Sometimes the most practical tools we have are unlikely, simple or put to work in ways the designer never intended.
As I go about my daily work making dogs and cats more beautiful and comfortable, I utilize all the typical tools you would expect a groomer to use. But I also have some favorite things that make my work easier which are not “regulation” grooming tools or products, but essential just the same. So, here is a list of some of my favorite workplace tools and products that you won’t find at a grooming supply store:
1 Baby Wipes. We always keep a package of baby wipes handy and it’s incredible how often we reach for one. They are great to wipe nose folds on Pugs or get that little bit of ear wax that the dog shook out after you cleaned its ears. Also, they often get used for cleaning up after an anal gland surprise or uncastrated dogs that are a little drippy. These inexpensive wipes are something we’d hate to live without.
2 Hair Scrunchies. Soft, colorful and oh-so-handy to hold long ears up out of the way while working on faces or buffing nails, human hair scrunchies are an essential in my salon.
3 Exfoliating Gloves. These hard-working gloves are great for getting eye crusties and beard funk out while bathing dogs. If you’ve never tried them, you’ll be glad you did.
4 Dollar Store Bathmats.Pop these in your crates to help absorb water and provide a soft spot for pets to rest.
5 Vinegar. It’s not just for salad anymore! Because of its acidic qualities, vinegar has antibacterial properties and can be used as a non-toxic cleaner. We use it in our bathing system, add it to floor cleaner, use it to wipe down surfaces and even as a window cleaner. In addition, many groomers dilute it and use it as a final rinse. When added to the laundry, it can also help squelch pet odors.
6 Designer Anti-fatigue Mats. I think these mats are a must for groomers, but I only recently realized they come in pretty colors and patterns. We have some that look like vintage oriental rugs and are so much nicer than the old black or gray ones I used to buy.
7 Self-Cleaning Mop.I’ll confess right now; I am not a big fan of mopping. I bought a self-cleaning mop about a year ago, and now I dislike this chore much less. The mop has fiber pads that Velcro tightly to the head and a bucket with clean water/floor cleaner on one side, and the other side squeezes out the dirty water and keeps it separate from the clean side. The pads get tossed in the washing machine when the job is done. It all seems so much more sanitary and civilized than my old sponge mops.
8 Simple Human Trash Can. My grooming studio décor is all vintage, and for years I used a pretty wicker hamper for a trash can. It looked good but was a pain. The bags would slip down inside, and if they got overfilled, they would snag on the wicker when I tried to remove them, often tearing. So, I finally broke down and bought a very modern Simple Human trash can. It is the most beautifully-designed thing, and I am grateful for it every time I take the trash out. The bags fit snugly, never sliding, and replacement bags are ingeniously stored right in the can. The bags even notify me when I am running low to order more. I love this can so much that I bought one for my kitchen.
9 Think Sport Water Bottle. Keeping well hydrated is important, butkeeping my water fur-free has often been a challenge. So finally, after trying more water bottles than I care to admit, I have found the perfect one. It is called Think Sport, and the lid is easy to use with one hand while I hold a doodle with the other. It keeps my water cold all day, does not sweat on my furniture and looks nice if it shows up in the background of a pet picture I might take.
10 Chalk. Non-toxic chalk designed for kids to play with comes in handy if a customer wants a pop of temporary color on their dog’s ears or tail. Just wet a toothbrush, brush it over the chalk and then apply it to pet fur. It works best on light-colored coats. I spritz a little pet hairspray on to help it last.
11 Bar Keepers Friend. This household scouring powder got a seal of approval from the manufacturer of my expensive grooming tub. It makes cleaning a breeze and leaves it sparkling and looking like new. Although I tried many other products first, this one has earned its keep the best.
12 Box fan. This versatile tool is a must-have for me. Not only does it cool me down in warm weather, but it also quickly dries freshly-mopped floors and pinch-hits as a safe, heat-free cage dryer. I groom pets straight through and rarely cage-dry, but if a dog just can’t handle being table-dried, my trusty box fan does a great job.
13 Computer Paper.If you have trouble seeing dark-coated dogs’ feet well enough to scissor them neatly, try placing each paw on a sheet of white paper. It’s like magic.
14 Contact Lens Case. The kind that flips up with a flick of your thumb makes a nifty holder for styptic powder. No more fumbling with lids!
15 Hogwash.A cat groomer introduced me to this magic spray. It’smade in the US, is organic, unscented, and safe for people and pets. It takes out pet odors like a dream. You know that dog that is all bathed and dried and then expresses its anal glands? This stuff will make it seem like it never happened. Or that dog whose owner does not want cologne, but you are on autopilot and give it a spritz anyway? Hogwash to the rescue!
16 Heavy-duty Kitchen Gloves. Cut the fingers off so you can still use tools, but put these on for those dogs that like to shred your arms when you are cutting nails or working on their face.
Sometimes the most practical tools we have are unlikely, simple or put to work in ways the designer never intended. However, pet groomers are creative thinkers; finding ways to make their work more efficient seems to go with the territory. ✂️