jack Russell terrier resting on the floor next to a mop and bucket

Cleaning and Pets: How to Get Rid of Odors and Stains

When you come in your front door, you don’t want the smell of a pet to be the first that greets you. Get life hacks on cleaning up pet odors, hair, and stains.

Wash Their Stuff Regularly

Anything your pet likes to lie on, play with, or cuddle against is bound to get stinky after a while. Toss your pet’s bedding, favorite stuffies, and cozy towels in the washer and dryer regularly. If your pet has allergies or a sensitive snout, use a fragrance-free detergent and fabric softener.

You should also wash your pet’s food bowl, water bowl, and plastic toys often. You can handwash them or put them in the dishwasher on the top rack and let it do the work for you.

And don’t forget about your pet’s collar. It can get quite funky with all of the things our pets get into. Fabric collars can be washed in a lingerie bag on delicate and hung to dry. For metal collars, you can soak them in hot water with a couple of squirts of pet shampoo. Let sit for a bit, rub the collar against itself to remove debris, rinse it off, and let it dry in a sunny spot.

kitten watching pet owner clean wood floor

Clean Up Quickly After Accidents

This has to be one of the least favorite jobs of any pet owner. But if you have a pet, you’ll likely find yourself cleaning up pee, poop, or throw up off the floor. Fingers-crossed, it’s not the carpet. It’s much easier to clean hardwood, tile, or linoleum flooring.

You’ll want to have rubber gloves, a small trash bag, and a cleaning product made for pets at the ready for these situations. And maybe a clothespin for your nose. Pick up any solid mess and blot the wet area with a clean towel to get up as much as possible. When you’re done, store products out of paw’s reach, so you don’t have to deal with a poison emergency.

If your pet pees on the carpet, it can seem impossible to get that pungent smell out. Choose a cleaning product with enzymes, which can help neutralize the stink created by urine. Be sure to clean the spot thoroughly, or your pet might think it’s now a bathroom open for permanent use.

If you’re the DIY type, you can make a homemade carpet cleaner for pet stains. It’s cheap and easy. Blend together a cup of white vinegar, a cup of water, and about two teaspoons of baking soda. Put the mixture in a spray bottle to have handy when you need it.

Quick Tip

If you take your pet public spaces, like outdoor coffee shops or cafés, bring along supplies to clean up a mess just in case.

Set Up a Cleaning Station

It’s simple to create a pet cleaning station—and it can go a long way to helping your house stay clean. Just place a towel and container of water near the door you use with your pet. Then you can quickly wipe off messy paws and fur before they bring that dirt inside.

You may also want to put a carpet runner or area rug by the door where they come in. When it gets dirty, you can toss it in the wash. Just make sure it’s secure, so your pet won’t trip or skid on it.

Freshen the Air

Pet odors can linger in the air, so you may occasionally want to use an air freshener to take the edge off a stinky room or small apartment. Keep in mind that some pets may be allergic to that perfumed spray. In that case, you can leave out bowls of baking soda (out of paw’s reach, of course) to help absorb odors. You may also want to consider purchasing an air purifier.

You may want to avoid using scented candles to freshen up a room, though. Your curious pet can knock it over as start a fire or singe their whiskers off.

Invest in a Good Vacuum Cleaner

This is one purchase you won’t want to cheap out on when you have a pet. If you get a flimsy vacuum, you may not be able to suck up all of those fine hairs.

It could also break more easily since it will be in heavy rotation. You may need to buy another one sooner rather than later, which certainly won’t save you any money.

You’ll probably want a strong and sturdy hand vac too. It’s easier to grab when you have to clean up a small mess.

Wondering if carpet cleaning removes pet dander? That’s a great question especially if you or someone in your family has allergies. A good vacuum can pick up pet dander. Keep in mind you’ll need to vacuum frequently if you’re trying to reduce allergy symptoms.

Some vacuums even have a pet-friendly attachment that lets you safely vacuum your dog! This is obviously may not be a good idea for pups who think vacuums are scary monsters, however.

cavalier king Charles spaniel having its belly brushed the on floor in a living room

Keep Their Brush Handy

Brushing your pet won’t stop them from shedding, but it will help cut down on the amount of hair they leave behind. It also promotes healthy skin and a good-looking coat. If you have a cat, there’s the added bonus of reducing hairballs, which are nasty to clean up.

It’s easier to remember to brush your pet if you keep the brush in sight. For instance, hang it next to your dogs’ leash as a reminder to give them a good brushing when you step outside.

Use a Lint Roller

Lint rollers are perfect for cleaning hair off your pet’s favorite couch cushion when you don’t want to drag out the vacuum. They’re also useful to clean off the hair that sticks to your clothing after your pet has rubbed against you or napped in your lap.

Don’t have a lint brush handy? Duct tape makes a great hair remover. It’s got the perfect amount of stickiness to lift hair off all sorts of fabrics, from couch cushions to wool jackets. Wrap it around your hand (sticky side out, of course), and then slide your hand over the hairy areas.

Quick Tip

Place a lint roller in a basket by your front door. This way, your guests can give themselves a quick brush off before they leave.

Make Mealtime Less Messy

Does your pet slurp up water so fast that it splashes all around? Do they get their kibble everywhere when they eat? Make meal-times less messy by making sure their bowls are the right size. Not too big or deep that they have to dive their whole face in to eat or drink. And not so small or shallow that water or food spills over the sides. You can also put a placemat under their bowls for easier cleanup.

Litter Box Blues

Is your cat’s litter box super stinky? If you’re scooping it out once or twice a day and cleaning the whole thing regularly, it shouldn’t smell foul.

This could be a sign your cat is sick, especially if you notice other symptoms, such as eating less or going to the bathroom more often than usual. It might be time for a visit to the veterinarian. If you have a pet insurance plan, you could be reimbursed for the visit.

If your cat is healthy, but you’re still having issues with a smelly litter box, try one with a hood and a swinging door. Some even have carbon filters in the vents to help cut down on the stink. A self-cleaning litter box may help too.

You can also move your cat’s litter box somewhere your nose won’t detect it. Make sure your cat knows where you moved it and doesn’t mind the new location. Otherwise, you may be cleaning up after them.

Did you know?

While you might feel embarrassed about a smelly pet, your pet probably doesn’t care. It’s not clear if our pets experience complex emotions like embarrassment.

Call in the Pros

Will professional carpet cleaning remove pet odors? It sure will. You can rent one of those industrial cleaners at the grocery or hardware store. Or call in the big guns and have someone come in and do it for you. If you’re having a serious and ongoing pet odor problem, this might be your best bet.