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Keeping a Clean Home, Especially When You Share It With Your Pet
Feel like you’re always on pet patrol, trying to keep your home clean and safe for yourself and your furry friends? NSF experts share helpful tips.
Your dog may be your family’s best friend, but there’s no question that pets can make for a messy home. It’s your responsibility to keep your house safe and germ-free both for your family and for Max and Daisy.
“Pet bowls can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other microbes that can make your pet and your family sick,” said Lisa Yakas, Senior Certification Project Manager for Consumer Products at NSF. Indeed, a study conducted by NSF found that pet bowls were the number-four germiest area in the home.
Yakas and the public health experts at NSF offer these helpful tips on everything from how to wash your pet’s paws to cleaning and sanitizing their feeding bowls:
- Pet paws. After taking a walk along the sidewalk or through the park, or running around in the backyard, it would probably gross you out to learn what’s on your dog’s feet: everything from E. coli to streptococcus bacteria, fungus and more — pretty disgusting. So it’s best to clean your pet’s paws often. There are special animal wipes you can try, or a cloth with diluted soapy water, to keep their paws free from debris and disease after returning to the house.
- Dive into dishes. Pet bowls should be washed daily in a sanitizing dishwasher or scrubbed by hand with hot soapy water, then rinsed. After washing them by hand, submerge the dishes in an unscented household bleach solution made up of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Let them sit in the solution for one minute, thoroughly rinse, then air-dry.
- Vinegar. Pet bowls, dishes, toys and other hard-surfaced pet items can sometimes get a calcium or hardness buildup. In this case, white vinegar can be a good solution to try to remove the scaling. Use a mixture of one part vinegar to one part water. There are a couple of ways to do this: One option is to warm up a bowl of vinegar and submerge the dirty dish until it bubbles away the buildup, then rinse and air-dry. The other option is to use vinegar on a scrubber to rub away the scaling, followed by a clean-water rinse and air drying. Vinegar is effective for freshening up surfaces — but it is NOT a sanitizer to kill germs.
- Rub-a-dub-dub. Give your pet’s toys a good soak in the sink too. Soft toys can be put into a sanitizing washer or dryer every week.
- Loo lids. Keep your toilet lids down to minimize your pet’s exposure to bacteria that could make them sick.
- Don’t be wishy-washy. If you’ve been playing with Lila the lizard or Tatum the turtle — or any of your favorite pets — it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly and properly afterward. Don’t rush through the scrubbing.
- Pooper scooper. If you have a mess inside your house, it’s important to clean it up. Your dog’s urine or feces, your cat’s litter box, your bird’s cage or your hamster’s favorite towel can all carry germs.
- Fuzz busters. Furry Max and your favorite feline, Daisy, may leave trails of fuzzy hair. Use a vacuum cleaner with strong suction and possibly a HEPA filter on it; not only does this pick up the pet hair, but it also prevents the spread of airborne germs. In addition to your pet’s bed and favorite sleeping rug, vacuum chairs and curtains if they are regularly catching dog hair or cat fur.