If you ride around with your pooch, it’s inevitable. The seats get hairy, and for some reason the hair seems to be vacuum-proof. The floorboards get dirty.
But none of that compares to the smell. For all their admirable qualities, let’s face facts: dogs kinda stink.
Unless you’re one of these urbanites who never drives, we’re pretty sure you’d like to get into your car and think, “Aaaaaahhhh, how nice!” instead of “Pee-eww! That smell!”
(Hint: If you’ve been driving your dog around for some time, and you don’t think your car smells, it’s probably because you’ve grown used to it. Ask a friend for an honest opinion.)
We know you’d rather have fun adventures with your pup than spend Saturday afternoon cleaning out your car. So we’ve rounded up some of the easiest, most effective tips for getting — and keeping — your carriage clean.
Getting hair out of your seats
A dryer sheet + a hair removal brush
Run the dryer sheet over the area you want to clean up to soften the hair. Then brush it off with a stiff-bristled brush and vacuum it up. This may not work for super fine hair.
The rubber sticks to the hair. Wearing a rubber glove, wet your fingers and begin to rub the seat surfaces. Rub in a single direction, and form the hair into larger and larger clumps. You can either feed these into a vacuum cleaner or just throw them away.
Fabric softener + water
Fill a small spray bottle with a mixture of 3 teaspoons of softener to 1 cup of water. Spray this on your hair-covered seats and let air dry. Once it’s dry you’ll be able to vacuum the hair up more easily.
Run the curlers over the hair like a brush, and let the velcro pick up the hair. Kind of like a lint roller for your clothes.
This one’s weird, but we found it in enough places to assume it’s legit. You know how your hair stands up when you rub it on a balloon? Yeah… so you just do that on your car seats and the dog hair will stick to it. After that, you can just toss the balloon and use a fresh one next time. Balloons are cheap.
Getting that dog smell out
Level one (maybe this’ll work)
Place a bowl of baking soda in the car overnight to absorb the smells. If the smell is really strong, repeat this a few nights in a row (with fresh baking soda every time).
Lay a slice of fresh bread out on a dish towel overnight. When you’re done, don’t feed the bread to your dog. That’d be weird.
Level two (we’re not messing around anymore)
Purchase these bamboo charcoal air filter bags for ten bucks each, and they last for two years. They’re completely safe, sustainable, and non-toxic, and according to the reviewers, they work wonders on pet odors.
White vinegar also acts as an odor remover. Mix it with water in equal parts and spray it on the upholstery and floor. When it dries, the smell should be much less noticeable.
If your pet had an accident in the car, out of either end, a specially formulated pet stain cleaner will work for spot cleaning. This isn’t a great option for cleaning the whole shebang though.
Level three (hardcore)
The most labor intensive method is also probably one of the most effective. Spray all the non-plastic surfaces in your car with a carpet cleaner designed for pet odors. Use a Garage Pro (or other wet/dry vacuum) to clean it up.
You can also take your car to a detailer, who can steam clean the interior.
Keeping it clean
Use seat mats to prevent all that hair from getting into the nooks and crannies. These can be easily removed and washed whenever you want.
Brush or comb your pup before you travel, especially if the car makes him anxious. (Anxious dogs shed more.)
Speaking of which, regular grooming will help keep everything cleaner, not just your car.
If you have more than one car, pick one to be the dedicated dog hauler. This may not keep that car clean, but at least you’ll have one car that doesn’t smell like dog.
If you have a car with a large hatch or an SUV, lay down a blanket across the floorboards and confine your pup to that area only. Then you just wash the blanket, and you’re good to go!
Keep some cleaning supplies on hand whenever you travel. This will help prevent the odors that occur when upholstery absorbs moisture. A.K.A. wet dog.