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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Cleaning Up After Animals

Four-legged family members don't make nearly the mess that the other two legged ones in our homes make. But their messes tend to stain and smell more than the others, and that simply won't work. So here are a few suggestions and some "whys" about cleaning up after them. The biggie, of course, is "accidents". Bear in mind that uric acid crystallizes, but the crystals still smell. If it's on your carpet, you don't want that liquid to crystallize down in the pad. That's why it's so hard to get the smell out. The best solution is to sop up the wet immediately, getting it as dry as you can. Don't push on it (as in stepping on the wad of paper towels you threw down on top of it) until you're sure that all of the surface moisture is sopped up. This will help prevent the carpet from becoming a giant urine sponge. When it's as dry as possible, sprinkle salt (kosher salt is especially good), on the stain to absorb even more wetness. After this is dry, vaccuum it up. Clean the spot with pure vinegar, and this will help deodorize it.

Solid accidents can be easier to deal with. But some of them aren't so solid. This goes for when an animal gets sick as well. Start by dropping several sheets of paper towels. Those blue shop type paper towels seem to be most absorbent. Worth it if you clean these types of messes a lot. Let that sit a couple of minutes till most of the liquidy portion is sopped up, then use a clean paper towel and rubber gloves or a plastic bag over your hand to scoop up the rest. Follow through as above.

Finally, pet hair may not be the most disgusting mess, but it's certainly the hardest to clean. Quite by accident the other day I discovered a marvelous, if aerobic, way of cleaning up even the most matted-in, messiest, hairiest messes. Don a rubber glove, at least one as thick as a dishwashing glove but if you can find a thicker one it will protect your hand from the heat you're about to generate. Saturate a sponge so it's really wet and don't wring it out much. Place it on a plate or something and carry it to the mess. Squeeze the sponge with your gloved hand. Now, rub the glove across the place where the hair is stuck to the carpet or upholstery. This is utterly amazing. The dampness from the glove is just enough to keep hair from flying everywhere. The rubber causes the hair to pull loose and roll up. It makes sense if you think about it. I hate it when the beautician washes my hair wearing rubber gloves, because you bet it pulls! This is the same principle. Every so often, if the hair starts flying again, squeeze the sponge to get the glove wet. I usually keep my small vac handy and suck up the hairballs as they come off. You could catch them on a lint roller or a piece of masking tape if you don't have a small vac.

As I said, I discovered this by accident the other day. A client has mostly hard floors and short-napped oriental rugs. One of those rugs has been a pain since the day he put it down! You couldn't even see the design anymore for the cat hair stuck to it, and no amount of vacuuming I did got it up. Lint rollers wouldn't touch it, brushes or those special sponges did so little it wasn't worth the waste of time. When I discovered this technique, I tried it on that little rug. AMAZING! He came in and asked if I'd replaced his rug, and it did look new again!

Stick it! Rip it! Done!

StickySheets are giant pieces of sticky tape, designed to remove pet hair from your furniture and car seats. Instead of using lint rollers, or smaller pieces of tape, use one large sheet, and pull everything off in one rip.

Each sheet measures approximately 3ft x 2ft, and you get 15 sheets for $19.95.

Click this link to play a demo and to order StickySheets: This site uses Flash to play an advertisement for their product. This Flash presentation may not be compatible with screen readers.

Message: I have a black lab Seeing Eye dog guide who has chosen my living room rug for his own. The rug has some white pattern and those white areas are now gray from the oils in his fur. What would you suggest for cleaning the rug?
location: Connecticut

I had a similar issue with my former guide. She liked to lay on the landing at the bottom of the stairs that went up to my son's rooms. She would lay with her back against the wall and both the carpet and the wall became dengy.

My wife and I tried a variety of cleaners on the carpet and found that the Resolve Carpet Foam did the best. You'll have to purchase the foam, the liquid didn't seem to get the job done.

The instructions say to let it sit on the carpet and work in, I found this to be accurate. You'll know when to continue cleaning because the foam will completely disappear into the carpet.

As for the wall, we found that good old Mr. Clean did the job.

Our animals are special members of the family. They are worth the extra trouble. And at least they don't make piles of dirty laundry or use 16 glasses a day. Isn't it nice to know that it's now that much easier to clean up after them?

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