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13 Spring Cleaning Tips for Dog Owners

It’s officially the first week of spring! In spite of the late cold snap, I’ve been enjoying throwing open the windows and getting more fresh air and sunlight into our house.

However, with more sunlight and fresh air comes the realization: everything we own is currently buried under a nice layer of dust and animal hair. The hairballs in the corner might be gearing up to claim the guest bedroom once and for all. Combine this with the unreal levels of pollen beginning their usual spring build up and it’s a miracle my allergies haven’t permanently swollen my eyes shut.

Time for a little spring cleaning? Sounds about right.

Spring cleaning is always a little different when you have pets. Even with a daily or weekly cleaning schedule, the dirt, dander, and fur from our animals builds up over time, creating smells and films that are less than pleasant in the bright springtime light of day.

We’ve compiled a list of cleaning problems unique to pet owners, and we’re giving you 13 cleaning tips for dog owners to tackle each one and leave your home looking and smelling amazing.

Pet Hair & Shedding

If only pet hair could all shed in one convenient place for us to sweep away twice a year, like raking up a great big pile of leaves. Instead, banishing pet hair from the corners of our homes is a weekly (or maybe even daily) fight. Here’s how to make banishing pet hair just a little easier.

1. Get the right equipment. If you have carpet in your home, you need a vacuum with serious power. We’ve owned a Shark vacuum for years now, and it’s great for keeping my office (which is now the only carpeted room in our home) free of pet hair. For hardwoods, a good microfiber mop will help pick up dirt and fur left behind by sweeping.

2. Latex gloves are magic (but lint rollers are great too). Having a lint roller—or ten—around for cleaning up pet hair off your outfit and other soft fabric items like pillows is key to feeling like you don’t live under a constant film of dog hair. But the thing that works best for couches, chairs, and furniture? It’s latex gloves—the cheapest, easiest way to defuzz things very quickly. Pop a glove on, run your hand over the couch cushions, and you’re good to go.

3. Change your air filter. This is especially important if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Filters should be changed every three months, but sometimes we simply forget about them! Look for an air filter made specifically for pet owners—typically they come with built-in ionizers that minimize allergens.

4. Schedule a grooming session. Getting your long or heavy-coated dog groomed as the weather warms up will help them shed their winter coat, in addition to keeping that dense layer of fur from dropping all over your house for the next few weeks.

Smells & Stains

Accidents happen sometimes, whether you have a growing puppy or a full-grown slobber monster like Topher or Archer. Here are a few ways to tackle the smells and stains left behind an banish them for good.

5. Tackle accidents right when they happen. The sooner you can treat a stain, the better. Blot dry stains rather than rubbing at them, then spray down with your chosen cleaning solution and follow its directions from there.

6. Baking soda is also magic. It’s odor-absorbing and mild abrasive qualities make it great for cleaning up after pets. Dry, you can sprinkle some on your carpet, let it sit for a half hour, then vacuum to absorb smells. This method, combined with equal parts salt, also works as a natural flea-killing alternative for carpets, bedding, or other plush surfaces like chair cushions or couches. When mixed with equal amounts of warm water and salt, baking soda forms a paste for scrubbing tougher stains on food dishes or other accessories.

7. In a pinch, go for room diffusers or open windows. There are few things better for banishing dog smells than opening the windows and letting some air flow through your space. While your bringing fresh air in, you can use a good room spray to deodorize and freshen your house in the process.

Dirty Paws & Messy Eaters

When you have a dog with significant jowls, stepping on little kibbles around the house becomes pretty commonplace—and unfortunately I have yet to find a good solution for keeping Topher from hiding kibbles in his lips for later. However, there are a few ways to catch things like messy eaters and dirty paw track from their sources.

8. Catch it in the entryway. Wipe your dog’s paws before they get past the entryway of the house to catch most of the dirt they track in before it makes it to your couch cushions. You could try our DIY Mud Mitt, or make sure you’ve got a great doormat that traps dirt as you enter the house, like these Soggy Doggy Mats.

9. Establish a landing zone. Have your dog’s food and water bowls in an area that gets cleaned often—usually the kitchen. Then put a placemat under each bowl, so cleanup can be as simple as grabbing the mat and dumping stray kibbles in the trash.

10. Embrace the idea of “dog only” blankets. We have three blankets and one queen bed sheet that live on our living room couches, to keep our couches from bearing the majority of any staining or muddy paw prints. They’re easier to wash on a more regular basis than disassembling all the couch cushions; and when company is coming over, we can put them away and any lingering dog hair goes with them—instant clean couch!

All the Extra Stuff

The longer you have a dog, the more dog gear you accumulate. A lot of the “stuff” that dogs accumulate can fall out of use quickly, yet still remain in the house taking up space. Collars that don’t fit, bags of treats stuffed into drawers they don’t belong, the bodies of decapitated toys lying fallow under couches and credenzas—or is that just my house? Either way, during spring cleaning it’s important to take stock of all that stuff and clean out everything that is no longer useful.

11. Take inventory. Grab every single piece of gear you own for your dog, every toy, every bag of treats, every medication, everything. Put it all in one place so you can take a proper look at everything you own related to your dog. It’s probably going to be more stuff than you realize.

12. Start sorting. Make a pile of items to keep, a pile of items to donate, and a pile of items to throw away. The stuff you keep should be the things you use and love, the intact toys your dog loves, and the items you really, truly need. Everything else is just flotsam, taking up space. Many rescues and shelters constantly need things like collars, leashes, and extra bedding or towels—and you may have multiples. Consider donating these items if they’re still in decent condition. If not, they need to be thrown out.

13. Wash everything. Now that you’ve taken inventory and sorted, you’re left with only what you need. Now it’s time to clean all of it! Collars, toys, and bedding are the primary places where the majority of that “dog smell” comes from. A good wash can do wonders for making your dog’s favorite corners of the house feel fresh and clean. We’ve got a great tutorial for cleaning dog toys, if you’ve never embarked on that particular endeavor.

Lucy Bennett

Lucy is a writer, artist, and Hufflepuff currently living in Atlanta, Ga. When not making things, she enjoys costuming, tabletop games, and digging in the dirt.

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