I do love my dog. Now that we have him I wouldn’t be without him, but I took a lot of convincing, and that was mostly because I knew I would hate the dirt, and the cleaning that comes with owning a pet. Pet owners say it takes them 4 times longer to clean their homes than the average household, and with UK pet ownership at an all-time high since the pandemic, that’s a lot of us spending more time than we’d like on the cleaning.
We agonised for years over the decision to get Rocket. The kids pestered me, but secretly knew I’d never give in. Eventually they made a Powerpoint presentation, and even though I knew it was all lies, I was so impressed that I relented. Secretly I’d been wanting a dog all along; my reluctance was because I knew what a commitment it was, and mostly on the cleaning front!
I knew it would all fall to me, and I was right. But keeping your house clean when you have a dog is doable. Here are my tips for staying on top of the cleaning when you have a pet.
Cleaning hacks for when you’re a pet owner
Get the right breed
Growing up we had a Labrador dog, and then a German Shepherd. I remember going to school in my brown uniform (yes I know, my school was evil) and having to pick dog hair off my skirt daily. My mum vacuumed three times a week yet there were still clumps of fur in all the corners. And we must have smelled! Eau de wet dog is not seductive.
I knew that wasn’t a job I had time for so my first decision was to get a dog that doesn’t shed. Rocket is a Malshi (Maltese Terrier-Shih Tzu cross) and doesn’t moult. This does mean that he needs regular grooming to keep his coat trimmed and tangle-free, and that costs, but it was a price I was prepared to pay to avoid being a housework slave.
Dealing with mud
He still brings in a lot of dirt though. Here’s how I cope with that:
- We keep an absorbent doormat at all entrances and have trained him to sit on it when he comes in. That gives us a chance to towel him dry and wipe his paws when we let him in, before he runs off making muddy footprints.
- We have a box by the back door with his towel in it. We also keep a hand-held mop cloth in there, and use that to wipe any escaped footprints if he does manage to swerve the towel.
- Cordless vacuum cleaners – we have two. Try as I might, I’ve failed to keep Rocket from going upstairs, so it’s grubbier up there than it used to be (although I have teenagers, so that might have something to do with it). The cordless vacuum is always on the go and I grab it whenever I’m passing a deposit of dirt, to deal with it in the moment.
Rocket isn’t bad, but my mum’s dog really likes to spread her food out when she eats (like a 3-year-old who won’t let his peas touch his gravy!) She deals with it by placing her food and water bowls on a rubber mat that can then be lifted and washed, avoiding the need for daily floor mopping.
This one comes down to training. When Rocket was a puppy we hung a chain of sleigh bells on the back door handle and rang it every time we took him into the garden. It’s a well-known puppy training trick and it really works. Now whenever he wants to go out for a wee he just rings the bell.
That’s not to say we don’t sometimes still have accidents. Routine is important, but occasionally after a late night and a lie in he just can’t wait. In that case I recommend using a bleach-based cleaning product to make sure all odours are eliminated when we clean up. Dogs tend to go back to the same spots, and just a whiff of the smell can encourage a repeat visit. Get rid of it completely and there’s less chance of another ‘accident!’
So if you’d like a pet, but you’re worried about how much cleaning it will involve, don’t let that put you off. Just find the cleaning hacks that work for you and your pet – and let me know what you get!