How to: Keep a pet-friendly home fresh

How to: Keep a pet-friendly home fresh

Image: Virginia Macdonald


How to: Keep a pet-friendly home fresh

Having a pet doesn't mean your house can't be spotless and clean-smelling. Find out how to keep your pet-friendly home fresh with these helpful tips.

There’s no question that for a dedicated “pet parent,” a house is not a home without at least one fur-bearing critter. But even the most devoted pet owner has to admit that having little Foxy and Pumpkin in the family does make keeping a spotless, clean-smelling house just a bit more challenging. We asked Peter Due, store manager with PetSmart in west Toronto, for advice.


{Photo: Virginia Macdonald}

Keeping the litter box fresh
Even with multiple cats, keeping the litter box fresh is not difficult if you make it a daily task. “Make sure you’re using the right kind of litter for your situation,” Peter advises. “There are many kinds of litter on the market today, such as formulations for multiple cats, or products made from corn or crushed walnut shells that do a great job of deodorizing and clumping,” he says.

Keep a tightly covered, plastic bag-lined container next to the box that you can empty every few days; you can even buy special bag sealers that work like the kind of units that seal up diapers. (Also, some municipalities allow you to put pet waste in your organic-waste “green” bin for collection.) Add fresh litter to keep the level in the box at about two or three inches, and completely replace it every month or so.

Control excessive pet fur around your house
For many pet owners, fur in your house, bed sheets, and car can be a chronic problem, but there are ways to keep it to a manageable level, says Peter. Some breeds, especially those with long hair, benefit from regular trips to the groomer, but perhaps the most effective control – and often, the most pleasant for your pet – is just to brush him thoroughly every day. There are many kinds of brushes, each designed for a particular type of hair; your groomer or pet store associate can help you choose the right one for your pet.

If your pet is shedding heavily (other than normal seasonal shedding), it could be a sign of stress, health or skin problems, or even just the wrong food. Your vet may be able to advise you if you need to take further action.

For fur that’s already on your clothes, couch, carpet, car upholstery, and everywhere else, you can get rubberized brushes that build up a static charge to attract the hair, or use one of those sticky brushes (either with tear-off sheets or reusable). Daily light vaccuming, sweeping or Swiffering will also help keep it from getting out of control.


{Photo: Donna Griffith}

Dealing with pet stains and ‘accidents’
One of the thorniest problems pet owners face is how to deal with accidents on upholstered furniture, carpeting, or floors. Peter advises that it’s crucial to clean up pet stains as thoroughly and quickly as possible, not just because the smell can be unpleasant and return to haunt you forever, but because your pet can smell it and may go back and relieve himself in the same spot.

The trick is to use cleaning products specially made for pet stains, which contain a special enzyme that reacts to the bacteria in urine. “Household spray deodorizers or cleaners may get rid of the smell temporarily, but it will come back.” One product he recommends has an elongated spout-type applicator that gets right into the pile of the carpet (or other nooks and crannies), bringing the chemical right where it’s needed, and can be used with a special black light that exposes all traces of urine, for thorough cleanup.

Other products you might consider, especially if pet mishaps are an ongoing problem, are adsorbent cleaning pads that wick up moisture better than the best paper towels, or products especially designed for surfaces such as hardwood floors.

It’s true that those of use who share our homes with pets may have a little more cleaning to do than those who live in pet-free environments, but look at it this way: it’s a small price to pay for the devotion and friendship they give us in return.


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How to: Keep a pet-friendly home fresh