The Ultimate Guide to Spring Cleaning for Pet Parents

The Ultimate Guide to Spring Cleaning for Pet Parents

The daffodils are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the sun is shining (or, it would be if it weren’t for all these April showers)! All those signs point to one thing: It’s spring cleaning season!

Spring cleaning for pet parents requires a special kind of thoroughness that those without pets probably can’t even imagine.

But, first: What is the difference between spring cleaning and regular cleaning?

To me, spring cleaning requires a little extra oomph. It takes a regular clean and goes several steps deeper. It’s the chance to complete a deeper clean that prolongs the life of your home, your belongings, and your appliances. Pet parents have their daily routines–sweeping up fur, scooping the litter box, washing the water bowls–but spring cleaning for pet parents includes a bunch more.

Stay tuned for some super fun (imo, anyway) ideas for getting your house ready for the new season!

A canvas basket holds three pairs of neatly folded blue jeans. Next to the basket, a blue knit sweater lies in a heap on top of a cream-colored throw blanket. The text overlay reads: spring cleaning for pet parents.

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Declutter and Organize

Less stuff = less to clean. When it comes to pet stuff, I work in sections:

  • Medications: anything expired gets stashed in my bag for our town’s bi-annual medication drop-off event
  • Toys: check toys for holes, tears, broken chunks of plastic (btw, if you rotate toys, this is a great opportunity to de-stash)
  • Leashes, harnesses, collars: I can’t be the only one who mysteriously accumulates a hoard of these supplies… right? I untangle them all from the leashes bin and sort through what is still in good repair from what isn’t, then I pull the good ones that we don’t need for my shelter donation run.
  • Beds and blankets: This can be a tough one because so many of us like to offer lots of spots for our pets to cuddle up, but these also take up a ton of space if they’re unused. I recently ditched the cat bed in my office because I realized in the years since I bought it, the cats never once slept in it!
  • Extras: Does your pet have a bandanna for every season? Do you have seasonal-specific gear like snow boots or life jackets? Or maybe a Halloween bin stuffed full of costumes and a coat rack hung with treat pouches (guilty on this one)? Every person, pet, and lifestyle is unique, so find your pet’s “extras” and purge!

Anything ripped, torn, stained, or otherwise unsafe needs to be tossed. The leftovers can be sorted into piles: donate to the animal shelter or list on your local Buy Nothing or Freecycle group.

Cleaning Your Pet’s Belongings

As I’m purging, any plastic toy we’re keeping goes on the top rack of my dishwasher. Any fabric keeper goes straight into the washing machine.

Specialty items like strollers, working vests, wheelchairs or other assistive devices, and so on need to be maintained. Grease wheels, tighten bolts, restitch patches, whatever needs to happen to get these items in tip-top shape.

All bedding gets vacuumed with the brush attachment the tossed in the washer. Same goes for any blankets on my bed or in the living room since my dog and cats get on the furniture.

Food and water dishes, and their water fountains (we have this one upstairs and this one downstairs), go in the bottom rack of the dishwasher. At the same time, I inspect them for any broken or cracked pieces and order replacement parts, as needed. BTW, this isn’t instead of a regular, daily clean after each meal. Their bowls get cleaned every day. Instead, I pull all the bowls from the cabinet, wash everything, and decide what to keep, donate, toss, or repair.

Leashes, collars, and harnesses get tossed in the washing machine, too.

It usually requires one full load of the dishwasher to get toys and bowls and usually two loads in the washing machine to get bedding, toys, and leashes.

While that’s running in the background, dig into your deep clean!

Clean Top to Bottom

Here’s the thing about pet hair: It sticks to everything.

I mentioned earlier that one of the main differences between regular cleaning and spring cleaning for pet parents is the completion of additional tasks. Well, one of those additional tasks includes getting the fur and animal grease off your walls! What do I mean by that? You know those spots your cat rubs each time she comes down the hallway? Or the corner behind your dog’s bed where he snoozes each afternoon? Those spots collect greasy, dander-y, furry gunk, and now’s the time to clean it up!

Start from the top of your room and work your way down. Use a gentle soap and a cloth to wash the walls and baseboards.

As part of my spring clean, I also wash the windows and rugs. For our rooms with carpet and for larger area rugs, we use our big Bissel carpet cleaner (we got it second-hand!). I vacuum the smaller rugs once, then put them outside on our fence to air out. Before I put them back in place, I vacuum them one more time.

After the walls, baseboards, and floors are clean, the next step is a deep clean of the rest of your house. Everyone’s home is different, so your tasks will be unique to you, but here are three that shouldn’t be skipped for pet parents:

  • The fridge: Between thawing our Farmer’s Dog food, salmon for Cooper’s pills, cans of cat food, and liquid supplements, stuff drips. I would deep clean the fridge anyway for an annual spring clean, but it’s even more important as a pet parent to keep smells away! Don’t forget to pull it out (watch your floors) and vacuum all the hair off the back and sides. Unclip the front vent and vacuum the hair out of there, too.
  • All the filters: HVAC, water fountains, fans, air purifiers, vacuums, and even your dishwasher filter can become clogged with dander and fur. Clean or replace, then use this time to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for how often to swap ’em out, and add those dates to your calendar! Your future self will thank you!
  • Return vents: Unscrew the covers on your returns. Vacuum out the insides and clean the grate. These get gunked up with fur and dust, and then they don’t work very well. I like to do my floor vents at the same time, just to get all the gross stuff out of the way.

Special Note for Your Dryer

As you prepare to wash all your pets’ bedding, blankets, and soft toys, check your dryer vent!

This is SO super important, it bears repeating: Don’t forget to clean your dryer vent.

It can get clogged with hair and start a house fire. Clean your dryer vent! Click that link above for step-by-step instructions.

A small, scruffy, tan-colored puppy gets a wash in a bathtub. The puppy is in focus and the hand washing the puppy is out of focus. The puppy looks wet and unhappy and is clipped to a purple leash.

Groom Your Pet

No spring cleaning routine for pet parents would be complete without a thorough groom.

Most pets shed heavily at the start of spring. I take Cooper outside for a solid brushing a couple times a week until he’s blown his winter coat. I love to brush him outside because his loose hair becomes useful to all our backyard birds as they build their nests. He also gets a bath early in the season.

The cats, well, we strive for some brushing, but it’s not always successful. A glove brush can be helpful for reluctant pets.

It’s a good time to clip nails, brush teeth, and add those tasks to your calendar so you stay on top of them all season long. Part of spring cleaning is hitting a big reset button on habits and routines!

Hacks to Make Spring Cleaning Go Faster

Okay, okay. This first tip actually makes this year’s clean go a bit slower, but your future self will thank you! You’re banking time for your future! Set yourself up for future success by documenting your routine. What tasks are on your must-do list and in what order? Are there any items you forgot–say, the stroller stashed in your garage–that should be added to a list of reminders? What routine or maintenance tasks can you add to your calendar as you go? And are there any items you can set up a recurring subscription for to save yourself time in the future? I wrote a whole post about this if you’d like a reference point!

To really speed up the process, though, try batching your tasks. For instance:

  • Declutter on Monday (or week one if you have a bunch to do!)
  • Clean the walls on Tuesday (or week two)
  • Scrub baseboards on Wednesday (week four)
  • Tackle floors on Thursday (week five)
  • Clean surfaces and windows on Friday (week six)
  • Kick your feet up on Saturday

My routine takes a lot longer because I like to go room by room instead of by task. So, my schedule looks like:

  • Kitchen (walls, baseboards, floors, surfaces, appliances, windows) week one
  • Living spaces week two
  • Sleeping spaces week three
  • Bathrooms week four (I mix in my regular household spring clean with my pet parents spring clean, so this week is very little pet stuff)
  • Outside week five

By the time we hit Memorial Day, the house and yard are both clean and our routines have been reset for summer! Which leads to the next tip:

Establish a routine. Don’t do all this work and then let it all get covered in hair and dander a week later! Use this as a launch pad for a regular cleaning and maintenance routine. If you’ve been adding tasks and reminders to your calendar along the way, this should be easy-peasy. Otherwise, sit down with a pad and pencil and sketch out what a daily/weekly/monthly routine could look like for you and your family. Mine is actually really similar to the spring cleaning routine above but by day:

  • Monday: master bedroom
  • Tuesday: bathrooms
  • Wednesday: kitchen
  • Thursday: living room
  • Friday: upstairs and admin (paying bills, placing orders, etc.)
  • Weekends: outdoors
  • Once a month, I change filters–my Google calendar reminds me!–and update any pet supply orders or subscriptions

My annual spring clean (and a similar deep clean in fall) enables those daily routines to start from a really solid place.

The other really obvious but really challenging key is this: Bring in less stuff.

The less stuff you have at home, the less you have to sort, organize, and clean! As you go through this round of purging and deep cleaning, be super intentional about what you bring into your home afterwards. I know I’m not alone in this; we all need less stuff!

Top 3 must-haves to nail spring cleaning for pet parents

These are the three things that make my cleaning go quickly and efficiently!

Stick Vac

Hear me out: My stick vacuum has changed my life. For real. We had an animal Dyson (similar to this but long discontinued) that I LOVED. We got it as a wedding/housewarming gift in 2006, and as of this writing in 2023, it still works. However, it’s heavy, clunky, and corded. Getting it out took an actual effort, so I would vacuum less often than I really needed to. Enter the stick vac! I had my heart set on this exact Bissel, but Lowe’s was sold out, and I didn’t want to buy it from anywhere else because I had a couple gift cards I needed to use, so I bought this one from Shark. I was bummed it wasn’t the Bissel, tbh, and that one might’ve been better, but it doesn’t matter anymore! I love my Shark, and it’s so easy to use. I’m able to run the vacuum almost every day to stay on top of the fur and dirt, so the house always seems cleaner. Plus, the handle detaches so I can clean up spills and messes before they even hit the floor. The amount of time this thing has saved me is immeasurable.

Machine-Washable Toy Bins

Fabric toy bins might not look as chic as a rattan or wicker basket, but I can toss the drooly, furry bins into the washing machine with a regular cycle. It makes it look and smell so much better! We have plain canvas for now, but when they’re ready to be replaced, I’m eyeing these colorful, washable bins.

Glass Spray Bottles

Machine-washable (sensing a theme?), refillable glass bottles are the mainstay of my cleaning routine. I keep a clear glass bottle filled with a diluted castile soap on my kitchen counter, another with vinegar in my cleaning bin, and a couple more I fill, wash, and reuse for more specific products. I do not recommend the cheapies I got at my local grocery store because all the tops are now cracked, but these ones look solid and the colorful bottoms can help you keep your formulas straight.

A tabby cat sits in the center of a natural wood table. In the background, two  tidy sets of shelves hold glassware, white plates, a full green plant, and coffee-making supplies.

I think that covers everything you need to get started on your pet-friendly spring clean! Do you have a routine you use each year? What would you add, subtract, or change from my list? Or, if you have any tips to make the process go quickly and efficiently, please share in the comments!

Not sure where to start?

Download this pet-safe cleaning ebook for ideas and cleaning recipes.

And, PS, that book is one of many resources that will soon be available for free download in a shared resources folder I’m sending out to email subscribers. Not on the list? Sign up now!

Read more:

How to keep your house from smelling like dog

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