A lot of things can take a physical toll on your home over time and affect its appearance. While weather, foot traffic, and children all leave their mark, pets also announce their presence in ways that can be difficult to keep up with and which detract from the visual appeal of the house you work so hard to maintain. Whether you have an enormous dog, a long-haired cat, or a pot-bellied pig, you know how much damage a furry friend is capable of doing. Fur-bearing pets are hosts for countless microbes and bacteria, which accumulate and affect your air quality and threaten your family’s health. Not to mention, there’s the physical damage pets do to furniture, wood, and carpeting.
Considering the time it takes to keep up with everything, it’s well worth your while to make cleaning as easy as possible. Here are some tips to get started.
Pet-Proof Your Whole Home
Most people think of pet-proofing as only a way to keep their pets out of danger. That’s an important reason to check this off your chore list, but actually, doing so will actually help you keep your home clean. For instance, if you have a pooch, invest in a kitchen trash can with a latching lid so your dog doesn’t drag food scraps and garbage all over the house, and keep dirty laundry secure so he’s not tempted to “claim” it the way dogs tend to do. For cats, in addition to protecting your furniture (take a look at the section below), avoid leaving containers of liquid in an area they can reach — cats are notorious for knocking over full glasses, vases, and even fish bowls, so restricting Fluffy’s access to these types of items will save you from mopping up a mess.
Keeping pets away from the furniture is a full-time job. Cats want to sharpen their claws on it, and dogs want to settle in and nap on it, and they’re both apt to vomit or urinate on it from time to time. That’s why it’s such a good idea to cover furniture in something that’s easy to clean and won’t show the long-term effects (or odors) of pet ownership. If you’re going to give in and offer Fido free access to the couch or easy chair, consider getting one covered in leather or microfiber, which are easier to clean than velvet, silk, and upholstery. Whatever you choose, get used to cleaning up hair, which is a fact of life with most dog or cat breeds.
The Right Vacuum
As long as you’re going to have piles of fur to clean, you may as well have the right tool for the job. That means getting a vacuum cleaner that’ll stand up to the wear and tear, and keep everything spic and span. A quality vacuum that can tackle pet hair on floors and furniture will make your life a lot easier and keep pet hair under control, an important factor if someone in the family has asthma or some other breathing disorder. However, since not all vacuums were made with your furry friends in mind, check out reviews before making a selection.
Also, make liberal use of your attachments, and dig down between the cushions and around the frame to prevent hair and all the microscopic creatures that come along with it from piling up. If carpeting becomes more trouble than it’s worth, it might be time to look into tile or hardwood flooring to avoid all that vacuuming and shampooing. Or, you could simply get a short-haired pet that doesn’t shed as much, especially if you have a child with a serious respiratory problem.
Don’t Let It Sit
It’s tempting to let a urine stain or vomit wait a while until you’re ready to attack it, especially at the end of a very long work day. Avoid the temptation. You could end up letting a stain set in and create a more challenging cleaning job than you bargained for. A good rule of thumb is if you see it, clean it. Pick up any solids with paper towels or a cloth, then use a washcloth and plenty of water to wipe up the residue. Follow that with an enzymatic cleaner to consume anything that was left behind and completely remove the smell.
Dogs and outdoor cats bring a lot of things into your home that don’t belong there. It may seem impossible to prevent, but there are steps you can take to mitigate their presence. Make sure your pet is wiped down with hypoallergenic grooming wipes when he comes in, and make sure those dirty paws are cleaned with a microfiber doormat, which absorbs, dirt, mud, and water. It’s probably not the way your pet wants to re-enter his domain, so make it worth his while by providing a treat each time. Regular baths will also help keep the bacteria and foreign objects under control.
Cleaning up after pets is a matter of regular, timely maintenance. Deal with messes as they occur, and be prepared to vacuum frequently if you have a long-haired pet — unless you’re prepared to adapt your furniture and flooring to the impact a dog or cat can have on your living environment.