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Spring in Whistler is a beautiful time of the year. We enjoy longer days, warmer sunshine, fresh mountain air and an array of outdoor adventures, but as dog owners we all know what it also means: muddy floors, wet furniture and hairy everything!

While I like to partake in the annual spring cleaning ritual, my furry companions bring their own idea of springtime into my home. They seem too excited to run past the paw cleaning station before entering and delight in rubbing their whole body on the carpet (especially when they’re drenched in mud), but those are simply the joys of being a dog owner, aren’t they?

Surely, having a dog is a big responsibilty and so is keeping your home clean. While the conventional cleaning products promise affordability and effectivness, most are in fact terrible for our health, unsafe for our pets and harmful to the environment. The good news is that there are all-natural solutions to these chemical products and many may already be in your pantry.

I have listed below some quick and easy natural house cleaning tips to keep you and your dog happier and healthier.

Grooming

The change of season is also shedding season. It is that time of the year when our furry friends get rid of their winter coats for thinner summer attire. This means hair everywhere! A regular brush and bath will keep your home clean and your pet happy.

Brushing

Dogs who spend more time outdoors grow a thicker coat as well as breeds that naturally grow an undercoat. My two dogs spent the whole winter playing outdoors so brushing in the spring is a daily event. To make the experience more enjoyable for you and your dog, make sure you use the adequate brush for your dog’s fur type. On a side note, if you consider having a garden this spring and summer, collect the fur. Dog hair is a natural garden pest repellent.  It is an environmentally friendly method to protect gardens, trees, shrubs and potted plants that is safe to animals and humans.

Bathing

You don’t need to bathe your dog that often, but springtime could be a good time for it. After brushing out his coat to loosen dead hair, remove dirt and debris and then wipe your furry friend with a towel spritzed with a solution of half apple cider vinegar and half water. Then, sprinkle baking soda on his coat, rubbing it in to neutralize the smell of the vinegar.

Dog smell

Oh that dog smell! It is a fragrance that becomes especially noticeable during springtime, but the good thing is, if you don’t fancy the odor, there are ways to keep control of it. Lavender essential oil is not only soothing to the central nervous system, but when applied directly and frequently between your dog’s shoulder blades, it can keep fleas and ticks at bay. You can also use the oil in a diffuser at home, and keep a mist bottle of water mixed with a few drops of oil to spray in your car, in your home and on your four-legged companion.

Remove dog hair

An easy way to remove pet hair from furniture, clothes, or other fabric-covered items, is to use rubber gloves. Lightly dampen a glove and sweep the fabric with it. Hair will ball up and be easy to pick up.

Collar and leash cleaning

If your dogs are like mine and spend most of their times outside digging holes and rolling in mud, chances are their collars and leashes get filthy quite rapidly. To wash them, stir a small spoonful of baking soda into a bucket of hot water. Add the collars or leashes to the mixture and let sit for 10 minutes and then scrub them with a toothbrush. Repeat those steps until the dirt and smell are gone and then rinse the bucket and fill it up with fresh water. Add 2 drops of lavender oil or peppermint oil. Soak them in the aromatic mixture until the smell is completly gone. Rinse under the tap water. Pat them dry and lay flat to dry.

Keep the mud at the door

With all the spring rain, dogs inevitably track mud and dirt inside and a simple towel don’t always do the trick. To prevent this from happening, start by keeping the hair around the paw pads well trimmed, this way mud won’t clump to the feet. Also, consider having a bucket of water at the door to rinse the paws before entering the house and a towel to pat dry the feet.

Clean the carpet

During springtime, I likely vaccum my house everday. Even though I brush my two dogs daily, there always seems to be hair and dark spots on the carpet. Once in a while, it is important to disinfect, remove stains and deodorize your carpet. This miracle solution works very well and is safe for you and your pets.  Make a solution of half vinegar and half water in a large spray bottle. Add in 2 tsp of salt and 15 drops of lavender essential oil* or another clear essential oil of choice. Close the bottle and shake well. Spray on carpets, shaking the bottle frequently between sprays. Once the carpet is dry, vaccum treated areas.

*Please note that tea tree oil is extremely toxic to dogs and should be strictly avoided.

Clean the floors

Many of the conventional store-bought cleaning products are made of petroleum-based polymers and most of the fragrances they use are indoor pollutants. A great non-toxic and cheap solution is to combine 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1 cup of water. Mix well and rub lightly into floors to bring back shine and clean spots. You may want to add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice for a nice fresh scent. Make sure you wipe the solution off completely to avoid slippery floors!

Wash beds & blankets

It is important to wash beds and blankets frequently. Most dog beds can go in the washing machine, but many laundry detergents leave a residue on fabric, which is absorbed by the skin. For a homemade natural laundry detergent, try this recipe: Cut 5 ounces of coconut oil soap into small chunks. Add to a food processor along with 6 cups of washing soda. Blend until you have a fine powder. Let it settle a bit before opening the container or the powder will float onto your kitchen counter! Pour into a clean container. Keep the lemon essential oil next to the jar and add 5 drops with each load. Use 2-3 tablespoons laundry detergent per load.

Wash toys

Toys should be cleaned when visibly dirty or smelly, or at least once a month.

Cloth toys

Wash in a garment bag using the detergent described above. You’ll probably only need 1 tbsp of detergent assuming the washer won’t be 100% full of toys. Once done, remove from the washer and squeeze remaining water out. If you can line dry, pin them all up and give them an hour or so in the sun to dry out. You can also place them in the dryer on low heat.

Plastic toys

Use a solution of half white vinegar and half water and soak them for 30 minutes. Remove and use a toothbrush to scrub the dirt off. Rinse with fresh water and allow to dry.

Clean food bowls

To keep your dog’s stainless steel, ceramic or plastic food and water bowls clean, apply a mix of baking soda, warm water and salt (equal parts) on a sponge or washrag to scrub away stuck-on food and grime. Rinse well with warm water.

Spring is not only a good time to clean and organize your house, but it is also a great time to clean and examine your dog. As you brush and bathe him, take a good look at your furry companion: Are his ears cleaned? How about his eyes? Do they look clean and healhty, or are they red or cloudy? Do you feel any unusual lumps on his skin? Are his toenails trimmed? If you believe your dog needs professional assistance, don’t hesitate to consult a groomer or your vet. Spring is a time to start fresh and what better way to do so than with a naturally cleaned house and with a healthy and happy pet!