Keeping Pets Safe Around Plants

Many plants represent a threat to Fido and Fluffy. Protect them with these tips from our gardening expert.

Gardens are wonderful places for pets. They provide entertainment, room to exercise and cool shade in the afternoon. However, many of the most common and seemingly innocuous garden plants are also poisonous to your furry friends.

The apples and oranges we humans enjoy, almost all flowering bulbs and some of the most popular houseplants all share one thing in common: They are dangerously toxic to cats and dogs.

toxic combo
Irises, bottlebrush and daylilies all pose a threat to pets.

Plants ranked ninth on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA’s) list of top pet toxins in 2017. Roughly 5 percent of calls made to the organization’s Animal Poison Control Center involved landscaping plants, houseplants and bouquets.

Before we even cover the poisonous plants, let’s focus on the biggest dangers. Insecticides ranked seventh on the ASPCA list, and lawn and garden products came in 10th. Keep all chemicals out of reach, and if you’re getting your lawn sprayed, allow at least a day before letting your pet on the grass.

Problem plants for pets

Many plants are poisonous or otherwise dangerous to pets, but luckily there are many more that are completely safe. Here are some toxic plants to avoid, followed by safe alternatives. This list is just an introduction and is by no means exhaustive, so refer to the ASPCA website to search for the plant in question.

Plant type Toxic Nontoxic
Bulbs Caladium, calla lily, tulip, daffodil, iris, narcissus, crinum, amaryllis,  dahlia, lily of  the valley, crocus Canna, muscari, Scarborough lily, ginger
 Annuals and
Arum, elephant ear, begonia, sweet pea, coleus, bird of paradise, cyclamen,  hellebore, hosta, lantana, chrysanthemum, morning glory, asparagus fern, geranium. Lilies and daylilies are toxic to cats but nontoxic to dogs. Aster, fern, marigold, gerber daisy, snapdragon, hollyhock, ornamental grasses, nasturtium, nerve plant, petunia, sunflower
and shrubs
Holly, rhododendron, azalea, oleander, sago palm, citrus (lemons, oranges, etc.), apple, apricot, peach, cherry, yucca, black walnut, yew, gardenia, nandina, wisteria Crepe myrtle, bottlebrush, aralia, hawthorn, pittosporum, mulberry, magnolia, mahonia, rose, hickory, bamboo, banana
 Vegetables Tomato, garlic, leek, onion, shallot, grape Cucumber, squash, melon, okra, zucchini
 Houseplants Dieffenbachia, Swiss cheese plant, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, pothos, ficus, anthurium, aloe, desert rose, kalanchoe, snake plant, euphorbia, asparagus fern, schefflera Calathea, areca palm, cast iron plant, Christmas cactus, spider plant, episcia, false aralia, orchid, bromeliad, peperomia, echeveria, haworthia, sempervivum, gynura, plectranthus

If you’re unsure of the toxicity of a certain plant in your garden, refer to the ASPCA website to find out.

Bromeliads and echeveria are safe plants to have around your four-legged friends.
Bromeliads and echeveria are safe plants to have around your four-legged friends.

Safety steps

While you needn’t tear apart your garden to keep poisonous plants off your dog’s menu, you should definitely educate yourself so you can make your own informed decisions.

Remove risky plants, transplant them to pet-free areas of the garden or, if the plant is too big (or special) to easily remove, make it inaccessible to your pet with fencing.

Just remember that even fallen leaves or seedpods are also often poisonous, so acquaint yourself with the symptoms your pet might experience following ingestion so you know what to tell the vet.

You might not need to go out and remove a foundation planting of azaleas tomorrow, but it isn’t that big of a deal to replace your toxic aloe plant with a nontoxic (and more attractive) haworthia.

If your pet shows any worrying symptoms, don’t waste time looking at lists like these. Call your vet or visit the ASPCA poison control hotline website immediately.

Top photo from Offset.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.


Originally published June 25, 2015.


4 Ways to Ensure Your Pet Is a Good Rental Resident

Yapping, chewing, howling, scratching … not in this home!

Nobody likes living next to a yappy dog — or even a howling cat. And while a growing number of rental properties specialize in pet-friendly apartments and homes, it’s understandable why both property owners and their leasing agents are skeptical about pets.

Here are some quick tips to help your pet be a neighborly renter.

1. Get them certified

To really show your future landlord that your dog is a good resident, consider getting a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate. Offered by the American Kennel Association (AKC), this certification proves that a dog has received basic training and is well socialized around both people and other dogs — thus, less likely to cause disturbances.

If your dog is currently working with a trainer, ask about this certification, as many trainers are also CGC certified. The AKC provides details about groups in various states that also offer this certification.

Additionally, get a letter of recommendation from a previous landlord about your pet’s behavior. It can put you in a strong position to look at a wider variety of pet-friendly properties.

2. Keep them busy

Take your dog for a long walk or run before you go to work to leave them tired and happy — and content to snooze instead of scratching the front door or annoying the neighbors by howling nonstop.

Separation anxiety and stress often lead to bad behavior in your absence. Give your pets distraction toys to keep them busy, or leave on a TV or radio for a sense of companionship.

Consider employing a dog walker to come once a day, or send your pup to day care. Even if it’s only one day a week, it’s one day less of them being stressed because they’re home alone.

A variety of calming products — such as plug-in pheromone diffusers and anxiety wraps like the ThunderShirt — may help reduce your pet’s anxiety levels and prevent nonstop barking throughout the day.

3. Mind the felines

If you have a cat, get a large litter box and scoop it daily. Cats will go outside the litter box and pee on carpets if their box is dirty.

Similarly, keep a variety of scratchers around the home. Cats usually like to scratch soon after they wake up from a nap, so place scratching posts close to a favorite sleeping spot. This will deter them from permanently damaging your woodwork and carpets.

4. Prevent pests

Summer is the height of flea and tick season. Make sure your pet has the necessary protection so they don’t bring fleas indoors to infest your home.

Interestingly, fleas only spend 20 percent of their life span on a pet. They spend the rest of their time in your carpeting and furnishings — and they can be difficult to eradicate quickly. Plus, landlords will charge for this kind of pest control.

Like with so many other things in life, prevention is key.

Looking for more information about renting? Check out our Renters Guide


Originally published July 13, 2016.


Top Holiday Pet Hazards: How to Keep Your Pet Safe

The holiday season is a festive time to share with friends and family, but it can also pose a number of hazards for other members of your family—your beloved pets.


We only want the best for our furry friends, and taking a few preventive measures can ensure your dog or cat doesn’t get sick.

Winter Plants

Poinsettias are beautiful, festive plants used to decorate your home during the holidays. Although poinsettias are usually hyped as a poisonous plant, they are mildly toxic to animals. The following holiday plants are the ones you really need to watch for.

  • Christmas tree needles: Vacuum any fallen needles around your tree. Christmas tree needles aren’t digestible and could potentially puncture your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
  • Holly: Holly is another plant commonly found in your home during the holidays. Ingesting either the leaves or berries could cause Fido to have digestive tract issues as they both contain soap-like chemicals called glycosides.
  • Mistletoe: Mistletoe is usually hung in a doorway to steal a smooch from your sweetheart. Make sure mistletoe is secured safely out of the reach of your pooch. This plant and its berries can also cause gastrointestinal or cardiovascular effects.
  • Lilies: All members of the Lilum genus are extremely toxic, especially for cats. It may not be a common winter plant, but lilies are commonly found in many floral bouquets. Ingesting just a small amount of petals or pollen can cause debilitating and possibly fatal acute kidney failure.

Festive Food

Holiday gatherings usually mean eating a lot of tasty food. It can be tempting to give little treats to your animal. However, many holiday treats, such as chocolate and candy, can be deadly. Chocolate contains substances called methylxanthines, which can be toxic to pets if ingested.

Other toxic foods and drinks to avoid include onions, garlic, milk, nuts (almonds, macadamia, walnuts), raisins, and xylitol (a sweetener found in gum, candy and baked goods). Are you still not sure which foods are safe? Try feeding your furry friend some healthy homemade treats and avoid feeding them any of these human foods.

Holiday Decorations

Top Holiday Pet Hazards KittenTop Holiday Pet Hazards Kitten

Holiday decorations may not appear to be hazardous, but some mischievous animals are attracted to shiny ornaments, tinsel, ribbons, and lights. If your pet is a chewer, keep all decorations and electrical cords far from their reach. Prevent your cat or dog from ingesting any ribbons or tinsel, as it can be a choking hazard and even twist in their intestines, posing the need for emergency surgery.

If you have a live Christmas tree in your home, the water located at the base of the tree could also be harmful to your cat or dog. It can contain fertilizers and bacteria, which can upset their stomach if ingested.

The key to keeping your four-legged family members safe is prevention. Keep any hazardous food or decorations in a separate room. If you are away from home, keep your animal confined to a room or crate.

If your pet is injured or poisoned, contact your veterinarian immediately or call poison control for emergency assistance:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center – 888-426-4435 ($65 consultation fee)

Pet Poison Hotline – 800-213-6680 ($39 per incident fee)

More Pet Links

Top 5 Apps for Pet Owners

Help Fluffy or Fido Stay Healthy with Homemade Pet Treats

Appreciation of Man’s Best and Oldest Friend (Infographic)

How to Find a Veterinarian

Get Your Apartment Ready to Bring Home a Kitten

Photo Credit: Cristina Cheatwood; Shutterstock / Sue McDonald




How Does Renters Insurance Work?

If you want to know how renters insurance works, you’re in luck. Renters insurance is not only one of the most straightforward types of insurance to purchase, but it’s also quite affordable. Renters insurance protects you in a wide variety of circumstances, from coverage if your laptop is stolen out of your car, to medical payments for your friend who manages to fall and hurt themselves in your kitchen. 

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
  • Zero hassle, zero paperwork

While renters insurance is generally clear-cut, there are basics you should understand as you begin shopping for premiums. And knowing what isn’t covered by renters insurance is as important as knowing what is.

In this article

Do I need renters insurance? 

Obtaining a renters insurance policy makes sound financial sense. Yet an alarming number of renters choose not to obtain one. It could be because there is confusion surrounding the need for a policy. Renters commonly assume landlord’s insurance covers property damage, but this is false. Landlord’s insurance only covers the physical structure of the property, whereas renters insurance covers all the belongings located inside and personal liability.

Many landlords require you to carry renters insurance, but even if they don’t require it, the coverage is not very expensive. For an average cost of $180 per year, your belongings are covered if there’s damage from a wide variety of events. Your belongings can be replaced and your property repaired with help from a policy, not to mention the liability protection a policy provides. 

If you have any items worth protecting, or have pets and visitors, then a renters policy is worth the investment for your financial protection.

What does renters insurance cover? 

Renters insurance covers your personal property. But the policy goes further and also provides personal liability and medical payments in case someone is hurt inside your rental or as a result of an accident you caused. 

Another essential coverage category is the additional living expense (ALE) or loss-of-use. This coverage kicks in if you have to vacate your rental due to damage such as water or fire damage. It provides reimbursement if you have to live elsewhere and incur expenses for hotel bills, temporary rentals, meals and other living expenses. 

Renters insurance provides coverage for several major categories, but there are a few more areas a policy provides greater protection.

  • Credit cards and forgery: Most policies include protection if your debit or credit card is stolen or you’re a victim of fraud (including identity theft).
  • Food spoilage: If your refrigerator dies, the power is out or you’re forced out of your rental due to damage, your policy reimburses you for food lost.
  • Replacement value: Another option with renters insurance is choosing Replacement Value (RV) versus Actual Cost Value (ACV). When an item is damaged in your rental due to a covered event and it needs to be replaced, the renters insurance claim payout would either be RV or ACV. If you choose RV, you receive more of a payout, but your premiums are more expensive.
  • Personal belongings located elsewhere: If you have personal property located off-premise, it’s still covered by property damage. For instance, if your mountain bike is stored in a storage unit and it’s damaged, it’s covered.

[Read: Does Renters Insurance Cover Storage Units?]

What renters insurance doesn’t cover 

There are situations when renters insurance does not provide coverage — and you don’t want to be caught assuming you’re covered. The good news is, even if something is excluded, there are typically policy add-ons available to make your policy more comprehensive.

  • Natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes: Although most policies cover a long list of natural disasters, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and sinkholes are excluded. If you live in an area where these excluded disasters occur, talk to your agent about adding the coverage to your policy.
  • Pest damage: If your rental is damaged by bedbugs, termites, rodents or any other creepy crawling insects, your policy does not cover this. However, some insurance carriers offer optional protection against bedbugs and other critters.
  • Your roommates: A rental insurance policy only provides coverage for the person whose name is on the policy. This often excludes roommates, unless you sign a join-renters insurance policy together.
  • Your high-value items: Any items worth a certain amount, usually $1,500 or higher, are considered high-value. You need additional coverage added, otherwise the item is excluded. This applies to items such as jewelry, antiques, equipment and electronics.
  • Damage from pets: Damage from your cats and dogs inside your rental is not covered. For instance, if your furbaby chews through the walls of your rental then you’re responsible for the damage. However, if this same furbaby bites your neighbor, any necessary medical treatment would be covered by your policy.

[Read: Defending Against Porch Pirates: What to Do about Package Thefts]

America’s top-rated renters insurance

  • Policies starting at just $5/month
  • Sign up in seconds, claims paid in minutes
  • Zero hassle, zero paperwork

What to look out for when shopping for renters insurance 

Like other insurance products, there are specific items you should look for to ensure you’re getting the best policy for your financial situation. For starters, confirm the limits of the renters insurance payouts. Each category has different payout limits, which is the maximum amount paid for a claim. Make sure these limits aren’t too low or too high, and provide the right amount of coverage. 

The liability coverage should provide enough protection to equal your net worth. Your net worth is the value of your assets — such as retirement accounts, savings, cars you own free and clear  —  minus your debt. So if your net worth is $300,000, then your liability coverage should be at least this amount. The reason is to protect you in case of a lawsuit from an at-fault accident. If your net worth is higher than $300,000, the Insurance Information Institute recommends obtaining an additional liability policy.

Your property damage limit should be high enough to cover replacement of your belongings.

Comparison shopping is a smart tactic to make sure you get the coverage you need. Comparing renters insurance policies not only gives you the most competitive cost on your policy, but your agent can guide you to get the most comprehensive coverage.

[Read: 3 Reasons Why You Should Get Flood Insurance] 

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at with comments or questions.


13 Cats Who Totally Understand Your Debt Payoff Struggle

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.

Ever think no one understands your debt payoff struggle? Everyone’s taking pictures of their fantastic lives and you’re over here dining on leftovers and tap water.

I know your pain, you don’t put 60% of your income towards debt and get to experience the luxury of air conditioning in the summer or hotels when you’re out of town.

I’m not the only one who understands you, cats do. Of course, they’re not real cats, real cats DGAF about anyone. These cat gifs though, are the symbol of our plight. I hope they comfort you and inspire you to keep going.

1. Cash Cat

You work hard for the money so you pay for things in cash. And studies show we spend 12-17% more when you use a card instead of cash so you’re saving more than those cash-back rewards.

2. Online Banking Cat

You’re not the only one neurotically checking bank and loan servicer accounts. You keep tabs on everything at any time because you can and you’re slightly obsessed.

3. Used Car Cat

All your friends are upgrading to shiny new cars with heated seats and Bluetooth but you’re holding strong in that 2003 Corolla with the manual locks. But hey, you don’t have a car payment.

4. “Can’t Even” Cat

You “can’t even” every time someone says they’re only paying the minimum on their student loans. Do they “even know” how much money they’re wasting in interest!?

5. Extreme Saving Cat

It started with clipping some coupons and it’s escalated to washing clothes old school style and eating other people’s restaurant leftovers. You may be taking things too far but man have you cut your grocery store budget!

6. Overtime Cat

You’re the first to volunteer for extra hours at work even when every fiber of your body says “I need to sleep!”

7. Impulse Buy Cat

It seemed like a good idea at the time but when you come face to face with the sum of your bar tabs, Target trips, and Chipotle addiction, not so much. I know guacamole is extra and I don’t care!

8. Carpool Cat

Hitching a ride with your friend who’s always late to avoid paying for parking and Uber surge prices. On the bright side, if you’re late that’s one less drink you’ll buy!

9. Home Workout Cat

Working out at home not just because you hate the gym but because you have no money to afford someone yelling at you to try harder.

10. Side Hustle Cat

You’re putting in the extra hours after work and on weekends for that sweet, sweet freelance money. Even though you know you can only keep 75% of it.

11. FOMO Cat

Casually browsing social media and bleeding through your eyes looking at all the fun vacations your friends are going on and the cool tech gadgets your chemistry partner from high school is getting.

12. Every Last Bit Cat

When you’re on the last drop of shampoo, but you’re stretching it to next month because you used that money on concert tickets. That’s true commitment to the budget.

13. Debt Free Cat

Everything is worth it when you make that final loan payment and you know every dollar you make from that day forward is yours.

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Cats Paying off Debt

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Jen Smith is a personal finance expert, founder of Modern Frugality and co-host of the Frugal Friends Podcast. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Lifehacker, Money Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Business Insider, and more. She’s passionate about helping people gain control of their spending.


How to Avoid Pet Damages in Your Apartment

All the pet-lovers out there understand the benefits of having a furry friend at home. Their loyalty and love offer comfort and companionship. The time you spend cuddled up or playing outside can end up being the most relaxing part of your day. It’s wonderful, but pets often spend a great deal of time alone. And that’s when they can get into trouble.

Living in an apartment, the damage a pet can cause can get expensive. Between stains and actual destruction of furniture, walls or door frames both cats and dogs can rack up a big repair bill. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to curb destructive behavior and avoid pet damages in your apartment.

Pet policies, fees and deposits

couple with dogcouple with dog

There are a few ways a property manager can collect money from you in anticipation of pet damage. Often, an existing pet policy goes into the lease as a pet agreement. This is a set of rules you, as a pet owner, must follow. It can include provisions related to permitted animals or breeds and pet weight-limits, among other restrictions.

If required, management collects pet fees or deposits at the beginning of your lease. This is like a security blanket for anything a property owner has to address after you move out. Deposits are refundable if there’s no damage, a fee is not.

These precautions help cover the expense of addressing common damages that can occur with both cats and dogs.

1. Carpet stains

Carpet is an easy target for staining, especially with pets. Almost all of them have at least one accident in their lifetime. It’s so common, property owners look for stains first when a pet owner vacates an apartment.

“This is the most common and easily noticed pet damage,” says Olivia Beck from Goodlife Property Management, “usually in the form of pet urine.” If an older pet has regular accidents, it’s best to take them to the vet for a check-up.

Pets can’t tell you when something is wrong, and accidents can be one way of attempting to communicate with you. If you have a younger pet, repeat accidents are sometimes a sign of a behavioral issue. Limiting their access to carpeted areas can help reduce accidents.

Keep it clean

Once an accident happens, it’s best to clean it up as soon as you’re aware of it. Keep carpet and floor cleaner handy that addresses pet stains and odor. Every carpet stain won’t get completely erased, but you’ll definitely keep things looking much cleaner.

It’s also possible to prevent accidents, and carpet stains, from happening. For cats, accidents can result from too few litter boxes in your apartment. A good rule of thumb is one per cat. Place it in a quiet place. If there’s a lid, consider removing it. Cats don’t like it when they can’t see above themselves as they go.

For dogs, accidents happen when they don’t have access to an outside space to go. Consider bringing in a dog walker once a day or even crating them when you’re at work. According to Paws, “a crate helps satisfy the dog’s instinct to be in a den…” and helps them associate the outdoors with the proper place to do their business.

2. Cat scratches

When cats want to scratch, nothing is safe. Furniture, blankets, walls and carpet all fall victim. Damage of this kind happens fast in an apartment. The next thing you know, a doorway or couch arm is destroyed. It’s possible, though, to distract them from their destructive ways.


Redirect their energy

“A scratching post is essential for any healthy, well-adjusted cat,” says Shelley Wester on Petfinder. It provides them with an appropriate outlet for their urge to scratch, along with a place to stretch and exercise. With a sturdy cat scratching post that stays upright, they’ll come here first and stop damaging your apartment.

Another way to redirect a cat’s energy is with a variety of toys. Motorized options or things with lasers do especially well. These capture a cat’s attention when you’re not there to play with them.

3. Doggie destruction

Dogs can get destructive when they’re lonely. Long periods at home also mean pent-up energy they can’t release. “It could be a puppy, it could be an older dog, but if you find that you come home and your dog is just destroying things … they need more exercise…” says Dana Humphrey a.k.a. “The Pet Lady,” who discusses this issue in the Hartford Courant.

Energy levels in dogs can vary by breed. The ones needing the most exercise include Labs, German Shepherds, Terriers and Retrievers, as well as certain collies and huskies. These might not make the best apartment dwellers, but regardless of breed, you can provide an outlet for too much energy.

Blow off some steam

First, it’s important your dog has the right amount of space within your apartment. This chart helps break things down:

Chart detailing how much space a dog needs by weightChart detailing how much space a dog needs by weight

Source: USDA

Next, consider hiring a dog walker while you’re at work, or look into putting your pet into daycare a few days a week. This provides opportunities for socialization and exercise. A treat-dispensing toy at home will also keep lonely pets happy and busy. Crating can also help reduce fear, confusion and anxiety while keeping your apartment protected.

Address the problem and make adjustments to avoid pet damages in your apartment

The best reaction to have when your pet is damaging your apartment is to stop the problem from being a regular issue. Modifying your pet’s behavior with the right toys, accessories and services can prevent future damage from occurring. This allows you to repair the problem to the best of your ability to ensure an easier move out when the time comes.




7 Ways To Save Money On Your Pets

We have two cats in our home.  In fact, I’ve had cats, and sometimes dogs, as pets my entire life.  I’m not alone.

Approximately “70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the United States. Approximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog, and 30-37% have a cat” (ASPCA).

While pets can enrich your life, they can also cost a small fortune if you’re not careful.  However, there are steps you can take to have a pet without ruining the budget.

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Review Journal).

If you want a pet but don’t have  a lot of extra money, consider smaller pets like fish, hamsters, or a bird.

Keep The Pet At A Healthy Weight

Each year when I bring one of my cats in for his annual check-up, he has gained a pound.  This has happened over the last three years, so he’s now quite obese.  This year, the vet told me to only feed the cat ½ cup of food once a day.  Otherwise, he warned me, the cat was likely to get diabetes and would require daily insulin shots.  That’s not something I want, both for the expense and the oh, so fun aspect of chasing a cat around with a needle.  Just like humans, cats that maintain a healthy weight are more likely to live longer with fewer medical issues.

Buy Pet Supplies At Big Box Stores

You can get almost everything cheaper at stores like Costco or Sam’s Club.  We buy 40 pound bags of cat litter at a ridiculously low price at Costco.  We buy our cat food in bulk on Amazon.

By shopping this way instead of just picking up what we need at the pet store or the grocery store, we save a significant amount of money.

Create Your Own Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can be expensive, and just like other insurances, it rarely covers the entire price of a procedure.  Add in exclusions, and you may find that you’re breaking even between what pet insurance will cover and what you’re paying in premiums and deductibles.

A better way is to create your own pet insurance by setting aside a certain amount for pet care every month from the moment you bring your pet home.  Set aside $50 a month, and in four years, you’ll have $2,400 saved for any expensive procedure your cat or dog may need.  Continue to do this throughout your pets life, and by the time they reach 10 years old, when many medical issues crop up, you’ll have $6,000 saved.

Decide How Much Care You Can Afford

Another important step you can take is to decide how much you’ll spend on your pet.  With today’s medical advances in pet care, treating your pet for any number of conditions is possible, if you have the money and are willing to spend it.

Groom Your Pet Yourself

As much as possible, groom your pet yourself.  We routinely brush our cats, cut out matted fur, and clip their nails.  By doing these tasks ourselves, we easily save over $100 a year, if not more.

Owning a pet is a privilege and a delight.  However, if you take the right steps, it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Do you own a pet?  What do you do to reduce your pet care costs?


7 Carpet Cleaning Hacks You Haven’t Tried Yet

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Carpet Cleaning Hacks For Your Apartment | DIY Carpet Cleaning Tips

While hardwood and wood-style flooring continue to gain popularity in the world of apartment rentals, plenty of landlords and property management companies continue to use wall-to-wall carpeting in their rentals.  No matter what your preference, there are, in fact, some benefits that come with carpeted flooring.  From sound dampening to comfort for bare feet, carpet still has a lot to offer and is much easier to maintain with minimal wear & tear with a few great cleaning hacks.  Whether you live with wall-to-wall carpeting or choose to cozy things up with rugs, check out our carpet cleaning hacks to help keep them looking their best.

Use a lint roller to help extract small debris

Sometimes, suction from a regular household cleaner is just not enough to help you get rid of all the dirt, crumbs, pet hair, spills (i.e. flour, sugar, rice or etc), or the many other tiny particles nested in the fiber of your carpeting.

Truth is, that’s normal. The experts at Fantastic Cleaners say that regular steam (or dry chem) cleaning at least once every 6 months is a mandatory chore for any conscientious homeowner or renter. High-end steam cleaners and dry compound solutions remove up to 95% of the unsanitary agents in both carpets and rugs, unlike regular vacuums.

A great way to extract pesky particles DIY is by using an almighty lint roller! The one downside of using one to further extract fiber-stuck dirt is the need of some manpower. On average, you’ll need anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes to cover a fully carpeted room.

Use a squeegee to remove pet hair from carpets

Have you ever seen what happens to a carpet in a house full of cats? How about dogs? Either way, you can surely imagine the excessive amount of hair pets leave behind as they shed.  What doesn’t stick to furnishing and upholstery will inevitably end up on the carpet.

Bear in mind: This works best for short-haired carpets and rugs.

Squeegees might be meant for cleaning your windows but their efficiency with hair removal is a know-how must for pet-owners! All you have to do is rinse the squeegee so it’s moist enough for pet hair to stick. To maintain a clean carpet when living with pets can be a hefty task, but some know-how, discipline, and persistence is the one sure way to success.  

Apply heat to help remove stubborn stains

Although there are some stains that are not susceptible to removal via heat, most are. The challenge of removing a stubborn smear has pushed human creativity and ingenuity to the maximum.

You can find many different recipes for removing stains via ironing but the one we have comes in 5 simple steps:

  • Remove all dirt possible vie regular vacuum cleaning;
  • Mix water and vinegar 3:1 and pre-treat all stubborn stains;
  • Leave the mixture to set in and work. 5 to 10 minutes should be enough;
  • Use a towel or a rag to cover the stain;
  • Gently iron the area, being mindful to move quickly to avoid damaging the carpet fiber.

The combined forces of water, vinegar, pressure, and heat causes most stains to “relocate” from your carpet to the rag or towel.

Blot a stain rather than rubbing it

We rub one too many things in our daily life – washing silver and dinnerware, brushing our teeth, washing our face in the morning, all the way to wiping smudges off your shoes and etc. Rubbing something to clean it is an instinctual reaction, but when it comes to cleaning a carpet – rubbing is a huge no-no.

Here’s why: When applying pressure to your carpet will only worsen the situation. The more you rub the deeper a stain will set in. Once fiber and dirt spots bound for good – cleaning could render impossible.

Always mind what direction you blot at:

  • Start at the outer edges of the stain, working your way in toward the center.  Working outward could further spread the stain.
  • Mind the arrangement of fibers. You would not want to blot the opposite way, for it could further damage the piece.

Deep clean using safe and effective DIY solutions

The market is oversaturated with products meant for people who own gear for deep cleaning a carpet, but unfortunately, most detergents are heavy on chemicals and pose health hazard risks to you and your family.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly and nature-safe solution for your steam cleaner, here’s a green recipe you should definitely try:

What you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • White vinegar
  • Essential oils
  • Dish soap
  • A regular fabric softener
  • Hot water


  • Pour about 3/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide in a cup;
  • Add ¼ cup of white vinegar;
  • Add 2 tablespoons of dish soap;
  • Add 2 tbsp of fabric softener;
  • Dilute in a gallon of hot water.
  • Optional: add a few drops of your favorite (colorless) essential oil, such as lavender, to help neutralize the vinegar scent

Although not always as powerful as off-the-shelf carpet shampooers, this DIY deep cleaning solution is relatively inexpensive and harmless when diluted in this way.

Shampoo your carpet with shaving cream

Bright and light colored carpets are vulnerable to signs of wear and tear.  Naturally neutral colors can easily become a victim of accidents, mud marks, and kid and pet stains.

An efficient yet lesser known cleaning solution is the hack of using regular shaving cream! It’s budget friendly and can work wonders. It not only helps with aged stains but rejuvenates and freshens the entire fabric of your carpet!

Some call shaving cream “the anti-aging solution”. It not only leaves a pleasant aroma but softens the fabric itself.

Make a DIY carpet deodorizer

Deodorizing your carpet on a regular basis can help maintain a pleasant smelling apartment and is rather simple to do. Simply mix a tablespoon or two of Borax with a few drops of your essential oil of your choice, then add the mixture to a cup or two of baking soda and your DIY deodorizer is good to go.  Simply sprinkle liberally and evenly on your carpet and let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes and up to an hour or two, then vacuum it all up and take a deep breath!  Take care to keep any children or pets out of the room while the mixture works its magic – while these ingredients are relatively safe and natural, you want to avoid ingestion and the spreading of the mixture beyond the intended treatment area. 

Carpets are simply a must but cleaning can be a hefty burden. Surrounded by numerous chemical-rich products, we often ask for eco-friendly cleaning hacks to do so. Use these handy carpet cleaning hacks to handle stains and dirt-mark spots in an efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly way!

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