The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 24, 2013

Ryan Richardson: Special mixture good for cleaning pet messes

By Ryan Richardson
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — I spent most of last week in the town of Manchester, Tenn., for my ninth year attending the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, completing my third major road trip of the summer.

While enjoying my first vacation in several years, I was eager to get back home when the weekend was over. Four days in the hot Tennessee sun really can take a toll on a person, but it was worth it.

My drive home went faster because I was reminded that my dog would be back home later this week. This has been a long, strange month without her here, though I have made some great strides in getting my home in order.

Last week, I detailed some of the special cleaning that I did with my washer and dryer, which has really helped clear out some of the hair issues that I had been dealing with. I've noticed that my lint trap has been hair free, while grabbing more of the random undesirable leftovers from laundry. I had no idea that my pet was causing such an issue.

A few of you emailed me to let me know that you had found similar success. It makes me happy to know that I can be of some help.

This week, I made a final pass at my house before Cami comes back. I put off the biggest project for last because I knew how much of a pain it would be. With my last two vacation days, I was going to clean my hardwood floors to go after any hidden messes that my dog might have made.

I keep a spray bottle under my sink containing a homemade mixture that I use for small accidents or spills in the house. The mixture I use makes about a liter, which can last a long time in a spray bottle.

Mix up a half-and-half mixture of water and white vinegar, and add a half a cup of baking soda slowly. You will still get some fizzy action from the vinegar and baking soda, but it won't erupt. Finally, add two heaping tablespoons of cayenne pepper or paprika.

In addition to hardwoods, this will also work on carpets. But, as you would with any cleaner, be sure to test it out on a small section before going on to bigger tasks.

The vinegar and baking soda combination will clean spot mistakes while the pepper will keep your pet away from the same spot. Once a pet makes a mess, it will revisit the same spot again. This will eventually damage your floors if it does it too often.

As I moved everything out of my front room, I cleaned the floors up normally and broke out a black light to find any spots my dog had left. Luckily, I only had two areas show up, which I had cleaned before. If you are going to try this at home with a black light, the brighter spots will be fresh stains while the dimmer areas will be spots that may not have been that clean to begin with.

Do not get carried away and make a mop bucket of the cleaning solution. Sweep your floors like normal and then use the cleaning solution in spots that show up. After that, you can mop up your floors, though you might give any spots that you cleaned earlier a quick spray so the pepper smell returns.

If you stay diligent with your cleaning, you will find that pet-training issues will lessen. I've used this with both cats and dogs, and it has worked well for me. Regardless, your home should be clean and ready for your pets to enjoy.

Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at or 417-627-7363.