It’s that time of year again – tufted tumbleweeds from our pups’ winter coats in the living room, muddy paw prints across the kitchen floors (and counters!) and pests posting up in all of our favorite places. Spring has just about sprung and there’s a whole winter’s worth of cleaning to be done! But common household cleaners have lots of toxic chemicals and irritants in them, which we sometimes forget effects our pets the most. Below is a list of pet-friendly spring cleaning tips — along with cleaners that are easy to make at home, with simple ingredients you may even have already!
ALL-PUP-OUS SURFACE CLEANER
With a mix of 1 part water to 1 part distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle from the dollar store, there are few grits or grimes that can stand in your way. This stuff works wonders on stuck-on stuff, helps break up the enzymes in potty-spots, and can be safely used to clean almost any kind of floor, counter, or hard surface. This cleaner also works as a great natural deodorizer for deep-cleaning litterboxes or even scrubbing back patio pee-spots!
A little pre-planning can take this worldly cleaner to a whole new level – and all it takes is some leftover citrus rinds saved up in the fridge (grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime), some of that white vinegar, and a couple weeks of waiting time.
In a mason jar or other air-tight container, gently pack the rinds (pulpy insides are okay, just make sure the juice is gone!), leaving some space to be filled with vinegar. When the jar is almost full of rinds, fill with vinegar, leaving no more than an inch of space from the lid. Date the jar and put it away in a cabinet for a minimum of two weeks. When that time has passed, use the same 1:1 formula as above in a spray bottle and use on hard, porous surfaces as an all-purpose cleaner, taking care to avoid fabrics or carpeting that can be stained easily. Also, since cats are turned off to the smell of citrus, we don’t suggest using this amplified recipe for your litter box needs – stick to plain old vinegar for that kind of thing!
The oils from the citrus act as a natural degreaser (great for kitchen cleaning or muddy doors!) and the citrus scent steers most pets and pests away from problem areas in the house! Take it one step further and pulse the soaked rinds in a food processor with some baking soda to form a scrubbing paste – pet-friendly ajax for the tub and kitchen, and a great way to make any tough cleaning task easier.
DIY DOG SHAMPOO
The most common formula for DIY Dog Shampoo includes 1 part white vinegar OR apple cider vinegar to one part baby shampoo OR Dawn dish soap, diluted by 2-4 parts water. If your dog is smaller or larger, you can modify the recipe as needed or keep a batch in a bottle under the sink. In the past I’ve successfully used apple cider vinegar for my dog’s hot spots and insect bites, so I’m more inclined to use the apple cider vinegar for my dog’s sensitive skin. Acting as a natural anti-inflammatory and disinfectant, it’s also a good idea to keep some around in case of emergency – just make sure you label it correctly so as not to confuse it with your new surface cleaner!
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo
3 cups water
Empty plastic bottle
1 part Apple Cider Vinegar (more vinegar for more potency)
1 part Water
DOG-SAFE DRAIN CLEANER
While we’re on the topic of baths, let’s talk about clogged drains. It is, after-all, shedding season! The number one remedy I have found for a stuck drain that doesn’t include any harsh chemicals has (you guessed it!) vinegar as it’s main ingredient. Using a wide funnel or folded up piece of paper, fill the clogged drain with 1/4 cup baking soda. Having a rag or plug ready to cover the drain (we want all the ferocious activity to take place at the site of the clog!) quickly and carefully poor in half a cup of vinegar, stopping the drain with your rag or plug as soon as it starts to bubble over. Return to the drain about fifteen minutes later and pour hot water from a kettle or pot into the drain, washing the menacing tumbleweed away. If the clog does not dislodge, repeat the process up to two more times.
DEODORIZE, DON’T JUST DISGUISE!
There are a lot of ways one can scent their home to help mask the dog-smell that’s somehow twice as pungent when wet, soggy springtime comes around. It wasn’t until I found this trick that I discovered honest relief from that stinky, musty stank and it’s a tactic I now use year round: BAKING SODA! As a natural deodorizer, this stuff gets deep into the fibers of your carpets or area rugs and absorbs (really!) the awful odors that are trapped there. You’ll want to leave it on for a minimum of an hour and keep pets away while it does it’s thing, vacuuming all of it up after a couple hours or so. Avoid damp or wet areas, though, as the clumps can affect the performance of your vacuum. Baking soda also helps keep litter boxes smelling a little fresher for a little longer – just sprinkle some under your clumping-or-non-clumping litter the next time you give your cat box a deep clean!
CREATE A ROUTINE/GET SOME HELP
This may seem very daunting and like a whole lotta work, but with these new tips and tricks, creating an easy routine for yourself will help keeping up after Fluffy a breeze. Maybe every Monday you un-mud the back door, and every Thursday you deodorize the downstairs carpets. Ultimately, though, if you really can’t stand to lift another finger after re-organizing your winter closet or sorting through the heaps of mismatched silverware (I feel you, dawgs) we highly recommend calling our good friends over at New Leaf Cleaning Company. They are eco-friendly, flexible, and really like pets of all kinds. As an added bonus, if you mention Busy Bee Buddies or Frisky in Philly, they’ll offer $20 off your first appointment! The offer expires May 30th, so call quickly! You can find them online at www.newleafcleaningcompany.com, on instagram under @newleafcleaningco, or simply give them a call at (267) 928-2373.