For so many of us, a highlight of the last year has been the addition of a furry family member. While bringing home Fido and Ruffles has been a joy, it has also introduced a host of cleaning concerns for new pet owners. Fur, food stains, vomit, feces, urine, fur balls, and tracked dirt are among the issues faced by all pet owners. Fortunately, there are natural, non-toxic solutions for keeping your home clean and safe for people and pets.
Grocery and pet store shelves are lined with products concocted to address the specific needs of pet owners. Unfortunately, most of these products contain harmful chemicals including bleach, overpowering synthetic fragrances, and even ammonia. Many of these harsh chemicals pose a health risk for pets. Pets spend most of their time at ground level inhaling VOCs left by commercial cleaning products. Our pets cannot shower daily, use fresh water to wash their paws, or wear a protective layer of clothing. Cats and dogs are frequently in contact with these chemicals, breathe them in, and may even ingest some when they lay on floors, lick their paws, and play. There are natural, safer alternatives that reduce the risk for our four-legged friends.
Most pet messes can be removed if addressed immediately, and the process is quite simple. First, use paper towels to scoop up any solid matter and discard it according to your municipality's waste guidelines. Blot the stains with clean paper towels without rubbing. If the mess is on a carpet or rug, try to protect the floor beneath with an impermeable shield such as a clean garbage bag. Next, spray the area with a natural cleaning solution that contains enzymes such as Oakville’s own Lemon Aide All Surface Cleaner. This will help break down the organic matter, clean the stain, and neutralize the odor. Allow the cleaning product time to work, then blot again. A second application may be necessary for tough stains. Finally, allow the area to dry undisturbed.
A DIY alternative to a purchased cleaning product is to combine 1 tablespoon of dish liquid, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water. The same procedure of scoop, blot, apply, blot, and dry applies. Some people prefer a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution, but there is a risk of bleaching the carpet so be sure to test this solution in an inconspicuous spot first. Many people like to refresh carpets with a sprinkle of baking soda or a commercial carpet powder, but this is not recommended. Traces of the baking soda or heavily perfumed powder remain on the carpet and, even more alarming, these powders can damage your vacuum beyond repair.
Even the best vacuum will struggle with pet fur. Sweeping with a rubber bristled broom equipped with a squeegee will lift mounds of fur from hardwood, tiles, and carpeted floors. This clears the way for the vacuum to do the dirty work of collecting and removing pet dander. Rubber bristled brooms, available on Amazon.ca, are even more effective on carpet and area rugs when a light misting of a natural cleaner such as Lemon Aide All Surface Cleaner is first applied.
Remember to be prepared. Before any mess occurs, test your flooring to ensure the products you have chosen will not damage the finish. As a precaution, apply your chosen cleaning solution to an inconspicuous spot or use an offcut to test the colour fastness, texture, and finish of your flooring.