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Laundry Care for People with Pets

We deal with a lot of pet hair with three dogs and a cat. Two of our dogs have undercoats, and on top of the twice a year shed fest, they also decorate every nook and cranny of our home with a daily dose of dog hair.

After a while, your clothes can kind of start smelling like your pets no matter how much you wash them. To get a handle on the pet hair and get rid of the smell here is a guide to laundry care for people with pets. 

 Prevent Pet Hair From Getting in the Wash

The more you can prevent pet hair from getting into the washing machine, the better. Here are some tips on Laundry Care for People with Pets.

  • Brush Daily. If you can brush them outside daily it will cut down on the dog hair in your home. Our dog Morimor refuses to be brushed. So instead we take him into the groomers for a wash and brush out as frequently as possible. 
  • Regular Baths – Check with your vet about how often your pet needs to be washed. Our house is taken over by dog hair the week we give them baths, but it makes day-to-day cleaning better for the next few weeks and keeps it out
  • The Outdoor Shake – if you have an outdoor space shake linens, dog beds, Ruggables, and anything that typically catches a lot of dog hair outside before washing it.
  • Dry Before Wash – You can also try drying your clothes for ten minutes on a non-heat setting with a dryer sheet before washing your clothes. If you are doing multiple loads, it would be easiest to do this with all your clothes before starting your first load in the washing machine. Otherwise, it will take you a month just to get a few loads done. The idea is that it is much easier to remove dog hair from the lint trap in the dryer than it is in the washing machine when it’s wet. 

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Hair Catchers

A friend recommended we use pet hair trappers to get rid of some of the pet hair in our laundry. I purchased a couple of options to check them out. 

The first one was called the Fur Trapper. It’s two smiley faces made out of some blob material. You toss them into the washer, and then they follow the clothes into the dryer. At first, I was a little disappointed because they didn’t have a lot of dog hair on them, but when we looked in the dryer vent, there was more dog hair than in a typical cycle, and there wasn’t any noticeable dog hair on the clothes. I feel like it kinda worked, but it’s not a game-changer. If you are interested you can get them here

The second one we tried was called Ruri’s washing balls. They are these ten spikey velcro balls, and they also go in the washing machine and then the dryer. They collected some dog hair, about the same amount as the blob faces, and we did find a reduction in the amount of dog hair on our clothes.

The issue with these is that when you pull your clothes out of the dryer, the balls fly everywhere. The dogs thought we were playing a game, and I had to drop the clean clothes on the dirty floor to gather all the fuzzy balls before the dogs grabbed them. They are the perfect size to be a choking hazard for pups. If that is not a concern for your pets, you can get them here

Troubleshooting Smelly Clothes

True confession, I didn’t know you needed to clean out your washing machine regularly. It’s painful to admit when I have been working in the home improvement/DIY space for almost a decade. 

Last fall, when I was traveling for work, I would arrive at my hotel to unpack my clothes and realize that they all smelled like dog. As much as I missed my pups, I didn’t want to smell like them. I would have to buy some emergency clothes from Target for the week and then return home and troubleshoot the situation. This is when it became critical to do some research on Laundry Care for People with Pets.

Quick Fix: Tide Odor Rescue

We did the troubleshootin basics, like wiping out the dog hair between washes and manually pulling it from the gasket’s crevices. We washed our entire wardrobe multiple times, and we couldn’t get the smell out. We bought one of those once a month cleaning tabs. I did not like the smell of the Tide washing machine cleaning tabs but the Affresh versions were much better. (Get them here).

That brought the scent down to a five from a ten, but we still had smelly clothes.

We then found these Tide odor rescue pods that we throw into the basin of the wash on top of the detergent we put in the tray. They were awesome! I wasn’t sure if we had fixed the underlying problem but it finally allowed us to go out in public without smelling like the dogs. Get them here. It’s a simple laundry care for people with pets hack!

OE Error Code

Then came the error code. I was up against a deadline, wearing my last semi-clean stretchy pants and catching up with eighteen loads of laundry for the entire household when I heard the bleep blop bloop from the washing machine. The lights were blinking with an OE error code.

I turned it off and restarted it. (I have been trained very well by every IT person in my life.) As you can imagine, this led to more bleep blop bloops. I finally google the OE error code, and it told me that it could not drain. hmm… I wonder if there is dog hair stuck somewhere…?

Introducing the Drain Pump Filter

I am embarrassed for myself. After a little research and troubleshooting, we removed a small Shitzu-sized ball of dog hair from the drain pump filter, allowing the washing machine to drain finally. It ends up that you need to do this every couple of months, but if you have the honor of being a fur-parent, you need to do this every 4-6 weeks.

This is a crucial laundry care for people with pets to-do item. Mark it on your calendar, set an alert, or whatever you need to do to make it happen. (Pro Tip: bundle it with some other task you need to do, like giving the fur-kids their heart and flea meds. It will make for one super fun day). The best way to avoid washing machine error codes and your clothes smelling like your pets is a weekly quick cleaning and a deep clean every 4-6 weeks.

Laundry Care for People with Pets – Weekly Routine

Front-load and High-Efficiency Washers

  • Wipe the Inside – After each load, wipe out the inside of the basin, the door to remove the dog hair. If it’s the last wash for the day, make sure it is completely dry to avoid mold and mildew. Many sites suggest leaving the door open to dry it out, but this can be a hazard for adorable cats looking for hiding places.
  • Clean the Gasket – Use a paper towel or microfiber towel and clean the inside of the gasket. It’s super annoying and, in my personal opinion, a flaw in the design of front-load washers.

Top Load Washers

  • Clean the Drum – Top load washers are a little easier to manage. Wipe out the pet hair after each wash. 
  • Wipe Down Lid – Use a microfiber towel to wipe down the lid and the space between the drum and lid. Make sure to get rid of any pet hair stuck in the crevice.

Dryer

  • Lint Catcher – Clean out the lint catcher. 

Deep Clean Every 4-6 Weeks

Top Loading Washers

Fill the washing machine using the hottest water setting and the largest load setting.

  • As the washer fills, open the lid and add a quart of white vinegar.
  • Close the lid and let it agitate for a minute
  • Then open up the lid and let the tub soak for an hour. 
  • After the hour is up, close the door and let it finish the cycle.
  • Then repeat this process with a cup of baking soda.
  •  Soak or scrub any removable parts using a toothbrush and vinegar.
  • Then wipe down the machine.

Once a year, you can take some time and remove the agitator and clean underneath it. Follow your owner’s manual on how to remove it. You will likely need a socket wrench.

Front-Loading Washers

  • Deep Clean the Drum (This is more about mold than it is specific to dog hair but still great to do!) Check to see if your washer has a clean cycle. If not, you can toss in a Refresh or Tide cleaning pod and run an empty wash on the hottest cycle.
  • An alternative would be to sprinkle baking soda into the drum, add a cup of vinegar before running it on the hottest setting.

Clean the Gasket.

  • Wipe down the gasket, pull the rubber back, and make sure you are getting into the crevices. (Dog hair central.)
  • If you have any mold on the gasket that doesn’t come off with a little scrubbing, you can soak a towel in vinegar and let it sit on the gasket for a bit before a second scrubbing.
  • Another method is to use a toothbrush and some bleach. (Please do not mix Bleach with Vinegar)

Clean out the Drain Pump Filter

  • This step is what we were skipping that caused the error code. You may need to check your owners manual to find where your drain pump filter is located. Ours is the lower bottom right corner of the front of the washer. 
  • You may need to gently pry it open with a coin or by pressing on it.
  • Inside there should be something that looks like a dial. There may also be a rubber tube with a cap. 
  • Make sure you put a towel down on the floor along with a container to hold the water. If you have a little rubber tube, you will need to remove the cap and drain the water out before replacing a cap.
  • The next step is to remove the dial slowly. Be ready for at least a quart of water to drain out. When we did this, our washing machine had not drained from a full wash, so we ended up moving the washing machine outside to let the buckets of water drain. Be smart and prepared. 
  • Once the water has drained, you can pull out the filter and clean out the dog hair and debris. You can also give it a scrub and a rinse before returning it to the washing machine. 
  • If you have a clog and cleaning out the drain pump filter didn’t help, you can check the hose connection behind the washing machine. Make sure you turn off the power first. Then check to see if there is an obstruction. 

External Dryer Vent:

In addition to cleaning out the lint trap after each cycle, every 2-4 weeks, check the external dryer vent that leads to the outside. We have to do this weekly. We have so much dog hair!! This is super important. If you neglect this chore, it could lead to a fire.

Top Loaders VS Front Loaders

It may feel like a lot, but some simple wipe downs and monthly cleanings can go a long way. After all of my research on laundry care for people with pets, I’m not convinced that the front-load washer is a great fit for pet owners. There needs to be a better solution for cleaning the gasket. Our set-up is relatively new, so we are going to make it work for now.

More Content Like Laundry Care for People with Pets:

31 Pet Hair Remover Tips
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