November 1, 2019
If you have dogs, especially big dogs and coated breeds, housekeeping can easily take up entire weekends— it definitely used to take up mine. Even with bi-weekly housecleaning services, my floors were always dirty with dog pawprints, and the dog hair kept piling up everywhere. In the interest of seeing if it was even possible to reduce the amount of time I spent cleaning, I tried a few different approaches.
On average, I probably spend 1 hour per day cleaning, and an additional 3-4 hours on weekends. That’s at least 8 hours — or a full day of work, for most people— that I stood a chance to get back every week, while not sacrificing a clean house. Put in those terms, even reducing the work I have to do by one hour every week would be an improvement. Besides, it’s more time I can spend playing with my dogs.
Little changes can make your house feel cleaner without adding too much time to your weekly cleaning schedule. Some of the small changes that made the biggest difference in my house include:
Lighting a candle isn’t exactly cleaning, and trying to mask the smell of dirty dog odors can actually make the effect worse, but adding candles or air fresheners to your existing routine makes a great first impression to guests. Good smells are important to me, and I love using candles as decor around my home, so they're an expense I’m willing to tolerate. Automatic wall plugs that go off every 30 minutes also go a long way in making the freshness last.
It’s hard to rank exactly how much of an impact any one cleaning method has. Obviously, if you’re willing to pay for professional cleaners, you can expect to dramatically cut down on the amount of housework you have to do. But I find that professional cleaning only goes so far, and after spending hundreds of dollars to get the house clean, it can be pretty disheartening when its super dirty again just a few days later.
To get the most out of professional cleaning services, you should plan ahead, or expect the results to be short-lived. First, don’t hire weekly cleaners (unless you’re prepared to pay!) — hire once-monthly cleaners for 3-5 hours, instead. This monthly deep-clean is like a reset, and can help maintain a high overall standard of cleanliness in your home, especially on non-dog related things, like the kitchen and bathrooms. Hiring cleaners right before your days off is a great way to take back time on your weekends, and similarly, hiring a twice-monthly company to pickup dog poop & tidy the yard will ensure that your lawn stays green and there’s no smell.
If like my dogs, your dog also has a mountain of toys, chews, and tugs laying around the house, help keep them organized with cute baskets and tins. Check each bin monthly for signs of over-wear and be sure to get rid of whatever your dog isn’t interested in. It’s a good idea to rotate your dogs toys every month to keep them from getting worn out too soon— with the added benefit of your dog feeling like he’s getting new toys all the time!
Depending on your space, adding pet-friendly accents to your home can make things feel tidy and organized. Labeled bins for dog food and treats keep food fresher and make things easier to find. Leash hooks mounted by the doors make it easy to take your dog on a walk, and have a place to put his leash after. Overall, these little touches add up toward having a home that feels pet friendly, while still being very human-focused.
Unsurprisingly, using products geared toward pet owners can make a big impact on your cleaning routine. For me, the single biggest improvement was the addition of a robot-vacuum, but keeping a lightweight mop handy (to take upstairs) and getting a broom designed for pet hair made tasks I already had to do each week notably easier.
Using products specifically designed for cleaning up after pets makes a big difference in how hard you have to work. Some carpet cleaners, for example, are designed to break down odors caused by urine, reducing the chances your dog will mark there again. Using vacuums with special pet hair nozzles for cleaning the nooks and cranny's in furniture can make hard-to-clean areas suddenly very easy. And investing in a lightweight mop and bucket or Swiffer-style mop can make accidents and spot cleaning much less of a hassle.
If you’re trying to automate your nightly cleaning routine, and you don’t mind investing some money, robot vaccuums and mops can almost completely eliminate sweeping and mopping throughout the week in a 2-dog household. Although you still have to clean the robot and empty the cartridge, it’s far less work than sweeping & mopping the entire house yourself.
While these are by-far the most expensive options for keeping a house clean, I found that they made the biggest individual impact toward eliminating my nightly cleaning routine. Instead of sweeping & mopping every night, I run the robot on a schedule during the day when I’m at work and it takes care of the usual buildup of dust and fur. The mopping functionality, while not perfect, also helps to reduce the amount of paw-prints in and around doorways, which is very helpful in a house like mine, which has polished concrete floors that are very difficult to keep clean.
Choosing easy-to-clean upholstery like leather or microfiber (which can be wiped down) or washable seat and sofa covers make a huge impact on how clean your home feels. If you’re concerned about chasing your guests down with a lint roller because your dog likes to nap on the sofa, sofa covers can be cleaned or added to the wash right before a get together to ensure your house feels immaculate.
Washable rugs, from company’s like Ruggable and Wayfair not only made me feel comfortable trying light-colored fabrics, it made it more affordable to change the style of my living room by swapping out one rug pattern for another, without needing to pay for the full cost of a new rug. Throwing my area rug into the wash also makes me feel a lot better about having my 2 year old little brother over, who crawls around on the floor about as much as the dogs do.
It should go without saying that a good quality washable dog bed is a must. Not only does it make it easier to get rid of the unsightly spots from chewing bones, and drooling, and doing other doggy things, but the bacteria that causes odors, rashes, and itching as well. Take care not to use too much detergent when your washing your dogs things — although you might appreciate a fresh-smelling comforter, its more likely that the smell will only irritate your dogs sensitive nose, and may turn him away from his boy for several nights.
If your dog sheds on a walk, he’s not shedding in your house. Walks are also a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated and decrease his anxiety about things outside the front door, which can reduce the dreaded slobber marks on windows and doorknobs caused by barking and jumping up.
Daily walks have a number of other positive health and grooming effects, including naturally filing down your dogs nails so you have to cut them much less often, if at all. With male dogs, daily walks can completely eliminate the urge to mark in your house, reducing the cleanup of ocassional “accidents” at home, and can help reduce the formation of urinary crystals and stones.
Brushing your dog is free (besides buying the brush) but by far the best most impactful way to improve the cleanliness of your house. If you have a coated breed, like a German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, or Collie, a daily brushing outside your home will make a huge difference in the amount of shed hair you find on your clothes, floor, and furniture.
Brushing your dog for 3-5 minutes per day removes the dead hair that would otherwise fall out in your home, and should be considered a mandatory part of every dog owners routine. You don’t need to invest in any expensive brushes, but even for short coated dogs, it is a good idea to have a few of them handy. The brushes I use the most include:
Monthly bathing helps reduce the amount of brushing your dog needs, and helps keep his bed (and maybe yours) stay cleaner, longer. Some dogs can be sensitive to monthly baths, so don’t be afraid to reduce the amount of baths your dog gets, as needed. Oftentimes, gentle shampoos and conditioners can eliminate sensitivity to baths, and go a long way toward keeping your dog smelling fresh and clean all month long.
You can also use wipes to clean your dogs face or paws in between regular baths, or simply wash him with warm water. Less is more when it comes to using perfumes and products containing dyes on your dogs fur, as it is a surefire way to cause skin irritations and rashes. Ultimately, keeping your house clean is a balance of bathing your dog and finding a cleaning routine and products that work for your home and family.