Confessions of a Dog-Loving Neat Freak

Most people don’t associate pets with clean houses, and with good reason. We all know how our fur babies can make a mess — knocking things over or dragging things around. I love my own dog, Parker, to the ends of the earth, but the one thing he’s not is neat. And for someone like me, who loves an organised and tidy house, well. Let’s just say it’s a constant effort.

While I’ve learned to live with the fur, I’ve also learned that yes, you can in fact have a level of tidiness. It takes a lot of work, and a high level of attention, but that already comes with the dog, anyway. Besides, the joy and love we receive from our fur babies is well worth the effort you put in to keep your floors and furniture fur-free. (Or as much as you’re able, because let’s face it — the fur will always be there.)

But how to keep a clean house while owning a dog?


House Training

It’s a lot of work and patience, but you’ll need to house train your dog. Whether you get them as a puppy, adopt a senior, or rescue them, they’ll need to learn how to cohabit with their humans. This involves learning where to do their business (not on the rug), how to ask to go outside, how to behave inside. How not to get in the way while you’re cleaning. Repetition is key here, as is understanding that your dog will take a while to learn. And they may make mistakes from time to time, too.

The important thing is to have a routine — that’s how they’ll learn best. Be consistent in taking them out at the same time to do the same things each day. They’ll adopt the habits better, and be less likely to whine at you to pee. (They’ll still whine for treats, though. Always.)


Lint Rollers and Vacuums

Invest in two things: many, many lint rollers and a very good vacuum. If you can, get an automated vacuum that you can leave to do light clean-up in between more thorough sweeps. Then make sure to vacuum your floors at least twice a week, or more if you’re conscious of fur. Get into all the corners and under furniture. Invest in an upholstery attachment for your couches and rugs — nobody likes furry cushions. (Well, except your dog.)

One other trick to getting fur off a sofa or similar is wet rubber gloves. Just dampen a pair and run your hands over the fabric — and wear a mask to avoid the sniffles.

It’s probably also a good idea to invest in dark furniture if you own or plan on owning a dog. White furniture only stays white for about five minutes. And try to designate an area of the couch where your dog is allowed (if you plan on letting it on the furniture at all). Throw blankets and seat covers are your friend!

Your clothes will be a similar story, especially if your dog is a cuddler. (Worth it.) Lint rollers will get the worst of the fuzz off, but you’ll need to learn to live with a certain amount just clinging to your fabrics. You may need to shift your wardrobe depending on your dog’s fur color — I’ve found myself wearing a lot of dark clothing since Parker’s a chocolate labrador.

(Hot tip — if you have a handheld vacuum, some dogs actually enjoy a light vacuum on their tummy. I’ve no idea why, but it’s pretty cute!)


Mess Containment

Even a fully house-trained dog will mess up (ha) every once in a while. Scold them gently when they do, then move into clean-up mode. The longer a mess sits, the harder it’ll be to clean up any stains or scents.

For liquid messes, blot the stain immediately — don’t rub. Then use a cleaning solution that’s one part warm water to one part vinegar to dab at the spot and clean it up. You can scrub with a toothbrush if needed.

For solid messes (yick), let it dry out first, then collect. Gross? Yes, but necessary.

Containment isn’t limited to the aftermath of a mess, though. There’s also preventing the mess from happening in the first place. Parker loves taking my balled-up socks in his mouth for no reason (I think he just does it to get my attention, spoiled baby). To prevent this, I put my laundry away as soon as it’s washed and folded. If for any reason I can’t, it goes on a designated chair in a neat pile — with socks well out of dog reach.


Regular Cleaning

Of everything. Wash their dishes in hot water once a day, if not after every meal. Beds should be cleaned ideally once a week, but at the very least once a month. Toys can be cleaned every few weeks either in the dishwasher (for hard toys) or washing machine (for soft toys). Just get them to let go, first!

Dog collars, meanwhile, should be deep cleaned at least once a month. You can simply soak them for 15 minutes in very hot water with mild detergent or shampoo, then let dry.

For funky smells, bicarb soda is great for refreshing linens — just toss in a cup whenever you put on a load. Use pet-friendly essential oils in diffusers for rooms. And do a deep clean of your home every month or so (or take your dog out for a treat, and let professional home cleaners take care of that for you).


Dog Maintenance

Don’t forget — it’s not just your house you need to keep tidy! You need to keep your dog similarly clean, with a similar level of work. Some tips and tricks to maintaining your dog’s grooming include:

  • Schedule weekly brushing sessions to get most of their loose fur out; it’ll help ease up the shedding
  • Speaking of brushing, make sure you regularly brush their teeth and wipe their snout, too — they kiss you with that mouth
  • Keep paw spray and reusable wipes, and clean their paws whenever they re-enter the house after a walk
  • Bathe them regularly, especially if you use them as a furry bed warmer
  • Consider covers for car seats and sofas
  • If you can manage (and kudos to you if you can), get your pet to wear a bib while eating

It feels like a lot of work, but more frequent light cleaning means less effort, less time spent, and less mess! That’s more time and attention to give your fur baby instead — just try and keep the cuddles off the couch. (Or have a blanket on if you can’t resist!)


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