Just because the holidays are over and we’re headed into summer, doesn’t mean that you stop being a host. One thing I’ve found in my life is that people will find just about any reason to go visiting, including the summer break from school. So don’t be rolling up your welcome mat just yet – chances are, there are still some guests on the way as the year goes on. But no matter what time of year you stumble onto this article, you could be hosting some guests soon who are allergic to your precious fur ball. Other than telling your guests to stay in a hotel, is there anything that you can do to make your space more inviting? As it turns out, yes.
You guys can probably guess my stance on this already. Janice and Leroy live here full time, and just because I’m having guests, don’t mean they should have to be inconvenienced in their home. But, I get that that’s a controversial take. Many folks out there think that people come first (the nerve), so they want to make sure that their family’s feel comfortable coming over. So here are 13 tips I’ve rounded up for anyone, and who knows – maybe they’ll help your own allergies as well!
The first thing you can do is give your dog a good grooming session. Getting rid of any loose hairs on their body, as well as getting rid of any dirt or pollen they might be carrying around, will be the best way to stop any more allergens from entering your home right away. Start with a good scrub down with some anti-fungal shampoo, and either clip your dog’s hair yourself or have a groomer give him a haircut. Then brush, brush, brush until your dog’s coat is no longer giving off any shed hairs. If your dog has an undercoat, be sure to rake them so you can get any hairs that are hiding.
Rugs are one of the worst collectors of shed hairs on the planet. They are sometimes impossible to vacuum because of the way the patterns and the short pile can grab on to hair. If you can’t get your rug professionally cleaned, I would recommend a few things:
Any of those options would probably work, but don’t think that you’ll be able to get away with just a vacuum like you would the carpet. Rugs are a whole different story.
One of the issues that people with pet allergies face is that they aren’t actually allergic to dog hair itself, but rather a protein in dog hair that can be released into the air when dogs shake their bodies. The dust on your furniture likely has some of that protein in it, just because it’s a particle in the air wherever a dog has been living and shedding. So, a good way to help them feel less like sneezing is to go over everything with a duster really, really well. And everything means everything – the walls and ceiling need dusting too. Don’t forget the windowsills, the vent grilles, and all those other little random places that you never really think about.
Only vacuum after you’ve dusted, so that you can capture any of the dust that settled after you did that chore. But yes, vacuuming will help too if you have carpeted floors. I’ve talked a little bit about good vacuums for pet owners before on the blog, and am still in favor of the Dyson V6 Animal. It’s a cord-free vacuum that you can take everywhere, and it’s got a very powerful suction. It also has this little motorized whirling tool inside that brushes up any pet hair stuck down in the carpet so it can get vacuumed up.
Humidity can make allergies much, much worse. The more humid it is, the more that bacteria and other things can grow. While that’s not exactly related to dog allergies, it can make someone’s sneezing even worse. So, either turn on your air conditioning or break out a dehumidifier and get the humidity out of your house.
Just like with the dusting, we always forget that there are some places in the house that we just don’t ever think to clean. When you’ve got guests with dog allergies coming to your dog-friendly home, it is not the time to shove everything into a closet and pray they don’t open it. Break out your spring cleaning checklist and get into all the nooks and crannies. The less dirt, hair, and other debris in your entire house – yes, even in the hidden closets – the better the air quality.
Speaking of air quality, if you can use an air purifier with a HEPA filter, you’ll likely be the best host that your guests have ever had. Use it in the main area of your house, or in the guest room, and they’ll breathe a lot easier. It’s a good idea to get it up and running a couple days before they arrive so that the air is nice and clean by the time they get there. And if you have a big open floor plan, consider just putting it in their room so that they have one room that they can go to for “totally clean” air just in case they have an allergy attack.
Building off of that, if you do have air filters on your air conditioning, or if you have a filter in your vacuum cleaner, or anything like that, now is a great time to change those all out. Get a fresh start so that your home is very clean and filtered. If you don’t have air filters in the air conditioning, you might try opening a window or running a box fan in a window – but if things are blooming outside, this could make it worse. I would definitely recommend only doing all this filter changing and air purifying before you vacuum, because it will probably kick up dust. In fact, just go ahead and make vacuuming the last thing you do, and you’ll be in good shape. All of these chores involve disturbing dust and particles that have been sitting for a while, so you’ll need to collect any that get tossed back into the air after.
Laundry is a big culprit when it comes to hanging on to dog hair and dander – at least it is in my house! I have given up wearing black because I’ll look like a werewolf by the end of the day, with hair stuck all over me. If this is the same for you, then you need to get all the dirty laundry in your house done. Again, don’t just stick it in a closet somewhere. It’ll release pet dander into the air. Instead, either get it all done before your guests come, or take it to a laundry service and drop it off – anything to get dirty clothes and linens out of the house. And if you haven’t washed the bedding or curtains in the guest room in a while, now’s a good time to do so.
Your guests should know ahead of time that you have dogs, and should plan accordingly, but being a good host often means being extra prepared on things that aren’t really your job. So, when you are at the store getting food for the company, swing by the pharmacy and grab some Benadryl, or maybe some allergy eye drops, or both. It will make you seem like a great host, and it’ll put a halt to any complaints about your dog, hopefully.
In addition to all these other tips, it may be a good idea to keep your dog separated from the guest with the allergies if you can. I don’t mean you need to put your dogs outside, but keeping them in a separate part of the house, or in their own room, can be helpful for cutting down on any new pet hair and dander getting into the allergy-sufferer’s sinuses. Consider making their kennel extra comfy with a new blanket or some fresh toys, and be sure you go visit them often so they don’t get too lonely. You can section off part of your whole house, like the basement, with a doggie gate, to give your dog even more space so that they don’t get really anxious. If you do that, I would recommend putting them in a part of the house where there is an access door to the outside, so that you don’t have to walk them back through the house for potty breaks. And if this visit involves kids or people who don’t have allergies and love dogs, maybe consider asking them to spend some time with the dog out in the yard to wear him out while you play host.
When you are doing all of that cleaning and vacuuming, don’t forget that your upholstered furniture is just like a carpet, but with the added bonus of also being filled with air. So not only can hair get all over the furniture, and stick there, but it can also get inside the furniture. The best you can do is vacuum it very well, or possibly steam clean it, and I would recommend at least doing one of those in the main area where your guest will be hanging out. Also, after cleaning that furniture, put a protective covering on it so that if your dog gets up there in the meantime, no new hair will stick to the furniture.
Finally, sometimes the best thing you can do is to offer your guest other accommodations. Consider seeing if there is an Airbnb or cheap motel nearby that you can put your guests up in during their stay, or offer to split the bill for a place of their choosing. This is going above and beyond for many people – at the end of the day, the allergy-sufferer is responsible for their own well-being. But if you really want to visit with this person, and you feel bad about them not being able to join you in your home, this may be the best solution. They likely have to pay for accommodations any time they visit anyone, so offering to help would make you stand out as a stellar host.
Also, look for ways that you can hang out away from your house as much as you can, and be sure that you aren’t bringing pet hair to them when you go to meet them. Those two things alone can be enough to make the trip bearable for someone with dog allergies.
Not all of these 13 tips sound like a lot of fun…okay, I admit, none of them sound like fun. I don’t love the idea of doing a deep spring cleaning for one guest any more than you do. But I do have certain older family members with severe allergies, and I do want to see them more often before I can’t anymore. My solution to this has just been to go to them, and that has worked out best for everyone. But if you have the opportunity to host someone that you really want to see, these tips should help you create a safe environment for your guests.