Keeping happy housedogs along with a clean house can seem like mutually exclusive propositions.

When the previous owners updated the kitchen of our circa 1920s house, I don’t think they considered the impact a couple of active dogs would have on the renovation. Although the improvements helped to transform the room from an old-school canteen into a functional space that is light and airy, our dogs seem unimpressed.

The kitchen is certainly welcoming enough, even for the dogs. A small seating area provides a place where they can catch a few winks, and a large window gives them an unobstructed view of the town’s bike path.

We appreciate the new hardware and countertops that enhance the original cabinets, and the contemporary lighting and stainless steel appliances that bring the room into the 21st century. Altogether it’s not a bad place to sit down for dinner.

Only one area gives us a problem where the dogs are concerned: the impossibly light, bright flooring.

The floor of our kitchen is a rolled vinyl sheet with a 9-inch-by-9-inch tile pattern. The “tiles” are off-white in color and the “grout” is only a shade or two darker. The floor seemed tidy enough at first, but its deficiencies became obvious the first time the dogs walked through the room with muddy feet.

A rainy day transforms our kitchen floor into a patchwork pattern of paw prints. Photo © by Robert Adrian Hillman/

A door leads from the kitchen directly to the backyard. Its location is certainly convenient for letting the dogs outside, but every time it rains or snows, the nice white kitchen floor is transformed into a patchwork pattern of paw prints.

Initially, we simply used a damp mop to clean up the mess, but this proved impossible to keep up. We tried using towels to wipe the dogs’ feet at the door, but this too became a chore after a few days of heavy rain. Various doormats were purchased, for both indoor and out, but none were able to remove enough of the mud and water that the dogs always seemed to track through the kitchen.

Then I went to a dog show where I was introduced to a floor mat that actually works.

Under the shade of a pop-up tent, a vendor demonstrated with ease how his floor mat removes up to 95 percent of the dirt and grime from our shoes and our dog’s feet.

The man’s presentation consisted of his leaving footprints on a clean white sheet of paper after he’d just stepped into a dishpan of dirty water. He repeated this process a second time, only now he stepped onto his floor mat before leaving his mark on another sheet of paper. This time, the paper remained almost completely clean and dry, and all I could imagine was a nice, white kitchen floor!

The Dirt Trapper floor mat instantly became one of my favorite things.

As the salesman explained it to me, the mat’s surface is made of micro fibers that are so absorbent, just a few steps across it removes nearly all traces of water and debris. A synthetic latex backing prevents leakage to the surface below, so it’s even safe to use on hardwood floors.

Sold in two sizes, 20-by-30 inches and 30-by-50 inches, the Dirt Trapper can easily be cut into any size or shape.

One of the things I like about this mat is that it’s so thin. It fits under every door in any room of the house. It’s also machine-washable, and placing it in the dryer only increases its ability to absorb.

Although my mat did shed a bit the first few times it was washed, this hasn’t affected its ability to perform as expected. Our dogs happily come and go through the back door, and the kitchen floor remains clean and dry.

Finding a floor mat that really works should be part of every kitchen renovation.