Big List of Tips for a Less-Stinky Home: How to Manage Pet Odors

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Pets — we love them like family, but let's face it: we could do without all of the smells that come along with them. From litter boxes to bad breath to just general pet odor, these animal funks can unfortunately become the one thing guests remember most about your home, no matter how well decorated it may be. Here are a few of my favorite tips, from the simple to the extreme, to minimize household pet odors.

1. Keep Your Home Clean.
Let's start with the obvious — cleaning your home on a regular basis is a must if you want to get rid of unwanted pet odors. Vacuuming, dusting, mopping, and washing fabrics are a few of the most important tasks that you must frequently complete if you're going to have any hope of competing with Eau de Fido.

2. Keep Your Pet Clean, Too.
Another must is to frequently clean and groom your pet — from baths to brushing, keeping your furry friend fresh will go a long way in keeping your home smelling likewise. Even little things like nail clipping and tooth brushing (if your pet will allow it) can have a big impact. If you have a particularly difficult candidate, a grooming service may be the way to go.

3. And Don't Forget to Clean Your Pet's Stuff.
Not only does your pet need to be kept in tip top shape, all of its accessories need to be maintained as well. Clean your animal's bedding, toys, dishes, cage, and litter box on a weekly basis.

4. Be Smart About the Litter Box.
Cat litter is a biggie, so here are a few tips where the box is concerned:

  • It may sound crazy, but if you have the space it's recommended that you have at least one litter box per cat.
  • Litter box selection is key — be sure that you choose a little box that is large enough that your cat doesn't accidentally go outside of the box, and preferably choose one with a cover and filter to help contain any odors.
  • Find the right litter for you and your pet(s) — try a few different brands until you find one that works best at keeping the smell under control.
  • Mix baking soda into your cat's litter as an added defense against odor.
  • Scoop the litter box at least once daily, but the more frequently the better. If this isn't possible, consider one that automatically does the work for you (you just have to remember to empty it at least once a day.)
  • Location, location, location — make sure you place the litter box in the most removed and/or contained spot in the house, whether that be the basement, bathroom, or even a closet.
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5. Air Out Your House.
Even in the colder months, opening windows and doors once a week for even ten minutes can make a huge difference in your home's air quality.

6. De-Odorize Floors.
Sprinkle baking soda on carpets a few hours before vacuuming them to help absorb any trapped odors, or better yet, replace wall-to-wall carpeting with a harder surface like wood, laminate, or tile.

7. If You Can't Beat It, Cover It Up.
Use air neutralizers and masking scents like cleverly placed dryer sheets, carpet fresheners, scented candles, plug-in air fresheners, and sprays.

8. Change Your Filters.
Install a HEPA air filtration system and replace any filters in your home on a regular basis. Additionally, be sure that the air ducts are periodically cleaned.

9. Take Care of Your Furniture.
Don't allow pets on your furniture, or, if you must, choose your furniture wisely — leather is more pet friendly than fabric, metal is more durable and easier to clean than wood. If your pet has a favorite place to repose, a well-placed throw is much easier to clean than a sofa cushion.

10. Choose Rugs Wisely.
Pick rugs that are low pile, easy to clean (like the indoor-outdoor variety), or easy to replace like FLOR tiles.

11. Seal It Up.
If all else fails, try sealing your floors and walls. Even priming and painting can go a long way as well. If you've done all of this and still have a strong pet odor lingering in your home, it may be time to call the professionals.

Do you have any other tips or tricks for minimizing pet odors? We'd love to hear them!

Check out John Gleeson Connolly's tip on removing pet odor from old homes below!

(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux; Kim Lucian)