Cleaning up after Dogs
Once you have a Malamute, or any large dog, you recognize the value of a good vacuum cleaner and mop. It's the little things that make life easier. Since I have several Malamutes in my home, and hate cleaning, I've become an expert in doing it FAST, EASY and with as little effort as possible!
A few basic thoughts if you expect to have a decently clean house with dogs:
- Your house will never be spotless again, get over it or don't get a dog
- Your vacuum cleaner is your friend
- Windex and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers clean everything
- Automation never hurts (you can spend more time enjoying your dog)
- It goes like this...dog cleans up after kid (crumbs, food), you clean up after dog (paw prints, nose prints), in your old age your kid will clean up after you (Depends and the accumulations in the attic) - life is a circle.
- If you keep your dog(s) clean and brushed, your house will stay cleaner with fewer furballs.
#6 is probably the most important. Theodore is much like the Charlie Brown character Pigpen...wherever he goes, a cloud of dirt follows. The amazing part is that his coat always looks beautiful - no matter how filthy he is. I guess that's because it all ends up on my walls! But the truth be told, if you keep the dog clean the house will follow. That's the main reason I never want "in and out" dogs - if they are out and get to be dirty all the time, your house will be too.
My favorite cleaning products are Mr. Clean Magic Erasers - they get the grime off everything almost effortlessly. I've gone so far as to buy them by the case. (you get a better price that way!). You know that line you get on the wall because a dirty dog walked by - these clean it effortlessly.
And Windex - what would I do without it! I use it for cleaning walls, furniture, glass and mirrors. If you are thinking ahead, you won't have too many mirrors and glass the dog can reach! The less glass and stainless steel appliances the better when you have wet dog noses.
You'll want one of those steam cleaners or some sort of foaming cleaner for the really grungy spots. Generally however, you'll use an enzyme cleaner to soak, let stand so it can neutralize, then to blot up urine or throw up. Don't forget - hard wood floors, slate and tile are very IN right now... and throw rugs can go in the laundry...I know I'll never have carpet again - especially after that TV advertisement about all the creepy dust mite creatures living in it! Not to mention carpet is a flea magnet and breeding facility. But if you really must have it...it might be worth investing in regular professional cleaning and a variety of enzyme products. Vacuum often as this is very helpful in preventing the spread of fleas should your dog acquire them somewhere.
Robotic Cleaning Machines:
I love my Scooba - a robotic floor washing machine. Fill the tank, set it down, and it cleans the floors! I love this thing. I hate scrubbing floors and it does a very good job getting up paw prints and grime. If the grime is heavy, run it twice, or three times - your only job is refilling and emptying the tank. I've been asked often does it REALLY work - yes. But you have to get the hair up at least a little bit first - it doesn't do well with hair globs but can handle a light dusting of hair. There is also a Roomba - which is a robotic vacuum. This is fantastic for when you are short of time and just need a quick vacuum (no giant hairball's). It also gets up the sandy dirt and small grit that accumulate on floors from dogs coming in from outside. These are no effort - charge the battery and empty the bin. Once in awhile you'll give them a good cleaning themselves, but they come apart easily (better than trying to turn over a full size vac and clean the strings and hair out of it!). My preference is for the Dirt Dog by iRobot - it's much tougher than their regular Roombas because it can even pick up small objects and larger dirt. When I'm pressed for time, I put them down to run around.
The consensus is that a shop vac is best (I couldn't take the noise!). I discussed this with a vacuum professional who told me commercial vacuums are not that good with dog hair because that's not what they were meant to pick up (it's not like there are many dogs in offices). He said the most important thing was a good "beater bar" and lots of suction - brand is not that important. I recently bought a Dyson and am hooked. No bags and it's soooo easy to empty, though I'm partial to Hoover (the furry kind of course) . What I like about the Dyson is it's so easy to empty and comes totally apart for cleaning as well as the way it has a "wand" for getting the dust bunnies. I feel like Luke Skywalker with my light saber when I vacumn - that can't be all bad (bcause it's fun). Watch out Darth Vader I have come to cleanse the empire of evil hair ball creatures! A Dyson may be more expensive, but it's the way to go! If you want a real deal, watch on Woot.com for them. Every so often they offer a real bargain for 24 hours only.
Broom and Dustpan:
These are for cleaning up all the toy body parts and stuffing they will leave all over the house. It's also handy for when they steal a roll of toilet paper or paper towels to shred. Look at it like this: better to shred a .59 cent roll of toilet paper or gut a toy than your new ottoman.... Other items I couldn't live without - the Swiffer Wet Jet for quick cleanups (great for puppy potty accidents!) and the swiffer dusters for dusting. Multiple dogs make for a lot of dust.
Pledge fabric sweepers are awesome for getting Malamute hair off the bed or furniture. They may seem expensive, but they're not - split open the top with a razor knife and suck out the hair and you can re-use them forever!
Mop and Bucket:
The inevitable will happen. Your dog will throw up, will poop, will pee...they are dogs. If it's not a puppy and well trained, these accidents should be far and few between. But there's nothing like a good mop and bucket full of bleach water (vinegar water if you have hard wood floors) to clean up the really yucky messes. Because we have a lot of dogs, we always have a bucket ready and waiting. If you only have a couple, that's not necessary, but you may wish you had it if they ever get diarrhea or vomit. There are also products on the market that you shake over liquids to make them easy to pick up with a broom and dustpan, but they are expensive.
Brushes and Combs:
Dogs that are brushed daily shed less. Especially at those times when they are blowing coat. To minimize hair balls a good slicker and comb should be part of your cleaning arsenal. We've used the "no shed" products, and truthfully, I don't think they do ANYTHING, at least on a Malamute.
Potty accidents should be cleaned up with an enzyme cleaner or bleach - alcohol works well in a pinch. Avoid ammonia as that smells similar to the ammonia in urine and may confuse a pup. Do not mix ammonia and bleach cleaners as the fumes are toxic and can kill you or your Malamutes. The best air fresheners I've found are the Glade plug-ins. Safer than candles, they don't last a long time, but do a good job. There are several commercial "deodorizer" machines available through dog catalogs but I've never tried them. Febreze fabric spray is great for getting odors out of furniture and fabric (don't believe the internet scares going around - they are urban myths - you can check it out at snopes.com).
Make the extra effort to potty train well. carpets are dog magnets for piddles. I think it subconsciously reminds them of grass. We use towels to potty train puppies, and if you've ever stepped in wet newspaper, you'll know why. It also ruins floors when the newsprint ink gets into the flooring. I also doubt you'd want wood chips or kitty litter in your living areas (the mess is tracked all over) not to mention the danger of intestinal blockages should they ingest them. Puppies don't go on your carpet because of being trained on towels, they go on your carpet because they are PUPPIES. Puppies don't care where they pee (unless they are towel trained in which case they will LOOK for a towel). We have no carpet whatsoever and they still - without a towel to tell them where to have the accident - will go anywhere. The beauty of towels is that you can guide where the accidents will likely happen. This in turn spares your carpet and also your stepping in an unexpected puddle. One of the best suggestions I've heard is to cover your carpet with plastic in those areas the puppy has a penchant for using (after you've cleaned them well with an enzyme cleaner) then put the towel in that spot on top of the plastic.
I do a lot of "dog laundry" - doggy beds and towels from cleaning up messes. The one thing that seems to get that doggy smell out of everything is Oxi-clean. Put a scoop in the dog laundry and it gets out blood, slobber, and that doggy smell from your own clothes. What you do NOT want to do is use dryer sheets - they apparently contain many different very toxic chemicals and may be responsible for disease from neurological damage to diabetes in children and Malamutes. This is just starting to become known so throw them out! Use dryer balls or nothing at all. It's not worth the risk.
Teach your dog manners!
Cleaning is minimized if he doesn't get on countertops, lets you wipe muddy feet, doesn't scatter trash all over the kitchen. A bath every couple of months will also save your walls from a layer of grime. In general, thinking ahead can save lots of cleanup later. One of the best things you can teach your dog is to wait to let you wipe muddy paws before entering. Mats at doorways are great for collecting dirt and debris. Jen who has Kiska discovered the paw plunger and swears by it.
Your house doesn't have to be dirty just because you have dogs!And it's not fair to keep the dog outside just because you haven't found a method that works for you to clean efficiently! With one Malamute, no one should even realize he lives there (except during shedding season). It does get harder with multiples - but with the right cleaning tools, your house can be as clean as most non-dog homes.