We love our pets, but we don’t love the damage they do to our homes. Whether they relieve themselves on your sofa or emit funky odors, fur babies can foil your best efforts to keep your place looking and smelling its best.
Yet having an animal or two in residence doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to living in filth. Often, a few pet-friendly purchases and habits can keep things under control. Take fabric, for instance. Some materials hold on to a stink longer than others.
“And once an odor soaks in to an absorbent fiber, it can be very difficult to extract,” points out Maeve Richmond, an organizing and cleaning professional and founder of Maeve’s Method.
Don’t let your pets rule the roost! Here are eight tips for keeping your home clean and organized when an animal is in residence.
1. Groom on a schedule
A clean pet can mean a cleaner, fresher house, especially if you groom it consistently (every month or so as needed). And if you don’t have a dedicated room where you can lather up your pup, carve out a corner in an existing space like the laundry area.
2. Invest in attractive storage
Katie McCann, the home and office organizing pro at Haven, recommends good-looking bins and baskets for pet gear, since owning a pretty container for toys may make you more inclined to keep things neat and organized. The material on this pick ($11.99, Amazon) wipes clean, and the chic gray shade allows it to blend into the background, with just a subtle paw print as a clue to its use.
3. Keep kibble fresh
A folded-over top on your cat’s food bag means the scent of turkey delight will waft through the house—and who wants that?
Instead, McCann picks these smart-looking containers ($39.99 and up, Container Store) that come in two sizes for your pet’s chow. There’s also a scoop included so you don’t have to donate your half-cup measure at feeding time.
“And rather than shlep home giant bags of food, use a service like Instacart or Chewy to schedule pet deliveries,” she adds.
4. Pick pet-friendly furniture fabric
If your pets tend to lounge on your couch or other spots meant for humans, over time the spots will start to smell like your pets—and certain fabrics absorb odors more than others.
“Natural fabrics like cotton and linen hold more odors,” explains Richmond. A better bet for pets? “Man-made materials like polyester, polypropylene, and olefin.”
If you must stick with cotton or linen, get a slipcover so you can easily pop it into the washing machine.
“You can also mask the odor with a cleaning agent like Febreze,” adds McCann.
5. Give the sofa a scrub
Another benefit of couches made from synthetic materials? They can withstand a light bath.
“One cushion at a time, spritz your sofa with distilled water, followed by a drop of dish soap and then use a soft-bristled brush to create a lather,” says Richmond. Wipe away excess liquid and soap with a clean cloth.
If your couch has a cotton or other natural fabric on it, resist the temptation to clean with water as the material may shrink.
“If your cotton sofa is stinky or dirty, a professional clean is worth the effort. A good piece of furniture like this can last 10 or 15 years if it’s well-taken care of,” Richmond notes.
6. Toss pet toys in the wash
Just the way you change dish towels in the kitchen every few days, throw some of the cat’s fabric mice in the washing machine, or your dog’s chewy toys in the dishwasher. If you get in the habit of cleaning these playthings, they will build up fewer odors over time.
7. Pick the best vacuum for pet hair
A vacuum that effectively picks up pet hair is a lifesaver in a home with pets. And the Dyson Ball Animal Upright Vacuum ($224.99, Rakuten) is designed for households with pets. This device sports shorter, stiffer bristles than usual, which provide better suction to remove stubborn pet fur. It also has a turbine that resists hair tangling and a HEPA filtration system, which captures allergens in the machine rather than releasing them back into the environment. Plus it comes with a five-year warranty.
8. Consider washable or replaceable flooring
Let’s face it: Only certain messes can be vacuumed up. Other, wetter accidents require a trip through the washer. For these, Richmond votes for carpets like the polyester-based ones from Ruggable, above ($89.99, Amazon).
“No stain or smell is a match for man-made fibers,” she says.
But for truly disastrous episodes that make you want to cry, pick floor covering you can actually replace. FLOR carpet tiles start as low as a couple of dollars per square foot, and are easy to lay down and then quickly pick up if you need to toss them out and start again.
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