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My dog is the light of my life. If you’ve spent any time on our Facebook page or Instagram, you know he is BIG on personality; low on patience. My hobbies include spoiling him, catering to his every whim, and dealing with the extreme amount of sass he sends my way. But just because I love sharing my home with dogs, doesn’t mean I want my house to feel like it’s filled with dog mess. You know the messes I mean: mucky paw prints on the floor, pet stains on the carpet, nose art on the windows, dog fur everywhere and don’t even get me started, on dog smell. I want the dog; I’m not big on the dog mess. Call me fussy.
I also don’t want to spend my whole life cleaning! So over a decade of trying things out, I’ve really found a few things that make dog-friendly cleaning a breeze. I might not do them all every week, but I do them all in a regular rotation, so everything feels fresh and clean without feeling like it’s a full-time job.
Cleaning up dog hair is a pain
Kolchak sheds like it’s his job, so keeping up with pet hair can be a struggle. I find dog hair to be the most tenacious thing! It resists the vacuum on a regular basis. Wet mops just move it around, so I use a multiple prong approach to cleaning our floors.
Swiffer + Microfibre Cloths help me keep corners and baseboards hair free and make mopping a breeze.
I’m not a huge fan of the chemicals Swiffer uses in their cleaning products, but for the price? The Swiffer sweeper tool can’t be beaten. I bought this set and donated the cleaning pads that came with it, then ordered these reusable microfibre cloths instead. They are great for grabbing loose dog hair, dragging along baseboards and fitting into small spots. (And I like that I can use each colour for specific cleaning tasks!)
When I want to wet mop, I use my own infused vinegar all-purpose cleaner.
Just be cautious about what surfaces you use it on. Because vinegar is an acid, you don’t want to let it sit on surfaces long and you don’t want to use it on things like surfaces with a finish or a wax on them. I usually use a diluted mix of water and Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap on more delicate surfaces.
The Swiffer and microfibre cloths are also perfect for dusting walls and ceilings. The long handle means even the shortest people (I am basically elf height) can get right up to the ceiling to deal with stray dust and dog hair. (Seriously though, HOW IS KOL GETTING HAIR 7 FT UP A WALL?!)
I swear by my robot vacuum to help me stay on top of Kol’s shedding problem. Seriously. Cleaning Team MVP.
Getting a robot vacuum was the single best thing I did to level-up my dog hair management. This snazzy little robot allows me to put most of our dog hair problem on auto-pilot and be a little lazy. My days of daily vacuuming are GONE because this baby RUNS HERSELF twice a day. A robot vacuum won’t mean you never have to use your heavy vacuum again, but it can help dramatically reduce the frequency.
I don’t often use my regular vacuum on the floors (unless there’s a spill of some kind), but I do use it with these vacuum specialty attachments all the time for other things.
An upholstery attachment is perfection for vacuuming furniture, dog beds, and the mattress. I will also use it occasionally on curtains between washing.
I use the round brush attachment and the wispy dust attachment for getting hair off window sills, heating vents, shelving, and small decor. I also use this one on the ceramics in my bathroom. Weird, I know, but I find my bathtub and toilet base attract SO MUCH fur and this is the easiest way to clean it fast.
Last, the nozzle attachment is great for wide slat blinds, baseboards, and any tight spaces.
Not included in this set? A must-have dryer vent cleaning tool. Dryer lint is a huge fire hazard and dog lovers seem to have more dog hair filled lint than most. Keeping as much hair as possible out of your dryer also keeps as much hair as possible from being deposited back onto your clothes.
Getting dog hair out of your laundry is a WHOLE THING.
So much of a thing that I wrote a separate post detailing all the things you can do to wash dog hair out of your laundry. It’s one of my all-time most popular posts, so you should probably check it out. It’s filled with all my best laundry secrets, so I’m not going to re-share every one of them here, but I am going to mention my top two MVPS:
First, use 1 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle.
Vinegar not only helps soften fabric, but it also helps to release hair, and kill dog smell. If white vinegar isn’t your jam, a laundry sanitizer can help kill odor-causing bacteria.
Second, get some wool dryer balls to help beat the dog hair out of fabrics.
These wool balls work both by adding friction to your dryer load to help loosen stuck hair and by acting like a magnet, drawing that fur in and trapping it. They’re an easy way to add some oomph to your laundry.
Prevent wet, muddy paws prints on floors and furniture by planning ahead.
When you walk as much as we do and if you happen to live in a darn rain forest, muddy paws are a large and obnoxious fact of life. I work hard to make sure they go no further than our front door.
I always make sure I keep grooming wipes just inside our front door.
All paws get a quick wipe down when we come in to make sure they’re clean and smudge-free. You can buy them ready-made or make your own using our DIY dog grooming wipes recipe.
More microfibre cloths make short work of wet paw prints.
I follow up the grooming wipes with a quick, dry using a microfibre cloth. The cloths soak up any excess moisture on paws and any spots that may have dripped on the floor.
Dog smell be gone.
I love having TONS of soft, plush fabrics and rich textures in my home. There’s something about a million pillows and blankets that is just so…cozy. What I don’t love? Fabric surfaces are magnets for dog odor. As much as I want to be the person whose fabrics are freshly washed, like magic, all the time, I am not.
Luckily, I have a secret weapon: a natural, non-toxic homemade fabric refresher. I keep a spray bottle of 2 parts water, 1 part white vinegar around. Vinegar is known to break down yeast, a prime cause of dog smell.
Hate wet dog smell? Get an amazing dog rain coat.
Now, I’m dodging the edges of what can truly be called a “cleaning tool” here, but this is my site and I make the rules so: my best defense against wet dog smell is one awesome dog rain jacket. I said it and I’m not sorry.
If dog smell is unpleasant, WET dog smell is just… 🤢 🤮 🤢 Hard pass. So, my solution is to avoid letting the dog get super wet in the first place. A few years ago, Jessica from You Did What With Your Weiner? gifted Felix with a Hurtta dog raincoat and I was SOLD. It’s hands down, the best dog raincoat that actually keeps dogs DRY I have ever tried. I’m not going to sugar coat it: it’s pricey. Like “my dog’s raincoat costs more than mine” pricey, but it’s also SUPER durable. I bought Kolchak’s Hurtta coat in November of 2015 and it still looks great and works perfectly.
It’s OK with me if you want to order lint rollers by the darn case.
I mean…I do. Dog hair not only looks messy, but it also holds odors, so I like to give pillows, furniture, and any other fabrics a quick lint roll every so often to pull out stuck in dog hair.
Know when to clean vs when to disinfect
Because I favour natural methods and cleaners I can make at home from a few basic ingredients, while my home is clean it’s not always disinfected. It’s important to identify places in your home that might require a disinfectant and make sure you use one.
My go-to, natural disinfectant is hydrogen peroxide.
Bleach triggers my migraines and it can be really hard on a lot of surfaces, so. I avoid it whenever possible. Lysol (especially lysol wipes) are so handy for a quick clean up, but man, they are the Holy Grail of cleaning supplies this year. Hydrogen peroxide, however, is a great disinfectant to use in bathrooms, the kitchen, and anywhere you might track in outside bacteria or viruses – like entryways. I use 3% hydrogen peroxide, undiluted. Simply mist your surface, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then wipe clean. (Don’t skimp on dry time! Disinfectants need to dry in order to work at their best.)
BONUS: The Bissel Little Green Pro-Heat Makes Clean Up of Spills and Pet Stains a Breeze.
OK, so I may not use this one every week, but it’s one of those “when you need it, it’s invaluable” tools that I will always make sure I have around. I have an older model, but it still works fantastically. This lightweight, portable carpet and upholstery cleaner makes it SO EASY to clean up pet messes and spills as soon. as they happen, with little or no hassle. When paired with a neutralizer, it’s particularly great at addressing urine odor and stains because it uses suction to remove 100% of the mess and a cleanser to neutralizer that lingering odor.
That’s it. You know all my secrets now.
I know it sounds like a lot when I lay it all out like this, but truly… it isn’t. After a while, most of it becomes those simple habits that you do without really thinking about it. When it’s a habit? It doesn’t feel like much work at all!
What’s on your must-do dog-friendly home cleaning list?
Are there any tasks you swear by? Any tasks you absolutely hate?