candles, spray air fresheners and generally browse the cleaning aisles at the store to find ways to make your lounge smell better. Not only are many of these products toxic to you as a human, but long-term exposure has been linked to eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as headaches, nausea and even cancer in some cases.
The best way to avoid these risks is to prevent the odors from forming in the first place. Buy washable blankets and bedding that are easy to wash and dry. Consider wipeable sofas and chairs—leather types, for example. If you are ever in the position to be replacing flooring, consider how easy it is to keep clean and if it will it be a non-porous and moppable type?
Also, it’s a good idea to air your home as much as possible. It may not be easy in certain climates, but an air purifier may help. In addition, you should vacuum and sweep up regularly—if you have a double-coated breed this probably seems like a daily chore, but it’s important. Rubber-bristled brushes are a life saver when you have a furry four-legged friend! It’s worth investing in a handheld rubber-bristled brush to remove hairs from curtains and fabric sofas. A lint roller will become a wardrobe staple!
Regularly Groom Your Pooch
You can clean your home as much as you like, but if you have a smelly pooch, you’re making your life 10 times harder than it needs to be! Brush your dog regularly to remove any dead hair. This reduces how much will be floating around your home. Rather than buying a cologne or doggy deodorant, if you think your dog is starting to smell, give him a bath. Use a doggy-safe shampoo; there are plenty to choose from!
If needed, maintain regular grooming appointments with a grooming salon—if you have a spaniel whose paws are magnets to mud and water, be sure to keep them trimmed. This way, they carry less water and grime, and they’re also easier to dry on the way in through the door. On that note, keep a dog towel by the door. If you’ve gotten stuck in the rain on a walk, towel dry your dog when you return, paws included. We all know how much a wet dog smells! This is because dogs have bacteria and yeasts on their skin that can be a bit pungent. As a wet dog dries, the water evaporates, bringing those stinky molecules into our environment and our noses! Drying them as much as you can will help prevent that wet dog smell.
While cleaning a house with a dog in it can seem a never-ending task, it’s certainly better to prevent odor and dirt build up as opposed to hiding it. Find your staple odor neutralizers and regularly wash everything your dog comes into contact with. Also, be sure to check the cleaning and home fragrance products you are using to ensure they are pet safe, and remember: a clean and well-groomed dog makes keeping a clean home much easier.
John is a dog trainer, lover and author. He spends most of his free time training his two dogs, Jamie and Jeff, and has volunteered at rescue shelters.