25 Hacks to Reclaim Your House From Messy Pets


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Ashamed dog looking up at camera surrounded by mess in the kitchen
Photo credit: Chalabala/istockphoto

We love 'em, but pets sure keep us on our toes -- especially when it comes to keeping the house clean. The good news is that you don't have to spend a ton on special products to stay on top of messes. Whether you're dealing with fur everywhere, hard-to-banish smells, scratched-up floors or more, here are 25 cheap and easy ways to help keep chaos at bay.
Hand wearing rubber gloves giving a thumbs up sign
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Instead of wrestling with the vacuum or fussing with sticky lint rolls, slap on some rubber gloves. Give your furniture or rugs a once-over and the pet hair will come right off, sticking to the glove instead.
Dog sitting next to food and water on a boot tray
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Tired of finding pet food or water all over the floor after your cat or dog pushes their bowl around? Buy a cheap rubber boot tray and put the bowls on top of it. The rubber helps keep the bowls in place, while the raised edge keeps messes contained.
Arm & Hammer brand baking soda
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Even the most-perfumed cat litter can't always contain the smell of your feline friend's litter box. Sprinkling baking soda or tea leaves along the bottom of the box can help absorb and mask odors.
Mesh hardware cloth
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Indoor plants look lovely, but they can be a magnet for curious pets. Try cutting a disk of mesh-like hardware cloth to fit inside the pot. Your pet won't be able to dig past the wires, keeping the soil in the pot and off your floors.
Kitten sitting in a pink litter box
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If you live in a small space, you may not have an out-of-the-way corner ideal for an unsightly litter box. Instead, try concealing one by using a spring rod to hang a small curtain under an end table or other occasional table.
Pet grooming shower caddy
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If it's time to groom or bathe the dog, don't waste your time scrambling for supplies. Store them in a shower caddy with several small compartments perfect for wrangling brushes, nail clippers, dog shampoo, flea medications and other small necessities.
Blue metal rake head
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Got an old rake rusting in the garage? Show the rake head a little TLC, then hang it by the door -- and voila, you have a great, handy place to hang collars and leashes. (No rake? Stick-on hooks will work, too.)
Dog sitting on a couch looking curious
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Once your pet has claimed a particular spot on the couch, chances are the upholstery will start to smell a little ripe over time. Freshen things up by sprinkling baking soda on the cushions, letting it sit for several minutes, then vacuuming it up.
Black light flashlight
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Your eyes might not see it, but your nose knows whether Fido or Fifi had an accident. Shining a black light on your carpet can show you any favored spots that need a good scrubbing.
Photo credit: RistoArnaudov/istockphoto

Pets' claws can do a number and wood floors or furniture. But all it may take to erase the damage to natural wood is a handful of walnuts -- rub them over the scratches and they fill in the marks as they break down.
Cat using a scratching post
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No room for a big scratching post? Wrap sisal rope around a piece of wood and hang it from a door knob to provide a tempting place for kitties to scratch, saving your furniture. Another option? Wrap it around desk or table legs.
Plastic tubing for a cord
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Got a pet who loves to snack on all of your power cords and phone chargers? Try using some cheap plastic split-loom tubing to cover them up and spoil your dog or cat's fun while protecting your cords.
Vaseline brand petroleum jelly
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As if picking up stray kibble isn't enough, sometimes pet food attracts ants who want an easy meal. A thin layer of petroleum jelly around the bottom of the bowl creates an invisible bug barrier.
Litter boxes on top of a grey bath mat
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It would be wonderful if cat litter would just stay in the litter box, but no such luck. One cheap way to help it stay put: Use an easy-to-wash bath mat that can catch most of the litter right outside the box.
Happy dog with his or her tongue out wearing a pink bandana
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You might find your panting pup's drool adorable -- until it starts staining your clothes or upholstery. One way to cut down on the drool-fest is by letting dogs sport a stylish bandana. Bonus: You can make one the right size for your pup without sewing.
Silver jingle bell on a red string
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Tired of listening to your dog scratch the inside of your door when nature calls? Hang a bell from the doorknob instead. With a little positive reinforcement, your pup can learn to ring it instead of clawing at the wood.
Blue container of baby wipes
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Washing your dog is hassle enough, so keep your pipes from getting clogged with a baby wipe. Lay it over the drain and then push in the stopper like normal. Then, when you pull the stopper out, pull the wipe flat to collect hair while water drains.
Yellow squeegee
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If your vacuum just doesn't cut it, a bathroom squeegee is the perfect tool for grabbing pet hair that's matted into carpet fibers or stuck to upholstery. (Just make sure it's clean before you run it along your couch or rug.)
Dog at the bottom of a staircase looking up
Photo credit: Banepx/istockphoto

Sometimes it's just too much work to pet-proof everywhere. In that case, try blocking off the stairs. And while you can buy a pricey pet gate, you may want to try your hand at making one. A PVC pipe frame covered with fabric could be enough of a deterrent for small dogs or older ones.
Cat sitting in a cardboard box lid
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It's a tale as old as time: Your cat loves to lay on your desk, or even worse, across your keyboard. Flip over the lid from a board game box and place it to the side. Cats love curling up in boxes, and you'll love having elbow room again.
Plastic chair mat
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If you'd prefer Fido stick to his own bed instead of drooling all over your upholstery, find a thick plastic chair mat that has carpet-gripping studs on one side. Cut it to fit your couch or chair and flip it so that the plastic spikes are facing up. Suddenly, the couch isn't so inviting.
Stack of red bricks
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Got a dog who loves to tip over your trash can and paw through the results? Try weighing down the bottom with bricks or something else heavy to keep it in place. If the dog can still get in the lid, consider adding a childproof lock.
Orange peel
Photo credit: pederk/istockphoto

Interestingly, many dogs hate the smell of citrus fruit, whether that's oranges, lemons or grapefruit. If yours is among them, try burying citrus peels in your garden to help ward off digging. A noseful may be enough to persuade Fido to go on his merry way.
Household cleaner items including water, vinegar, and baking soda
Photo credit: ThamKC/istockphoto

Every pet owner knows that accidents happen, but you may not need a pricey bottle of stain remover from the pet store. Vinegar, water, baking soda and your trusty vacuum can make quick work of that fresh pee puddle.
Closeup of person's hand using scotch tape
Photo credit: AntonioGuillem/istockphoto

If your cat is ignoring that shiny new scratching post, it's time to make your furniture a less desirable target. Put some removable, double-sided tape in prime scratch zones to keep those claws away -- cats dislike the sticky feeling.

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