Cleaning With Pets

 
 
Wicker shopping cart, similar here

I can't remember what living in Paris was like before Kar and Toffel. Pets transform a home, especially ours, which might feel very empty without two cuddly fluffballs around. It's reassuring to come back to.

I feel bad for pets kept indoors, especially in tiny apartments with no light or space to run around. You'd be surprised at the number of big dogs I see in little studios- chow chows, greyhounds, and dalmatians. Of course, Paris is a city of little dogs, which accompany owners to restaurants, the grocery store, and the hair salon. Growing up, we had a german shepherd, a half-wolf shepherd dog, and multiple cats, so I subconsciously stopped wearing black, preferring lighter, fuller fabrics that hide fur and claw marks. Some of my friends are allergic, but we control things with careful housekeeping.

Brush, Redecker

It's harder to regulate cat allergens, which are tinier and more persistent than dog dander.  Frequent bathing / grooming and daily litter scooping helps. Allergists advise weekly brushing and bathing for pets (weekly for cats, three to six months for dogs), since studies indicate wipes are ineffective. Try a wooden brush for dogs and metal brush for long-haired cats. My angora cats despise the Furminator (Tender Care brushes are plastic-free), but they love water, rinsing themselves off almost daily to remove excess hair. They rarely get furballs. 

Having bare floors and minimal furniture helps manage allergen levels. Housekeeping guides say at a minimum, pet owners should vacuum once (carpets, upholstered furniture, and curtains) and dust twice a week. Rake or brush carpets before vacuuming, and beat rugs regularly, steam cleaning when possible. I don't vacuum, but I brush the couch and bed daily, and hand-dust floors a few times a week, opening windows for air circulation. A vegan, plastic-free wood and natural rubber brush removes hair better than sticky rollers, which leave behind fur-collecting residue. Others prefer a boar bristle clothes brush for dark items. We wash everything weekly, and I scoop everyday, dusting hard surfaces with a flour sack towel.



If you have areas you want your cats to stay away from, or if your cat pees outside the litter box, lemon peels are a deterrent. Lemon also removes urine odors and stains from wood floors. Extrapolating from my cats, scratching posts don't prevent clawed furniture. Stiff leather, canvas, and microfiber, a material I strongly dislike, conceal claw marks better than other fabrics. To remove stains from leather, use a damp cloth with homemade saddle soap or savon de marseille. Our couch has a washable, removable cotton / lyocell / polyester / linen cover, which, while irresistible to kitten paws, is nubby enough to camouflage scratches. If you can't wash your upholstery, sprinkle with baking soda, leave half an hour, then vacuum. To stop dogs from chewing furniture, try spraying vinegar- the smell dissipates as far as humans can tell, but dogs continue to detect it.

My only advice for smaller pets comes from when my mom had guinea pigs and I took care of the class hamster for awhile :) Cages need to be cleaned two to three times a week. Disinfect all pet items with boiling water, and leave them in the sun as often as possible. I wash and boil my cats' bowls, scrub the litter box with baking soda, and set the box and scoop in the sun a few hours every week. Vacuuming is the only way I know to get rid of fleas and eggs- one vet told me garlic provides safe flea protection for dogs, and apple cider vinegar or nutritional yeast protects cats. Don't confuse the two: Many dogs are allergic to yeast, and garlic is toxic to cats!

Paris to Go

21 comments:

  1. Hey Ariana,
    Awesome post!
    One question though, does the REDECKER brush actually perform great? We have two dogs and one cat and they are shedding like crazy... most of my clothes are darker colours and I would love a zero waste alternative to the stupid tape thingies. They are the worst! The brush is kind of pricey (we are on a tight budget at the moment )... would you recommend it for getting pet hair completely off darker clothes and your sofa (we have the same one as you , just in dark "grey")?
    Have a lovely day!

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    1. Hi Mina! Maybe go with the garment brush then (boar bristle unfortunately), because it gets rave reviews for both dark clothing and upholstery. The rubber brush is amazing; it works great on the couch, and the sheets, it also works on my dark dress and coat. But it leaves a powdery rubber residue on my husband's dark jeans and polo shirts! It's so nice on his dark t-shirts, and most of his jeans, but for some reason it makes his darkest pair look worse. It may have to do with the fabric. They're both expensive, but considering all the money I wasted on tape rollers it's a savings since it's just a one-time investment.

      There are cheaper boar bristle options on the market as well, but I wonder how they treat the boars (sorry, I'm a Debbie Downer). You may need to purchase a brush cleaner to go with the boar bristle brush, according to some people I know who have it. The rubber brush is easy to clean, it just takes water. Ours was 15 euro.

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    2. We have the small Redecker brush from Crate and Barrel.

      http://www.crateandbarrel.com/redecker-rubber-upholstery-brush/s649104

      It really saved our sheets and I use it on my mostly dark clothes as well. It helps to rinse it off between uses to prevent a powdery residue from forming. It only happened at first, and I could just sweep it off with my hands. My husband is allergic to cats and dogs, and they probably shouldn't be allowed in the bedroom, but he loves them too much to give them away or tell them "No." If it were up to him, we'd have many more pets in the house. I find that letting them out as much as possible helps spread the allergens outside and not around the house. I also have the Laundress cashmere brush. It's really extended the life span of my good sweaters. When our cats or puppies snag them, I just poke some of the extra wool into the hole with a knitting needle.

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  2. hi ariana, what do you do about cat litter if you don't use garbage bags? we can't compost, and i have no idea how to deal with their litter zero waste. even recycled sawdust pellets and wheat need to be placed in the bin, so i'm not sure how spending more on fancy litter will help me transition to zero-waste =(

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    1. Hi Louisa, I scoop it as soon as they go so that it doesn't build up at the bottom, then flush, since I can't compost the litter as well. They're indoor cats and don't eat raw food and they've tested toxoplasma gondii free. The litter stays pretty clean and doesn't need to be entirely dumped into a garbage bag.

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    2. hi Ariana, I have 2 month old kittens. All available kitten litter gives me severe breathing problems, so i have been experimenting with using a towel inside the litter box instead. I scoop feces as soon as I see them, and wash the towel daily with boiling water, which I believe kills toxoplasma oocysts. Though my kittens have not gone outside, they might get infected from eating a fly, or moth? So I'm unsure about how to dispose of feces. Flush or plastic bag to landfill? Does it really matter, considering the big population of stray cats in my city whose feces get washed by rain into the sewer sistem? I'm really more concerned with water sea life than humans, since prevalence of human infection in my country is near 50 percent anyways, and really mostly due to raw meat and dirty vegetable consumption. i would really like to know your thoughts on this, which I expect are more educated than mine. Thanks for a wonderful blog.
      zuperserena

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    3. Zuperserena, you raise so many good questions! I need to do more research because I never thought about that with a fly. My cats are indoors and the wastewater treatment facility said it would be okay to flush but they do eat flies sometimes! I always wondered about the wild or stray cats who eat raw diets and whose waste ends up in the water system anyway. I know that the oceans and seas have their own ways of clearing parasites away but sea otters can get infections from sources other than cats too. Sorry I don't have more insight on this, but it is worth more research.

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  3. Ariana, would you mind terribly doing a post on your laundry routine? I'm curious to see how you manage it with a busy schedule. My biggest hurdle towards switching from disposables is I'm worried about the extra laundry it might impose. The laundry piles up as it is, and it's just me and my husband... well, us, and our many fur babies.

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    1. Hi Helen! I will definitely write one, I've meant to for so long, your comment is the kick I needed to get started :) I only do laundry one day a week, four or five loads because the machine only takes 4 kilo, which includes all cleaning rags, cloths, towels, handkerchiefs, sheets, clothing, etc. It doesn't add so much, we live in an apartment now but when I lived in a house with three other people and two cats we didn't use much more. The extra laundry may be worth it for how much time you save going to the store!

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  4. Great post! We have noe cat and one dog, and this advice is brilliant! By the way, your new blog design is great, but some of the posts I can't enter. When I press the picture it just enlarges the picture but doesn't send me to the blog post.

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    1. Ah, thanks Camilla! I'm going to be tweaking it a little over the next few days, could you tell me which posts you can't enter so I can fix them? Thanks!

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    2. Seems you have fixed it now, because when I tried testing everything works. I think it was the "Everithing I own"-post and a few others that caused the problem, if I remember correctly. I'm reading on an iPad btw.

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    3. Thanks for letting me know, Camilla, that really helps! Please tell me if you have any site issues in the future.

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  5. How long do you spend cleaning every day? This sounds like a lot of work!

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    1. 10 minutes or less, but on the weekends I don't lift a finger :) If I do a quick, regular cleaning, I don't have to do a long, laborious vacuum / scrubbing later.

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    2. I remember the days when I would have said the same thing. 22 years of marriage, 3 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats later, I think differently. My husband and I both work full-time and while I'd like to say he and the kids help me pick up, I'm laughing just typing this. At least he helps take care of the yard. Our house is maybe four times the size of your apartment, but if I don't clean every day, it becomes an uncontrollable mess that takes an entire weekend and the better part of the week to manage. It's not nice to my pets, or my kids for that matter. When the kids are getting ready for school I'm scooping up laundry, loading the dishwasher, taking the trash out, and so forth. I repeat the process every evening, plus a little tidying up in the bathroom. If someone doesn't have as few possessions as you do, I'd recommend cleaning a little longer every day and on the weekends. Otherwise buildup forms and it's backbreaking work to take care of.

      My oldest is off to Paris for a study abroad session at AUP. Found your blog searching for gluten-free food she can have in the 7th. I feel a little better sending her away knowing she has so many great food options. All three of my kids were diagnosed celiac three years ago. It was a struggle getting them to eat gluten-free. My husband would be diagnosed if he'd just get tested already but he'd rather be sick than give up pasta, pizza, and breads, bless his Irish heart. We will be visiting your neighborhood helping our daughter move into the district in July. Can't wait to see some of the sights on your blog.

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    3. Hi Rebeckah! Congrats on your daughter getting into AUP. My friend Cynthia loved it. She lived in the 7th as well- it's such a nice, safe neighborhood for girls. There's a new gluten-free place literally across the street from AUP called Le Cairn at 3, Rue Dupont des Loges, and down the street on Avenue Bosquet Kozy has gluten-free options too. I hope more of these restaurants start to take over the 7ème!

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  6. Do you find the vinegar deters your cats from certain places as well? Just wondering, since you seem to clean with it a lot.-S

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    1. It doesn't prevent them from anything :) I read it would keep cats off countertops, out of corners, etc. but, no. Maybe they are too used to it. I try to keep them out of a room when I'm cleaning with vinegar but they seem to almost be attracted by the smell? They are so weird.

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    2. I thought my cats were strange because they literally roll over places where I cleaned with vinegar. Good to know, they're not the only ones.

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