If you’re a pet lover, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the frustration of finding pet hair sticking to everything–furniture, drapes, bed skirt’s, cupboards, carpets, wallboards and corners, and of course any warm pile of clean laundry. Even kitchen pots and pans. A good vacuum is an absolute necessity–but where do you start?
What is my pet hair situation?
Before you begin shopping for a pet hair vacuum, nail down the problem (or problems) that you are facing.
- Do you have a persistent problem with dog or cat hair floating all over the floor?
- Is pet hair sticking to your furniture upholstery and drapes?
- Is pet hair not obvious, but guests and family are having allergic reactions?
- Is your current home vac simply not picking up the hair, or is it clogging the attachments and hose?
- Is pet hair difficult to remove from carpets and rugs?
Narrowing down the problem(s) will help you define the type of vacuum you want or need.
What do I want it to do?
If the hair situation would be manageable with a better or newer home vac, you might consider simply shopping for an upgraded or newer model. You could save money and be happier overall with one powerful model than buying one vacuum for the home and one specifically for pet hair. Some home models offer specific ‘pet hair’ attachments.
On the other hand, some of the best home vacs are pretty heavy. Maybe you’d like to have a lighter weight model or a handheld model that you quickly grab to go after all those floaty hairs. A handheld would make it easy to do a quick suck up before guests arrive, or after your pet has had a major grooming moment on your favorite chair.
If you’re frustrated with hair all over carpets and rugs, well, what can I say? Carpets are like Velcro for fur. Pet owners would be wise to pull up wall-to-wall carpets or restrict their pets to areas of the house with hard flooring. If that’s not an option, consider placing smoothly-textured or washable outdoor rugs over your wall-to-wall carpets. There are some extremely attractive outdoor rugs available that you can either vacuum easily, or simply roll up, take outside and hose off.
If your problem is dander and allergens, you should try using search phrases like ‘pet vacuum allergen’ or ‘pet vacuum allergen’. Keep in mind that just because you or someone you know has pets, that might not be the only thing setting off allergic reactions. If a vacuum isn’t sufficiently picking up pet hair, then it is probably also missing dust, mites, and spores.
How do I know which model is best for me?
One of the first steps is to look for vacuum review sites like VacuumSeek and other product review websites to see what other people are saying.
Amazon reviews of vacuums and pet hair vacuums are helpful, but keep in mind that some companies give out free products to testers in exchange for reviews. Look for products that have a large number of reviews, and a high percentage of 4 to 5-star reviews.
If you still have questions after reading the product specifications and reviews, post your question on the product page. Most questions are answered within hours by people who have actually used the product.
ConsumerSearch.com does not provide onsite reviews, but if you type ‘pet hair vacuums’ into their search bar, you’ll get an impressive list of review articles and comparisons. Consumer Reports provides professional reviews of vacuums, including vacuums for allergies and “pet-friendly” vacuums. You might also find advice on cleaning products, filters and the best vacuums on sites like Health.com.
Any number of discussion forums include threads where people are discussing pet hair and vacuum choices. If you register on the site, you can pop in and ask questions of the other members. Try Bogleheads.org, GermanShepherds.com, Positively.com, or visit your own favorite forums.
Maintaining your pet hair vacuum
Whatever model you choose, empty your vac canister frequently, preferably after every use. Do this outside, to avoid releasing dust, dander and hair back into the house. Empty the hair blob into a lined wastebasket or garbage bag, immediately tie it closed, and deposit it in the outside garbage bin. Carrying the wastebasket back into the house will simply bring a trail of floating debris and hair back in.
Clean your brushes and hose frequently with the tools by provided by the manufacturer. Another trick is to occasionally vacuum up some sugar or cornstarch. The grains help rub away some of the hair oils that tend to accumulate on the vac accessories and hose.