I’m a calm person. But give me a cat, and a bad vacuum cleaner, and I’ll be the most agitated person in the world! I’ve had my little ginger cat for about two years now, and for most of that time have had a low quality vacuum cleaner which meant I literally gave the house a vacuum, then crawled around on my hands and knees, picking out cat hair with one hand, and feeding it directly into the vacuum tube I held with the other hand. If I attempted to use the vacuum cleaner to pick up the hair with no manual assistance by myself on my hands and knees, I’d need to push the vacuum head over the patch of hair what seemed like fifty times before it would eventually pick it up! Arrrrg!
It was tedious and frustrating, and at times made me wish I never owned my feline friend!
If your vacuum cleaner won’t pick up your pet hair, I highly recommend investing in a new vacuum! I’m going to do my best to make your buying decision easy by explaining what you need to look for when choosing a vacuum cleaner that effectively deals with your pet hair problem. These are they things you need to be considering when purchasing a vacuum cleaner for pet hair.
Pet Hair Attachments
The number one thing you need to know is that you should only be considering vacuum cleaners that come with a rotating head attachment. This is the part that comes into contact with the carpet. The most basic heads just rely on suction, and if you have one of these currently you will know that it simply does not pick up any pet hair. It might push it along a bit, or roll the pet hair into a easy-to-pick-up tube, but it does not pick the hair up off the ground.
Rotating attachments have brushes that spin when the vacuum is turned on, and will effectively pick up the most stubborn pet hair out of the fibres of your carpet and rugs. I personally have two rotating attachments for my vacuum cleaner and they both effectively get my cats fur off all surfaces. I have the wide attachment for my home’s carpet and rugs, and the same attachment, but a much skinnier version, for vacuuming stairs, furniture, and hard to reach gaps (like between my bed and bedside tables).
If you own a dog and it frequently rides in your vehicle, you may also want to choose a vacuum with a car accessory kit. These kits will make vacuuming pet hair out of all the crevices in your car much less frustrating, and should reach otherwise unreachable locations. Alternatively, you can use a stair cleaner that comes with rotating brushes. It should be able to do a good job on the upholstery in your vehicle, but won’t be easy to reach the hidden nooks as a car-specific accessory kit may be.
Robot Vacuum Cleaners for Pet Hair
When writing my guide on robot vacuum cleaners, I mentioned that they can do a poor job of picking up pet hair. This isn’t because robot vacuum cleaners are bad products, it’s simply because they are not as smart as humans. Picking up pet hair with a vacuum cleaner often takes two or three passes of the vacuum head. A human can keep on vacuuming the same spot until we see that it is all successfully sucked up. A robot vacuum however, will happily pass over a spot on the carpet without knowing that it has left behind a clump of hair. For this reason, I’d recommend against buying a robot vacuum cleaner if you have pet which is particularly fluffy, and coats your carpet and furniture in his or her hair. Avoiding a robot vacuum will ensure you don’t have to walk around behind it picking up all the little clumps it missed.
This isn’t to say robot vacuum cleaners are bad, or shouldn’t be bought. In the right circumstances they do a great job….but just not for pet hair (unless you purchase a high end model. Read our robot vacuum cleaner guide for more).
All vacuum cleaner purchasing decisions will require you to choose the capacity of the vacuum cleaner, which is essentially how much dirt, grime, and hair it can hold. Depending on your particular pet (and the number of them!) you may want to go for a larger capacity vacuum cleaner if you have a lot of pet hair to clean. If you pick a smaller vacuum, you may find yourself emptying the bag or canister more often than you would like too.
My cat has the thickest coat of fluff I have ever seen, and it is her mission to leave it all over the carpet and my furniture. It doesn’t help that other cats sneak in the cat door at night, and not only leave their own fluff around, but get into fights with my cat and leave clumps of hair everywhere. If this sounds like your situation, choose a larger capacity vacuum so you don’t get frustrated with emptying it too frequently, as pet fur can quickly fill up bags and canisters!
Also take into consideration the size of your house or apartment. If the floor area is large, you will want a bigger vacuum with high capacity to ensure the time spent vacuuming is low, and the frequency of emptying the dirt canister or changing the bag is low. If you live in a small apartment, you may have limited storage room and want a smaller vacuum that doesn’t take up valuable space.
Floor surface Considerations
It goes without saying that vacuuming pet hair off a hard floor is a much easier task than cleaning carpet or upholstery. The different types of flooring in your home will play a big role in what sort of vacuum you choose to deal with your pet hair problem. Thick carpet requires a vacuum with a rotating head that thoroughly suctions the pet hair from the fabric it is clinging too. If your home or apartment is mainly carpet, you will definitely want a high quality vacuum to ensure all your pet hair is removed without frustration.
However, if you have an apartment that is mainly wooden floors, a cheaper model vacuum cleaner may do the trick just fine. You may also like to consider a robot vacuum cleaner as their performance on hard flooring is exceptional.
If your home has a variety of surfaces, read our vacuum cleaner for pet reviews and find the best all round solution. Most homes have carpet in the bedrooms and living rooms, and harder flooring in kitchens or dining rooms. If this is the case in your home decide where your pet spends most of the time (and leaves most of the fur!) and buy the best vacuum cleaner for your specific situation.