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ULTIMATE GUIDE: How to Keep a Clean House when you have Pets

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Inside: A complete guide to having a clean and tidy home while living with cats and dogs; solutions for carpet stains, upholstery cleaning and pesky pet odors, plus the best pet hair removal ideas and hacks!

Once you’ve had an animal in your life, it’s hard to imagine what it was like without them. Being a human companion to a pet is one of life’s great joys, however, in all their slobbery and furry goodness comes a multitude of housekeeping challenges. I often joke and say the real question is not ‘should I get a pet?’, but rather ‘how can I keep my house clean and tidy if and when I do have a pet?’  (This post may use affiliate links).

Table of Contents

how to clean you house with pets - ultimate guide

Have a Routine for managing the key pet related cleaning tasks

This feels a bit silly to say, but having a routine that you can put on auto-pilot really helps with pet stuff. I mean, we walk our dogs daily, feed them daily, give them pats and snuggles daily – it is pretty easy to add in a few minor ‘mental’ tasks to help with the clean-up.

Daily Pet Cleaning Tasks for all pets

  • wipe down paws after walking outside
  • rinse out pet bowls (especially the water bowls)
  • rinse out pet food bowls, dry them well
  • shake out bedding or sleep spot (like making your bed in the morning, make theirs too!)
  • For cats, scoop litter and sweep any litter debris from area

Weekly Pet Cleaning Tasks

  • run bedding through a hot wash cycle
  • wipe down pet food canisters and scoops
  • replace liner in cat litter box, take soiled litter to outdoor garbage bin
  • brush your pet and compost excess fur
  • replace/wash ‘drool’ bandana (great for dogs!)

Quarterly Pet Cleaning Tasks

  • make an appointment with a professional groomer (nail clipping, hair cut, pet wash)
  • check in with vet about tooth and gum health (schedule a pro cleaning if needed)
  • deep clean the dog bed insert (it should wash the same was as a feather down pillow)

How to manage pet smells

I want to say there’s an easy way to deal with this, but it really depends on the time of year and the type of pet smell. So let’s start with the biggest question I get, which is about getting rid of dog-related smells.

Brush and groom your dog regularly

This feels a bit silly to say, but like humans, dogs need and require regular grooming. I’m not a breed expert or anything, so you really need to talk to your vet, pet groomer or breeder to find out what your dog needs, but the best cleanliness starts with eliminating the problem before it starts. 

Grooming your dog will help to reduce shedding and keep his breath, ears and paws healthy and healthy dogs don’t smell as bad. We are obsessed with this Pet Brush in our house. We use it on both cats and the dog and all three of our animals feel like they are at the spa when we use it on them. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s lasted us ten years with no signs of quitting.

Dog Smells and Upholstery

This one is a bit more challenging because even with a well groomed animal, certain upholstered furniture will soak up the dog smell and it can be very hard to get rid of.

The first step is to consider investing in pet blankets and/or slipcovered furniture to help with the washing. These items can be easily removed and tossed into a hot wash cycle with odor eliminating cleaning products regularly.

If the pet blanket and slipcover solution isn’t quite what you had in mind, you’ll likely be forced to clean with some sort of odour eliminating spray solution. A regular spritz of a natural cleanser can go a long way to getting rid of the dog smell on furniture – especially if it’s a fabric like microfibre or a velvet/denim.

Lingering Pet Smells in the Air

If you are a dog or cat lover and you have multiple animals, sometimes you just need something to mask the overall scent. Perhaps it’s strongest near where the dog sleeps or eats, or where the cat’s litter box is located.

In this case, you’ll want to try a natural air freshener that is non-toxic to animals. Be aware that a lot of commercial brands contain harsh chemicals that are not good for humans or animals to ingest. 

I like to use a few mason jars with a homemade odour fighting mixture around the house. They last a really really long time (like months) and take only a few minutes to pull together.

A bonus is that they are cute, decorative and blend in well with any style or decor. If you don’t want to use glass, the same technique will work with a plastic container.

Dealing with Pet Hair in the House

This is a massive and challenging area – at least it is in my house! With two cats and a giant dog, I feel like I’m always cleaning or picking pet hair off something, whether it’s the floor, the carpet, the furniture, my clothing, blankets, the car… the list goes on and on and on.

Your best weapon in the fight against pet hair is to have a GREAT vacuum that is specifically designed for pet hair. I’ve tried a LOT of vacuums over the years and I’m not convinced you have to spend a small fortune, but you do have to make sure you aren’t cheaping out. Get a puppy or a kitten, also get a vacuum – that should be a saying. 

Qualities to look for in a vacuum if you have pets

Getting pet hair off clothes and textiles

If you wear a black shirt, your white cat will want to sit on you – that is also a rule LOL. Getting pet hair off your clothes is a big deal and there are lots of things to you can do manage it.

The first thing to do is invest in a whole bunch of lint brushes. You can read WAY more about how I use a lint brush in every room in the house right here.

But other solutions include rinsing garments and things like blankets, drapes and linens in a water and white vinegar solution before putting them through a wash cycle. The vinegar can help to loosen the pet hair fibres that get stuck in your clothes and blankets.

Cleaning up Pet Urine Smells and Stains

Oh this one is a doozy – but in every pet owners life, there comes a time when you end up dealing with some sort of accident. And let’s be real, it never happens at a good time or in a good spot, right? Somehow Fido and Fluffy know that you just got that brand new rug and manage to pee on it. *face palm*

Cat Pee Smells and Stains

When I moved into my first apartment on my own, it had gleaming hardwood floors. It felt so high end and I loved it. Until my ailing cat missed the litter box and left a HUGE urine stain on the oak flooring. I was devastated. It was a giant ring around her pee puddle; it seemed almost as if her urine had reacted with the varnish on the flooring and made it look worse. 

Cat or Dog Pee on a Hardwood Floor

The first thing you want to do is soak up ALL of the excess urine as best you can. You best defence in this case is paper towel. Use as much as necessary to get the area as close to bone dry as you can.

For cat urine, you’ll want to sprinkle an additional layer of baking soda onto the stain, which will help neutralize the chemicals and hormones that might entice kitty to keep peeing in that same spot. Just don’t rub it in, as that could damage the floor further.

If you got to the stain almost immediately and you’ve been able to soak up most of the pee, then I recommend going over the spot with a good, high end steam cleaner. I personally use this steam cleaner all the time and it is amazing. It sanitizes and cleans with just hot water and steam. I add in a bit of essential oil to give it a nice smell and that’s it.

Cat pee in particular, however, can leave a nasty ring on hardwood floors. This will be terrifying to do, but to lighten the stain, use a mixture of Hydrogen Peroxide and Water. The ratio of the mix will really depend on the lightness of your floors and the darkness of the urine stain itself. I recommend starting with a 1:3 ratio of peroxide to water and slowly rubbing it in. Let it sit for a few hours and then go back over it.

You can even use a toothbrush to scrub it into the edges of the stain itself. While this is a last resort, it can really help to pull back a cat pee stain on a hardwood floor.

Pet Stains on Carpets

This is almost the same process as the hardwood floor clean-up, but it requires a bit of extra attention to make sure there isn’t a lingering odour after the fact. If your dog or cat pees on the carpet, you need to, once again, get it as DRY as possible before treating the stain. 

Do NOT rub the urine in or use scrubbing motions (this is regardless of the type of carpet you have). Use paper towel or rags to blot and soak up the wet spots on the carpet.

Sprinkle the area generously with baking soda and then vacuum it up after about thirty minutes. Repeat this a few times.

Once you’ve done that, you will want to spot clean the carpet with a foaming cleanser specifically formulated for pet urine on carpets. We use this one and it’s been fantastic. The trick is to spray a generous amount all over the soiled area and let it soak in without any scrubbing at all.

Pee Stains on Mattresses

What do you do if your sleeping cat has a massive accident ON YOUR BED? First, do not panic. Secondly, consider getting a new mattress. I’m only half joking. You can read about the gross situation that resulted in us getting a new bed here.

TLDR: I accidentally locked our cat in the guest room for about eight hours and she peed ALL OVER THE MATTRESS. 

I did manage to get the pee stain out of the mattress though (we still got a new bed though!) It’s not as difficult as you might think and this trick works for potty training small humans as well. Use a combination of baking soda, oxy bleach crystals, vinegar and patience and you should be able to get the yellow stain out.

Recommended reading: How to get stains out of mattresses (like pee!)

Here are some other cleaning posts you might like!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. See my disclosure and privacy policy here. 

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