9 Natural Cleaning Tips for Dog Parents (+DIY Recipes & Uses)

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house cleaning tips for dog owners
Our furbabies add so much joy to our lives, but they can also make big messes! From tracking dirt and leaves across the family room floor to dribbling water across the kitchen after taking a drink, my house seems to be perpetually dirty. And that’s not to mention the lingering dog smell or occasional potty oops.
When Fido mucks your place up, you need the right products to get everything clean again. According to the ASPCA, most over-the-counter cleaners are generally safe for pets if you follow the instructions on the label. Just remember to check the ingredients for any toxic chemicals.
To help protect your special pal, make sure you dilute the solutions. They don’t have to be full-strength to be effective. It’s also helpful to let the floors dry before you bring Fido back in the room. If you’re still concerned about residues, rinse the cleaned surface with water.
Of course, you could also find safer options…
There are some harmless but effective natural alternatives for your cleaning needs. We’ve included some recipes for solutions that you can concoct from items you probably already have on hand, like lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda.

But first, let’s talk about cleaning products that you should avoid:

Table of Contents

Cleaning Products That Are Harmful to Dogs

Cleaning Products That Are Harmful to Dogs
Some chemicals that are commonly used in commercial cleaning solutions can release fumes that are irritating and possibly toxic to your pooch. That’s why you should avoid these cleaning products:
In addition to avoiding some general cleaning products, you should watch out for the following ingredients:
Ammonia – Ammonia is particularly dangerous if you mix it with bleach. The gas that results can severely burn the throat, damage the respiratory tract, and cause death. Common products that include ammonia are Windex and Lysol Multi-surface cleaners and Mr. Clean.
Chlorine – Found in bleach, chlorine can cause skin or eye damage. It’s a common ingredient in products like disinfectants and toilet bowl cleaners. Some brands with chlorine are Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner tablets and Clorox Clean-up with Bleach.
Glycol ethers – Glycol ethers are used in commercial solvents and some cleaning products. They’ve been associated with kidney damage, anemia, and lung damage. You can find this ingredient in carpet cleaners, glass cleaners, and spot removers. Some products that contain glycol ether include Spot Shot Stain Remover and Tilex Soap Scum Remover.
Quaternary ammonium compounds – You can find this chemical in some dryer sheets and household cleaners. If your pooch ingests something with quaternary ammonium compounds, you may see chemical burns or convulsions. They may also cause a drop in blood pressure or death. Gain Dryer Sheets and Fantastik All Purpose Cleaner are two products that contain this ingredient.
If you think your pup may have ingested or contacted any of the ingredients listed above, look for the following signs of toxicity:
Any time you think your pup is reacting to your cleaning products or you see the symptoms above, call your veterinarian ASAP.

Natural Dog-Friendly Cleaning Recipes

Below, you’ll find 9 natural cleaning ideas that can help you keep your home neat and clean without harming your four-footed friend.

Baking Soda as a Cleanser and Deoderizer

baking soda as a cleanser and deoderizer
Baking soda isn’t just a baking ingredient. It’s also a fantastic cleaning agent, and it’s budget-friendly. With mild abrasiveness and odor-absorbing abilities, this substance is useful to keep your home spic and span.
As a scrub, you can mix baking soda with equal portions of salt and water. The mixture makes a paste that you can use to buff the counters and Fido’s food dish. Simply apply it with a sponge or rag and rub in a circular motion. Remember to rinse the surfaces with water to remove the residue.
To absorb or eliminate odors, you can also rely on baking soda. Sprinkle some in your rugs or carpets and let it sit for about half an hour. Then vacuum to freshen up the house. Depending on your pup’s size, massage a handful or two of this substance into his coat the give him a fresh scent.

Vinegar and Water for General Cleaning

Vinegar and Water for General Cleaning
A solution of 1 cup vinegar in 1 liter of water works well as a floor cleaner. It effectively cuts grime and grease This mixture will work on vinyl, wood, linoleum, or ceramic tiles, and you don’t have to rinse. However, you can add an extra sparkle by letting the floors dry and doing a second mopping using club soda.
If you use a commercial floor cleaner, remember to rinse or mop with water after cleaning. That will help to remove any potentially harmful chemicals. Do your best to keep your pets off the floor until it’s dry.

In addition to floors, the vinegar-water solution is an effective general cleaner. Put some in a squirt bottle to clean your counters, the dog toys, the litter box, and other household items. You can safely store the mixture in between cleanings.

Lemon Juice and Water for Glass Surfaces and Windows

Lemon Juice and Water for Glass Surfaces and Windows

For glass cooktops, mirrors, and windows, try combining fresh lemon juice with twice as much water. Use a spray bottle to apply to your glass surfaces for cleaning. If there’s excess dirt or buildup, you can mix in a drop of dish soap for extra cleansing power. Once you spray the solution, wipe the surface with a dry towel. Then go back over with a damp cloth.

Another option for cleaning your windows is to rub the surface with the open end of a lemon that’s been cut in half. Remember to rinse with water and wipe with a dry rag.

Pet-Safe Essential Oils for Fresh Laundry

Pet-Safe Essential Oils for Fresh Laundry
If your pooch curls up on the bed, you should consider a natural or DIY detergent. To keep your linens smelling fresh, add one or two drops of lemon essential oil to the laundry before you toss it in the dryer in place of your dryer sheets.
Or you can try this recipe for the dryer:
Stir these ingredients together, add a few pieces of fabric, and store in a mason jar with a lid. When you put a load of laundry in the dryer, take out one of the fabric pieces, wring out excess liquid, and toss it in with the clothes. The vinegar will dissipate in the heat leaving a fresh, clean aroma.

Recipes to for Deep Cleaning

Recipes to Cut the Grease
Grease and grime can build up all over the house. Here are some useful household items that can cut through the muck.

Oven Cleaner

To tackle the spillovers and gunk at the bottom of your oven, make a paste of baking soda and water. Spread the concoction over the affected areas and let it sit for a few hours. Wipe clean with a damp sponge or cloth.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

To help remove buildup in the dishwasher and get your glasses to come out sparkling clean, combine:
Add the mixture to your machine. Then rinse your dishes, load them in the dishwasher, and start the cycle.

Shower Head Cleaner

Hard water buildup on the showerhead is unsightly and interferes with water flow. You can remove scaling by wrapping the fixture in a plastic bag filled with vinegar. Make sure the head is fully immersed in the liquid, and let it soak for a few hours. Remove the bag carefully.

Burnt Saucepans

Rather than expending extra elbow grease scrubbing your saucepans after burning something, try this: Fill your pan with water and add 1 cup of vinegar. Bring the solution to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add vinegar. Be prepared for fizzing. Once the reaction calms down, empty the pan and scrub.

Fridge Cleanser

When it’s time to wipe down and freshen the fridge, combine 1 teaspoon of Borax with 3 liters of warm water. Use the mixture to wipe shelves and drawers. Rinse with water and dry.

Natural Grease-Cutting Cleaner

Grease can be the worst to clean. Here’s a natural solution that should cut through tough grime and leave your surfaces smelling fresh and clean:
Mix these ingredients in a bucket to use when cleaning greasy surfaces.

Sink and Tub Cleaner

For a gentle cleanser to use on your sinks and bathtub, try:
Combine the ingredients in a bowl to create a scouring agent that’s gentle enough for porcelain and enamel. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.

Appliance Cleaner and Polish

You can clean and polish your appliances in one by rubbing stainless steel surfaces with club soda.

Natural Mold and Mildew Remover

If you have mold or mildew buildup, use this recipe to clean and treat the areas.
Apply the mixture to affected areas and leave it for a few hours. Tea tree oil has natural antifungal properties. One note here, mold and mildew are nasty problems to clean up. It’s easier and better to do what you can to prevent it in the first place. Mold likes damp, dark places. Try to increase light and ventilation in vulnerable areas (like the bathroom).

Cleaning Solutions for Pet Stains

Cleaning Solutions for Pet Stains


To remove urine marks, blot dry with a towel and sprinkle a generous cover of baking soda. Combine ½ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Pour this mixture over the baking soda slowly and scrub the area with a cloth or brush. Let the treated carpet rest for about 10 minutes before vacuuming.
A note of caution, Hydrogen Peroxide can have a bleaching effect. Only use a 3% solution and try it on an out-of-view spot to make sure your carpet is color-fast.

Carpet Stains

When our pups have an accident, it may leave an unsightly stain. You can use vinegar to lift many marks. For light, stains try a solution consisting of 2 tablespoons of salt dissolved in ½ cup of white vinegar. Rub the spot with a cloth that you soaked in the mixture. Vacuum the area after the spot dries.
For heavier stains, you may need to up the ante a bit. Add 2 Tablespoons of borax to the concoction and follow the same procedures as for lighter stains.
In the event of ground-in stains, try making a paste by mixing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 1 tablespoon of borax. Rub this mixture into the stain and leave it for 2 days before vacuuming.
When it comes to potty stains, DON’T use bleach. It will react with the ammonia in Fido’s urine and release dangerous gas. You should also avoid ammonia cleaners because they may encourage your pal to mark the spot again.
If you’re dealing with marble, limestone, or travertine surfaces, stay away from solutions with vinegar or lemon juice. These are acids that can cause damage. You may want to check with the manufacturer about which products are safe to use.

Orange Drink or Vinegar + Water for Toilet Bowls

Orange Drink or Vinegar + Water for Toilet Bowls
Some pooches think of the toilet bowl as an extra water dish. If your pup likes to take a slurp from time to time, you don’t want to have any caustic chemicals in there. So, here’s a trick: Pour about ¼ cup of an orange drink mix like Tang in the bowl and brush it around. Leave it for about an hour before flushing. The citric acid will help dissolve water stains, and you’ll have a fresh smelling toilet. You can also use a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water to clean the bowl.
If you’re dealing with nasty rings in your toilet, you’ll need something stronger than an orange drink. To restore that clean porcelain and eliminate odors, try this recipe:
Mix the ingredients together in a container. Wet the surface by swishing a brush around or flushing, then pour the solution in the bowl and let it sit overnight or for several hours during the day. Make sure no one uses the toilet during the cleaning phase. Finish by scrubbing the bowl and flushing.
Another simple and easy way to keep your bowl clean is by keeping a spray bottle filled with vinegar and a box of baking soda handy. Spray the inner surfaces with the vinegar and leave it alone for several minutes. Then sprinkle baking soda in the bowl, scrub, and flush. You can also spray the vinegar on the outer surfaces and wipe them clean.

Vinegar to Cut Paint Fumes

Vinegar to Cut Paint Fumes
When you have a painting project in your home, whether it’s one wall or a bunch of rooms, the fumes can be annoying and possibly harmful to you and your furbaby. Fortunately, there’s something simple and inexpensive that you can do about it. Put white vinegar in several small bowls and distribute them around the room or rooms. The acetic acid will absorb and neutralize the odor molecules. If you don’t want to risk bumping the bowls and spilling their contents, you can also simmer a few cups of the liquid in a pan on the stove.

Natural Deodorizer

Natural Deodorizer
Forget Febreze or Lysol brands. You can make your own natural deodorizer. Simply combine:
Place the mixture in a spray bottle for pet bedding or an air freshener. Make sure the surfaces are dry before you you let your dog on them.

NEVER apply essential oils directly to your pup’s skin or fur. Some varieties can be highly toxic.

How Do You Keep Your Home Clean and Dog-Safe?

As a dog parent, maintaining a clean and comfortable home environment can be challenging at times, but it is not impossible. Here are few tips that would help you keeping your home safe:

  1. Regular Dog Grooming: One of the best ways to keep your home clean is to groom your dog regularly. Brushing your dog helps reduce shedding, while frequent baths with a gentle, natural pet shampoo can help control dander. For those with long-haired breeds, regular trips to a professional groomer might be a good idea.
  2. Invest in a Quality Vacuum: Vacuums designed for pet hair can be a lifesaver. Look for one with strong suction and a HEPA filter to effectively capture pet dander.
  3. Choose Pet-Friendly Furniture: Opt for furniture materials that are easy to clean, such as leather or faux-leather. Alternatively, use washable furniture covers that can catch pet hair and be easily cleaned.
  4. Dog-Proof Bedding: If your dog is allowed on your bed, consider using dog proof covers and comforters made from durable, washable materials that resist dog hair. Additionally, placing a washable throw blanket where your dog usually sleeps can help contain the hair and dirt, making cleaning easier.
  5. Regular Floor Cleaning: For hard floors, a microfiber mop can efficiently pick up pet hair. Carpets may require a more powerful vacuum or a carpet cleaner for deeper cleaning.
  6. Make Lint Rollers Your Best Friend: Lint rollers are great for a quick clean-up of pet hair on furniture, clothes, and other surfaces.
  7. Wash Bedding and Toys Regularly: Keep your dog’s bedding and toys clean by washing them regularly. Consider using natural, fragrance-free laundry detergents to avoid irritating your pet’s skin.
  8. Paw Cleaning: Keep a towel by the door to wipe your dog’s paws after walks. This simple habit can greatly reduce the amount of dirt tracked into your home.
  9. Regular Vet Check-Ups: Regular health check-ups are vital to ensure your dog is free from parasites and illnesses that could lead to messes in your home.
  10. Designate a Feeding Area: Use a mat under your dog’s food and water dishes to catch spills. You can easily clean or replace this mat as needed.
  11. Consider an Air Purifier: To remove dander and allergens from your home, an air purifier can be a worthwhile investment.
  12. Robot Vacuum: For daily maintenance, consider a robot vacuum. It can roam your home picking up pet hair, giving you one less chore to worry about.

These strategies will not only help maintain a cleaner home but also create a healthier environment for you and your furry friend. Remember, every dog is unique, so you might need to experiment and see which tactics work best for your household. Consistency is key, and the extra effort is always worth the joy of having a dog in your home.

The Final Woof

How Do You Keep Your Home Clean and Safe?
Your cleaning frequency can vary depending on how much fur your pup sheds and whether Fido is tracking mud and dirt in from outside. It helps you to do your research and figure out the best practices for your household. Regardless of your preferred cleaning methods and schedule, we hope you can put our tips and recipes to use for your benefit.
We invite you to let us know what you think about the information and share your personal cleaning practices in the comments below.
Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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