Best ways to clean up after dogs

Here are the very best ways to clean up after dogs so that your best friend stays your best friend

The best ways to clean up after dogs
The best ways to clean up after dogs
(Image credit: Getty)

Looking for the best ways to clean up after dogs? Yup, we may love 'em, but boy do they make a mess... of the floors, the doors, the garden, in some cases the sofa, and in a few cases, your bed. The best ways to clean up after a dog involve prevention as well as clever hacks – you don't have to adopt them all, but doing so will cut the time you spend cleaning, time that you can then devote to your pooch (or lying down in a dark room recovering from that walk he/she's just taken you on).

Here, we tackle prevention, dog sick, poo and wee (sorry), dog hair and muddy paw prints on carpets. Find more unmissable cleaning tips, hacks and advice on our dedicated hub page.

Best ways to prevent your dog making a mess

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If you can prevent the mess the dog makes, you won't have nearly so much to tidy up. 

1. Put dog walking kit by the front door

That's leads, poo bags and your muddy boots by the back/front door. Doing so means you don't have to tramp in and out of the house with them. Put paw wipes (an old towel will do) for drying wet paws off if the position of the hose/bath means hefting a muddy dog through the house.

2. Plumb in a hose by the front door

Having plumbing work done anyway? Investigate how easy it would be to put a tap in the front garden if that's the only way to get into your home. 

3. Get a food mat

Rubber backed ones will stick to the floor, and the food bowls will stick to them (unless your dog is an extremely enthusiastic eater). Either way, they will cut down on the amount of food and lick left on the floor.

4. Find toy storage to keep the floor clear

A basket or bin is a handy place to chuck toys, half-chewed bones and, inevitably, one of your socks. If your dog's young, you might even be able to train it to put toys away after use (we can dream). 

5. Find a washable dog bed

If you can pop it on a hot wash once a week, you'll avoid a mucky, niffy bed and cut down on germs. Failing that, cover it with a big washable cushion that'll take the majority of the abuse. See our buyer's guide to the best pet beds to find something your pooch will appreciate.

dog by fireplace

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

6. Keep the dog bed out of the kitchen

They're full of germs, so just don't. And don't wash the dog in the kitchen sink, either.

7. Keep the dog's dinner out of the kitchen

We know, it's way more convenient to have them in there, right? But if you're lucky enough to have a utility room, stick them there. 

8. Don't let the dog on the furniture or your bed

We don't need to give you lectures about dog hair, dander, fleas, faeces, urine, vomit, saliva... (happy to get to the end of that list), you know you shouldn't let them up. It's just those big, doggy eyes. We know. We get it.

9. Have a sofa with washable covers

Okay, so you let the dog on the sofa (guilty) or bed (errr... don't tell the other half), so invest in a sofa with washable covers. Or protect them with washable throws.

10. Give up on carpets

Having a dog and carpets isn't a good mix in one household, especially if your living room gives straight on to the garden. Whether you have carpets or not, you'll want to invest in a vacuum for pet hair (we've reviewed the best ones) or a dog that doesn't shed. 

Our favourite vacuum for pet hair is the Dyson Light Ball Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner. It's flexible, lightweight, powerful, and comes with attachments to make your job easier. Alternatively, if you're after a cordless model, the incredibly powerful Vax Blade 2 Max is your best option. More on dog hair below.

11. Groom your dog regularly

Reduce shedding by brushing your dog everyday. Soon-to-be-owners reading this? If you wont' have time for this, investigate breeds that don't shed – although bear in mind that these dogs still need regular grooming. Having your dog's nails trimmed regularly will minimise the damage they make to doors if they're scratchers, too. 

12. Bathe your dog regularly

Regularly bathing your dog will keep the shedding down somewhat, as can giving it a high quality diet. Make sure you rinse the dog well to remove all the dog shampoo (and don't use human products on them).

13. Keep doors shut

Especially when you're out, keeping bedroom or living room doors shut will ensure your dog doesn't go where he/she shouldn't. This is a must if your dog tends to empty bins, shopping bags or just chew underwear. 

Better still, teach your dog to stay out of those rooms.

Woman training dog with ball in meadow

(Image credit: Getty)

14. Wipe dogs' dishes with a thin film of vegetable oil

Doing so can reduce dry-skin dander and will make the dishes easier to clean. Win win.

15. Immunise, worm and flea-check regularly

Need we say more?

16. Get a dog drying coat

If you keep missing the bit where your dog rushes back into the house before you can towel them off, get a Dog Drying Coat. This clever contraption is made from double-thickness towelling cotton and allows you to dry off your dog before they get everything wet and muddy in your hallway. 

How to get dog vomit or poo off a carpet, sofa or bed

Yup, we've gone there. Dog vomit, just like that of humans, needs cleaning up quickly. The upside? It's often not very well digested because, particularly in the case of young dogs, it's appeared because they've bolted their food. This, theoretically, makes it easier to clean up. Poo? Let's just say it happens with puppies, unwell and elderly dogs.

Once you've picked it up (use our guide on cleaning up vomit to find out how to do so without actually touching it), pour soda water on to the stain, blot with kitchen roll; repeat until the stain disappears. Or, spray white vinegar diluted with an equal part of water on to the stain; let it soak in for 15 minutes, then blot with kitchen roll until dry. Repeat until the stain disappears. Or, mix washing up liquid – one tablespoon – with one tablespoon of white vinegar and two cups of warm water. Sponge the stain with it, then blot thoroughly.

Assuming the stain has been removed, if the item can go in the washing machine, now's the time to put it on a hot wash. Don't use hot water on it otherwise – the stain will set.

How to get dog urine out of a carpet, sofa or mattress

Before you begin, check any manufacturer instructions for your upholstery. If you are unsure, and particularly for velvet, silk or antique upholstery, it might be best to consult a cleaning professional.

Start by soaking up as much of the urine as possible with kitchen roll (pressing down on it with your dog-walking shoes is the best way for carpets; don rubber gloves for a sofa or mattress). Then using an equal mix of water and white vinegar, wet the carpet/sofa/mattress. Using a soft brush, work at the stain. Blot again with kitchen roll and allow to dry. 

Once dry, sprinkle the stain with baking powder. Leave for half an hour or so then vacuum up. Find more tips for getting rid of urine stains in our dedicated guide.

How to clean up dog hair

There are tons of ways of minimising and quickly picking up dog hair. Here are the best by far:

Keep sticky tape or tumble dryer sheets handy

If your dog's hair is everywhere – from the sofa to your smart work coat – having either of these to hand is useful for de-hairing in a hurry. 

Use a squeegee to loosen hair on the carpet

Run it across a hairy carpet and see ingrained hair lift.

Spray the carpet before vacuuming

If you dampen the carpet a little with water before you vacuum, you'll get more hair up. If you're giving your carpet a proper freshening, let the carpet dry out then sprinkle it with baking powder; leave it for half an hour, then vacuum up. Find more carpet cleaning tips in our guide.

Quickly pick up hair from hard floors with a damp mop

If you don't have time to get the vacuum cleaner out, a quick go round with a damp mop is really effective. 

If you’ve got pets that leave their hair everywhere, then the Libman Freedom Dust Mop is a great way to quickly and easily pick up all those hairs. This mop is for dry use only, but is especially good if you have a large surface area that often needs cleaning. It's easy to use and clean, and the detachable comb allows you to get to those hard-to-reach areas that end up getting very dusty. Buy it below.

Remove dog hair from furniture with rubber gloves 

The dog hair clings to them as you wipe the furniture over with the gloves; if the gloves are a little wet they'll work even better.

Find tons more tips for getting rid of pet hair in our guide.

How to get muddy paw prints off a carpet, sofa or duvet

First let the mud dry. If it's a really wet, soggy patch, blot (don't rub) it to help it dry without spreading. Once the mud is dry, vacuum the mud up slowly and thoroughly. Once as much of the mud is up as possible, blot the carpet with warm soapy water on a white cloth. When the cloth begins to look dirty, switch to a clean one. Keep going until the stain is gone, then blot dry with kitchen roll. 


More cleaning tips:

Lucy Searle

Lucy is Global Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of in 2018 then moving to Homes & Gardens in 2021. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.