• May 24, 2024, 3:29 am

The best vacuums for pet hair of 2023 SoftAIT

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Update : Monday, November 6, 2023

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Pet hair is one of the only downsides to owning a pet. Whether it’s dust bunnies on hard surfaces, stray hairs on soft furnishings, or a layer of fluff on pretty much everything you own, there are very few dogs and cats that don’t shed hair at all. And while there are various solutions—from restricting the areas of the house that they’re allowed in, to using a damp cloth on fabrics to de-fuzz them, the quickest and easiest solution is a vacuum cleaner. But not just any vacuum cleaner. It’s tempting to think that a super-powerful vacuum is the solution. And while power is definitely important, the best vacuum for pet hair won’t rely on power alone. You also need to bear in mind other factors, such as the filter, the brush roll, the weight of the machine, and whether you need a vacuum that can double as a mop and be used wet as well as dry.

Vacuums can be expensive purchases, so to help you avoid making costly mistakes, here’s our guide to a few things you might want to consider when choosing the best pet vacuum.

The best vacuums for pet hair: Reviews & Recommendations

From the floofiest of doggos to the silkiest of cats, one of our picks should help annihilate the pet hair in your home.

Best overall: Bissel ICONpet Turbo Edge vacuum

Specs

  • Power source: Battery
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Compatible surfaces: Carpet, hardwood, drapes, pretty much anything

Pros

  • Relatively light considering its power
  • Fast charging
  • Powerful rotating brush
  • Versatile modular design
  • Wall-mounted charging station included

Cons

  • Dirt storage chamber could be bigger

This 8-pound vacuum boasts a surprisingly powerful electric motor that gets up to 50 minutes of runtime off of a single battery charge. It conveniently mounts to the wall during charging so it’s out of the way, but its wheels also lock in place if you want to simply lean it somewhere without worrying about it tipping over.

Engaging Turbo Boost mode reduces overall battery performance, but considerably increases suction power, which is important if you’re trying to pull pet hair out of a serious carpet. The head has a powerful rotating brush to pick up the hair, and it’s not prone to getting jammed up during our testing. Dirt and hair end up in an easy-to-remove chamber that could be a little bigger. Still, emptying the vacuum is easy, even if you have to do it frequently.

The modular attachment system allows it to work as a stick vacuum, as we as a smaller handheld sucker. The high-reach attachment could also be useful to you if you have vents, alcoves, ceiling fans, or other spots that are particularly hard to clean. Considering the price and the performance, we found this to be the best option for people with pets at the moment.

Best suction power: Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly Lightweight Bagged Upright Beltless Vacuum

Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly Lightweight Bagged Upright Beltless Vacuum

Specs

  • Power source: Cord
  • Weight: 19 pounds
  • Compatible surfaces: Carpet, hard floor, hardwoods, ceramic tile, laminate, bare floor, carpet, hard floor, hardwoods, ceramic tile, laminate

Pros

  • Powerful suction
  • Corded performance means you don’t have to worry about dead batteries
  • Roomy dust bin
  • Air-driven turbine pulls pet hair off of surfaces and out of materials
  • Three included attachments for versatility

Cons

Two motors in the nozzle and a double-walled design join together for effective suction. Designed to be used on multiple floor surfaces, this Kenmore pet hair vacuum includes a handheld head specially designed for hair and dander, plus a flexible hose and extension wand to get to hard-to-reach areas.

Best lightweight: Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Specs

  • Power source: Battery
  • Weight: 6.7 pounds
  • Compatible surfaces: All floor, Carpet, Hard Floor, Upholstery

Pros

  • Light
  • Powerful
  • Quick to charge
  • Up to 60 minutes of runtime on a charge
  • Most advanced filtration on the list

Cons

At about $600, the price might be a sticking point—but you get a lot of bang for your buck in this Dyson vacuum that weighs less than 8 pounds. According to the manufacturers, it still boasts twice the suction of any cordless vacuum. Intelligent sensors adjust power as you move across different surfaces and it comes with a mini motorized tool for removing pet hair from upholstery.

Best with tangle-free brush roll: BISSELL ICONpet Turbo Vacuum

A Bissell IconPet Turbo pet vacuum on a blue and white background.

Specs

  • Power source: Battery
  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Compatible surfaces: Carpet, hard floor

Pros

  • Powerful suction
  • Sturdy spinning brush
  • Converts into a high-reach or hand vac
  • Pleasing aesthetics

Cons

This lightweight, cordless BISSELL vacuum can be converted to a hand-held for easy access to more areas. Plus, it comes with a motorized brush specifically for pet hair. Although it packs less power (and a lower price) than the Dyson, the large brush roll has specially engineered bristles and powerful suction to ensure pet hair stays off the brush roll and goes straight into the tank.

Best with HEPA filter: Hoover MAXLife Pro Pet Swivel HEPA Media Vacuum Cleaner

Specs

  • Power source: Cord
  • Weight: 17 pounds
  • Compatible surfaces: Hard Floor, upholstery, all floors, carpet

Pros

  • Powerful suction
  • Several attachments
  • Corded power means no dead batteries
  • Pleasant to look at

Cons

  • You’ll have to plug it in

With a powered brush especially for pet hair and dander, you can be sure you’re picking up as much as you can. The sealed allergen system and HEPA filter trap 99% of dust and allergens inside this Hoover vacuum, so once you’ve vacuumed it up, it’s not going anywhere. A crevice tool also lets you reach behind the couch and up against the baseboards.

Best robot: iRobot Roomba i4+ Evo

Roomba i4+ evo robot vacuum for pet hair

Specs

  • Power source: Battery
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Compatible surfaces: Carpet, hard floor

Pros

  • Smart mapping makes for efficient cleaning
  • Large battery lets it clean more than other Roombas on one charge
  • Self emptying design only needs you to clean the bin once every two months or so
  • Three-stage cleaning process pulls up tough pet hair
  • Cleans in straight lines rather than random patterns

Cons

  • Your dog is going to hate the robot itself

If you’d rather spend time sitting on the couch with your pet than cleaning up dust bunnies, the Roomba i4+ Evo is the pick for you. Smart mapping makes for more efficient cleaning, meaning no more standoffs with ledges and area runs, and its large battery covers more area on one charge. A self-emptying design means you only need to clean the bin once a month, and a three-stage cleaning process wrangles all the dust bunnies. However, your pet might hate the noise and presence of a robot vacuum. But then again, they already hate the one you’re using now.

Best budget: BISSELL 2252 CleanView

Bissell clearview vacuum cleaner for pet hair

Specs

  • Power source: Cord
  • Weight: 12.5 pounds
  • Compatible surfaces: Hard floor, upholstery, carpet

Pros

  • Light compared to similar models
  • Swivel steering makes it easy to maneuver
  • Advanced brush roller for pulling up hair
  • Brush goes close to the edges of the head so there are no uncleaned gaps

Cons

This lightweight vacuum is made to save your back and your budget. Swivel steering lets you clean easily around furniture and other obstacles, and a triple-action brush roll gets even the deepest pet hair embedded in the carpet. It includes specialized pet tools like a Pet TurboEraser to clean stairs and upholstery. An easy-empty tank makes for mess-free dirt disposal. You’ll have to unplug and replug it as you clean around your home. If that’s not a dealbreaker, you’ll love all the savings and power you’ll get from this cheap pet vacuum.

Things to consider when shopping for the best vacuums for pet hair

Not all pets—and not all homes—are the same, so the best vacuum for pet hair for you will depend on you, your pets, and your living situation. We’re going to examine some of the vacuum features that should play a role in your decision-making process, from power and versatility to filter and brush roll, but ultimately how much weight (oh yep, that’s another consideration!) you give each will depend entirely on your specific needs.

How much suction power will you need?

When we’re talking about power in vacuum cleaners, it’s all too easy to look at the wattage— how much electrical power the vacuum cleaner needs to function. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story. The power you really care about in a vacuum cleaner, especially when you’re talking about the ability to pick up pet hair, is suction power. You’ll get the most suction power from your vacuum cleaner when the distance between the dirt and the machine is minimized (once you start adding long hoses and attachments, you’ll find that the suction drops). And, if you’ve got a high-grade filter on your vacuum, that will take more power to move the air through it than a basic filter so that can impact the suction too.

At the moment, while there are various ways in which suction can be measured, there is no agreed standard across the industry so, for example, you’ll find some pet vacuums boasting 2000Pa (or Pascals, which is a unit of pressure), while others will talk about how many RPM the motor does or their wattage. Annoyingly there’s no easy way to measure one against the other, so your best bet is to scour consumer reviews or rely on a site that’s done the hard work for you.

How lightweight do you need it to be?

Does the weight of your vacuum cleaner matter to you? If the answer is no, you’re probably able-bodied and live on a single-story with no stairs to clean, in which case, you can roll any old tank of a vacuum cleaner right out of the cleaning closet and get to work without a second thought. However, if you have stairs, like to use your vacuum cleaner to clean your car, or don’t want to enter any weightlifting competitions, then the weight of your device is going to be a consideration, especially if you’ve got a pet, and need to be constantly cleaning up after it.

So how do you choose a pet vacuum cleaner that’s handy and easy to use? The answer is to switch out your upright for a cordless vacuum cleaner that has a wall-mounted charging station so it’s always close at hand. Look for a model that can be used as a handheld device too.

The challenge with cordless vacuums—especially when it comes to pet hair—is getting enough battery power into them so that they can maintain the level of suction that they need to clean the whole house without requiring a recharge. And that’s a bit of a balancing act. Batteries can be heavy so you need to strike a happy medium between battery power and weight.

What brush roll is best?

If you’ve ever spent what feels like days of your life trying to untangle or snip off snakes of hair from a vacuum roller that’s ground to a halt after being slowly strangled by a build-up of fibers, you won’t need any convincing of the benefits of a tangle-free brush roll.

The problem is that most vacuums have a roller with bristles on it that are important for helping dislodge the hair from the carpet, but if you’re not careful, once dislodged, the hair can become caught in the bristles and wrapped around the roller, eventually causing it to clog and even stop turning. A vacuum with good suction is going to be less prone to this, but manufacturers have developed other tricks that work alongside suction to prevent this from happening.

Different brands have different names for the technology: Shark calls their version of it Zero-M and uses a bristle guard to separate hair from the brush roll until an integrated comb can actively remove the hair from the bristles. Dyson has a tangle-free turbine tool that has counter-rotating brushes rather than a roller, while Bissel’s tangle-free brush roll uses specially engineered bristles and powerful suction to ensure hair stays off the brush roll and goes straight into the tank.

What is the best vacuum for pet hair if you have allergies?

While there are some pets that are ideal if you suffer from allergies (remember Bo, the Obamas’ hypoallergenic Portuguese Water Dog?), you’ll still want to minimize the likelihood of triggering an attack by making sure that your vacuum cleaner can really blitz your home free of dander, dust, and pet hair. While most vacuum cleaners will suction up pretty much everything that’s in their path, it doesn’t necessarily follow that once it’s been sucked up it stays in the tank of the vacuum.

In fact, with a lot of vacuum cleaners, very small particles are actually recirculated into the air, so you’ll get the fur balls and crumbs in the tank, but minute fibers may just end up in the air, waiting to be breathed in and cause a reaction. The best vacuum for pet hair will have a HEPA (or high-efficiency particulate air) filter. This very high-spec filter can trap these tiny particles. HEPA filters are so effective that they can filter out 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 micron (a human hair is around 100 microns in diameter, so that’s pretty small!). And, the good news is that many types of HEPA filters can be washed (consult the manual of your device).

Need a constant cleaning companion?

For those who feel that they’re constantly vacuuming and mopping up after their pets, a robot vacuum could be a far less stressful solution than constantly getting your vacuum cleaner and bucket out—and far less costly than employing a housekeeper!

So how do they work? You’ve probably come across robot vacuums in the past. The early iterations weren’t particularly sophisticated; they basically ambled around a room turning around when they bumped into something, and accidentally falling down steps. But technology has moved on and the newest ones not only work with household assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, but also have sensors to help them map out a room so that they don’t clean the same area twice. They also “know” when their battery is getting low and can get themselves back to the charging station to juice up before starting again where they left off. Some also come with an app that you can use to instruct them to clean a particular area of a room, so if there’s a spillage, you don’t even have to get off the sofa to clear it up. The best part: They can continually pick up pet hair each time they run, so you don’t have to worry about doing a marathon cleaning session.

The dream? Well, kind of. A robot won’t do the stairs for you, so if you have staircases, they’ll need manual attention, they’re pricey, and while some do come with a mop function, most don’t allow you to use much more than water, so it’s pretty perfunctory.

FAQs

Q: What is the best vacuum cleaner for pets?

Though the “best” vacuum for pet hair will largely depend on what kind of dander you’re trying to tackle, there are a few key components that make some vacuums better able to handle the mess. Generally, these types of vacuums should have from 10 to 12 amps of power to collect all dirt and debris, and be equipped with special designs like brush patterns and wider openings to reduce the risk of hair tangles. The best pet vacuums are also designed with a beater brush, which works to rotate under the vacuum and bring up hair trapped inside carpeting.

Q: Do pet vacuums really work?

When it comes to vacuums specifically designed for pet hair, the consensus is that your regular run-of-the-mill vacuum won’t cut it. The specific designs are far more functional to clean floors and furniture of pesky pet hair, so we recommend investing in one if you’re serious about keeping your home hair-free.

Q: Is Shark better than Dyson?

If you can’t decide between a Shark and Dyson vacuum for your pet hair-cleaning needs, look no further. While Dyson vacuums boast a higher suction power, they are overall heavier and more expensive. Sharks may not collect pet hair with as much power as the Dyson option, but also are considerably more budget-friendly and might be easier to maneuver due to their lighter weight. If you’re searching for a high-powered pick, Dyson is the safest bet, but don’t count Shark out if you want a cheaper alternative.

Q: How much does a pet vacuum cost?

A pet vacuum can run you between $100-$500, depending on features and brand.

A final word on the best vacuums for pet hair

In an ideal world, you’d be able to get a featherlight cordless vacuum cleaner that had as much power as a corded model and could go for days on a single charge, but you might have to wait a few more years until one of those is invented. Until then, if you want the best vacuum for pet hair, powerful suction is a must, ideally combined with a special attachment for soft furnishings and a roller that won’t get in a tangle. When it comes to the nice-to-have extras, like a cordless, lightweight model with a high-quality filtration system, focus on your personal circumstances and needs to decide what’s best.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.



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