Keeping a clean house while living with pets is certainly a challenge. From hair caught in the carpets to funny odors and the occasional little accident, there’s always something that needs cleaning in my house!
In the past, I’ve used a hoard of sprays, lotions, detergents and powders on any and every fabric and surface to be found to clean up after my dogs and cats. While they worked well enough, it doesn’t bear thinking about just how many toxic chemicals I was introducing into my home.
Times have changed, however, as my pets and I now share the house with my 9-month old baby daughter. It’s fair to say that my priorities have changed somewhat when it comes to cleaning, and I’m keen to avoid the nasty cleaning chemicals I relied on before.
Like any normal baby, my daughter loves to crawl all over the floors and can readily be found with something or other in her mouth. As such, I’ve been learning how to keep my house clean using the absolute minimum chemicals I can get away with, often opting for the natural, home-made route instead.
Here are some tips for keeping a clean, chemical-free house while living with pets.
The Most Obvious First Step? Remove All That Pesky Hair
The first step to a clean yet chemical free home when you share it with dogs or cats always starts with removing as much pet hair and dander as you possibly can.
The best method is, of course, to invest in a powerful, pet-hair specific vacuum. A good one will remove almost every trace of pet hair and dander, reducing the need for any air fresheners in addition to cleaners you’ll be using.
The best vacuums for homes with pets are equipped with unparalleled suction power to remove all pet hair and dander found in carpets and soft furnishings. This assures me that my daughter isn’t picking up dog grime while she’s crawling the floors and all without the need for chemicals!
HEPA filtration is another great feature to look out for. This level of filtration traps allergens, pollutants and dust from the air expelled by the vacuum, ensuring a healthier environment for everyone in your home.
However, costly specialised vacuums aren’t the only way to remove pet hair from carpets and furniture, there are at least 7 more efficient ways, from scraping with a squeegee, to a combination of some good old fashioned elbow grease while wearing a rubber glove (this is surprisingly yet pleasantly effective!)
Once you’ve removed all the pet hair you possibly can, it’s time to get down to some serious deep cleaning and following are some homemade alternatives to the usual chemical-laden formulas that are just as effective.
Chemical Free All-Purpose Surface Cleaner
As well as being full of chemicals and often some pretty pungent artificial fragrances, surface cleaners can also be expensive. This homemade version from The Telegraph, on the other hand, is all natural, smells great and is comparatively low in cost.
Mix ¾ cup of white wine vinegar with 3 teaspoons of baking soda and a few drops of tea tree oil. Add to a spray bottle and top up with water.
Vinegar is a great, natural cleaner with acidic properties that prohibit the growth of microorganisms like mould and bacteria. It will cut straight to the heart of any pet mess in your home and get rid of any lurking bacteria.
You could swap out the vinegar for lemon juice if you’re looking for something a little less stringent, although still effective on general dirt.
Baking soda cuts through grime and grease while also helping to clean and deodorize any nasty smells. Are Cats running over your tabletops? No problem!
The tea tree oil has antiseptic qualities and will clean away any fungi and bacteria your pet has brought in from outside. Its light scent also helps to neutralize the pungent whiff of the vinegar.
All Natural Carpet Stain Remover
Muddy paw prints in the carpet are one of life’s certainties when you have a dog who likes to spend time outside playing. Of course, when you’ve got a baby crawling about your carpets too, it’s not ideal to have a load of harsh stain remover all over.
Sprinkle some baking soda over the stain and leave for around 10 minutes before vacuuming. Then blot the stain until it disappears with a mix of 1:1:1 ratio white wine vinegar to (ideally organic) dish soap to warm water.
The baking soda will pull up and separate the grime from the carpet fibers, allowing for most of the stain to be caught and removed during the vacuuming.
The dish soap will allow the vinegar solution to foam up and penetrate the remaining vestiges of the stain, removing any bacteria and visible grime as it does.
Homemade Carpet Freshener
So once you’ve removed any stains from your carpets, chances are you’re going to want to freshen them up a little and say goodbye to any lingering pet smells too.
Again, avoid the synthetic chemicals and opt for homemade instead with this idea from The Homemade Experiment.
Sprinkle baking soda with a pinch of the dried herbs of your choice (popular ones include mint, rosemary and thyme). Leave for around 10 minutes before vacuuming.
Again, the baking soda lifts and separates odor particles from your carpet fibers, ready to be vacuumed away. The dried herbs aren’t essential but purely for your own pleasure, adding a little scent to the odorless baking soda.
Natural Hardwood Cleaner
Many people believe that hardwood floors are easier to keep clean than carpets when you have pets, and while that’s true in some respects, you still have to deal with paw marks, pet hair and the depletion of any shine.
Mix a gallon of warm water with either ¼ cup of white wine vinegar, a few drops of olive oil, or 10 steeped tea bags. For smaller patches of scuff marks, add baking soda to a damp sponge and scrub away.
While the vinegar is a very effective cleaner for removing dirt on hard floors, note that it shouldn’t be used on wood as it’s very acidic and could damage the surface. It’s best for laminate or stone floors instead.
A small amount of olive or vegetable oil is an excellent way to restore shine in your hardwood floors; just be sure not to use too much as they could become quite slippery.
Similarly, using tea is another great way to restore shine – the tannins and marginal acidity help lift grime away from the floor. Tea is particularly good to use on wooden floors as the dark colors help to enhance the natural tones of the wood while darkening any scratch marks.
If you just need to remove a small patch of paw marks, do without the gallon of water and simply sprinkle some baking soda onto a damp cloth. It will help to lift up dirt from the surface in an easy scrub.
Organic Doggy Deodorizer
I think it’s fair to say that dogs can get a little stinky every now and again. When I don’t want to give them a shower, I choose to use a homemade deodorizer instead. It’s better for both my dogs and us who love to touch them – including my baby!
Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of lavender oil to a spray can full of warm water. Mist onto your dog, rub in and leave to air dry. Or, you can sprinkle baking soda on their coat before rubbing it in and brushing it out.
We’ve already discussed the cleaning properties of vinegar, but apple cider vinegar has the added bonus of also working as an insect repellent, which is certainly good news for your dog.
The lavender essential oil has microbial properties that help to clean a smelly coat and replace any nasty odors with its light scent. Lavender also has relaxation properties so could prove beneficial for excitable pups.
As for the baking soda, it doesn’t only deodorize your carpets – it can also get to work on your dog’s smelly coat!
All Natural Upholstery Cleaner
Just like on your floors, pets are known to leave stains, grime and hair on your furniture and upholstery too. Again, as you and your family are in close contact with these items, it’s best to use homemade, natural alternatives to chemical cleaners.
Mix ½ cup white wine vinegar/biodegradable soap/hydrogen peroxide and 1 cup warm water then blot mixture over the spot to be cleaned; or, sprinkle baking soda over any stains, leave to settle for 10 minutes and then scrub off with a damp sponge.
Vinegar mixed with water is a great way to clean your upholstery thanks to its stringent cleaning properties. You could swap it out for biodegradable soap instead if you prefer to use something that foams readily – just make sure it’s a homemade, organic soap!
Hydrogen peroxide is very tough on upholstery stains – particularly ink blots – and is safer to use than bleach as it breaks down into just oxygen and water. However, not all fabrics will react well to hydrogen peroxide so be sure to test it out on a small, hidden patch of upholstery first.
I don’t think I need to tell you at this point how effective baking soda is for stains – it works on upholstery too!
Natural Furniture Polish
Paw prints and scuff marks can really dull the once lustrous look of your furniture, but the prospect of using polish – typically laden with chemicals and pungent in smell – simply won’t do. Thankfully, there’s an easy, homemade alternative I found on ‘AllYou.com’.
Mix the juice of either one lemon or ¼ cup white wine vinegar with a tablespoon of olive oil in a spray bottle, then shake to emulsify.
As already discussed, lemon and vinegar are great cleaning agents that can put paid to any grime on your furniture with their acidic properties. Choose lemon if you’re concerned about the vinegar warping your wood, or simply remove the homemade polish with a damp cloth once you’ve finished.
The olive oil will shine up your furniture just as well as any polish, and restore its luster quickly.
I hope it’s now clear that there are plenty of ways to whip up chemical-free, homemade cleaning alternatives that will clean your home just as well as the synthetic products on the market.
Even with pets, you’ll be able to keep your home clean while also keeping green and healthy.