Having pets in the family can add a lot to your to do list, but using a little forethought and taking a little bit of preventive action make a clean home with pets a reality instead of a dream.
Managing the pet hair seems to be the biggest challenge–whether your pet sheds a little or a lot. Success depends upon how conscientious you are about proper pet grooming and staying ahead of the mess. Place an old towel or sheet wherever your pet likes to rest, and regularly shake it outside to remove most of the hair before washing. Vacuum carpets often, using a full-suction vacuum with a HEPA filter. On bare floors, choose an electrostatic mop to keep hair out of the air. Vacuum upholstery with the appropriate attachments. You can also use lint brushes or dry sponges (sold at pet supply stores). Replace air filters every two to four weeks. Clean filters trap more hair. Train your dog to immediately sit on a floor mat to be wiped down (especially paws) each time he comes in from outdoors, to avoid bringing dirt inside.
The litter box can never be “too clean.” Scoop at least twice a day. Completely empty and scrub the box with a water and bleach solution mixed with Dawn before replacing litter. Don’t use ammonia products; they mimic the smell of cat urine. Replace the entire box once a year; cats scratching in the box create divots that absorb stool.
Immediately clean up pet accidents with a product designed specifically for pet messes. Pet urine left on carpets can permanently alter the dye. Remove any solid residue with a dull knife. Blot fresh stains with a clean, white cloth. After absorbing as much moisture as possible, apply a solution of 1/4 teaspoon clear dishwashing liquid mixed with one cup tepid water; blot with another clean, dry towel. Rinse by blotting with a towel dampened with tepid water. Continue alternating with a soapy towel and a clean, damp towel until the stain is gone. For stale stains or persistent odor, use a professional carpet cleaner.
Always wipe down your counters with a disinfecting wipe or solution before and after you put food on the counter. Keep all food preparation tools inside cupboards and drawers. This helps avoid contamination that could occur when paws that have touched litter come in contact with food prep surfaces. When that happens, organisms like toxoplasmas are sharing counter space with your food!
While reptiles and amphibians they don’t scatter fur or climb on the counter unless you put them there, they can carry viruses like salmonella and shigella. To avoid spreading them, wipe down cages and habitats daily and clean once a week, wearing gloves. Don’t wash habitats in the kitchen sink. Instead, use the laundry sink or bathtub and disinfect afterwards.
Keep pet food supplies in sealed containers, and clean up spilled food immediately. Feed your pet then clean the dish soon after. Open storage containers and food dishes attract rodents and other pests. A good-sized litter mat, as well as large absorbent, rubber-backed mats under pet food and water dishes, will also help contain mess.
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