I follow 7 golden rules to keep my house clean despite my cat's best efforts to thwart me

Discover 7 ways to maintain a clean home when living with cats

(Image credit: Future / Kristy Noble Photography)

I love my cat, and I love having a clean and tidy home. Sadly, those two things don't always go hand in hand. My cat seems to be under the impression that everything in our home belongs to him, which has inevitably led to some issues over the years...

Thankfully, I've learned various techniques to keep my home free of cat fur and feline-related smells. From sterilizing surfaces to concealing litter boxes, these essential cleaning tips have helped me reclaim my space and keep my furry companion content.

Below, I reveal my '7 golden rules for living with cats' to keep your pet happy and your house sparkling clean.

How to clean a home with cats

Lesson number one of living with pets is that there will always be some degree of compromise. After all, if you've chosen to have a cat, you should be aware that scratched furniture, loose fur, and the occasional unwanted 'gift' are all part and parcel of the commitment. That being said, having a cat does not mean waving goodbye to a hygienic house if you follow these 7 easy rules:

A black cat sat on a bed in front of a wood panelled wall with pegs

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby Photography)

1. Always have a lint roller ready

Finding fur on your clothes, bedding, and/or rugs is something every cat lover will be familiar with. But while removing pet hair from fabric isn't the easiest task, the process is much simpler when you keep a lint roller handy at all times.

I must have gone through hundreds of lint roller refills over the years, and I swear that they are the best tool for managing cat fur. I use them to gently roll over my clothes, cushion covers, and bedding after my cat has napped on them. I also like to keep a lint roller by the front door for a quick once-over before I leave the house.

2. Invest in the best vacuum for pet hair

If you share your home with multiple feline companions, sometimes a solitary lint roller just doesn't cut it. That's why it pays to invest in the best vacuum for pet hair.

Look for vacuums with powerful suction, HEPA filters (for allergies and pet dander), and attachments for furniture and tight spots. I personally use the Shark Stratos Upright Vacuum when I'm vacuuming the whole house, though, I also reach for my Bissell Pet Hair Eraser (available from Amazon) whenever I need to give the sofa a quick once-over.

I vacuum my home several times weekly to keep it free from cat hair. But if that sounds like too much effort, consider purchasing a robot vacuum to maintain your floors with minimal effort.

3. Use Air Purifiers

Coway Airmega Aim Air Purifier with a black and white cat

My cat isn't bothered by the Coway Airmega Aim Air Purifier

(Image credit: Future)

No matter how clean you are, your home will inevitably start to smell like your cat unless you take measures to prevent this. That's why I started using an air purifier about two months ago, and I'll never look back.

An air purifier with a HEPA filter helps improve your home’s air quality, reduce pet dander and airborne allergens, and remove foul odors. I use the Coway Airmega Aim Air Purifier , and it honestly makes light work of eliminating musty, catty smells in my home (plus, when it's on eco mode, my nervous cat doesn't hide from it, which is an added bonus).

For the best results, place the air purifier in the room(s) where your cat spends the most time, and don’t forget to replace the filters regularly

4. Clean and conceal their litter

A clean litter box is essential to keep your cat happy and your home hygienic. I scoop my cat's litter box daily and change the litter completely at least once a week. To minimize odors, I also use an enclosed litter box and ensure it's placed in a well-ventilated area. Putting the box in a closet might seem like a good idea, but I recommend against doing this because it will allow bad odors to linger around.

As tempting as they seem, I urge you to skip the 'litter fresheners.' Many cats don’t like their strong scents and might choose to avoid their litter tray altogether if you use them. I also recommend putting a wipeable mat under the litter box to catch stray litter and make cleanup easier.

5. Clean and replace bowls

Speaking of cleanup, I wash my cat’s food and water bowls daily with hot, soapy water, and I never leave food to sit out for more than 24 hours. After all, you don't want your pet's food and water to attract unwanted pests or become breeding grounds for flies or mosquitoes.

Bowls made from stainless steel or ceramic are better choices than plastic ones, as they’re less likely to harbor bacteria. Replace old or damaged bowls to keep your kitty healthy, and keep wipeable mats under their food to protect your floors from spills and water damage.

6. Set boundaries

A cat sat on a blue velvet armchair

(Image credit: Future)

Setting clear boundaries on where your cat can and can’t sit or sleep can save you a lot of time cleaning. It's possible to train your cat to stay off countertops with pet-safe deterrents, like double-sided tape or motion-activated sprays.

Personally, I haven't had any luck with training my cat. However, I give him plenty of comfy and appealing alternatives to my own bed and favored furniture. He has his own cat bed (and a specific living room armchair) to keep him happy, and positive reinforcement seems to stop him from jumping onto surfaces where he's not wanted.

7. Disinfect surfaces daily

Of course, cats can be unpredictable, even with boundaries in place. That's why it's important to regularly sanitize surfaces where your cat might jump up, like kitchen counters, dining tables, and bathroom sinks.

My cleaning cupboard is stocked with pet-safe cleaning products, which I use to wipe down these surfaces daily. I also recommend having microfiber cloths and natural cleaners like vinegar on hand, as these are safe for your home and your cat.


How often should I vacuum if I have cats?

Ideally, you should vacuum at least twice weekly to keep up with cat hair and dander. If you have multiple cats or a cat that sheds heavily, more frequent vacuuming might be necessary. It also never hurts to keep a lint roller handy for quick and easy cleanup.

How do I know if cleaning products are pet-safe?

When in doubt, look for cleaners labeled as pet-safe. These are free from harsh chemicals like ammonia, bleach, and phenols. Vinegar and water are great natural cleaners for many surfaces, but to be doubly safe, move your pet out of the room when spraying products and wipe the surfaces down with clean water after you have sanitized them.

Are essential oils safe for cats?

It may surprise you to learn that some essential oils are harmful to cats. Oils such as Cinnamon, Pine, Eucalyptus, Clove, Lavender, Citrus, Tea Tree, Peppermint and Ylang Ylang can all harm your furry friend. If you suspect your cat has accidentally ingested any of these oils – or gets them on their fur – clean the affected area and contact your vet immediately.

How can I reduce litter tracking around the house?

Using a mat under the litter box can help catch stray litter. You can also try using a litter with larger granules or a low-tracking formula, such as World's Best Cat Litter from Walmart.

Going by my own cat's attitude, you may have more luck dog-proofing your home than trying to train a feline. That said, the key to maintaining a hygienic home with any pet is regularly vacuuming and setting a realistic cleaning schedule. Good luck!

Gabriella Dyson
Head of Solved

Gabriella is Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens. She is a DIY enthusiast and a lover of all things interior design, often found antiquing or browsing the aisles of her local hardware store. 

She has a particular passion for historic buildings and is in the process of renovating a Victorian coachhouse in the British countryside. 

For much of the past decade, Gabriella has worked as a freelance writer, crafting copy for national publications and renowned homeware brands. Most recently, she worked on Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine, focusing on case studies for the magazine and website, as well as writing features about issues surrounding historic and listed building projects.