Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

19 Cleaning Tips Every Dog or Cat Owner Should Know

These tips for pet owners offer practical solutions for everything from cleaning up fur to keeping pets off the furniture.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

1 / 19
Remove Pet Hair with Duct TapeFamily Handyman

Remove pet hair with duct tape

That’s right. We’ve found another use for duct tape: cleaning. The stickiness of duct tape makes it perfect for a makeshift pet hair remover and this method is faster than vacuuming. It also works on seats in vehicles. A sponge or cloth wrapped with duct tape works great for getting into corners.

Wrap duct tape around a paint roller cover, sticky side out. Roll the paint cover over furniture or carpet to pick up the pet hair. Add more tape as the surface gets full of hair. Once you’re done removing hair, learn how to clean a microfiber couch here.

2 / 19
frugal homeowner tipsFamily Handyman

Pet food scoop

“I’ve read many hints that advise the reader to cut off the tops of gallon-size plastic jugs and use them for funnels. I’ve found that if you replace the cap after cutting the top off, you can use the top [as] a scoop for handling potting soil, fertilizer, or pet food. The no-scratch plastic also makes the jug/scoop ideal for bailing water out of your boat.” —reader Ray Dean

For this scoop, we used an empty half-gallon milk jug and angled the cut so that the side opposite the handle is slightly longer, more like a scoop than a funnel. However, as Ray notes above, this scoop can also be used as a funnel by simply removing the milk jug cap. It helps to draw the cut line with a marker first and then clean up any sharp or rough edges with the scissors after the initial cut.

3 / 19
Enzyme Cleaner via

Enzymes eliminate pet stains and odors

Enzyme products are easy to use on pet stains—just spray or blot them on the stain according to the directions. The products contain harmless bacteria that “eat” the organic matter that causes the odor. When the organic matter is gone, the bacteria run out of food and die. The whole process will take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Some manufacturers recommend covering the area with plastic or a wet cloth to keep the bacteria moist and healthy. Here are other ways to make your house smell fresh.

Shop Now

4 / 19
Quick Cleanup Cat LitterFamily Handyman

Quick-cleanup cat litter

Cut your litter cleanup time in half with this nifty trick. Line your litter pan with a plastic kitchen garbage bag before adding the litter. Check out the best-reviewed household cleaning supplies and products on Amazon.

5 / 19
Chewfree cableFamily Handyman

Chew-free electrical cords

Some dogs love to gnaw on electrical cords around the house. This is not only dangerous but also really irritating when they destroy your computer cables. Solve the problem by wrapping the cords with a split flexible plastic conduit that you get at home centers and automotive stores. Just cut the length you need and push the cords into the pre-split slot. Your dog will soon lose interest in the cords. Now if you could just get him to stop chewing up your slippers! My dog wouldn’t stop chewing everything—until I tried this product.

6 / 19
Pet Proofed FurnitureFamily Handyman

Pet repellent for furniture

To train your pets to stay off furniture, place plastic carpet protectors—prickly side up—on their favorite perch. Available in office supply stores and the carpet/flooring department of home centers, the protectors can be cut to the size you need with scissors or a utility knife. The plastic teeth will train your pet to associate the couch with “uncomfortable.” Soon they will seek cozier spots to relax on and leave the easy chair to you. (Just remember to remove the protector before you sit down!) Plus, here are some house cleaning tips from the pros.

7 / 19
Sticky Sheetsvia

A fast way to remove pet hair

If you have a shedding pet, StickySheets can make cleaning up after it a lot easier. Just peel off the backing, press the sheet against the furniture, then pull it up. The hair sticks to the sheet, but the 24 x 36-in. sheets won’t stick to each other, making application easier. The sheets can be reused up to three times.

The manufacturer claims that Americans spend more than 200 million hours cleaning up more than 25,000 tons of pet hair each year. If that’s true, then StickySheets can save a lot of time. Make sure you also check out these ways to get rid of carpet stains.

Shop Now

8 / 19
Easier Bath TimeFamily Handyman

Easier bathtime

For a calmer and easier bathtime, make a dog washing station in your shower. Cover the drain with a hair catcher to prevent fur from clogging it. Cut a hole in a bath mat so it fits over the drain and lay it in the shower to prevent your dog from slipping around. Using a handheld sprayer gives you more control and lets you avoid spraying water into your pet’s ears. Everyone involved will find bath day a whole lot more pleasant. Here’s how to groom your dog at home.

9 / 19
Mask Pet Claw ScratchesFamily Handyman

Mask pet claw scratches

Mask shallow claw marks and scratches in wood doors with stain and varnish. Gel stains work well for matching the existing finish. Plus, here’s how to keep a cat from scratching the furniture.

10 / 19
pouring baking soda onto upholsteryFamily Handyman

Clean upholstery with baking soda

Use this handy hint if there’s a funky pet smell lurking in your couch or upholstered chair: Sprinkle a generous amount of regular baking soda onto the fabric and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. The baking soda will help to release odors and break up some light stains in the fabric.

After about 20 minutes, remove the baking soda—and the funky smell—with a handheld vacuum or a hose attachment for your large vacuum.

11 / 19
Don't Brush the Dog — Use a Vacuum InsteadFamily Handyman

Don’t brush the dog—use a vacuum instead!

Instead of brushing your pet and then cleaning up the fur with a vacuum, use the vacuum with an upholstery attachment to brush the dog. The vacuum sucks up all the loose fur so you don’t spend any extra time cleaning. Here are the best vacuums for dog and cat hair.

12 / 19
No Mess Litter boxFamily Handyman

No-mess litter box

It’s not fancy, but it’s a cheap way to keep litter in the litter box where it belongs. Trace an opening on one end of a plastic storage container, then push a sharp razor knife into the plastic and cut out the opening. Pour in the litter and your cat will figure out the rest. By the way, here’s how cats just “know” how to use a litter box.

13 / 19
Pet Food DispenserFamily Handyman

Neat and tidy pet food dispenser

Build this bin and you can fill the dog dish with the flick of a finger and do away with that crumpled bag of dog food lying on the garage floor. This bin easily holds two 20-lb. bags of food and allows you to dispense it right into the dish. And you can store two types of food so the cat won’t get jealous. Slide open the “blast gate” and food falls into the dish. A hinged top allows easy refilling. Get the tech gadgets every pet owner needs.

14 / 19
Protect Your Door From ScratchesFamily Handyman

Protect your doors from scratches

Protect your doors from your dog’s claws with a sheet of plastic. Buy 1/8-in. or thinner Plexiglas or plastic at any home center. Cut the Plexiglas so it fits just inside the door jambs and is one foot higher than the reach of your dog. Most home centers will cut the Plexiglas for you, but you can also cut it with a utility knife and a straightedge. (If you have a large dog and need plastic above the doorknob, use a three-inch hole saw to make a cutout for the knob.) Mount the Plexiglas to the door with 3/4-in. roundhead wood screws.

15 / 19
Aluminum Foil Couch SaverFamily Handyman

Aluminum foil couch saver

Keep your cats off the couch with aluminum foil. Tear off a piece of foil long enough to cover the top of your couch, and set it on the cushions. The feel and sound of the foil drives cats nuts and they’ll immediately jump off. Check out the ways to fix the most common pet behavioral problems.

16 / 19
Fur Filter for Dog BathingFamily Handyman

Fur filter for dog bathing

If you wash your dog in the bathtub or shower, you’re begging for a clogged drain. Keep fur out of the drain with a mesh-type scrubbing pad. In a shower, clip the pad to the drain plate with a bobby pin. In a bathtub, wedge two pads under the stopper from two sides. The pads catch fur but let water flow through.

17 / 19
Tip-proof-watering-dishFamily Handyman

Tip-proof watering dish

Some dogs can’t grasp the idea that you don’t have to climb into the water dish to take a drink. So rather than refilling their dishes ten times a day, make a tip-proof watering dish out of an old Bundt cake pan.

Drive a stake through the hole in the middle of the pan. Now your dog will have to find some other source of amusement. Make sure you also watch out for the ways your pet’s bowl can be making you sick.

18 / 19
Dog Food TrayFamily Handyman

Ant-proof pet food dishes

In the summertime, a favorite destination for ants is often a pet’s food bowl. Here’s a simple way to keep them out of your dog or cat’s food: Set the dish in a pan of water.

Not only does it keep the ants out of the pet food, but your pet can take a gulp of water from the pan whenever he or she needs a drink. Here are some tips on how to keep ants away from your home.

19 / 19
Odor Eliminatorvia

Eliminate pet smells

Every once in a while, pets get into something they shouldn’t and then lumber inside, bringing a nasty smell indoors. One way to get rid of those bad smells is AtmosKlear. It can be spritzed directly on the pet!

AtmosKlear has no smell of its own. It doesn’t leave your room (or pet) smelling like flowers, cinnamon, or incense. What the odorless formula does is eliminate, not cover up, smells. The formula is an oxidizer. It must contact the odor source in order to work. From pets to tobacco to general household odors to smelly carpet in your car, this stuff works great. It’s biodegradable, nontoxic, and, according to the manufacturer, creates no problems for people sensitive to chemical air fresheners.

Bonus tip: Spritz AtmosKlear onto your furnace filter and turn on the furnace fan. You’ll freshen the whole house. Next, find out the products pet owners say they can’t live without.

Shop Now

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman