Households Tips

The Art of Having a Pet and a Clean House at the Same Time

I love a good cleaning hack almost as much as I love my two golden retrievers, snuggled right this moment at my feet, looking innocently cute and peaceful…as they drool giant puddles all over my new carpet. I can’t make my dogs act more adult-like, nor do I want to spend hours cleaning up after them. Which raises the question: How does one keep the house clean with dogs? Lucky for me (and hopefully you, dear Clever readers), through extensive research and a solid game of trial and error, I’ve learned it is indeed possible to keep the pet dirt at bay—and keep your free time free—with just a few preventative measures, some household items you probably already have on hand, and a deep breath. Intrigued yet? Keep on reading to find out how to keep a clean home and let your pet run free all at the same time.

Make all your rugs indoor-outdoor rugs

They’ve come a long way since you last saw them in your grandparents’ basement. There are lots of stylish versions out there, and they’re available in a variety of color schemes. Put a small one in front of each door—sort of like an indoor doormat—to catch any dirt and water your pet may drag in. I also recommend placing one under the sofa, dining room table, and any other place your pet likes to lounge. These rugs don’t let anything soak in, and they wipe clean with a damp rag. My dogs love reclining on the one in front of the kitchen sink. Another great option: carpet tiles. If there’s an accident resulting in an irreversible stain, you’ve only got to replace a square rather than the entire rug.

Coat surfaces in dark paint

The best thing I ever did for my kitchen, and my sanity, was to paint all my lower cabinets in Gloss Black by Behr. Dark paint does an excellent job of hiding smears from wet noses and mud from wagging tails—and an indoor-outdoor option like Behr’s is especially easy to wipe down. You can take the paint to cabinets and walls in other areas of the house, too. Keeping the house clean with pets just got a whole lot simpler.

Spray your pet’s food bowls with cooking spray

A quick spritz of cooking spray will keep stains on food dishes from setting in (and won’t add any calories to your pet’s diet). Why keep your pet’s food dish spot-free, you ask? Why not? Also, all my pets get their own place mats. That’s just common sense.

Get some latex gloves

Forget about spending half an hour ripping off layer after layer of your sticky lint brush. Instead, slip on a pair of latex gloves and rub your hands along your sofa, chair, and car interior to get rid of pet hair—it really works! The fur sticks to the gloves. Afterwards, run your gloved hands under water; the fur will come right off.

Add shaving cream to your cleaning supply kit

You could spend a ton trying out every last “miracle” pet stain product, but shaving cream works best, even on the toughest stains such as dog vomit and cat pee. Make sure to use foam, not gel—my favorite is Barbasol. Simply spray the stain, let it sit and foam for a minute, and then wipe with warm water. I recently used this trick to get dog barf out of a very old oriental rug and it worked like a charm.

Skewer some baby wipes

I might be weird, but cleaning those hard-to-reach spots is almost as satisfying to me as it must be for my pets to dirty them. Wrap a skewer with a baby wipe to get into nooks and crannies where pet dirt likes to settle, such as cracks between hardwood floorboards and bathroom corners.

Stock up on cheap decorative throws

Tossing a cozy blanket at the end of your bed or over the seat cushion of your favorite chair allows both you and your pets to relax—and it will seriously prolong the life of your furniture. Go for 100 percent cotton or an acrylic-cotton blend; both fabrics can handle wear and tear and are machine washable.

Always have emergency cleaner on hand

Fill a squirt bottle with half water, half white vinegar, and a drop of Dawn dish soap (substitute your favorite if you like—but I’ve tried them all and Dawn is tops). This pet-safe cleaning agent will work on everything from floors and walls to the brand new suede sofa you just brought home.