As spring rolls around again, it’s time for that annual ritual: Spring cleaning. A big reason for it is that a lot of homes stay closed up through the colder days of winter, so dust and dander may have accumulated and things can be a little musty.
The benefits for you and your pet are a cleaner, less cluttered environment. But at the same time, we have to be aware as pet parents what effect this process can have on our fur kids.
A proper spring cleaning can be a multi-day process that involves a lot of activity and several members of the household. Everyone is moving things around, flinging open windows, mopping, vacuuming, dusting, and wiping.
To our pets, this can be very confusing, as they won’t understand what’s going on. Some of them may hide out of uncertainty, while others may think that it’s playtime, especially if you’re sweeping or are down on the floor scrubbing it.
Then, of course, there’s the dreaded vacuum cleaner, which our pets no doubt see as an evil entity that occasionally pops out of its lair in the closet to roar loudly and roam back and forth on the floor while emitting strange smells.
For cats and dogs both, the sound is the main thing that unsettles them. It’s loud to begin with, but their hearing is much more sensitive than ours, which just makes it worse.
There’s also that unpredictable and erratic motion that will send some pets flying out of the room while triggering the prey drive in others.
For dogs, there’s an added bonus. You’ve probably noticed the distinctive smell of your vacuum cleaner when you run it. Well, multiply that by 10,000, and that’s what your dog is experiencing — but the smell issue isn’t limited to the vacuum.
A scent of danger
A lot of cleaning products are heavily scented as a part of what they do. We’re all familiar with lemon-scented furniture polish, lavender- or pine-scented cleaners, and the plethora of odd scents given to dish soap, like “clean linen” and “mountain rain.”
Again, your pets can smell these, which can make the products tempting. However, quite a lot of them can be dangerous to your pets, so you have to be very vigilant, especially if you’re using a product diluted in a bucket, to make sure that your pets don’t manage to get into it.
It might be a good idea at these times to let your dog play in your backyard if you have an enclosed one, or to keep your pets in another room for their own safety.
Essential oils and fabric softener sheets can be particularly dangerous, especially to cats, and you should avoid using the former at all if you have pets.
The positive side
Spring cleaning does have its benefits, though, for you and your pets. For one thing, it gets rid of all the dust and pet hair that may have accumulated over the winter. It’s also an ideal time to practice some decluttering while you’re cleaning.
You don’t have to go full-on Marie Kondo on your place, but definitely try to organize and clear horizontal surfaces of unneeded objects. Your cats will appreciate that one.
When you’re cleaning, don’t forget your pets’ beds. If they have removable, washable covers, now is the time to unzip them and throw them in the laundry. You should also use the fabric attachment to vacuum the bed itself. This will help remove more dander and you might even wind up eliminating some lurking flea eggs in the process.
If your bed doesn’t have a washable cover, then give it a once-over with a lint brush and then vacuum, using a little bit of unscented laundry detergent and water to spot-clean any stained areas. Let it air dry thoroughly before you put it back in place.
Don’t forget to clean your pet’s toys as well. You can clean soft toys by putting them in a pillowcase in the washing machine with cold water on a gentle cycle. Use a lot less detergent than normal, and aim for a non-scented, all-natural product. After the wash, gently squeeze the water out, then line-dry them in sunlight.
You can sanitize hard toys by first using a damp cloth to clean any areas that are particularly dirty, then put them in a bucket with a 1:1 mix of warm water and vinegar. Let them soak for at least a half an hour, then rinse with warm water and dry them completely.
Now you’re ready for the season
For humans, spring cleaning can be an energy booster not just from the extra activity, but from the peace of mind that comes with having an organized, sanitized home. Your pets will sense the difference and appreciate it as well.
And with this little bit of self-care giving you that boost, it’s time to find your cat that window seat in the sun, or to go out into the warmer weather and enjoy it with your dog.
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