dogs in back of car crate
“Wanna go for a ride?” Chances are it’s one of your dog’s favorite questions. Bringing your pet in the car is great companionship, but it might leave a bit of a mess in your vehicle.

Still, if you take some time to prepare and clean up afterward, you’ll make it easier on yourself. We’ve gathered some tips for taking your best buddy along with you — and maintaining a car you’re not embarrassed to pick up your human friends in, too.

Keep your pets in one area of the car. By using a crate or a restraint in the car, you keep a lot of the fur they drop or dirt they bring in confined to one area, advises. That makes it much easier to clean up later.

Cover up. It also helps to invest in a seat cover that you can easily remove. Or just spread out an old sheet or blanket over the seat or carpet. That way, you can toss it in the wash, taking the hair with you.

Plan ahead. If you have pets (or plan to get them), factor that in when you’re buying a car, too. For example, leather or vinyl seats can be easier for wiping up all kinds of messes. If that’s not an option, consider treating the fabric to make it more stain resistant, much like you’d do with furniture in your home. Also look into getting heavy-duty floor mats made of durable rubber to protect your carpet — especially if your pet has a tendency to get carsick, The News Wheel suggests.

Clean up right away. Once you’ve returned home, make your life easier by getting right to work and cleaning up. Vacuum the area where your pet was and use other cleanup hacks like the rubber glove trick: Moisten a rubber glove, like the kind you use for doing the dishes. Then, while you’re wearing the glove, rub the surfaces of your car in one direction, collecting large clumps of hair. It’s a trick you can use both in the car and in the house. Also, according to Pennsylvania-based Rick’s Auto Detailing, you can try rolling Velcro curlers or an inflated balloon around the vehicle to collect hair.

Take care of the odor. Of course, in addition to the challenge of battling pet hair, you also want to combat any pet smells. Some odors will be eliminated by vacuuming or otherwise removing the hair from the car interior and floor mats, and washing seat covers or blankets. If the smell lingers, Geeks on Cars recommends sprinkling baking soda on the floor and cloth seats. Let it sit overnight and vacuum it in the morning. Pet-safe carpet shampoos can also be used on the floors, the site says.

Be prepared. Put together a cleanup kit to keep in your car, including things like paper towels, wipes, a carpet cleaner and plastic bags. You never know when they’ll come in handy!

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