Bringing a new bundle of puppy (or kitty) love into the household brings so much joy, as does adopting an older pet who’ll be even more appreciative of all the affection and treats you give. No matter your pet’s age or stage, though, there’s no getting around the fact that having a furry friend means you’ll be needing to do a lot more cleaning.
Before you grab the same supplies that stood you in good stead during your pet-free days, you might want to stop and consider whether they’re likely to be harmful to your pets. Pets — dogs especially — are like little kids in that there’s nothing they won’t try to put in their mouths at least once (though more often, they’ll do it over and over again). Even if you have all your cleaning stuff safely locked up in a puppy-proof cabinet, there’s likely to be residue left on the surfaces you clean, as well as fumes that might be harmful to a super-sensitive sniffer. Luckily, you can easily make your own DIY cleaning supplies that won’t harm your pets one bit, and, as a bonus, are a lot cheaper than the store-bought stuff.
You're going to need a good carpet cleaner
Accidents happen, whether you’ve got a puppy who’s still getting the hand of potty training (you hope!) or a canine (or feline) senior citizen who seems to have sprung a few leaks. Even a healthy, well-trained dog may experience the occasional digestive upset at a time when you’re not on hand to let them out in the yard.
The American Kennel Club recommends making a pet-safe carpet cleaner by mixing equal parts of water and distilled vinegar in a spray bottle (you can also use the more expensive apple cider vinegar if that’s what you’ve got on hand) and adding a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. Spray the solution right on the oopsie, then let it sit for a few minutes before blotting it up with a paper towel or a rag. While the hydrogen peroxide itself should help get rid of the odor, if the rug’s still a bit stinky you can also sprinkle the spot with some baking soda after it’s dry. Let the baking soda sit for 10 to 20 minutes, then vacuum. If you have a colored carpet, though, you might want to go easy on the peroxide. This substance works as a mild bleaching agent, and it’s not entirely color-safe. Test the peroxide solution on a small, hidden spot on the carpet (maybe behind the sofa) before using it on a more visible area.
These all-purpose cleaners should be safe for most surfaces
According to the American Kennel Club, the 50/50 vinegar/water mix without the added peroxide makes for a great all-purpose cleaner, although you can also add the peroxide and/or a squeeze of lemon juice for some extra oomph. The Pets on Broadway blog suggests an even more economical 1:10 vinegar/water mix, something that should be plenty powerful enough for simply wiping down sticky countertops and cabinets, mopping floors, and scrubbing out the sink.
While you can also use the vinegar and water solution to clean those nose and paw prints off your windows, Pets on Broadway also offers another recipe: Five tablespoons of lemon juice mixed with two liters (or pints) of water — they say it’s okay to estimate, there’s no need to be exact in your measurements. This solution can be sprayed directly on windows and wiped off with a lint-free cloth, and it can also be sprayed on the cloth and used to wipe down phones and computer screens (carefully, of course, since electronics).
You can even have a greener, cleaner toilet
Does your doggo drink out of the toilet bowl? Don’t be embarrassed — they sure aren’t! Dogs will be dogs, and that’s why we love them. Still, this little quirk makes it all the more important to avoid using toxic chemicals in your toilet. The American Kennel Club says you can clean the bowl by pouring in half a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of vinegar. Yes, it will bubble up into a “volcano” just like the one you made in third grade science class. Let it fizz for 10 minutes, then grab your toilet brush (assuming your pup hasn’t made off with it) and scrub, then flush. You can also use this same baking soda + vinegar hack as a non-toxic drain cleaner, although instead of scrubbing and flushing you’ll be pouring a few quarts of boiling water down the drain to wash away any clog-causing grease.
Furchild Pet Nutrition offers one more toilet cleaner you probably never thought of: Tang, that orange powdery stuff that the astronauts supposedly drank. They say to pour a quarter cup into the pot, swish it around, and let it sit for an hour before flushing. While Tang’s toilet-cleaning properties make us wonder just what it might have done to those poor astronauts’ insides, it shouldn’t do any harm to your pets, and, in fact, the orange-y scent may actually keep kitties away since they’re not big fans of citrus.
Avoid using these cleaning products
While the internet is full of DIY home cleaning products, not all of the ingredients they call for are going to be as pet-safe as the ones recommended here. Furchild Pet Nutrition warns that there are several ingredients often called for in homemade cleaning supplies that you should avoid using, as they could be harmful to your fur friends: Ammonia, bleach, and isopropyl alcohol. They also warn against any commercial cleaners containing these ingredients, as well as ones made with formaldehyde, perchloroethylene, phenols, and/or phthalates.
Ammonia, in particular, is something you will want to avoid if you’re cleaning up any pee stains. Urine contains ammonia, so dogs and cats might associate the ammonia smell with a pee smell and feel compelled to add a little extra sprinkling of their own product. Whatever you do, though, never, ever use bleach to clean up a puppy puddle! The bleach will react with the naturally-produced ammonia and release dangerous fumes. Stick to vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide for pee stains, since these won’t cause you or your pet any harm.
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