Karen B. London
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Cleaning Challenges With Dogs
How do you keep carpets in shape?

There’s a carpet in the back room of my house that is shockingly dirty. Between kids and pets, it has taken a lot of abuse, and it wasn’t in great shape when we bought the house, either. As soon as we moved in, my husband and I both said, “That has GOT to be replaced!” When our 19-month old son threw up on it later that day, we decided we should wait until the kids were a little older. That son is now nearly 9 years old, we still have the carpet, and it is appalling. Between dog hair, muddy paw prints, and various substances that come out of Kongs, dogs have done as much damage as the kids have done with popsicles and paint.

I want to know what people are doing in their homes to prevent and treat this sort of issue. We try to keep the mess largely confined to that one room, which is a combination art studio and play room, so at least the whole house is not as gross. We vacuum most days and we clean the carpet ourselves every couple of months. If I’m honest, though, that carpet is just not pretty, and the time is clearly at hand to replace it, probably with a totally different type of flooring, such as wood or tile.

Having failed at maintaining a carpet myself, I’m so curious how other people with little mess-makers in their homes manage to keep their carpets from looking the way mine does. What are your secrets?




Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Jan | July 12 2014 |

We're currently living on a light-colored carpet that is probably 25 years old, and until recently we had 2 cats and 2 dogs (we lost a cat to cancer earlier in the year). We rent a condo, and I assume the original padding and carpeting put down in this place was high end, because for 25 year-old carpet, this stuff looks rather amazing. So one trick if you're going to have carpet, I guess, is to get very good quality. While we don't have kids, we do have a slobbery Golden Retriever with a touchy tummy and cats that tend to throw up regularly. Fortunately, I work from home so I'm always here when disaster strikes and can jump right on the cleanup. My trick, regardless of what type of mess is involved, is to remove the solids first -- I often use a paper plate torn in half to scoop up the stuff without mashing it down. Then I use a cloth soaked in plain water to pull up as much of the remaining mess and stain as possible. I use paper towels to blot up the water and pull up more of the stain. If the area still needs help, I wait a bit until the damp area is a little dryer, and then I apply an enzyme-based pet mess cleaner like Nature's Miracle (I buy the cheap stuff - Simple Solution). I work that in with a clean cloth and sometimes I have to go over the area again after it dries. As it's drying, I "fluff" the area with my fingers every so often to raise the damp carpet to it's normal height. Once dry, I vacuum. And I have the carpets professionally cleaned (by Sears - they are fabulous) twice a year. We're hopeful our landlord will be replacing the carpet with a hard surface later in the year, but until then, even at 25 years old, this carpet is still very livable.

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