Say goodbye to the sunglasses and high-five your Mackintosh, the rainy season is now well and truly upon us. The kids still need their daily dose of fresh air, though, and the dog still needs a snaffle about the woods. All this can result in mud-caked wellington boots and a dirty, wet dog traipsing through the house, ruining whatever semblance of cleanliness you left behind. Of course, you can’t just cancel all outings until summer 2019! Research shows that nature walks lower blood pressure, reduce stress and improve mood. So, what can you to do ensure a well-exercised and happy family, without the muddy aftermath?
Outdoor washing station
Install an accessible outdoor washing station in the garden on your way out. The temptation when everyone’s clean and excited is to jump straight into the car and get down to the local woods for a jaunt. Yet, a tiny bit of forward planning will make for a hassle-free return and keep the dirt from your door.
Pile some old towels up just inside the back door, this way they’ll be to hand, but won’t get wet if it rains while you’ve gone. Gather a few buckets—one per family member—and place a sponge, bristle brush or old toothbrush in each one. Make sure your YOYO hose is attached to the outdoor tap and place the buckets nearby. Pop a bottle of washing up liquid and dog shampoo, if applicable, next to them and leave via the back gate. When you return from your romp, you’ll be able to visit the washing station without tramping through the house first.
Make an activity of it
My kids absolutely love being given ownership of their own buckets, frothing the water with soap as I fill them up with my YOYO hose. They also love watching the hose grow as it fills with water—it looks a bit like it’s alive! We have great fun scrubbing our own wellies together and getting the mud out of our treads with old toothbrushes. My kids also love blasting off stubborn mud with the YOYO’s spray nozzle attachment. With children this, in itself, is a fun activity! If they’re enjoying playing outside, you could incorporate some of my other ideas for keeping kids entertained in the garden.
This kind of attention keeps the house clean and will also increase the longevity of your wellies, keeping them flexible and looking better for longer. Once they’re washed off, get everyone to de-welly whilst standing on some of the old towels just inside the door and place boots on a rack by the back door to dry. This will encourage you to repeat the process next time you head out!
Another job is to clean the dog, if you have one—I used to absolutely love doing this when I was a kid! Specialist dog shampoo is readily available from pet stores or online and it is not expensive. It is important to get your hands on shampoo specifically made for dogs as dog skin has a neutral pH, whereas human skin is more acidic. This means that human shampoo will irritate Fido’s skin and could even leave it open to infection. You can get dog shampoos that will keeps fleas and ticks at bay for a double plus—and don’t forget to wash between their toes to avoid muddy footprints all over the house carpets!
If your dog suffers from sensitive skin, it’s normally a good idea not to use shampoo on a regular basis, instead opting for a plain water bath to get the mud off at least some of the time. If you need to do this, one of the best ways to keep your dog (and, therefore, your house) as clean as possible is by employing methods of prevention rather than cure. Get your dog a coat that can be taken off and washed, to protect their fur while they’re out. Keep their fur trimmed—especially around paws and tail—so that it doesn’t pick up so much debris while they’re bounding about in the great outdoors, and choose your route according to the amount of recent rainfall. We have walks near our house which are beautiful mid-summer but which have, by this time of year, turned into a complete mud bath. Needless to say, it is best to choose less muddy walks if Fido is not a bath-friendly pooch! When you have to use a shampoo, look for one that contains natural moisturisers, such as aloe vera and honey, or says that it is formulated for dogs with sensitive skin.
The YOYO hose really comes into its own when cleaning a dog as you can twist it this way and that, weave in and out of your dog’s legs to blast his or her underbelly, and even chase them up the garden without missing a beat. The hose can, quite literally, be tied in knots and stomped on and the water will keep on flowing—it really is perfect for washing a pet.
So there you have it—a few simple, but effective tips for keeping your house clean without having to forego the many benefits of nature-based walks this autumn.