cleaning up after pets

Puppy asleep on paper towel roll next to bucket.

If you've got pets, you know accidents - and messes - happen. Cleaning up after pets is the less than savory part of being a pet parent.

Our job, then, is to make quick work of the messes at hand to keep our homes looking (and smelling) nice.

These tips for removing pet hair, carpet stains, odors, and cleaning the litter box can help make cleaning up after pets quicker and more thorough.

Cleaning Up After Pets on Furniture and Upholstery

Got pets? Get attached to your vacuum's attachments.

If dogs or cats are part of your family, regular (at least weekly) vacuuming of the ubiquitous hair on sofas, pillows, and beds is a must. Use attachments to get deep into the couch corners where the cat and dog fur collects.

In addition to vacuuming, another quick method for getting cat fur off furniture is to dampen your hand - or a sponge - and run it gently along the upholstery surface.

The fur sticks to your hand or the sponge, and you can quickly rinse it off. 

A larger version of a lint roller designed for pet hair removal is another easy way.

Cleaning Up After Pets on Carpet

If your cat keeps missing the litter box, you don't have to live with the pungent reminders. Pet accidents on carpet and upholstery can be removed, primarily if you attack them while they're still fresh:

Cleaning Up After Pets - Pet Piddle

Start by soaking up excess liquid with a white rag or paper towels. Blot on a solution of one-quarter teaspoon of mild liquid laundry detergent and one cup warm water. Repeat until there is no more stain transferring to your towel or rag.

Next, blot with a solution of two tablespoons ammonia and one cup water. Rinse with warm water. Repeat and blot dry. Then blot the area with a solution of one cup of white vinegar and two cups of water. Rinse again.

Finally, cover the area with several layers of paper towels weighed down with a heavy object. Continue changing the paper towels until the carpet is dry.

Pet Poop

Wearing gloves, gently scoop up the excess with a spoon or spatula. Deposit into a bag you can immediately take outside.

Blot with the ammonia solution above. Allow to soak in for several minutes. Blot and repeat until the stain is removed. Rinse with cold water. Blot dry. 

To remove lingering carpet odors, sprinkle baking soda on the spot. Let it sit overnight, then vacuum.

Warning: There is a chance some stains just won't come out. And be careful not to use too much water on the spot. If the urine gets into the pad underneath the carpet, you'll never get it out.

The carpet will look clean, but then the urine will wick back up from the pad. If this happens, patch the carpet (as well as the pad).

If you can't remove either stain, however, consider recovering the furniture item or replacing the carpet. This might also be a great time to consider the benefits of a good dog trainer.

Cleaning the Litter Box


  • Litter
  • Box
  • Liner (great way to make weekly cleanings easier)
  • Scooper
  • Gloves
  • Bags

Daily: Scoop lumps out of your litter box as many times a day as you have cats.

For example, we have two cats, so my daughter scoops once in the morning and once before bed. Wearing gloves and disposing of the scoopables in a bag outside, of course. 

Weekly:Take the litter box outside. Empty contents in the garbage. Using a scraper, dislodge any lumps of wet litter remaining. (This is where it benefits from having a litter liner - no lingering pieces clinging to the surface of the litter box to scrape away.)

Fill with hot water; add a half-cup of bleach. Allow to sit and disinfect for at least 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Dry with rags or allow to air dry. Add fresh litter.

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