Moving is hard. Moving at the last minute is even harder. Moving at the last minute with pets is a nightmare. I know this, because a recent job change put me in that position.

Here’s what happened. The bad news is that I lost my job. The good news is that I found a new one almost immediately, but it was across the state. Then I had to find an apartment that would take both me and two cats plus a very large dog. Fortunately, I did find a place. The only problem is that the cleaning deposit was close to 1K.

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I have to get that money back. This means that when my lease is over, I have to leave the apartment looking as if pets never lived there. Considering that I have a geriatric cat who has ummm ‘control issues’, and a very sheddy dog, I’ve had to become a bit of a cleaning ninja. So far, everything is going great. Here are my tips for keeping a clean house with a menagerie of pets.

Stay on Top of Grooming

Whether you do it yourself, or hire a professional, well groomed pets contribute to a cleaner living space. A good grooming routine will remove excess hair to reduce shedding. It will stop fleas in their tracks, and trim Fido’s nails to reduce the risk of him scratching things up. Your pets will also smell much better. When you live in an apartment where odors can travel, this is important.

Use Pet Beds Mats or Blankets

Rather than giving your pets free access to the floor or furniture, use pet beds, mats, or blankets. It’s much easier to deal with excessive hair, or nasty stains on something you can hose off or throw into the laundry. You can also freshen things up with a bit of Febreze from time to time.

Wash Paws After Going Outdoors

When pets go outside their paws can pick up dirt, debris, or worse. This can then get ground into your carpet, or make a mess of your linoleum. Make it a practice to gently wipe paws off with a warm damp cloth in the winter, and a cool damp cloth in the summer. You will keep your floors cleaner, and get any salt off your animal’s feet in the winter. In the summer, hot paws will appreciate the cool rinse.

Use Two Litter Boxes Per Cat And Place Them Carefully

It may seem excessive, but having two litter boxes per cat is a big help. It reduces odors, and decreases the chance of accidents. Just be sure to pay attention when choosing where to place them. If you notice a box isn’t being used, it may not be in a place the cats feel comfortable. If you see that your cats are having accidents in a particular spot, move a litter box there.

Use an Enzyme Cleaner For Pet Stains

There a hundreds of pet stain sprays and scrubs on the market. Most of them are absolute garbage. You don’t need floral scents or coastal breezes. Also, please do not buy cheap dollar store pet stain cleaners. They don’t work. Spend the money on a professional grade, enzyme cleaner. This is the stuff that companies who clean up crime scenes use. Use it according to directions, and you will get rid of both the stain and the odor.

Litterbox Liners Make For Quick And Easy Clean up

Litter boxes are undoubtedly the grossest thing to deal with when you have pets. However, you have to keep up with them vigilantly, especially in an apartment. Nothing will get your neighbors complaining to you about that stench. Use litter box liners each and every time and changing the litter becomes a two minute job.

Get a Vacuum Cleaner That Can Stand up to Pet Hair

If you have shedding animals, you are going to need a heavy duty vacuum cleaner. The twenty dollar ‘zoom broom’ isn’t going to do the trick. Worse, if you get a lot of pet hair build up in your carpet, it can be a nightmare to get it out. Invest in a good, sturdy vacuum cleaner. You won’t regret it. Remember that the best vacuum for pet hair will be powerful and have a good allergy filter to catch both fur and dander.

Cover Door Bottoms to Protect Them From Rover Scratching

If your dog is used to scratching to get in and out, they can damage the bottoms of doors. To prevent this, take a piece of plexiglass and use command strips to attach it to the bottom half of each door. Your pet will scratch to his heart’s content without causing any damage. You can also try training your dog to ring a hanging bell or to bark instead of scratching. These pet treats make a great training reward.

Provide Plenty of Chew Toys And Scratching Posts

Bored animals will often resort to destructive behaviors such as chewing on baseboards and using anything they can find as a scratching post. Nip this in the bud by proving animals with plenty of toys and treats, climbing toys, and scratching posts.

Keep Animals Well Exercised

While toys do help, another way to keep animals well behaved and discouraging unclean or destructive behavior is to get them plenty of exercise. If your cats cannot go outside, play with them indoors. Use a laser pointer to get them stimulated and running around. For dogs, frequent walks are a great start. Then, take a look around your neighborhood. They may be able to get some true running around and fetch time at a local dog park.

Use Placemats Under Food And Water Bowls

Some pets are particularly excited eaters. They often sling food and water around in their excitement. This can make a real mess. Try laying a placemat of some sort down under food bowls so that they stay put. Just be sure to pick something that doesn’t slide around. I like to use the stuff that you stick to your shelves. It’s naturally slide free and pretty inexpensive.

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I just take two sheets cut big enough for the bowls. Then I stick them together so the sticky sides are together. This leaves a skid proof surface on both the top and the bottom.

Give Pets Dry Baths to Keep Them Smelling Fresh

It’s not always healthy or practical to give pets regular baths and showers. Some pets despise it, and will fight you every step of the way. It can also cause badly dried skin. Instead, hit your local pet supply store or big box retailer. Many carry sheets that you can use to rub your animals down. It will take care of odors and make them just a little bit cleaner. It’s a great way to keep your pets fresh until you go back to the groomer.

Use a Black Light to Find Hidden Pet Stains

You smell something bad, but you can’t find anything. What do you do? It’s time to put on your CSI hat. Grab a black light. Then, turn off the lights. Shine the light directly over any areas that you think may have been ‘hit’ by one of your pets. Don’t forget to check out mattresses, walls, and furniture in addition to the floor. You’ll know when you find your evidence because it will glow under the blacklight.

Use a Lint Roller Before You do Laundry

If you have a lap dog or lap kitty, you know that fur can cling to your clothes. It can be embarrassing and problematic. You probably use a lint roller already to make yourself presentable when you go out in public. You should also use it on your clothing before you throw them in the washing machine. Too much pet hair can make the inside of your machines dirty and smelly. It can also clog up filters and pipes.

Use Duct Tape on a Paint Roller For a Furniture Sized Lint Roller

Speaking of lint rollers, pet hair on furniture is inevitable as well, and the same sticky principal that works on your clothing will also work on your couches and chairs. But, who wants to use a tiny little lint roller on a big couch. Instead, wrap duct tape around a paint roller with the sticky side out. This makes a great, makeshift, pet hair remover.

Be a Good Neighbor And Pay Attention to Common Areas

One thing that I try to do is to pay attention to any cleanliness issues my pets might cause in common areas. I know we have maintenance people, but I still feel as if it is my responsibility. Of course that means cleaning up after my pets when they go outside, but I try to do little things like vacuum the area outside of my apartment in the hallway. Also, since my pets are small, I will carry them rather than letting them walk in common areas if they are wet or muddy.

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I have been using these tips for about six months now. I can say they’ve been working really well. I have had no complaints about smells or stains from the neighbors. Even better, I have gotten into a pretty good cleaning routine that makes staying on top of things much easier. The other day, the landlord was inside my apartment to do some routine maintenance. He told me that if he hadn’t seen my animals, that he would have never known I had pets. I think that’s as close to perfect as anyone can get. I look forward to getting that pet deposit back in a few months.