A Pet Owner’s Struggle to Keep a Clean Home

In our house, we try to leave cleaning for a time when we won’t be too busy to hang out with our son. But sometimes it just has to be done, even if it means allowing our son to help.

We have two dogs that live with us. They’re trained to be inside dogs so they spend almost all day perched on our couches or beds or walking around common living areas. Some people prohibit their pets from sitting on their furniture, but since we have a toddler that spills crumbs and juice on our couch anyway, there is no point in keeping our pets off it. Besides, even without kids, I don’t see the harm. Our pets are our family; but I have often reconsidered the decision due to the amount of time I spend wiping the couch down.


When we first bought our house, it came with carpet in the living room. We would vacuum often but now that we have laminate flooring, I don’t think it was nearly enough. The hair and fur accumulates in all corners and crevices basically daily. We just never saw it as often when we had carpet. With carpet flooring, however, we were frequently trying to get rid of stains-pet vomit, pee, juice, etc. It was such a pain and drove me crazy! Furiously scrubbing carpet is tedious and irritating not only because it seems you can never get it perfectly clean but because the more you do it to certain spots of the carpet, the more obvious it becomes that the rest of your carpet is not as clean. We had to buy a concentrated cleaner eventually but it still seemed like a full carpet clean would be required monthly, at the very least. And that’s too expensive.


So we have either wood flooring or laminate flooring in all of our upstairs except for ours and our son’s bedroom. And has the cleaning routine become easier? No.


The strange part of cleaning a house is that there’s more to it than Windex, Lysol or a vacuum can handle. When people that don’t have pets walk into your home, they notice a scent that your nose is already accustomed to-dog. That means that not only do we have to maintain the visual appearance of cleanliness but also the scent of clean. We light candles now for planned events at our home and bathe our dogs the day of so they smell like our guests would want them to smell-like meadows and sweet shampoo. I know that dogs don’t naturally smell that way but if it makes people happier when they visit, then I’m pleased to do what I can even if it takes hours of me bending over in awkward positions near the tub to fight with unwilling dogs and then blow dry them so they don’t stay wet. Then comes the task of cleaning the bathroom of the dog hair tornado that is created after the dogs get their bath. It makes me sweat to do all of this,
 but it’s cheaper than going to the pet store for professional grooming that I’m convinced is no more sophisticated than the way I do it.


I’m not complaining. We chose to have pets. No one made us. Yet, similar to how we chose to have pets, the people that visit are usually aware that we have pets and made the decision to accept the condition of our home prior to coming to see us. It’s nice to have family and friends who mostly understand that a home with pets is probably not going to be in the same state as their home. But I know sometimes it’s still a struggle for people to contain their obvious irritation at the sight of our dogs when they walk through the door.


I would love for this post to have been about my advice to pet owners who are struggling to keep a clean home, but unfortunately, I don’t know any secrets or shortcuts for making this burdensome chore any less complicated or time consuming. All I wanted to do is make it known to others without pets that we do try hard to make our homes presentable before having company over! It’s just nearly impossible to have an impeccably tidy home when your time is stretched thin with the other obligations of being a parent to a toddler.


The dishes consistently reappear in the sink, bathrooms repeatedly become dusty, and solid surfaces seem to be attracted to anything sticky. I can’t stand a messy home but I’ve tried to be better about it because on the days when my husband and I try to tackle most of the cleaning, it makes more sense to sweep/vacuum every portion of our home, wipe counters and scrub toilets and tile, and start/fold laundry rather than organize toys in bins.


It’s a messy situation to try to stay clean. So we do our best, and the days when it doesn’t make sense to pull out our hair just to look like a Pier One Imports magazine for half an hour, we skip it.


It’s not the end of the world and we don’t want to teach our son that impressing people is more valuable to us then just enjoying our time together, our home and our pets.