By Debra L. Bell
The very thought of mud season sends parents and pet owners into a panic, especially when it comes to keeping the house clean. Dirty paws —human and canine alike — track in mud, sand, road salt and dirt and leave the house a wreck.
But now, prepare to conquer mud-season grime — without losing your mind.
Stage a frontal assault
Stage a frontal assault in your entryway. Every home has one: a breezeway, mud room, or main entry. The first step is to look down. What sits at the threshold of your home?
A common dirt and drip catcher is a scatter rug. You know, the kind humans use to wipe their feet on. But for dogs and cats, wiping feet is a foreign concept. A scatter rug will help, but when it comes to Fido’s paws, the best defense is a good offense. Keep a damp rag by the door where Fido enters and exits. Wipe her paws, legs, and belly after every walk to remove mud, dirt, and salt. Because mud season can wreak havoc on her paws, she’ll thank you.
For kids, repetition is key. Removing sneakers, boots, and shoes before entering the house will help keep mud season outside. For particularly muddy days, let footwear dry then rub with an old towel to remove cakey mud. For mud found in the crevices of shoes, use an old toothbrush or hairbrush to brush out the dirt and grime. It’s best to do this outside or over a trash can.
For muddy footprints, wipe up with a paper towel or dry mop and apply the appropriate cleaner for the floor type you have. Always read labels before using on your floor — especially when working on hardwood.
“The wrong brand can strip your hardwood floor of its finish,” said David Saliba, of Saliba’s Rug Sales & Service. That can lead to costly fixes, including hardwood floor resealing.
Contain and cover it
Scatter rugs made from synthetic fibers are one of the best grime defenders for your home. Natural fibers — think wool or cotton — which are not allowed to dry will ultimately cause unwanted odors. By putting out one or two scatter rugs that can be removed, cleaned, and dried fully are best.
Saliba recommended a full professional cleaning of any rug or entry rug once or twice a year. Professional cleaners have machines capable of removing all traces of soap from the rug and will extend the life of the rug.
Containing dirt, mud, and water also keeps floors looking fresh. For the height of mud season, put a boot tray out next to a chair or bench. Insist that family members remove their shoes before crossing the threshold into living space. For even more incentive, put slippers next to the boot tray to keep feet clean and socks fresh.
Don’t have a tray? Find one at the local department store or hardware supply store. Refrain from laying newspapers on the floor or putting a cardboard box down to keep boots from touching the floor. When papers and boxes dry from the wet muck from the boots, you’ll have a nightmare of cleaning to do since paper will stick to the floor. If you’re truly stuck, put down a scatter rug to catch dirt and water.
Suck it up
Make vacuuming or sweeping a weekly occurrence during the height of mud season (if it’s not already). Depending on the amount of foot traffic, it might need to be done more often. Vacuuming will pick up dried dirt particles and should be done before mopping on vinyl, hardwood, or tile. Don’t forget the stairs when vacuuming.
If you walk your dog down the street or anywhere there is dirt and muck, you’ll want to make sure she’s cleaned off before entering the home. Once or twice a week, suck up all the stuff that’s come off of your pup to prevent the build-up of hair and grime. (Did I mention that spring is also shedding season?)
Make it a family affair
Ask each family member to help with a task pertaining to mud season. Some jobs include:
• Sweeping up dirt, debris, and dried mud;
• Mopping or vacuuming high traffic areas;
• Walking and wiping down the dog after each walk;
• Replacing and collecting dog cleaning towels for the wash;
• Dumping out dried debris from the boot tray.
With a little preplanning you can save time, money, and your sanity by preparing to battle grime season before it strikes.