What is the best vacuum cleaner to buy for pet hair? It is a hotly contested market. Any vacuum that sucks up hair and dirt could be called a pet vacuum in theory, but it won’t deserve that name unless it has one or more of the following features…
A good filter is absolutely essential. The “pet smell” in homes comes from dander: microscopic particles of skin, saliva, sweat and other proteins that can be as small as two microns (two thousandths of a millimetre) and can remain in the air for long periods of time, before settling into every fiber of your carpet and upholstery. You want to make sure that when you vacuum up the dander, they stay vacuumed up.
The acronym to look for here is HEPA: a high-efficiency particle-absorbing filter will trap 99.95% of particles down to 0.3 microns, which includes pet dander as well as pollen, dust and many micro-organisms, bacteria and some viruses.
“HEPA filters offer the best method of filtration,” says Katerina Petrova of cleaning company Happy House. “You can find models with or without a bag and the prices range from cheap to much more expensive. Good examples of this type of vacuum cleaner come from Miele, Shark and Dyson.”
Of course, in order to be filtered, the air must first be sucked in and this requires a powerful motor creating strong suction. Our guide to buying the best vacuum cleaners explains the complicated matter of measuring suction, but if you can’t find any indication of the model’s water height (in mm), airflow (in m3/h) or power output (in airWatts), its motor power in Watts will give you a rough estimate: look for 600W or more.
A bag or a cyclone cylinder filled to the brim with animal hair will drastically reduce the suction power of the vacuum cleaner, so remember to empty the receptacle as regularly as possible. A cyclone has the advantage here over a bag, as the hair is visible, but its built-in filter will need to be cleaned regularly.
“Pet hair is small, fine, almost invisible and can get everywhere,” says Fola George, WeCasa home cleaning specialist. “It’s important to get everything up, especially if someone in the house has allergies. That’s why I prefer cyclones for this job, because they suck straight in, you can see it’s working and you get rid of it right away.
Finally, a good pet vacuum needs special attachments to remove pet hair, which can be finer than human hair, making it more likely to cling to fabrics due to the static electricity. Hair can also easily clog the bristles of a standard vacuum head, reducing its ability to sweep up dirt.
Motorized rotating brush rolls, ideally with anti-tangle features, are a feature of most good pet vacuums, but you should also check out attachments such as turbo nozzles, crevice tools and dusting brushes. designed to remove hair and dander from upholstery, curtains and hard-to-reach corners.
There are pet versions of the best cordless vacuums, upright vacuums, cylinder vacuums, and even robot vacuums (their sensors can identify pet messes and avoid them). We’ve tested them all to help you find the best pet vacuum for you.