by Jessica Remitz for

As you dust off those mops, power washers and vacuums, be sure to add your pet’s gear to your spring cleaning to-do list. Dogs and cats tend to be the bearers of major and minor messes, from fur on the furniture to paw-shaped mud tracks on the floor. So focusing on your animal companions could be the key to getting your home in shape for the spring season.

“When it comes to our pets, there are a lot of things many owners could wash more frequently than they do,” states Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

She opened our eyes to some of the most commonly overlooked pet cleaning basics:

Water and Food Bowls—these may look clean, but Wismer advises washing cat and dog food bowls daily. Most can be tossed in the dishwasher with the rest of your utensils, glasses and dishes.

Beds—cat and dog beds should be washed every three to four months to kill any flea eggs that may be on them and to keep the number of parasites down. Depending on the kind of bed you have, it may be as easy as pulling off the cover and tossing it in the washing machine with your laundry.

Toys—rubber dog toys can go right into the dishwasher while soft, plush toys can easily be washed in a washing machine. Cat toys can often be cleaned the same way. Depending on how often your pet uses them, they should be washed every month or at least on a quarterly basis.

Crates—you’ll want to scrub down the outside and interior of your cat or dog crate at least once a year. If it’s a large crate, bring it outside, hose it down and then let it dry in the sun.

Litter Boxes—while you may regularly scoop out your cat’s litter box, chances are you aren’t always washing it. It’s a good idea to thoroughly scrub these down once or twice a year depending on how many cats you have and how often they’re used.

Cleaning Tips
When it comes to using cleaning products, the most important thing you can do is follow the directions on the label precisely. If you’re using a product that needs to be diluted, make sure to dilute it correctly.

Products to Avoid
The most dangerous products to pets are the ones with the word “disinfectant” or “deodorizer” in them. These products usually contain cationic detergents, which, if ingested while wet, can cause chemical burns in your pet’s mouth or on the pads of their paws if they walk across wet floors. Many of our favorite products contain these detergents, so make sure to rinse areas and dry them completely before letting your pet back into the room.

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