Disclaimers: These may yield different results for short haired pets. I am not yet famous enough for affiliate links, so any linked items are a truly honest representation of my recommendations.
If your pet is allowed on the bed and leaves fur all over your bed, GET YOURSELF A CHOM CHOM ROLLER. After many years of using a white duvet cover to camouflage Wrigley’s white fur, I was shamelessly about to switch to a patterned one since Tucker has added brown fur into the mix. My initial impression of the Chom Chom was not great and I almost returned it because it seemed overpriced ($24 at time of posting) but ended up keeping it solely for running over my bed. It works on duvet covers, sheets, pillowcases, and even my headboard.
I used to waste a lot of sticky lint roller sheets trying to make my bed look marginally better. The Chom Chom roller is much faster and more sustainable. The rolling motion with the double sided velvet piece is the most effective tool I have ever used to remove fur from sheets in just a few quick swipes.
Others rave that the Chom Chom also works well on any flat fabric surfaces, like microfiber couch cushions. I have more textured fabric on my couches so I can’t speak to this, but I prefer a sticky lint roller for clothing. You need a large, flat surface to lay out any clothing and need it to stay held pretty tautly or the fabric tends to bunch and wrinkle before you can get much fur or lint off.
On my guest bed, I keep an extra fitted sheet over the entire made bed. I use a spare king-sized sheet on a queen bed and am able to cover all the pillows and comforter as well. This is a protective cover against my dogs randomly romping or napping on the bed. I periodically run the Chom Chom over the protective sheet, then do one final pass and take the cover off when I have visitors so they have a clean and ready bed.
This is part two of a series. Read part one on clothing here.
Disclaimers: These may yield different results for short haired pets. I am not yet famous enough for affiliate links, so any linked items are a truly honest representation of my recommendations.
There are several tools to keep in your arsenal here, and the right combo for you will vary on the size of your spaces, materials, and your pets. Sadly, for mega shedders like my pups, robot vacuums and Swiffer cloths are no match without running or refilling them multiple times.
My top recommendation is a compact vacuum that works on both carpet and hard floors. I have had a Shark Navigator (picture above) for 5+ years and it is great for all the floors and a deep cleaning of the stairs or my couch. The brush hose extension can be also used on lamp shades, headboards, throw pillows, and more. This is the current available version. It swivels and turns very well, and is modular so you can remove the wheeled bottom and the handle becomes the actual hose/extension piece. For pets, you will want a vacuum with brush rollers or even a “pet” attachment to really grab on to fur. Periodically clean the hair off the bottom where the brush roller is or it will get entangled and be less effective.
Next up is a dust buster, or a mini, cordless hanheld vacuum. Despite my love for my Shark vacuum, I live in a four-story townhouse and lugging even a small vaccum around is challenging. The dust buster is my favorite for quick cleaning stairs and great for nabbing fur tumbleweeds. Since it’s small, you don’t necessarily have to move furniture around either (like around dining chair legs). It’s also great for other small spills like food crumbs or dirt near your doors. This has always been a family favorite for me, and I just recently got a replacement dust buster for the one I had for about 10 years. In my eyes, the only downfall of the dust buster is, by nature of being cordless, it eventually runs out of battery and you have to stop and recharge it (I’ve gone about 25-30 min).
Then we have the rubber squeegee broom. This newcomer is good for a full hardwood room when I don’t want to get out the vacuum or I’ve already vacuumed and then my dogs have a wrestling match. It accomplishes what I wish the Swiffer would do for my floors (and did do, before pets). The main issue is that I would need 5+ dry sweep cloths to do just my living room. Fur and dirt get pushed around easily with the rubber broom, it fits under furniture, and you can also use it on multiple surfaces – hard floors, carpet, couches, rugs, etc. You will need to scrape it with more pressure on soft surfaces versus the sweeping motion on hard floors. You can also use it on the stairs, but I find it kicks the dirt around too much versus a dust buster, and I sweep a little too aggressively and scuff the white paint on my stair risers.
Robot Vacuums. There are some hardore fans of the robot vacuum, and I am not one. First, the container on my robot vacuum is smaller than the dust buster receptacle, and needs to be emptied at least 3 times in our main living area alone. Second, ours needs to be semi-monitored because it will get stuck on something like the corner of a floor mat or under a cabinet. If you have a smaller space, it can be a great time saver.
Dyson Vacuums. I was lucky enough to receive a cordless Dyson vacuum as a wedding gift. It is lightweight, but I think would work better in smaller spaces. The Dyson has a very small storage footprint and you can mount it to a wall or behind a door. I used it more in our last apartment than now. (I did give it a solid test run pre-wedding and cleaned a friend’s entire living area with theirs). The biggest flaw on the Dyson is it requires you to continuously hold a trigger down to run instead of a fixed “on” switch, which is fatiguing if you need to clean the whole house. I also find it less effective on stairs and carpet versus my Shark vacuum. On stairs, when the Dyson whooshes (powers) off, it blows some of the dirt around and leaves it behind. On carpet, I have to empty the fur out frequently and that diminshes some of the convenience of it being cordless.
I’ve got two active dogs with long and medium coats, which means there is dog fur everywhere, all day, every day. I’ve tried a lot of products and tactics to keep the fur at bay to keep my home and clothing in presentable condition. Here are my top recommendations, beginning with your clothes.
Disclaimers: These may yield different results for short haired pets, and represent my experience with medium to long haired dogs.
Wrigley loves to nap in the dark confines of my closet, which means nuzzling against some of my wardrobe. The best rule of thumb to keep your clothes fur free is to keep your pets away from your clothes as best you can:
Keep your clothing enclosed or out of reach. This isn’t possible for everything, but I keep my t-shirts in a dresser drawer, and some shoes in enclosed under-bed storage. There’s tons of storage options at The Container Store, Amazon, Target, etc. Once you know what you’re looking for, keep an eye out at places like Home Goods for budget-friendly options.
Once you’re dressed to leave, don’t nuzzle your pets or sit on any fur.
Change into “home” clothing that is fur-repellent or you are okay covering in fur.
Run a lint roller over your clothing before it goes in your hamper.
Keep clean clothing away from your pets. Fold it on a clean surface and don’t leave it out where fur will collect.
Your best tool to remove fur from clothing is a lint roller. I prefer the sticky, disposable sheets to the velvety reusable ones, as these can pass over the most types of fabric and types of clothing, including lace or textured items. Keep them everywhere – where you dress, your living room, your car, at work. There are miniature ones for travel. You can also roll them on other surfaces like tables or floors to pick up fur quickly.
Note: These pet-specific dryer sheets come in a nice double size, but after a few months I haven’t noticed them being particularly effective at repelling pet fur versus the regular ones.
The mosquitoes of the South see me as a tasty, all-you-can-eat buffet. I used to get occasional bites on hiking trips in California, but nothing like spring and summer in Georgia. Without any preparation, I’ll get several bites within 10 minutes of going outside and they swell up pretty badly afterward in an allergic reaction most people don’t experience.
Here is my best advice for preventing and treating mosquito bites. For me, there is no remedy for a mosquito bite that helps as much as not getting bitten in the first place.
Warning: An example photo of said mosquito bite (yes, one) on my ankle follows.
My top recommendation is Sawyer’s 20% picaridin spray. I thought I would have to use DEET products all the time, but dislike the smell and DEET damages certain materials (like my nail polish). I use the Sawyer’s non-aerosol spray, but they also have other forms like lotion. I wear this spray daily over sunscreen in the warmer months. I’ll add a little more in the late afternoon if I’m taking the dogs on a long walk. I pump the spray into my hands and rub about two pumps onto each arm and leg. It is a little shiny at first application.
More Bug Repellent. If I am going to be outside for several hours or in any forested areas (including parks and backyards), I will up the bug repellent to the OFF Deep Woods repellent with DEET. It is by far the strongest and most effective, but also very strong in odor, which is why it’s not my top choice for daily use. I prefer the individual wipes so that I can control the application better and keep a small amount in my bag without any leaking. I wash my hands immediately after applying DEET repellent and shower it off before bed.
Candles and Bug Lanterns. I find these effective for reducing mosquitoes in your outdoor areas, but only consider them to be about 50% effective for preventing bites on myself. Candles and lanterns offer a pretty small, fixed zone of protection, and you’re meant to stay put in that couple foot range. There are some fans and lanterns that create a larger protective zone, but most of them emit small amounts of repellent into the air and may not be safe to have around food or pets.
That Bug Bite Syringe. For me personally, this thing is not great. I am in the minority of tens of thousands of reviews. You have to recognize when you are bitten and have it on hand to use immediately in order for it to work effectively. After that 5-minute window passes, it has not really done much for me to reduce the size or severity of my bug bites. It can also be tricky to use if you need to use it one-handed or on the back side of your body.
Lavender Oil. Lavender essential oil is the only thing I’ve ever found that actually prevents bug bites from swelling up, rather than mildly treating the swollen irritation after the fact. It is also natural and simple to use. Lavender oil is most effective closer to when you’ve been bitten, but the oil can also be effectively applied later when the bite has already welted. You can buy a rollerball or a small vial and apply a few drops using a cotton swab. I don’t keep this in my bag like the OFF wipes, but do bring the rollerball on weekend or outdoor trips.
OTC Bite Remedies. If you’ve already been bitten, stick with a simple cortisone cream or calamine lotion. Apply with a very light hand, as these are topical steroids and drugs, and you will feel side effects if you apply too much. Avoid touching or scratching the bug bites to limit the swelling and imflammation. You can periodically ice any swollen spots or smack an itchy bug bug bite for relief.
There you have it – my tips to staying comfortably mosquito bite-free! I hope these help you as well!
Now that you’ve selected a watermelon, how do you break it down? I like to fully cut it up into chunks and keep it in the fridge so it’s ready to eat. You’ll need two 14-cup containers or similar volume containers for a typical size seedless watermelon, and just one or slightly smaller for a miniature watermelon. You will also need a sharp chef’s knife, cutting board, and some paper towels or spare dish towel. It takes me about 20-30 minutes to break down an average size watermelon, 10-15 for a mini. If you have never cut a watermelon before, I recommend reading through to the end before starting.
Wash and dry your watermelon.
Cut it in half. Cut the halves into quarters, then the quarters into eighths.
Put each eighth flat side down and cut slices about 1.5-2 inches wide.
Trim the rind off each slice.
Cut the rindless watermelon in a cross-hatch to get it into chunks.
Place in container to eat or chill in the fridge.
1.Prepare Your Watermelon. Store your uncut watermelon somewhere safe and cool on your counter or floor. Safe means it cannot roll away, be tripped over, or reached by children and pets.
Wash your watermelon when you are ready to cut it. I use a little dish soap and then dry it with a dish towel (paper towels work too). Keep the towel nearby to wipe juice off your hands or counter. Washing removes any gunk that may be on the rind, prevents you from pushing said exterior gunk into your watermelon with the knife, and provides a clean grip on the rind to start.
2. Prepare Your Workspace. Set up at your desired counter space. I work next to my sink, which is good for juice runoff and close to my trash can. If needed, move your trash can nearby or set out a large bowl or a plastic bag so you can directly toss rind pieces as you cut. Tuck one or two folded paper towels under the front end of your cutting board to catch juice runoff instead of accidentally leaning into it with your clothes.
3. The First Cut is the Deepest. Set your clean watermelon on top of your cutting board. Let it settle naturally. One side will balance, as it previously sat on the ground while growing. The watermelon stripes should run left to right (horizontal). At all times, aim to keep the watermelon with as flat a side possible against the cutting board, and a knife movement that is comfortable. You can always move your watermelon to gain control more easily than contorting your hand.
The goal is to cut your watermelon in half so it looks like two round bowls, or a left and right hemisphere. Insert your knife in the top middle of the watermelon. Push the knife blade about 50-75% into the center of the melon to get the best leverage on the knife.
Place your free hand at the outside end or top of the watermelon, whichever feels comfortable but out of the path of your knife. Guide the blade down in a few motions to make the halfway cut on the side facing you, then remove the knife. If the knife ever feels stuck, gently wiggle it as you slowly pull the knife outward.
Rotate your melon or cutting board 180 degrees to cut the other side. Do not try to reach all the way over the melon and cut away from you. The halves by no means need to be even or perfect. Trim off any loose slivers or uneven parts and take the opportunity to quality control the heart of your watermelon.
4. Quarter the Watermelon. Aka cut if in half again. Set half of your watermelon aside. If it’s warm in your workspace or you are outside, cover the spare half with some plastic wrap or a reusable cover. Take your “working” half of the watermelon and turn it over so the flat, pink side is down against your cutting board. Cut this piece in half using two cuts, just as you did previously (cut, rotate, cut).
At this point, I set one of the quarters aside and work with one quarter until it is completely broken down into chunks. Then I go back to the other quarter, then half. You will ultimately need eigths, so if you prefer a slightly different order you certainly can do that.
5. Eighth Pieces. Keeping your quarter pieces flat side down, cut those in half again so you have 1/8 (eighth) pieces of the watermelon.
6. Slice, Slice, Baby. Keep one eighth on your cutting board and set all other pieces aside for working room. Rotate it so you can slice from a flat end with your dominant hand. About 1.5-2 inches from the flat open edge, cut a slice off the wedge from top to bottom. I typically get 3-4 slices off this section of the watermelon before you hit the awkward end piece.
If you plan to eat your watermelon in rind-on slices, adjust your slice width and size accordingly. This is great for grubby beach fingers, but otherwise the rind is a waste of space on your plate or in your fridge so we’ll keep going.
7. Remove the Rind. Turn the watermelon slice so the rind is against the cutting board. Hold the top, pointy part of the slice with your non-dominant hand. Line your knife up at the edge about 1/4 inch above the end of where the rind meets the pink part. Slowly carve the rind off the watermelon flesh.
Note that sometimes the rind is on an angle, and you can tilt the slice a bit to keep your knife pretty level. Err on the side of leaving too much rind, since you can always trim that off. Toss the rind into your trash (can, bowl, compost, etc).
Now, I know, you’re thinking – Hayley, this is not the flat side of the watermelon laying down! At this point, I find this to be the most secure way to hold it to cut off the rind while keeping your spare hand several inches away from and out of the path of your knife. If you were to put any of the flat sides down, you are likely going to be carving the rind off very closely to your fingers, or toward your fingers and body, or both.
8. Chop it Up! Now that you’ve freed the watermelon flesh from the rind, lay it down flat like a piece of paper. Slice it like a grid with vertical and then horizontal cuts. The curved edge may yield one piece less than the sections next to it. If you find your watermelon chunks too large or small, adjust your cuts on the next piece until you are happy. Transfer the pieces into your ready container.
9. The End Piece. Repeat steps 7-8 with each slice. Eventually you will get to the end piece, which has the most rind and looks a bit like a pyramid. Lay this piece on your cutting board with the rind against the board and pointed end up. Grip the top of the pyramid with your non-dominant hand fingers, and trim the rind off one side. When you get to the end, remove the knife, rotate the end piece, and continue on the second and third edges.
Once you’ve carved all the way along the bottom, insert your knife into your cut mark at the center of any side and push the knife down like a lever. If the watermelon does not come off the rind, go over your cut marks again and ensure your knife blade is reaching the middle of the piece.
Cut the end piece into chunks. You may realize you could have cut another slice prior, or left more for the end piece.
10. Keep Going, that was only 1/8 of your watermelon. Get your remaining pieces into eigths (steps 4-5), then repeat slicing and dicing (steps 6-9) until complete. Enjoy your watermelon fresh, or cover and place in the fridge to chill.
Cutting your own watermelon is cheaper than buying pre-cut from the store, but you do need more time and fridge space. You can also usually find a watermelon section or wedge near the prepared fruit that is portioned and priced somewhere in between a whole watermelon and pre-cut watermelon.
If you have a needy household member who is watching you and eating watermelon faster than you can cut it, hand them a full triangular slice to keep them busy while you work.
There are certainly other ways to break down a watermelon – I find this easiest and quickest way to cut it up while dealing with the least round sections that may roll or slip away.
Be sure to wipe down any juice-covered surfaces with water or cleaning spray, or it will be sticky later.
You can freeze excess watermelon though it is best fresh. I have not actually tried to eat thawed frozen watermelon, but have used it in blended drinks like smoothies or frose.
Have you ever wondered how to pick a good watermelon? Did you even know there’s an easy way to spot a good one?
Some people like to thump on the watermelon. I have no idea what they are listening for. Maybe something with the density. Others pick them up, thinking a heavy watermelon will be full of juice. Honestly, I think every watermelon is heavy and picking them up out of those big bins or a stacked pile of round objects is not easy.
My mom has never picked a bad watermelon. The trick is to look for a nice sized buttery yellow patch on the watermelon. Nowadays, this may look more yellow than you are used to seeing with conventional butter. You want the rich yellow color of organic butter or grass-fed butter. The coloring on the fruit comes from the way the watermelons sit and ripen while on the vine. Don’t worry about scratches or minor surface-level blemishes. Due to the thick rinds, there aren’t many flaws of note for the watermelons that make it to the store.
You can easily roll the watermelons over to look at the coloring if they are in those large cardboard bins. The yellow spot will also exist on the mini watermelons. The area is usually smaller on the minis, but look out for the color. Typically you will have the most options for watermelons in the summer, though you can usually find a good one at all times of the year. If they are all green, leave those melons alone and get a different fruit.
And that’s it! Once you’ve scoped out the watermelon of your desired size with a butter yellow patch you’re good to go. Take it home and store it in a cool, safe spot on a counter or floor until you are ready to cut it.