Tom McNulty

Tom McNulty is the author of Clean Like a Man, which is full of guy-friendly housekeeping tips and tricks. Visit cleanlikeaman.com for more.

Wellness: Healthy Living
10 Easy Tips for Cleaning Up After Your Dog
Cleaning Confidential

Our canine pals do plenty of great things — provide love, guard our homes, save Timmy from mine shafts — but they’re not too concerned about domestic tidiness. However, there are smart, easy ways to collar canine clutter and keep your dog safer.

1. Store everything you need for outings — leash, pick-up bags, paw wipes — near the door. Speaking of pick-up bags, reuse plastic shopping bags or the plastic bags your newspapers come in; store them in an empty tissue box for one-at-a-time dispensing.

2. Make it easier to hook up for walks by attaching a large carabiner to the clip on your dog’s leash.

3. Instead of wrestling with that humungous bag of dog food, divvy it up into smaller, sealable containers for storage. This keeps pests out, too.

4. Assign baskets or bins into which you can quickly toss those well-chewed balls, bones and other assorted playthings; for extra points, teach your dog to put them away herself.

5. To keep food and water bowls from sliding, place them on a rubber-backed mat or piece of rubberized mesh.

6. Use a self-refilling water bowl to cut down on your trips to the sink. Recirculating fountains are a nice option; many dogs like to drink running water, and the aeration and filter keep the water fresh. Find them at pet supply stores.

7. To neutralize the gamey aroma wafting from full pick-up bags in your garbage bin, toss in a few handfuls of cat litter.

8. Position the dog bed away from your home’s main traffic flow and cover it with an easily removable “doggy duvet” that you wash regularly.

9. Create a file folder or binder dedicated to your dog’s paperwork: vet visits, vaccination records, medication lists, insurance info, license receipts, microchip code number.

10. Scan all these important records — plus photos of your dog — and store them on your PDA or a small flash drive so you have this vital info at hand while traveling.

Wellness: Healthy Living
Cleaning Confidential
Clean Green
Cleaning up after your dog. Tips on using green products.

Can you say “methylchloroisothiazolinone?” Neither can I. But it’s one of the ingredients in a pet stain- and odor-remover product that, while probably very effective, may irritate eyes and skin. That’s why the label also says “keep out of reach of children.” For spring cleaning this year, many of us who live with dogs are looking for more earthfriendly, naturally derived products. Here are some tips and concoctions that will help reduce the chemicals in your home and keep it safer for your floor-sleeping pups.

• You can make basic, inexpensive solutions for treating carpet stains and odors with common household products like a water/ white vinegar mix (2/3 cup water to 1/3 cup vinegar), escalated if necessary to a water/mild detergent solution (1 cup water to 1/4 teaspoon of a clear dishwashing detergent like Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid). Apply carefully to avoid soaking the carpet, and use clean white rags or white paper towels to blot.

• You’ll also find a multitude of commercial products to remove pet stains and odors from carpets and hard surfaces. To make sure you’re getting natural, chemical-free solutions, look for those made from plant-based solvents such as soy, orange, cinnamon and lemon grass oil, grapefruit peel extract, and other biodegradable ingredients. Enzymes are also natural, and great for protein-based stains and odors. Other products in this eco-friendly category include Halo HolistiClean Super Stain and Odor Remover Dog Formula, Restore Enz-Away Spot Remover, Simple Solution PawSafe Household Cleaners and brands like Clean & Green, Nature’s Miracle, Crypton, PetZyme, Oxy Solution and Clorox Green Works.

• If you’re considering a product that’s not strictly natural, check label precautions carefully. Warnings and long, unpronounceable words are red flags, and good reasons to be particularly careful when using (and storing) them.

Bottom line: read those labels —even on products that call themselves “natural.” Look for plant-based biodegradable ingredients that are safe for people and pets. You want it all, and with a little diligence, you can have it —at least on the cleaning front.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Mud Room Know-How
Mud management — watch those paws!

Face it. Planet Earth is one big ball of dirt, some of which is bound to get inside your house — especially on shoes and paws. While you can take care of your own footwear, your dog needs help to keep mud where it belongs: outdoors.

Prevention is the best cure, starting with well-trimmed paws. “Rounding the paw means cutting fur short both between the pads and on top of the paw,” says Dana Harrison, a PetSmart groomer. “It minimizes the amount of dirt that clings to feet and makes them easier to clean.”

Training comes into play as well. Kathryn Newman, owner of Augusta Dog Training in Minneapolis, Minn., taught her canines to respond to specific requests. “When I say ‘wait,’ it means ‘stop and stand,’ so they don’t sit in more mud or a puddle,” she said; her dogs also know the words “mat” or “blanket,” where they go to be wiped down. In addition, getting your dog accustomed to having his paws handled is definitely worth the time invested.

Near an entryway, maintain a dog-dedicated cleaning station stocked with leash and pickup bags for outbound trips, and paw wipes, towels and waterless shampoo for use upon return.

Scraper mats help, too; with their bristly, dirt-trapping fibers on top and waterproof rubber backing, they catch a lot of muck at the door. L.L. Bean’s “Waterhog” mats are one example; you can find more by searching online for “dog door mats.”

Paw-cleaning accessories include products like Spotless Paw, a glove with a microfiber palm that attracts dirt, and Paw Plunger, a mug lined with bristles that you fill with warm water to rinse paws one at a time. Of course, old-school solutions work, too: spread-out newspapers, a small bucket or basin of water, and an old towel do a fine job on muddy paws.

Wellness: Healthy Living
Puppy-Perfect Cleaning Tips
Tricks of the Trade

Winter’s often-arctic temperatures don’t inspire long walks or afternoons in the park with the dog. Like us, our canine pals spend more time indoors, which—because they’re biological creatures who shed and are prone to the occasional gastrointestinal indiscretion—creates more potential “clean-up ops” for us. Here are some quick tips for dealing with the inevitable.

•Fur on the furniture? Use a piece of terry cloth to brush it to one spot, then pick it up; a slightly dampened sponge or rubber gloves also work well as picker-uppers.

•For stains, stock up on white vinegar or commercial stain- and odor-neutralizing products; those with enzymes or “oxy” in the name work best. Keep some old white or light-colored cotton towels or white paper towels at hand.

•Accidents on carpeting require immediate attention. For fresh urine, blot the spot, apply a pet stain/odor remover spray or a vinegar solution (1/3 cup vinegar to 2/3 cup water), blot again and repeat as needed. For upchuck, remove residue and blot with cotton towels. Apply a detergent solution (1/4 teaspoon clear dishwashing detergent mixed with 1 cup water) and blot well. Rinse with plain water, blot and allow to dry. Whatever method you choose, test it out first on an inconspicuous spot, and try not to soak the carpet.

•Place a throw rug on your dog’s favorite resting place to keep the carpet clean, and check out the grime- and water-trapper varieties for the door. Tracked in mud should be scraped up (or allowed to dry and vacuumed up) and any stains treated ASAP.