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Rub a Dub Dog

There’s something about spring that just makes you want to clean and spruce up your surroundings. If you’ve got the spring cleaning bug, here are some tips and products to help freshen up your hound and home.
Written by Cathy Herholdt | Photography by Aimée Herring
Clean your dog first
Here’s a twist on an old saying, “Cleaning the house while your dog is shedding is like shoveling the walk while it’s still snowing.” Any spring cleaning routine must start with thoroughly bathing and grooming your pet. Removing fur at the source before it ever hits the floor or furniture will make cleaning the house much more manageable. A good bath will also help reduce pet odor at its source.

Use natural, eco-friendly products to protect your pet and the environment. According to Jim Deskevich and Corbett Marshall, authors of Eco Dog, many products have chemicals and fragrances or colorings that can be irritating or harmful for your dog. “It’s important to keep in mind that dogs lick themselves, therefore anything that you put on your dog has a good chance of being ingested,” said Deskevich.


With natural grooming products, consistency is important. Some require a bit more commitment of time and dedication, such as more frequent application than chemical products, but it’s worth the effort. “Once the routine is established and the ‘lifestyle’ has changed, the effects and benefits endure,” said Deskevich.

Seattle-made Good Clean Dog products are all natural, gentle and effective for bathing and grooming. Cory Smith manufactures the products right in her Pioneer Square store, Sweet Petula, 208 S. Jackson. Her most popular item is the bar soap ($7.95), which she created for her dog Arlo, a mixed breed that suffered from severely dry skin. Essential oils soothe the skin and allow a gentle, natural lather to form.

“It does a good job of cleaning his fur without over-drying his skin,” said Smith, who says dog owners love the fresh, spicy, herbal scent. “Once they use it, they’re completely hooked.”

The Good Clean Dog line also includes a liquid shampoo, coat conditioner/detangler, aromatherapy mist for freshening up between baths, and a comfrey salve.

A smelly dog makes for a smelly home. Again, attack odor first at the source. Most dogs let you know it’s time for a bath with their smell. Bad doggie breath can also be a source of odor in your home. Check with your vet about whether it’s time for a dental cleaning. If not, a good brushing and some chew toys will help freshen his breath.

Be sure to trim fur around his feet, which will help avoid tracking in dirt and mud from outside after spring rain showers. Trimmed nails will also help reduced scratched up floors and surfaces. Lastly, wash your dog’s collar, which can harbor bacteria and odors too. Better yet, treat him to a new collar this spring.

Clean your dog’s hangout
Now that your dog is all clean, you certainly don’t want him sleeping on a stinky bed. This is the perfect time to wash all of his bedding with a pet-friendly, ecologically sound, odor reducing laundry detergent. A well-rated brand is Petastic (formerly Nature’s Miracle), which has an enzymatic formula that removes odors and stains.  

If your dog uses a crate, this is a great time to thoroughly clean the crate as well. Scrub and disinfect your pet’s dishes and eating area. If you’ve been using plastic feeding dishes, consider switching to stainless steel—plastic can harbor bacteria.

Clean your home
Now you’re ready to attack your house. As the weather warms up, start by opening doors and windows to ventilate rooms. Nothing freshens up a home like fresh air.

Cleaning carpeting and upholstery will help rid your home of odors, germs and dirt that has accumulated through the winter. Again, make the investment in eco-friendly products to protect yourself, your pet and the environment.

“Baking soda is an eco-friendly item that has a variety of uses,” explained Deskevich. “It can be a scouring powder as well as an odor absorber. You can simply leave a bowl of baking soda in the room or area that has an odor and it will pull the odors out of the air.

You can also use baking soda on carpets before vacuuming. If you put a bit of lavender buds in the baking soda it intensifies the odor-fighting effect. Lavender is also a calming agent for people and pets, as well as a natural bug repellent—much better smelling than mothballs.”

Lemon juice and vinegar are also great natural cleaners and odor absorbers, but avoid ammonia-based cleaners, which can actually smell like dog urine and attract dogs back to the “scene of the accident.”

Speaking of accidents, if your dog has had any, Deskevich again suggests using a product that contains enzymes to break down stains. Pet Force Stain & Odor Remover is econ-friendly and non-toxic. Hydrogen peroxide based cleaners are also good at eliminating stains and odors. Be sure to test a small area of fabrics or carpeting before using them to make sure the solution will not affect the fibers.

Most people share one main complaint about having a dog in the house—pet hair everywhere. It’s on your clothes, in your furniture fabric and all over the inside of your car. Investing in a good quality vacuum that’s designed for pet owners is something to consider.

Dyson’s DC25 Animal vacuum has some special features for removing pet hair, such as continuous suction power and a mini turbine head that, according to the manufacturer, cleans pet hair and dirt from tight places. It also rides on a ball for easy maneuverability, and is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America as asthma and allergy friendly. All this comes at a price, however. The DC25 retails for $549.

Good Housekeeping magazine included the Oreck Halo in its top vacuum recommendations. This vacuum has a built-in UVC light that kills germs while you clean. Carpeting and floors are the most germ-ridden areas in a home—even worse than bathrooms, according to research. The Halo is also said to kill dust mites and flea eggs, bacteria and viruses. Not bad for $399.

Whatever you use, spring is a good time to have your vacuum serviced and cleaned so it doesn’t take on pet odors.

For day-to-day pet hair removal from your home and car, there are numerous gadgets on the market that claim to help with this tedious task, but good old-fashioned duck tape still works great. A pair of rubber gloves rubbed across upholstery works wonders too. The Eco Dog authors suggest using a damp sponge or cloth to “brush” fur off fabric, working in a consistent direction, rinsing it out regularly.

Now that you’re equipped with inspiration and information, don’t procrastinate—get a jump on spring cleaning so you and your dog can enjoy the season.

Gear up with eco-friendly grooming products at the CityDog Shop.

Eco Dog by Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich, with photographs by Aimée Herring, is a comprehensive guide to healthy, nontoxic dog care that’s as good for the planet as it is good for your pet. “Paws” and reflect on how a few small changes—from homemade cleaning solutions to recycled pet blankets—can create a safe, natural environment for your four-legged friend. For instance, homemade rosemary conditioner is a safe and effective replacement for chemical-laden flea collars. A felted dog blanket recycles sweaters otherwise destined for the landfill. And, quick-recipe dog treats ensure fresh puppy breath. To purchase Eco Dog, click here.
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