Posted on June 11th, 2018
Even if you’ve successfully trained your pet to be as tidy as possible, some degree of mess is an unavoidable fact of life for pet owners. Indoor-outdoor pets, like large dogs, regularly carry dirt, pests, and bacteria inside on their paws and fur. Purely indoor pets can contribute to home hygiene issues, too: Not only is their fur a potential nuisance and allergen, dust mites and bacteria feed on the dander they shed… And even if you’re not allergic to animals, you’re probably allergic to dust mites. (Dust mites play a role in up to 90% of cases of allergic asthma, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.)
None of this means you can’t be both a pet owner and a tidy housekeeper, however; you’ll just need to modify your sanitation strategy slightly to account for the extra mess. Using the five cleaning tips below, you can enjoy the company of four-legged family members without sacrificing your health or comfort:
When it comes to pet hair control, tape is your friend.
Keeping shed hair off the furniture is a high priority for any pet owner. After all, not only is this excess hair unsightly, it has a way of traveling. From the couch, it gets transferred onto our clothing, then onto our hands, and before we know it, it’s in our dinner—yuck!
Fortunately, you can skip the fancy gizmos when it comes to combating pet hair. Any kind of wide-band tape (like duct tape or packing tape) becomes an instant hair removal tool when it’s wrapped around a hand, sticky side facing outwards. Just roll or pad the tape across areas where your pet has been lying down to instantly lift away accumulated hair.
Groom your pet regularly, even if he or she has short hair.
It’s a myth that only long-haired animals need regular grooming. Any animal that sheds significantly—whether it’s long or short-haired—will benefit from a daily brush-down, and so will your home. Removing loose hair with a brush can keep it from ending up on your furniture, in your carpets, in your laundry, etc. If you have a dog, giving him a quick brush as soon as he comes in from outside can also get rid of dirt and insects that might have found their way into his fur. (Don’t forget that long-haired breeds should be taken to a professional groomer regularly, too.)
The best place to groom your pet is outside, as doing this will keep the hair you remove completely out of your home. However, if this isn’t possible or your pet is strictly an indoor animal, there are still steps you can take to control the mess. Try laying down some newspaper under your pet while your groom him or her; this will catch any stray hairs. When you’re done grooming your pet, lightly mist the paper with water to weigh down shed hair. (This will stop it from alighting into the air when you move the paper.) Carefully fold up the damp paper and dispose of it immediately. Then, clean out your pet’s brush over a trash can and launder your clothes.
Consider upgrading your furniture.
Dogs and cats love couches and armchairs for the same reason we do—they’re comfortable! As such, it can be extremely hard to train pets to stay off these cushy items of furniture. Most home hygiene experts therefore recommend choosing upholstery materials that don’t act like static-ridden “hair magnets.” (Doing this will also help to prevent odor build-up.) Leather and very tightly-woven, smooth fabrics are your best bets in terms of hair and dander resistance.
If you’re not ready to upgrade your furniture, covering it with throw blankets is recommended. Unlike furniture, throws can be easily washed; just toss them in the laundry once every two to three days to prevent hair and odor accumulation.
Invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner and use it often.
Look for a model of vacuum cleaner that boasts very strong suction, a good filter (preferably a HEPA filter), upholstery heads, and excellent brush action. Vacuum (at least briefly) every day and give your home a more thorough vacuuming every weekend. If your home has a lot of carpeting, you should also apply baking soda to it every week, let it sit overnight if possible, and then vacuum it up. This will trap and remove odor-causing bacteria. Finally, don’t forget to clean out your vacuum’s filter regularly; if you don’t, the hair and dirt inside it will just end up spread all over your house.
Get occasional help from a professional.
No matter how diligent you are about controlling and removing pet hair, dander, and dirt, some of it will inevitably end up ground deep into your carpets and furniture. Over time, these fine particles (which can’t usually be removed by consumer-grade vacuum cleaners) build up, creating a fertile breeding ground for dust mites and bacteria. The solution? Professional carpet cleaning.
Professional cleaners have access to high-grade machinery that’s designed to inject hot water deep into carpet and upholstery fibers, then suck it up immediately afterwards. This irrigates and removes the vast majority of dust mites, bacteria, dirt particles, etc. Better still, professional cleaning can extend the life of your furniture and carpets by whisking away the tiny grit particles that otherwise slice into material fibers and slowly degrade them. Depending on how many pets you have, you should get your house cleaned professionally once every three to six months.
Owning a pet has a lot of health benefits, so you should never let worry over mess stop you from bringing home a furry companion. Did you know, for example, that pet ownership has been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and mental health problems? (Medical News Today) By following the advice above, you can reap these important rewards—and provide a loving home for a deserving animal—without worrying about any resultant hygiene issues.