Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

September 26, 2017

My Tips + Tricks for Keeping My House Clean with Two Dogs




Sponsored Post: This post was sponsored by the Libman Company, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.  

I'm a little bit of a neat freak.  My sanity and the cleanliness of my home are intricately interwoven:  I need a clean, tidy space to feel calm and relaxed and, when I'm stressed, I clean.  I don't actually like cleaning though, so I'm always looking for ways to make cleaning easier.

Meanwhile, I'm convinced that my two pups conspire to make it more difficult! 

I love where I live, but sometimes having Lake Superior in our backyard makes life messier.  Our lawn sort of flows right into the lake with a rocky shore that's been submerged (thanks to super high water levels), but there's one spot where we access the lake that's sandy and that little niche just beckons Hynda and Szuka, who often run down there for a drink of water, end up getting soaked, and then try to get back into the house sopping wet.  Living in the country, my two girls also love romping through the woods and tackling each other in the gravel driveway, just mushing as much dirt and muck into their (lake dampened) paws as possible.  Szuka is a lady, but Hynda will also roll in anything gross she finds: fox poop, bear poop, deer poop, goose poop... She's had many impromptu lake baths this summer!


But look at those sweet faces!  We spend as much time outside as possible because they love living on Lake Superior as much as Hubby and I do.



I can't blame the dogs solely for any lakeside mess though, because even Hubs and I will go for a swim or stand up paddle boarding, and then run inside for a snack, dripping water and sand in the kitchen.  Fall cleaning seems to be the worse because we all track in gross damp leaves on top of everything else.  But lake life is chill and I've had to learn to relax a little with the cleaning.  A little.

I still run a pretty tight ship.

To mitigate the mess the puppies make, I have some tricks and tips to share (and I'd love to read about yours in the comments).

Create a Drying Station:

I have trained both pups to head straight into the laundry room (which is right by the front door) the minute we set foot inside, whether they're muddy or not.  They know this routine so it prevents anyone from running through the house tracking muddy pawprints everywhere.  It's also where we keep Szuka's food and water in her DIY raised feeder.


Train Pups to Wipe Their Feet

Once inside the laundry room, we wipe paws with an old towel - whether they need it or not.  Getting both pups used to having their paws handled and dried every time we come inside has made this infinitely easier.  We're still working on Hynda so throughout the day I'll just gently rub her paws and give her a treat to associate paw handling with positive vibes, but Szuka knows the routine and actually even knows what "left paw" and "right paw" mean - it's adorable.  Plus we taught her to "stand," so we can reach those back legs and dry her tummy if she's tried to escape by swimming.  On days they're SOAKED, they chill in here with a treat until their furry bodies are dry enough.

Block off Areas

I have a cute pen for Hynda to play in when I can't watch her because she's still young and potty training.  It's connected to her crate so she can have a nap but we don't close the door to the crate until we go to bed at night.  During the days she has this little space to romp and play (and nap stretched out) when I'm occupied, but we go outside for lots of playtime and then she's free for tons of supervised indoor playtime too.  But even when I let her loose in the house, I use the living room ottoman to keep her out of there (or in there at night if we're watching a movie and want to keep an eye on her while she plays).  I also close the bedroom doors during playtime.  Confining her helps prevent potty training accidents and also keeps the house cleaner.   


Designate a Spot for Everything

Our dogs have a lot of stuff!  Toys, ear cleaner, medications, nail clippers, food, treats, life jackets, spare collars - you name it.  I store food, toys, towels, etc., in the laundry room and things like medications, bum wipes, and ear cleaner in the the adjacent half bath because that's where I use it. There's a special hook for leashes and I try to have a spot for everything so their stuff doesn't pile up.

I love storage bins for toys so they can reach them and I can scoop them up and put away all of the toys quickly at night. 



Invest in a Good Quality Mop

I don't really vacuum much anymore but I sweep daily because despite my best paw wiping efforts, they still manage to bring in a little sand and gravel.


While a quick sweep does the trick, I also like to wash floors regularly because these girls drool and leave nose prints all over the hardwood.  I can't stand seeing those smudges!


I was not happy with my old sponge mop though, so I was looking to upgrade and The Libman Company has a great line of convenient mops.  I don't enjoy dragging a bucket around, so I was super excited about switching to the Libman Freedom Mop, which has a handy bottle that dispenses the floor cleaning solution of my choice.  The microfiber pad is washable up to 100 times and refills are fairly inexpensive.  Because it sprays the surface, it allows me to really quickly run a mop around and give the floors a great wash in half the time.  Plus the floors dry much more quickly, which means the pups (and humans) can be let loose from wherever I've cordoned them off much quicker!


It has such a great swivel head which means I can reach under all of my furniture, something my old foam mop and bucket couldn't do.  There's a great line of Libman cleaning products, which you can easily find at Canadian Tire (where I bought mine) or The Home Depot.  Also - and this is really important to me - these products have been made in North America since 1896.  I try my best to buy as many products made in Canada or the States as possible, and this North American made product has the cutest family history too. 



Ditch the Rugs and Carpet

This is why I'm so enamored with mops: I don't have any rugs or carpets, other than a little mat by each door!  I know I'm weird because most people love rugs and could never give them up, but I am not a fan or rugs and carpet for various reasons and with two messy dogs, having hardwood, tile and linoleum floors has been crucial.  Szuka was easily house broken but Hynda had SO many accidents in the beginning - I shudder to think how pee-soaked any carpeting would have been!  I know carpets and rugs can be cleaned but with a puppy, honestly I personally just think naked wood floors are so much easier and I'm all about making cleaning easy.

Avoid Really Textured Furniture

This was a tough lesson.  I had successfully kept our mint Mingo chair and our velvet mid-century modern chair clean all these years so I naively thought we could handle tweed dining chairs.  Szuka isn't allowed on the furniture, although she'll come cuddle when we're on the sofa, resting her head on our laps and rubbing her dirty beard on the seat cushion.  When we're really weak, she's allowed up on the ottoman but because our sofas have been leather, they've been easy to clean.  She rubs against the blue tweed chairs, though, rubbing her fur deep into the fibers and although I lint roller my heart out, there's a faint light swatch of rubbed fabric, thanks to her loving all over the tweed.   I think the fabric has also been sort of buffed there, because of this weird rubbing she does.


It's difficult to see, I think, but I notice it every day.  They look dirty even when they're not, so I think this tweed was a mistake - I'll admit it!  It always had a matte texture and probably wasn't super high quality so I think if I get chairs again I'd switch back to something like leather or a fabric with more sheen that isn't so textured and grippy.  


Find a Cheap DIY Pet Washing Station

We used to bathe Szuka in the tub but after the bathroom was renovated, I didn't want her nails scratching the new bathtub so we sought out a cheap place to wash her.  A pet store in town offers $10 DIY washes at their incredibly handy pet washing station and it's totally worth it because, given her size, we probably use that much in soap alone.  One day I'd like to renovate the laundry room and add a DIY pet washing station but when we can't get to town, a lake bath does the trick in the summer and a "snow bath" works for winter. 

Those are my tips for keeping the house clean even with two messy pups and a sandy lake in my backyard.  I'd love to hear your tips!  And if you've been eyeing up my new Libman Freedom Mop, or curious about what other products they have, take a peek here.  I am honestly so impressed with the Freedom Mop I chose because it's just SO much easier to clean up those nose prints and rogue bits of sand - plus it does a way better job by reaching under all of my furniture. 

P.S. The great gams in these photos belong to my lovely Mom, who I asked to help me snap some photos for this post.  


She came over wearing the CUTEST leggings, designed by a local clothing designer who has a shop downtown, so I asked Mom to model my new mop for me because her leggings matched my decor so well.  But I, uh, "needed a bunch of different angles" so she ended up mopping the entire living and dining room while I pretended to take photos, lol.  She's the one who realize this mop fits under even my low TV stand and sofa.  I have the sweetest Mom.          
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17 comments

  1. We've got 2 dogs, too. We live on a fenced in city lot, and I have old towels (on command hooks) for foot wiping towels at both doors. We've trained Sally to stop and let us wipe her feet and undercarriage by repeating the command "Feet". Jilly is our new adoptee and she is still learning, like Hynda.

    The best thing we did was to get a leather sofa. Our pups are allowed on the furniture and previously, we could never get all of the fur out of the fabric sofa. I just have to wipe off the cushions and occasionally vacuum the crevices.

    I have heard that one of the best things you can do to keep your house clean with pets is to have a sofa the same color as your dogs!

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    1. I love that tip: keep the furniture the same color, lol! Yes, I think I need to take that advice and switch to lighter dining room chairs. Leather sofas are just the best for mess - the human kind too! I have always marvelled at people who can do a white fabric sofa. I'm jealous, I could ever keep that clean. It sounds like we have a very similar pup routine (I use a command hook for the towel too!). So nice to hear from other pet owners and hear their tips and solutions.

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  2. I've had dogs most of my life, and your tips are spot on. Such cute and expressive faces, it must be hard to say no sometimes. I really like the brightness your dining chairs add to the area, so sad that their days are numbered. And kudos to your mom; she is rocking those tights and modeling!

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    1. I know I'm sad to think about jettisoning those chairs. I'm eyeing up a Canadian designer that has a really mid century design with solid wood legs and leather upholstery. But $$$$ so I won't saying goodbye to these anytime soon :)

      My Mom is the best sport! She was here helping me paint earlier too.

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  3. Ah! This is why I started to follow your blog in the first place - I was curious to see how dogs and pretty houses could go together! Your tips are spot on! Sadly we have no mud room or even an entry way, so apart from containing the mess i.e. dog, I use the additional trick of grin-and-bear-it :)

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    1. That these two are low shed dogs helps a lot too! Other than when she rubs against stuff and pushes her fur into the fabric, lol, Szuka doesn't shed a lot. I wish we had a proper mud room so but the laundry room works for now. I often complain about it but it's better than nothing... I have a friend in the same situation as you and she's trained her pup to wait by the door for his feet to be dried and then he knows to chill there on the front mat for a bit. Not ideal but teaching pups to hang out by the door for a bit helps little too. And yeah, there's a lot of grin and bear it. I clean up my fair share of bodily fluids, haha.

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  4. I learned about rugs the hard way :D I am also starting to think that cupboards/closed storage is better to keep doggie noses and pet hair out of things !

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    1. I can't imagine a rug, or with the amount of pee and barf I clean, lol. So gross. I'm lucky these two don't shed much, that would be a whole different ball game if they did!

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  5. I solidly support that mop, I have two! With a matte navy blue tile kitchen floor, I am constantly battling the visible dirt, spots and splashes.

    We are a carpet free house (wool oriental and jute area rugs only) and I love it. I could never live in a carpeted house again. My sinus and allergy problems improved immensely once we replaced all,the carpet with hardwood floors.

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    1. You have two? That's definitely a show of solid support, lol. It's just so handy, I don't think I'll ever kick around my old mop and bucket again. I think a lot of people stick with hardwood once they experience it. It's just so much better to clean, although I do know some people who cannot give up the plush feeling of wall to wall carpet. I don't get it, but to each their own!

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    2. Yep, one at home and one at the cabin, also a carpet free house with hardwood and tile. Like your house, we deal with wet feet but I much rather broom up grass and grit then have it embedded in carpet.

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    3. When I sweep, I FILL a dustpan - on a daily basis. I just can't imagine getting that depth of dirt out of carpeting. Also, every now and then these gals toss their cookies or do the 'old bum scoot. If I had wall to wall carpet and my dogs did that I'd barf along with them, lol. #teamhardwood !!

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  6. That mop looks great. We have hardwood throughout and no rugs, too. We just have a cat but are planning for a dog in the spring, so I'm interested in cleaning tips. Training your dogs to have their feet clean when they come back inside is a great tip.
    I used to have a light, short haired hound and dark hardwood- I didn't realized that short-haired dogs tend to shed constantly. I used to sweep daily and vacuum twice a week and I became a little obsessed about the floors. It was nuts. I also struggled with smudges on the dark floors- any recommendations for hardwood cleaner? I'd read that the DIY cleaners that use olive oil aren't recommended for hardwood- not compatible with some refinishing processes. I believe they can't be screened if you've used oil- they would need to be sanded down to refinish them. Not exactly sure about this and would like to know more. I use homemade cleaners and would love to have a DIY recipe to bring a shine to my hardwood. I like to avoid chemicals (for pets and kids) and I don't like to be married to a product- invariably, it will be discontinued or they will change the formula.
    We had designed our house (that never came to pass) with a mud room with a half door so that we could keep our hound, Nelly (sadly she's now gone) confined until she was dry. We had dubbed it The
    De-Nelleterized Zone. We would have planned a dog shower in there, too- such a great idea.
    I really love your mom's cute leggings!

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    1. So sorry for Nelly's loss! It's so heartbreaking to lose a dog. I am sure she would have loved her own room and dog shower. These spoiled pups, eh?

      I'm excited for your spring-time pup - any plans for breed?

      That's the one great thing about my girls: they are low shedding breeds. I used to have a tri-color Jack Russel (black, brown and white) and her fur showed up on every imaginable surface, it was terrible, she shed so much.

      Right now I use Murphy's Soap, that's what I've used on floors for 10 years. I have found that whenever I got streaking, it was because I used too much and didn't dilute it enough. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for a better floor cleaner but I always read mixed reviews so I stick with what I know. My very organic-conscious mother-in-law recommended it, so I think it's pretty good in terms of not being toxic. If you find an amazing cleaner, I'd love to know! A DIY option would be nice, although I just buy this in massive bulk bottles at Costco so I think it's pretty cheap?

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  7. Well, Nelly was a rescue but was quite obviously a red bone coonhound- if there was any cross mixed in, it wasn't apparent. She had such a lovely nature, that I'd read is typical to that breed, that I'd love another coonhound. And my dad has a lovely chocolate lab with such a sweet demeanour and nice manners- everyone wants to keep him when he visits. However, we will likely get a rescue again, so we don't have a specific breed in mind but will look for one that is medium-large to large with average energy.
    Growing up, we would get a "hypo-allergenic" breed and it did make a difference- sometimes they would just lose a tumbleweed or two that would sneak under the sofa. But then, and now in my own house, hardwood throughout makes it easier to just glide a dustmop around.
    Aw yes, Murphys. I used to use it at my first house. I did have some problem with smudges but didn't think about the dilution ratio. And it's been around so long, it's not likely going anywhere.

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    1. I had to Google red bone coonhound although it's what I pictured when I read the breed name. So cute! The ones I saw had such warm, friendly faces and irresistible eyes. I so wish I could branch out into other breeds and rescue mixed breeds. So many homeless pups. I hate having allergies.

      Yup, I get those rogue tumbleweeds too, which are kind of funny.

      After I replied, I started to think about floor cleaning even more. You know what I have experimented with, that seems to help? I use piping hot water. It dries way more quickly and that seems to help too. I rarely get streaks these days. But I still am open to trying something new.

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  8. Allergies are such a bummer. Interestingly, though, my moms have nearly disappeared over the years. I'm so glad for her because it triggered asthma- and that was even more worrisome. But now she rarely has an occurrence. I wish the same for you- I guess it can run its course, perhaps your immune system autocorrects over time.
    So many lovely breeds- I want all the doggins!
    And thanks for the extra hot water suggestions. I'll give it a try. The hardwood in our house had already been pretty beat when we moved in, decent condition but the finish doesn't have much shine anymore. The mess and the cost of refinishing outweighs the condition, at the moment; bigger priorities elsewhere. But I'd love to give it just a bit more polish to make it feel spic and span.

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