Countdown To Guests: 3 Ways to Blast Pet Mess

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You’ve created the perfect menu, sent out the invitations and then you inspect your pet-inhabiting home only to realize you've got some extra cleaning to do before the doorbell rings for your holiday party.

Those little fur tumbleweeds have somehow multiplied — and the dog bed may not pass the sniff test.

So we asked the experts for tips to help any time-pressed hostess freshen up her home for the holidays. 

Fuzz Busting

Staying on top of your pet’s shedding is an essential step, especially if you’re expecting anyone with allergies. Besides, no hostess wants to pick cat hair out of the canapés!

Launch a three-stage Operation Furbolish a day or two before your party. This involves grooming and washing your pet to collect flying fur well before you run the vacuum over the rug.

  • Start with an intensive deshedding. Kristen Flanagan, an editor at Martha Stewart Living who specializes in pets, says that the FURminator is her go-to tool. “It’s good for giving your dog [or cat] a once-over with all layers of the coat, from the top to the undercoat,” she notes. “We love it because the tool doesn’t make a scary noise, and it scratches in a soothing way.” Another option: Take your pet to a professional groomer.
  • Give your pet a bath and then deshed once more. “Some fur is going to loosen up and shed only once it’s wet,” Flanagan says. When your pet is dry — and the sour look is almost off his face — dress him in a festive T-shirt to help contain the fluff while guests are around.
  • Tackle fuzz on furniture and baseboards. Vacuuming is best for carpets and upholstery, but switch to an electrostatic mop, like a Swiffer, for wood or other hard floors. Tip: LG has a line of Kompressor vacuums that pick up three times more dust, dirt and pet fluff before you need to empty them.

Zim Parchi, operations manager at UrbanMaidGreen, a popular New York-based cleaning service, reminds hosts not to forget the smallest room of the house, aka the bathroom. “People sometimes overlook that pet hair collects there,” he says. “Fur likes to hide around the toilet.” Grab a microfiber cloth to wipe down tile and porcelain.

Stock up on lint brushes. In the hour or so before your party, go over furniture and throw pillows with a dry sponge and a lint brush meant for pet homes to pick up stray fluff. You should also have a few handy by the coat closet and in the bathroom for guests to use.

Safeguard all that elbow grease with a cover-up. A large, clean throw blanket — ideally fashioned from Crypton, a fabric that's resistant to pet odors and stains — works wonders to keep pet hair at bay when spread over a couch or other typically fur-flecked furniture. Weimaraner lover William Wegman has even designed a line of Crypton prints for pet folk.

Pet Odor Elimination

Don’t let a funky whiff of your pet distract guests from the sweeter smells wafting from the kitchen. Instead of trying to mask animal odors with heavily scented products — which may be too strong for your pets — strike at the source.

Look to your pantry for an easy fix: a pet-safe cleaning solution of vinegar and water. Wipe down areas around pet beds, food bowls and other pet-traffic zones. "I suggest that you mix half vinegar and half water," says Lucy Adler, vice president of sales and marketing for Ungerer & Company, an international fragrance developer. “The odor will dissipate, so don’t worry about your house smelling like vinegar.”

Make sure litterboxes and puppy pads are clean before visitors arrive. And if an open bag of pet food is making your kitchen smell like kibble, stow it in a large plastic container.

Just before guests show up, spritz some Febreze. “It has odor eliminators in it, plus a subtle scent. That’s the No. 1 thing I’d recommend,” Adler says. “From our perspective, in the fragrance world, that’s the best thing.”

Allergen Attacking

It’s always a good idea to remind guests of your pets in case they — or any of their friends who may tag along — have allergies. Forewarned is forearmed, especially with asthma medication.

To keep allergens to a minimum, start your house- and pet-cleaning a day in advance. “Allergens remain airborne for hours after vacuuming,” says Dr. Alan Goldsobel of Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California. So get to work the day before visitors show up.

Vacuums with HEPA filters are best for sucking up dander. You may also want to plug in a HEPA air purifier unit, particularly if you plan to host overnight guests.

One investment you may be able to skip: antidander pet shampoos. “I know of no evidence to demonstrate that allergen-reducing shampoos work any better than washing with regular pet shampoo and water,” Dr. Goldsobel says, about helping dealing with allergies to pets. Even a quick, plain-water wash or damp-cloth rubdown can help.

For more tips on dealing with sniffly guests read: Are Your Guests Allergic to Pets?

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