Paws Off: Protecting Your Pets’ Clothes (And What To Do If It Fails) | Pets

In between closings last year, I spent a week in Gippsland with a friend and her border collie, Queenie. The first morning, Queenie came bounding into my room, jumped on my bed, and squirmed until I got up and took her outside.

We were staying on a large property on Lake Tyers. Queenie ran straight down the hill from the house towards the lake. By the time I caught up with her, she had rolled over in opossum poo.

Not wanting my friend to be woken up by a smelly dog, I decided to hose down Queenie. Still in pajamas, pre-coffee. It was very unpleasant for both of us.

Possum poop aside, pets (especially Queenie) are a joy but can be troublesome when trying to keep your clothes, shoes, or pajamas nice. This week, experts offer protection and repair tips.

Establish good management

Although it may seem obvious, keeping dogs or cats away from certain spaces and remembering to carefully store shoes and bags out of reach in closed cupboards is the easiest way to prevent your things from getting damaged or soiled. by a pet.

Designer Christian Kimber with his wife, Ren, and dog, Ralph. “We also protect the rug and the couch,” he says of minimizing pet hair transfer. Photography: Christian Kimber

Designer Christian Kimber owns a small beagle cross poodle called Ralph. To prevent Ralph’s hair from falling on his clothes, he keeps him away from certain rooms in the house and any furniture he or his wife, Ren, might sit on. Kimber says, “We also protect the rug and sofa, which keeps dirt from sticking, especially if her paws are wet for some reason.

Remove pet hair

A simple solution to prevent pet hair from sticking to your clothes is to put on pet-friendly outfits as soon as you walk through the door. Kimber says, “when you know you spend a lot of time with him, you avoid dark colors” because Ralph is blond, “ditto delicate fabrics like linen, silk or fine knits that his fingernails could tear off”.

Of course, that’s not always practical, and loose fur clinging to you is pretty inevitable. According to Kimber, “the best way to minimize fuzz…is to brush your pet regularly,” which is best done outdoors.

Once the fur has already shed, Kimber suggests using a heavy-duty vacuum, “and all attachments” to tackle any furniture that might transfer hair onto your clothes. For clothes, he recommends a lint brush rather than sticky rollers (which can leave sticky marks on clothes) and says he always has one in the car because “you can’t really avoid a bomb up close”.

A combination clothes brush and lint brush on an isolated background
A clothes brush with a lint remover, which is gentler on clothes than sticky rollers. Photograph: Keith Homan/Alamy

Cleaning expert Shannon Lush suggests a simple pair of rubber gloves for removing pet hair. Simply wash your hands with the gloves on and, while they’re slightly tacky, run them over any clothes (or other fabric surfaces like sofas) that have hair on them. You can also use wet gloves to pet your dog or cat from head to tail – any loose hair should come off the gloves, in which case you can gather the hair into a ball for easy removal.

It’s also important to remove fur from clothes before putting them in the washing machine, as washing isn’t very effective at removing hair from clothes.

Destructive behavior of pets

Dionna Newton, founder of Animal Behavior Australia, explains that when pets chew on shoes, scratch at things or pee where they shouldn’t, “there’s a motivation behind why the animal feels the need. to do”.

If your new puppy has chewed on your favorite shoes, it may be due to a lack of mental stimulation. She says young dogs are bored and “need more varied stimulation than you might think”, so it’s important to keep them entertained with games or walks.

If you have a cat that urinates where it shouldn’t, the reasons may be more complicated. Sometimes they can smell clothes that have been outdoors, and this is a territorial response. For particularly anxious cats, it could be because there’s a new cat in the neighborhood or something has changed in the house, such as the placement of furniture. Sometimes it’s just because urinating releases pleasant chemicals.

If your cat scratches things, Newton says to “make sure you have enough scratching posts or things you don’t mind scratching” around the house. It is also important to provide the cat with different scratching textures.

Newton says it’s worth getting a professional behavioral assessment to determine why the cat is behaving this way, then solutions can be put in place.

Clean up accidents

Lush says that to get rid of cat urine smell, you need to make sure you get rid of it completely, which can be tricky because cats vaporize when they urinate. She recommends using an ultraviolet light to see exactly where the pee might have landed, then marking any splatters with chalk.

To get pee out of clothes, she suggests using white vinegar. Start by pouring the vinegar into a pitcher and stretching the affected garment over a large bowl, then pour the vinegar through the cloth, empty the bowl into the pitcher and repeat until you are satisfied that the urine is gone. Then give the garment a regular wash.

It is best to wash clothes with an enzyme-based detergent, as the enzymes work to break down organic materials to remove any residual odors. There are several laundry detergents on the market that deal specifically with pet urine, including some laundry boosters that can be used as a pretreatment or in addition to regular detergent. Older urine stains will be harder to remove, so be sure to put the clothes straight in the wash.

Repair chewed up shoes

A Jack Russell Terrier puppy holds a brown sandal in his mouth.
Jenny Velakoulis, owner of Evans Leather Repair, says shoes and handbags that have been trashed by pets can usually be salvaged. Photography: K_Thalhofer/Alamy

The good news is that shoes and bags that have been attacked by a pet can usually be repaired. According to Jenny Velakoulis, owner of Evans Leather Repair at Melbourne’s Royal Arcade, it’s quite rare for them to see something so ravaged by an animal that it’s passed the point of no return.

Fixing a gnawed shoe or purse requires both taking “the piece that was chewed up and mutilated and rebuilding it,” as well as replacing any soles, heels or straps that were partially eaten away. Velakoulis recommends adding rubber soles to all your shoes because they make it much harder to damage a dog’s teeth.

There are also several products available, such as bitter sprays, which are designed to keep your pet from chewing on things.

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