Keeping your house clean with two big dogs

Housekeeping is one of my constant battles. I adore having a clean home, but there are always two furry forces working against me.

Happy babies

These gleeful minions.

The amount of fur they produce daily is just mind-boggling — not to mention the various puddles of drool and water and clumps of clay. (We, living in the South, have the great misfortune of not having soil, like normal people do; oh, no, we have red clay instead. It is the devil’s sediment. It’s on everything. And it makes gardening a particular form of back-breaking misery.)

Furthermore, big dogs can be quite destructive. The two of them have utterly ravaged our exterior doors with their scratching and clawing and begging to get in. They also, in their fervor to be with us, punched out a glass panel in our former storm door. Charming.

So. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years to preserve my sanity and the dogs’ happiness.

  • Sweep constantly. One of these days, we’re going to spring for a Dyson, but for now, I just sweep constantly. We’re lucky to have all hardwood floors in our house, which are a blessing when it comes to cleaning up after dogs.
  • Clean the kitchen floor at least twice a week. I clean our floor on my hands and knees, like a washerwoman of yore. This makes me feel better about my life.
  • Floor runners (long, narrow rugs) at entryways. The standard rectangular rugs don’t seem to do much to catch eight paws running in from the yard. But runners? Brilliant. They cover so much more ground and pick up a lot more from muddy paws. We have an old, thick, braided runner in the basement, where the dogs usually come in, and it’s served us immensely in our battle against dirty floors.
  • Protect rugs with old towels on rainy days. When the weather is bad, I cover the few rugs we have with old towels. This works for a while, until Eden decides that the rugs are playthings set out just for her pleasure and enjoyment.
  • Or, just don’t have rugs at all. Dogs and expensive rugs just don’t mix, in my experience. If you can help it, just have hardwood floors everywhere. Personally, I find trying to keep carpet or rugs clean with dogs is a continual battle. So we only have two rugs. And they are woven jute (e.g., natural-colored/easily disguise mud and fur).
  • Wash dog bedding regularly. Our dogs can’t be trusted with expensive, padded beds, because they treat them like pinatas, so they sleep on piles of old blankets, pillows, and towels. These are fairly easy to launder, and if they have accidents, it’s also quite easy to isolate the affected bedding.

Here’s my big question, though, about housekeeping with dogs:

Pernicious Reddish Dust

I think I might be the only one with this problem, but I want to crowdsource this one. I can’t find anything online about it.

In every room where the dogs exist, we have fine layer of filthy reddish-colored dust on every surface. This was not a problem at our previous houses, where we just had Pyrrha. I’m beginning to think Eden is the culprit, because once we brought her into the home, this film of red/brown dust started appearing on everything. I know it’s dog-related, because in rooms where the dogs don’t go (like upstairs, where we have our guest bedroom and my studio), there is none of this horrible dust. It’s heavier than normal dust, and it almost adheres itself to things (like the covers of my beloved books, and papers, which it completely fouls). Am I crazy? Has anyone else experienced this? What could it possibly be?

How do you keep your house clean with pets? What are your favorite tools or tricks?