Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dirty Paws McGee- Part 1: Coexisting Cleanly with Pets

I hate a dirty house. A messy house (clean laundry to be folded, mail on the kitchen table) I can deal with, but an actual dirty house... with dishes in the sink, hairballs in the corners and spots on the floor... drives me nuts! Having three medium-to-large size dogs, and one medium-to-large sized husband, presents its own set of challenges to keeping the house clean on a daily basis. Here are a few high-tech and low-tech tips to keep your home clean and keep your furry friends there too!

#1. Wipe Paws Here!: As my dogs come in from outdoors, especially in the mornings when they have been out in the dewy grass, I have them sit at the backdoor where I always leave a towel to wipe all four paws before they come inside. They resisted at first, but soon it became routine and now they pause and lift each paw for me when they get to the door, almost like a horse having its hooves cleaned! Even when their feet don't seem dirty, they are bringing in just a little bit of sand or mud each which multiples over three dogs, ten potty trips a day, seven days a week... Wipe their paws and you'll be surprised at how much they leave behind!

#2. Furminator Brush: The Furminator brush used to be very expensive (and it still is $50+ in stores like Petco) but now you can find it new for less than $12 on! They even have a version for cats! Make sure to buy the size that corresponds to the size of your pet (or larger... my medium one that we bought has a pretty small comb) and then just brush your pet as you would normally. This product manages to pull out TONS of loose undercoat (without hurting your pet) which cuts down the amount of hair that ends up on your couch, floor, dog beds, etc. I don't know what makes this brush work so well, but my mom bought a knock-off brand brush and it was awful, so this one is worth the money, especially now that they are on sale! 5 stars out of 5 stars!
#3. Dyson Animal Vacuums: The Dyson Animal vacuum that we have had for two years is the DC-17 Animal. Before we bought our D-17 refurbished off of for $299 (here is a similar deal on, we were burning up cheap $50 vacuums about every 3-4 mths. I had put off buying the Animal for months, despite my best friend's rave reviews about how well it was picking up the hair from her three cats, because of the price. A new Dyson can run about $600, so buying the refurbished model essentially made the vacuum half-price! It was remanufactured at the factory and it came with all of the attachments and manuals, and even some carpet freshening beads, that would come with a new vacuum. I have not been able to tell a difference at all from a new vacuum!
Pros: The amount of hair this vacuum is able to pick up is phenomenal and we have never had any problems with broken parts or anything else, despite the extreme use it gets.
Cons: My only complaints are about the bagless system (which I support because it produces less waste) and the hose. In the bagless collection tank, hair tends to get stuck up at the top of the cylinder, causing you to have to bang the tank against the side of the trash can to dislodge the hair clump. This is problematic indoors because of how much dirt the vacuum picks up, so I have to take the detachable cylinder outside to the big trashcans to dump the dirt so I don't create a dust shower all around my kitchen trash can. Also, the DC-17 is really hard to use on carpeted stairs because the hose isn't very long and so it is necessary to haul the vacuum up stairs as you go, using one hand to hold it on the stairs because the vacuum base is wider than your average tread.
    There is a Dyson Animal handheld vacuum that I think would be perfect for stairs, but at only $80 less than my full upright, I think that will need to wait awhile. I would like to upgrade to the Dyson Animal Ball, at $379 for a refurbished model... anyone want to buy a slightly used D-17? Despite the high price, I really see this vacuum as a good investment, and therefore give it 4.5 stars out of 5 (taking off .5pt for the price).

#4. iRobot Scooba: If you've heard of the Roomba, than the Scooba is its floor washing cousin. You fill the clean water tank with fresh water and about a 1/2 cup of either Clorox cleaning solution or white vinegar (they even have a line on the cup that you fill the tank with for vinegar, yea for corporations supporting green cleaning solutions!) You turn "her" on and let her go (my apologies, it is literally impossible for me not to anthropomorphize a robot, especially one that can actually communicate its needs, if only in a series of beeps)! Now, the initial purchase provides one battery-powered laser "wall" to keep your Scooba in a smaller area so that she can clean better (she tends to go off on long tangents and if you don't keep her confined to an area the size of a small room she can't cover the entire area well enough to really get it clean).
Pros: It vacuums and then "mops" the floor everywhere it goes and does a good job (it will make additional passes if it senses the floor is still dirty in an area); It saves me from having to mop, which is one of my least favorite chores!
Cons: It can't get into corners so you tend to end up with piles of hair in the corners of an otherwise clean room because it didn't get sucked up; Even with a coupon, free shipping and a sale on QVC where I purchased my Scooba, it was almost $200... that's awful expensive for something that doesn't clean perfectly!; You have to monitor Scooba to make sure it doesn't get stuck, move it when it finishes with an area if you have a large or oddly shaped room to clean, and to empty and refill the tanks - you can't just set it up and leave the house; we have already sent two back from Ebay for being duds and sent one back to QVC for electronic problems in addition to our current Scooba being finickyabout working sometimes (troubleshooting doesn't seem to help) and you just have to leave her alone and come back to try again in a few days - no rhyme or reason for it!
Overall, I enjoy using my Scooba and find it useful, but if I hadn't already paid for it, I definitely wouldn't invest the money again. 2 stars out of 5.

More Eco-Friendly Cleaning with Pets Tips Next Week!
Furminator & Dyson Photos Courtesy of


  1. Loved our roomba! but it crapped out in 6 months, and i wasn't wise enough to save any receipts or fill out any paper work. but i would buy it again. haven't tried to scooba yet.

  2. I know! I feel like corporations should stand behind their products whether we fill out all of that dumb registration paperwork or not (not to mention that it makes me mad that they ask so many personal questions about income and such on those forms that have NOTHING to do with licensing my product! I know you want to do market research, but I already bought your overpriced product, hire an actual marketing team to do this work instead of pimping me out! Anyway, hopefully Scooba will recover soon! :)


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