8 Spring Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

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Spring is in the air, and for many of us, that means getting a fresh start with some serious housecleaning. Don't forget about your pets when you're spiffing things up for spring! We’ve rounded up our best tips for adding pet care to your cleaning checklist, and we talked with experts about how to keep your spring cleanse pet-safe. And of course, since every pet is different, speak with your veterinarian about any pet-specific or health-related questions.

Deep Cleaning

Start your spring cleanse by taking charge of the dirt.

1. Clean crates and carriers. Spring is the perfect time to get crates and carriers sparkling. Dr. René Carlson, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s immediate past president, recommends cleaning crates and carriers once a week using “warm soapy water (dishwashing detergent) or a mild disinfectant."

But be cautious with the disinfectant. “Most disinfectant solutions contain some ingredient that can either be toxic or leave fumes that are very irritating to animals’ sensitive respiratory membranes. So I usually stick to warm soapy water and dry the crate thoroughly,” she says. “If a disinfectant is needed, it can be used as long as it is rinsed off thoroughly and aired out, so any remaining fumes in that limited area are dissipated.”

If you want to use bleach, Dr. Carlson says to use a mix of no more than “1 ounce [of bleach] to a quart of water.” Rinse and air the crate thoroughly to get rid of any fumes.

Once your pet's carrier is clean, commit to a weekly wipe down. And if you have questions about choosing the right cleaning products or are worried about accidental poisoning, consult your veterinarian.

2. Launder bedding and covers. Bedding should also be cleaned once a week, according to the American Cleaning Institute. “Choose a pet bed with washable, removable cushions to make cleaning easier,” says Brian Sansoni, ACI vice president of communications. “Have multiple covers so that one is available while the other is in the wash.”

Dr. Carlson says pet bedding can go in the washer and dryer with “only a small amount of regular unscented laundry detergent normally used for one’s own laundry.” If you use bleach and there is residual fragrance, air the bedding.

Not sure how long it's been since your pet's bedding had a wash? Consider buying a replacement. Robert Concister, owner of Le Pet Spa in New York City, says that if bedding smells or looks dirty no matter how much you clean it, it’s time to start fresh — and get on a schedule of weekly laundering.

3. Wash dishes and toys. When's the last time you washed the dog's bowl? Dr. Carlson advises cleaning dishes and toys weekly, using regular dishwashing soap and hot water. “If a dishwasher is available, washing once a week in the dishwasher helps more thoroughly clean and disinfect dishes, as long as the rinse cycle works properly,” she says. “Toys can be laundered or washed in the dishwasher, depending on the degree of soiling and if they are considered more in the laundry category or dishwasher-safe material.”

Sansoni agrees that most dishes can go in the dishwasher, with the possible exception of stainless steel, and says bleach can also be used.

“First, clean it with soap and water, then prepare a bleach solution, adding a tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water. Then pour it into the dish and clean it with the bleach solution,” Sansoni recommends. “You can leave the bleach solution in the dish for about two minutes — make sure it’s out of reach of children and pets! — and then rinse it out and let it air-dry. This should work on any bowl, except aluminum bowls.”

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