It’s no secret that ’round these parts, the dogs sleep in the bed.Or, more accurately, these dogs hog the bed. I’ve managed to banish a few toys from the bed after the last Bedtime Fairytale, but I genuinely don’t understand how a 20 lb. dog and a 25 lb. dog can take up that much real estate. Does Koly get hit with an engorgement charm every night when the lights go out? It’s nuts. I feel like I need this shirt to wear as pajamas.
Hogging the bed isn’t the only downside to sharing your bed with your pets.A recent study showed that homes with pets have more bacteria and more types of bacteria than the average non-pet home. It’s no wonder: dogs go outside and they bring all sorts of crud in on their feet. The added bacteria isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, there is evidence to support that dust from homes with dogs has a higher amount of beneficial bacteria. Still, I don’t like to think of my bed as ground zero for grossness. We’re talking about my BED, I want it to be a restful haven, even if I do only get a very small portion of it. If you put your sheets under a microscope, I can pretty much guarantee you’d be grossed out. There’s dead skins cells, oils, sweat, dog hair, slobber puddles…UGH. Plus, all that bacteria we were talking about? It’s what’s responsible for that “dog smell” fabrics can get. I don’t want to sleep in a heap of dog smell. Anyone with dogs know that just washing a fabric isn’t always enough to get rid of the dog funk smell and it’s not like you can toss your whole mattress into the washer.
Luckily, I’ve got a surefire system to keep the dog smell (and the dirt and grime) out of your bed.Your First Defense: A well groomed dog is a better bed mate. In news that surprises no one, the smellier your dog is, the smellier your bed will be. The best defense is a good offense, so step up your grooming game.
- Frequent baths – Get Fido sudsy with a natural, additive free shampoo and dry well. If desired, spritz with grooming spray.
- A good brush out – Brushing removes the loose hair that’s going to get shed all over your sheets. Old hair traps odours and bacteria and can contribute that dog funk smell. Get rid of it frequently.
- Pre-Treat Any Stains – Felix loves to slobber all over the pillows and Kolchak loves to rub his head into the sheets. Regular stains react great to a mix of peroxide and baking soda, while oil marks respond best to dry cornstarch sprinkled on to soak up the oil. (Get all my laundry tips here.)
- Wash in hot water – Hot water helps kill any bacteria. Balling your sheets up before they go in the washer will help to decrease wear and tear, plus it helps to prevent them from stretching.
- A cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle – white vinegar is my be all end all for all things smelly. A cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle will not only take care of odours, it is also a natural fabric softener.
- Dry on medium or low – High heat wears out the fibres of your sheets and they won’t last very long that way.
- Suck It Up! – If your dog projectile sheds like Kolchak, chances are that your bed is a hairy mess. Once the sheets are off, I tend to give the mattress and pillows a quick vacuum. While experts generally agree that vacuuming does little or nothing to keep dust mites at bay, it is effective at sucking up the spare dog hairs, which can be harbouring funky odours.
- Shake it Off – I like to shake out my quilt every week. If I’m feeling ambitious, I might even run the vacuum over it, but let’s face it, this is a hassle.
- Spritz It Down – Place undiluted white vinegar in a spray bottle and mist your mattress, pillows (both the cute decorative ones and the ones you use) and your quilt. (Make sure you hang or lay out your quilt to dry, don’t just toss it back on the bed.) If I’m feeling ambitious, I might spritz the carpets as well. I mean, why not? You’re there, the vinegar is in your hand…what do you have to lose?
- Wash your quilt – If your home washer isn’t big enough, hit up a laundry service. My local laundromat will do my quilt for less than $10. Same rules apply to the quilt as did the sheets: hot water, a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle and a cool dryer.
- Pillows need to be cleaned – Did you know this was even a thing? I seriously didn’t. Not for the longest time. The experts recommend that pillows be washed twice a year, but just like with everything else, if your pet is sharing your pillow, you may need to do it more often. (You can find some great pillow washing tips here.)
This girl sleeps with dogs, but you wouldn’t know it.My bed smells fresh and clean, always. You won’t end up with fur pajamas by snuggling up with us. While not everyone thinks sleeping with dogs is the best, I would be lonely (and cold) with out my furry friends in the bed! (Besides, can you imagine the attitude if I suggested Kolchak sleep on the FLOOR?! What do you think he is? AN ANIMAL??)
Bark Back: Do your pets share the bed? Do you have any secret ninja moves for keeping the pet smell at bay?
3:36 AM, Saturday NightThe sound of a puggle wretching jolts me awake. My poor boy wasn’t feeling well. As if that wasn’t bad enough, in true puggle fashion, he chose to wretch, move, wretch, move again and then wretch leaving me groggy, bleary eyed and facing three piles of dark vomit on my pale beige carpet. Thanks a heap, Kolchak.
Vomit waits for no one.As tempted as I was to pull a Big Daddy, toss a newspaper over it and pretend it never happened, it wasn’t really an option. Not only would I rather not stain the carpet in my rental apartment, the scent of dog wretch isn’t exactly a pleasant odor. I knew I was going to have to pull up my big girl panties and deal with this. Luckily, I have synthetic fibre carpets, because I have NO IDEA how to clean high end wool carpets. I suspect if you can afford those, maybe you just call the carpet guy? There are tons of “pet friendly” enzyme cleaners and oxygen cleaners and “bleach alternatives” out there, but I’m not wholly comfortable using any of them. They may be safe and they probably work, but if I can’t pronounce the ingredients in them, I don’t want to use them. Natural is better at Casa de Kolchak. I have a tried and true carpet cleaning method that I use any time I get a little spilly – or one of the dogs decides to upchuck all over the place.
I have a three step, fool-proof system to make sure stains get the boot.
- Step one: Eliminate the stain causing problem. For me, that mean picking up the :gag: chunky pieces and using paper towel to carefully blot up any excess liquid. BLOT, do not under any circumstance rub. Just don’t do it. Don’t make me tell you again.
- Step two: Liberally cover the stain with baking soda and allow it to soak up any remaining moisture (and odor, bonus!). Vaccuum up the baking soda. (If you live in an apartment and it’s the middle of the night, your neighbours will probably appreciate if you wait until the morning. They’re fussy like that.)
- Step three: If any colour or odour remains, vinegar will nix it. Mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the stain until it is completely saturated, but not soaked in vinegar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Place an old white, slightly damp towel over the stain. Heat the iron to the steam setting and apply to the stain, ironing until the stain has been removed. Kol’s Note: You’ll probably burn the heck out of the towel doing this, but afterwards, the stain should be gone.
How do you deal with pet stains?
We live in a rainforest.Not the cool rainforest either. Some rain forests have like toucans and monkeys and all sorts of cool stuff. The only toucan we have is stuffed. No offense to Felix, who adores that darn Toucan, but it’s kind of a poor substitute for the real thing, plus he doesn’t exactly excel at sharing it.
We live in the kind of rain forest where we get 8 or 9 months of driving rain.It’s awful and having light carpets and two dogs only makes it more awful. The dogs don’t much care to go out there when it’s wet. I know I sure don’t like it, but let’s face it. Rain, shine, sleet, snow…dogs need to get out and go for a walk. Luckily, we know how to make things just a bit easier when you have to walk dogs in the rain.
Tips for Managing Rainy Day Dogs.It all starts with the right equipment.
- For us, that means a great raincoat for me and great raincoats for the dogs. I know, I know, dressing up dogs, right? It’s not for everyone. I’m not suggesting you get them bunny slippers or anything, but a good quality dog rain coat is actually more for me than it is for my dogs. Felix especially has fur that soaks up water like sponge towels. Keeping the rain off as much as him as possible can cut my grooming time literally in half. It’s crazy. I don’t have to blow dry him for longer than a few minutes, I don’t have to brush leaves and twigs out of his undercarriage, and he’s not so soggy wet that he leave a wet puddle where ever he stands. A good coat can also help prevent wet dog smell. I’m not even kidding. A good coat, along with some DIY Grooming Spray can help keep wet dog smell at bay.
- Keep your stuff and yourself dry. Even the best coats can get soaked in a downpour. After a lot of walks, even out leashes are soaked through and they take so long to dry. I hate that feeling of picking up a cold, damp leash and heading out into the cold. A friend of mine introduced me to the best kept secret of Soccer Moms everywhere: WaterSeal Spray. This stuff is meant to be sprayed on tents and outdoor fabrics, but it can work it’s magic on just about any lightweight fabric. I sprayed my coat, both dogs coats, a bunch of leashes, the dog collars, my gloves, a couple pairs of jeans…everything I could think of. It works like crazy. Kol’s Note: Since we shared this post, we’ve discovered the best leashes & collars for walking dogs in the rain. They wipe dry, they don’t hold odours and they’re totally rain proof. Check our our biothane leashes from Dog Walkies.)
- We know we’re going to come home wet more often than not. I’m prepared for this. I have a huge rug just inside my door and it has a rubberized bottom, so that when we’re dripping wet, we don’t soak the the carpet underneath. Don’t shy away from picking a huge area rug, after all, it’s protecting your floors. Area rugs can be replaced with ease, my beige carpet can not.
- I keep a storage box in the entry way, just to keep dog towels in. These are the towels we use to mop ourselves off when we get home from a walk. We have more dog towels than people towels! It’s important to have a bunch of them, otherwise you’ll be doing laundry constantly. I love using the super absorbent automotive towels. Those things sucks up anything.
- Baby wipes are my best friend. We use a good natural, unscented brand and they’re so easy for removing dirt and mud from dog paws. For two dogs that don’t much care for rain, they sure spend a lot of time traipsing through the mud.
- Invest in a good hair dryer. Felix is fluffy, yo. That hair holds a lot of water and if I waited for him to dry naturally, he would never get dry between walks. Not only that, letting a damp dog run around the house means you’re getting wet dog smell in your carpets, on your furniture and even in your clothes. It’s totally worth the extra 2 or 3 minutes to blow dry any areas not covered by his coat.
- Dog blankets are great. Kol’s not a big fan of the hair dryer and he’d rather be allowed to air dry. To protect my furniture from damp dog, we’ve taught him always to lie on his blankie. That way any dampness he leaves behind is on the blanket and I can just toss it on the wash to make it smell good as new.
What’s your best tip for dealing with dogs and the rain?
So, if you find we’re a little MIA this weekend, it will be because we’re schlepping 50 thousand boxes of dog crap from the old house to the new apartment.Mama has been packing for since the beginning of time. Apparently, more than half the boxes are filled with our stuff and she seems to think there’s a problem with that. She keeps threatening to “purge some toys”. OVER MY PLAYING DEAD BODY, MAMA! I’ve worked hard for those toys and each one represents a cherished memory. They’ve been counted lady and they better all turn up on the new house.
We’re pretty lucky that our new apartment has been recently remodelled and is all fresh and new and clean.We can’t wait to get in there and Mama can’t wait to strew her stuff all around and ca;; it “decorating”. There’s only one problem though. As nice and clean as the new place is, it’s been closed up for about a month and has a bit of a musty, dried paint, recent-renovation smell. Yuck. Mama better get in there and give that carpet a good deodorizing before we move in.
Now Mama could clean the carpet, but it really doesn’t need it and that’s a lot of work.The carpets are a nice light beige and they’re clean, they’re just a bit musty. Mama has two little tricks up her sleeve that she hopes will do the trick. She’s leaning on our old standby: vinegar and baking soda. Mama uses these two secret cleaning supplies to clean almost anything and carpets are no exception. She’s going to give the carpets her ol’ one-two punch and knock that musty smell out.
You know those fancy chemical carpet powders? Plain baking soda works just as well. Use a sifter to evenly sprinkle baking soda over the carpet. (This one from Ikea is AMAZING for this.) Allow the baking soda to sit as long as you can stand it. The longer it sits, the more stank it can absorb.
Vacuum up the powder, going over your carpet several times, until all hints of baking soda are gone.
Kol’s Note: I don’t like to try this one too often, since the baking soda tends to clog up the filter in my vacuum and I HATE cleaning the filter. Hate it like poison.
That’s not all – Mama is a man with a plan.She’s going to pick up a few dog friendly plants that are considered “living air purifiers”, like tillandsia. She’ll also be picking up some rock salt to use in a few decorative candle holders. Rock salt is known to reduce humidity and should help us keep that musty smell at bay.
Have you ever used a pet friendly, natural deodorizer?Do you have any tips for Mama to make sure the smell is gone?
The say cleanliness is next to dogliness.Or something like that. I could have that quote wrong. Here at Casa de Kolchak, we really love to have a fresh clean house that doesn’t look like a pack of wild canines live inside. Just because we want the house clean, doesn’t mean we’re willing to compromise on safety though. A few years ago, I never would have thought something as important as dish washing could be bad?!
Felix changed all that.I swear, if that boy was a car, he’d be a lemon. I love his fluffy butt to death, but he’s allergic to everything. The slightest interference from household chemicals left him itchy and covered in hot spots. Sure, he’s an extreme example, but in my quest to find products that would work for him, I happened to learn a thing or two about dish soap that left me wanting a more natural approach for our whole family.
Turns out, for a product designed to make things cleaner, there’s a whole lot of junk is dish soap.Forget the nasty dyes they use to make it pretty, there are additives in dish soap that are linked to heart disease and heart failure. Others are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Other ingredients can irritate the skin and eyes and aren’t meant for consumption. One particularly worrisome chemical in antibacterial dish soap can mix with chlorinated water to make chloroform. What the woof is all that doing in soap? Still, dishes need to get clean.
Here’s what we do to make sure our dishes are sparkling clean without all the chemicals:
- Wash dishes with liquid Castile Soap and vinegar. Castile soap is a natural product made with vegetable oils. When used with regular white vinegar, it can leave your dishes sparkling and naturally clean. Wash dishes in a sink full of hot water with the liquid castile soap, then rinse in a vinegar & water bath. (Want that lemon fresh smell? Add a few drops of lemon oil into the wash water.)
- Disinfect gross surfaces with 3% Hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar. We’re raw feeders, so making sure our dog dishes are clean and disinfected is very important to us. Hydrogen Peroxide and vinegar gets the job done. Simply fill two spray bottles, one with each liquid, then spray surfaces with one, then the other. In tests run at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, pairing the two mists killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces when used in this fashion, making this spray combination more effective at killing these potentially lethal bacteria than chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaner.
- Scrub stubborn food mess with baking soda. Sure, you can buy all sorts of natural scrub sponges made from corn husk or coconut fiber, but to be honest? Sponges gross me out. I imagine them like crack dens of gross bacteria. That’s why I use plain baking soda to scrub stubborn food mess off my pots and pans. For stubborn roast on foods, I’ll liberally sprinkle the pan with baking soda, then cover with vinegar and water. Works like a charm.
- Dishwasher obsessed? We use ours mostly to heat treat our dishes on the “disinfect” cycle, but if you’re a dishwasher fiend, try this dishwasher soap recipe. A friend swear by it.
How do you make dish washing more pet friendly?
There really is nothing like a load of laundry, fresh from the dryer.Many years ago, I splurged on my laundry like some people splurge on ice cream. Several scents of detergent, all the fancy fabric softeners and dryer sheets. My laundry was soft and bouncy and it smelled great. So, so great.
It was also toxic.To be honest, I never much cared when I was the only one in the house. Sure, I had read the magazine articles touting the dangers. A friend of mine, one of those crunchy granola eating new mothers tried to warn me, but I just shrugged it off. Hippies, alarmists and kill joys – the whole lot of them! I was washing my clothes, not cooking meth. How bad could it really be?!
It could be worse than I initially thought.Studies have shown that all those chemicals that make your laundry smell great, really aren’t very good for you at all. One study found that many laundry products are a source of more than 25 “volatile” air pollutants – including the carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene. Benzene causes leukemia and other blood cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Acetaldehyde has been shown to cause nasal and throat cancer in animal studies. Scary stuff. Cancer seems like a pretty high price to pay for fluffy towels and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Chemicals in laundry products have also been linked to organ toxicity, reproductive changes, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, skin irritation and any number of other issues.
It wasn’t until we got Felix that I started to care.Felix changed everything. How we lived, how we spent our time, what we ate and even how we do laundry. My poor little Fluff is the sweet thing on the planet, but that boy is allergic to everything. In the quest to make sure that his allergies weren’t being aggravated by my laundry love, we switched to a more natural, healthier way of doing laundry and we never looked back.
Here’s a little peek at the Casa de Kolchak Laundry List:Getting Your Clothes Clean
- Use a good, natural laundry soap – It’s harder than you imagine to find a good, safe laundry detergent – even when you buy a so called “natural” brand. Always read the labels! We prefer one that relies on natural enzymes, rather than soaps to work their magic. (Ad at the end aside, this post has a lot of good info on how to choose a good soap.)
- You can even make your own laundry soap from washing powder, borax and natural soap, if you have the time and the motivation. (Kol’s Note: I don’t do this since I can barely keep up as it is. Instead, I choose to pay a bit more for a good natural detergent that I trust.)
- A friend of ours swears by Soap Nuts. What are they? Soap nuts are actually the berries of the Sapindus mukorossi tree of northern India and Nepal. The shell contains natural saponins (soap). Just 1/2 oz. of soap nuts can wash 5 – 8 loads of laundry, so they’re a natural solution and a cost effective one.
- Get your whites whiter without the use of harsh chemicals. We use a lot of solutions here, but one of our favourites is to let the sun work it’s magic. We love to soak our whites in a basin of water + vinegar, then hang them in the sun to dry. While this won’t take care of the worst stains, it will bright up clothing that needs a lift.
- Tackle stains with this tried and true stain remover. Mix 1 tsp Dawn with 3-4 tbsp peroxide and 2 tbsp baking soda. Use a laundry brush to work this mix into the stain. Let it sit for an hour or so, then wash as usual. It’s even safe on darker fabrics. (This is also amazeballs on carpet stains, like muddy paw prints.)
- Did you know adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle can soften your clothes? I swear it works and that it doesn’t leave the laundry smelling like fish & chips. Scout’s honour. Plus, since it actually neutralizes odors, vinegar is great for taking the stench out of the Daddy’s smelly gym clothes.
- Dryer Balls are your friend. We’ve tried two kinds of dryer balls: foil & wool. While the foil ones are no doubt economical (just ball up a sheet of aluminum foil), I definitely prefer the wool ones. You can buy them pre-made, but I made mine. For around $5, I made enough dryer balls to last me a very long time. It’s super easy too. Subscribe to the Weekly Woof Newsletter or come back next week and I’ll tell you all about how to make them.
- Essential oils smell better than chemical scents. Do you know why I love the wool dryer balls? They’re the perfect way to add a lovely scent to your laundry. I have a few balls that I have liberally sprinkled with essential oil. I run the dryer on the cool cycle for the last half hour with these scented balls tossed in and it’s magical. (Smell This! Aromatherapy makes some awesome scented oil blends and some of my favourite dog products around.)
- Stubborn static cling can be nixed in an instant with a safety pin. Even with all this, I have a few wool skirts that are staticy and awful, but way too cute to toss. One of those itty bitty dollar store metal safety pins hidden in the hem knocks static flat. For loads that tend to be staticy like wool sweaters or fleece blankets, a couple safety pins pinned to your clothes before you load them into the dryer can solve the problem.