You learn very quickly as a pet parent that messes happen—and they happen often. Pee, slobber, fur (so much fur), and other less savory substances become commonplace fixtures of your cleaning routine, making you long for the days when a little bit of dust was all you had to worry about.
Despite the level of grossness, every drool- covered pillow and scratched surface is just part of the life you share with your animal companion. Learning to live with the mess is easy, but that doesn’t mean you have to live in the mess. We’ve gathered expert tips to take care of the messes—big and small—that come with pet parenthood.
So your pet peed on the carpet…again. Indoor accidents can quickly become repetitive issues, due largely in part to a pet’s “I peed on it and now it’s mine” mentality. That’s why when it comes to urine-soaked spots, it’s crucial to get rid of not just the stain, but the smell as well. Unfortunately, that’s not always an easy task. Pet urine seeps deep into carpet fibers, forming crystals that emit harsh odors and are difficult to remove. We reached out to the carpet-cleaning experts at Chem-Dry for advice on fully eliminating urine from carpets. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Act quickly. The longer a soiled area is left unattended, the more difficult it becomes to remove the substance and odor, so do your best to clean up the urine while it’s still wet. Once urine dries, not only can it stain the carpet, but the chances of bacteria growth increase.
2. Absorb. Place a rag or paper towels on the spot to soak up the urine. Walking or standing on the towels will help absorb the urine faster. After blotting as much of the urine as you can, place a few drops of dish detergent and water on the area, then place another towel over it and step on it to absorb as much as possible.
3. Neutralize. Over-the- counter neutralizers can help minimize the smell and the stain temporarily, and should help prevent the animal from re-soiling the same spot. Unfortunately, they won’t fully remove the stain or odor permanently. If you’re still smelling pee long after you’ve attended to the stain, call in a professional carpet cleaning service.
If you wore the same thing every day you would definitely want to wash it occasionally, so why not do the same for your pet? Collars, harnesses, and leashes can all harbor potentially dangerous bacteria (and particularly unpleasant smells), and should be cleaned regularly.
1. Fill a bucket with warm water. Add a couple tablespoons of baking soda and let dissolve.
2. Place collar (or harness or leash) in the bucket, being sure to fully submerge. Let soak for 10-15 minutes.
3. Scrub the collar dutifully with a toothbrush, then put back in the water to soak for a few minutes. Take out and scrub again. Repeat one more time if the collar is particularly grungy.
4. Rinse collar completely with fresh water, then leave out to dry.
BONUS: Want to give the collar a fresh scent? After completing steps 1-3, empty the bucket, rinse it out, refill with warm water, and add a drop or two of lavender oil. Let collar soak in oil solution for five minutes. Rinse with fresh water and leave out to dry.
When it comes to staying on top of the mountains of fur that seem to cover every surface, a few staple products are your best friends. Here are three things we swear by:
1. The Pet Hair Eraser Vacuum by Bissell. It looks like any normal vacuum, but the Pet Hair Eraser has fur-removing superpowers. Not only does it effortlessly pick up any tuft in its path, the tangle-free brush roller at the base keeps the fur from blocking suction. Special tools like the quick-wand release help you reach every corner and couch cushion, with the built-on LED light making sure you don’t miss a speck. Best of all, the Pet Hair Eraser emits a considerably softer sound than most vacuums when it’s on, perfect for scaredy cats and dogs.
2. The FURminator. You’ve probably heard of the FURminator, a go-to grooming tool for removing loose hairs from pets and reducing shedding, but did you know this handy brush also serves unofficial double duty as a cleaning tool? Brush the FURminator on rugs and couches to gather all those pesky hairs into an easy-to-pick-up pile.
3. Rubber gloves. Slip your hand into a rubber glove, get it slightly damp, and rub over any surface that needs some fur removal. When the glove gets covered, rinse, and use again as needed. Perfect for quick touch-ups.
HOW TO >>> CLEAN VOMIT OFF OF THE COMFORTER
Nothing gets a pet parent out of bed faster than that wheezing sound that precedes a dog or cat throwing up. Unfortunately, you can’t always be quick enough to get a pet off the bed, and at some point you’re bound to experience the joys of a 2am mess on the comforter. You’ll need a new blanket for the night, but here’s how to deal with that stain so it doesn’t set.
1. As soon as the stain happens, use paper towels to scoop up as much as you can, including all solid bits. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as you don’t want to press the mess into the fabric.
2. Rinse the stain with cold water, then cover with stain remover and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
3. Put in washer on hot cycle. Wash without other items so that there is plenty of room for it to move around.
4. Make sure stain is out before drying. If it’s still there, hit it with the stain stick again and run through another hot cycle. When the stain is gone, dry as usual.
HOW TO >>> SANITIZE PET TOYS
That beloved toy your pet has had since the day you brought them home? Yeah, you probably don’t want to think about all the germs it’s harboring. But now that we’ve made you think about it, here’s how to make it good as (almost) new.
Plush toys: As long as there are no rips in the toy, you can safely wash soft toys in a traditional washer. Put in a delicates bag and wash warm on the delicate cycle with an all-natural, fragrance-free detergent (or simply some white vinegar). Leave out to air dry.
Rubber, plastic, and nylon toys: Run these through the dishwasher, on hot, with no detergent. You can also hand wash in a bucket with warm water and a few teaspoons of blue Dawn dish soap.
Note: Don’t wash toys that contain catnip. When those get grungy, just toss them and head to the store for new ones.
Ideas for safeguarding those things that can’t just be thrown in the washer:
Upholstery. Dogs and cats don’t care if their nails scratch the expensive covering on the couch—they just want a comfy place to lay down. David Shevenaugh, president of Weber Furniture, a furniture repair shop in Chicago, suggests getting commercial-grade slipcovers made for furniture you can’t keep the pets off of. Durable and stain-resistant, they’ll stand up to significantly more scratching and clawing than residential-grade fabrics.
Wood. Your dog has plenty of toys, so why does she insist on gnawing on the wooden legs of the coffee table? Same goes for your kitty, who seems to have a preference for scratching the wooden cabinets next to her designated scratching post. Until you can fix the bad behavior, deter the gnawing and scratching with herbal sprays like those from NaturVet. They make the spot less inviting, meaning your pet will go elsewhere— preferably to her toys—to play.