How to Keep Your Car Clean When You Have a Dog

Written by: Sondra Wolfer

When you hop into your car, is your dog keen to join you for every adventure, save visits to the vet? If the answer is yes, you already know what a messy business having your best friend along for the ride can be. Perhaps you’ve accepted muddy carpets, a whiff of ‘eau de dog,’ and hair-covered seats as the price you pay for your tandem trips. But if your car has reached the point where you don’t offer friends lifts from embarrassment, know it doesn’t have to be this way. Read on for tips to keep your car clean, while still taking your dog with you too.

Keep Your Dog in One Spot

To keep the mess manageable, create a designated spot in the car for your dog. Either keep him contained in the cargo area within a dog crate or in the rear seat with a dog harness attached to the seat belt. To stop him from racing around the interior in his boundless car-trip joy, establish a travel routine so he knows exactly where to go when you open the car door.

Brush Before & After Travelling

Even when you’re in a rush, try not to skip this step. Brushing his coat will minimise the buildup of dog hair in your car. If your dog is a heavy shedder, try this trick: Put an oversize T-shirt on him and tie a loose knot so it gathers around his waist. This will keep the fur from his torso contained and you can just shake out or wash the T-shirt for the next ride. Before your return trip, brush him again to get rid of extra dirt and also to check your dog for ticks.

How to Remove Dog Hair From Your Car

Despite your best efforts, your car will likely accumulate some dog hair if your best friend comes along for the ride regularly. Removing dog hair is challenging because it becomes imbedded in the coarse carpets and upholstery. To get dog fur out of your car, first run a vacuum over your dog’s designated area. Then put on a pair of rubber gloves and dip your hand in a bucket of water. Run the wet rubber glove all over the area, collecting stubborn fur as you go. Dip your hand in the bucket to clear off the collected hair and repeat until the area is clean.

Cover the Car Seats

Covering your car seats will manage hair and mud, but most importantly it will keep dreaded dog smell from getting into your upholstery where it is difficult to remove. Use an old blanket or a car seat protector to cover as much of your dog’s seat as possible. When these become dirty, they can be removed and easily washed. Seat coverings also protect your upholstery or leather interiors from damage caused by long dog toenails.

Stock Supplies & Clean Up Right Away

Keep a few old bath towels in the car to dry off your dog on rainy days or after romps at the lake, and to wipe away mud and dirt. Paper towels are handy for wiping up small messes. A water bottle or portable dog shower can help when mud gets caked between his paw pads or on his coat.

Finally, when you return from your adventures, make a quick cleaning pass of your car. If the weather is good, open the doors wide for airing out. Remove blankets or seat protectors if they need shaking, drying, or washing. Putting this off just leads to a tougher job later when you’ll be dealing with ground-in dirt and fur, and stubborn odours. You don’t want that. Reminders of jaunts in the car with your best friend should be only sweet.

Enjoy the Ride

This is the most important bit. Living and travelling with a dog is messy. A few preventative measures and light cleaning will keep your car from being overrun with dog detritus. But welcome some disarray. It’s a sure sign you’re getting out there with your focus exactly where it should be — on fun with your furry friend.


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