You keep hearing that the best way to rid your home of dog hair — and the dog dander that causes allergic reactions in some people — is to use the right vacuum cleaner. But the advice on which one to choose can get pretty confusing. The adbundance of makes and models alone is daunting.
You’d think if a vacuum were marketed specifically as useful for homes with pets, it would make picking one out simpler. But it doesn’t. As Consumer Reports noted in a recent issue, “if you want an all-around top performer, don’t be swayed by pet hair names and claims.” To help clear the air, both figuratively and literally, here are some of your best options for keeping up with your dog’s ever-shedding coat, and the dog dander (dead skin cells) that can attach to the hair or slough off on its own and cause sneezing, wheezing, and other allergy symptoms for some dog lovers.
A good starting point for removing pet fur and dander is a vacuum that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. These tightly-woven devices can keep as much as 99.9 percent of small, inhalable irritants from spewing back into the air as you vacuum — not just dander but also dust and other airborne particles that can trigger an allergy attack or create problems for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). What you end up with is a clean and clean-smelling home and wellness for vulnerable breathers.
Keep in mind that not all so-called HEPA filters are the real deal. Some can release as much as 15 percent of particles back into the environment. Make sure to look for a true HEPA filter which, by definition, blocks at least 99.7 percent of particles measuring 0.3 microns. The label should guide you, and you can always contact the manufacturer as well.
Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away Vacuum is almost like three vacuums in one. It serves as an upright, has a “Lift-Away” pod to more easily carry the vacuum about, and also works as a canister vacuum. Its extra-large dust cup has an anti-allergen complete seal and HEPA filter to trap over 99.99 percent of dust and allergens.
Swivel steering allows maneuvering around furniture and difficult spaces, and a rotator power nozzle has headlights to illuminate what you’re vacuuming. In addition, a brush roll shutoff allows you to shift easily from carpets to bare floors. The vacuum comes with a pet power brush, canister caddy, straight suction nozzle, tool for getting into crevices, and 30-foot power cord to extend cleaning range without unplugging and plugging from room to room. And a pet upholstery tool will help pull up entrenched fur from furniture and other spots. Finally, the manufacturer boasts that the vacuum’s quiet technology means it can be used any time and anywhere. $229.99.
Kenmore Progressive Canister Vacuum‘s HEPA filter means a minimum of allergens in exhaust air while managing not only all types of floors but also drapes, stairs, furniture, and other potentially hard-to-reach spots that may require the 7-foot Telescopic Wand. Better still, the canister vac comes with a stair grip to make it easier to clean from one stair tread to the next. It also comes with a PetPowerMate and Pet Upholstery Tool to further help rid your home of evidence of your dog’s shedding, in addition to an Electronic Performance Indicator to let you know when the canister’s bag is full or something is stuck. This vacuum is accredited by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. $279.00.
Dyson DC40 Origin Upright Vacuum has built-in HEPA filtration and two washable, “spongy” filters. The vacuum’s see-through bagless bin lets you view easily when dirt needs to be emptied. Tools include an instant-release wand that stretches five times its length to reach stairs and other hard-to-get-at places, a debris nozzle that turns into a dusting brush tool, and a stair tool to get at corners and edges. This vacuum is accredited by the Asthma and Allergy Foundaton of America. $319.
Eureka Mighty Mite Pet Lover 3684F is a compact canister HEPA filter vacuum with a relatively light weight of 9 pounds. That makes it easy to move from room to room and also to store. The Arm & Hammer odor-eliminating dust bag helps catch pet dander while cutting down on nasty scents. Comes with a telescoping wand, 20-foot cord, and tool for crevices. $78.29.
Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Pet UH30310 receives a strong recommendation from Consumer Reports, not just for its excellent ability to pick up pet hair and dander with the help of its HEPA filter but also for its ability to do an all-around good cleaning of both bare floors and carpets. The 15-pound vacuum is easy to maneuver and comes with a 30-foot power cord to widen the area you can clean prior to having to unplug and replug in another room. The Clean-Drop Bag and One-Touch Bag Door release means that you can drop the full bag directly into the garbage without having to negotiate close contact with it. $150.00.
While HEPA filters can keep nearly all bits of dust and dander from being released back into the air, the vacuums they come in cannot necessarily tackle deep-down dirt or bacteria. That’s where a vacuum that combines suction with steam cleaning comes in. Most such models are outfitted with a two-compartment container, one for storing clean water and the other for the moistened dirt, dust, and fur that is vacuumed up. Because the dust, dander, fur, and other substances you pull up are wet, they will not release back into the air and can simply be poured out without worries about inhalation of irritants. Some of these vacuums also come with a quick-drying feature, which means that you can do a deep-down cleaning in your home and not have to wait for it to dry before walking on the wood or tile floors or carpets or sitting on your newly cleaned upholstered furniture. There are also steam-cleaning vacuums that deodorize as they clean, leaving your home smelling as you would like it to.
Bissell DeepClean Essential Full Sized Carpet Cleaner 8852 uses Heatwave Technology to keep water temperature high enough while the DirtLifter PowerBrush’s six cleaning rows help bring up dirt hidden deep in carpeting. This model comes with a tool to get at whatever needs tending on stairs; EdgeSweep brushes to get close to furniture’s edges and baseboards; and a large, two-part capacity tank to allow more cleaning time between filling with dirt and emptying. $143.98.
Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Washer FH50150 is an easy-to-manage 18-pound vacuum scrubber that uses Spinscrub Technology’s counter-rotating brushes that fully surround carpet fibers as they clean. There is a wash/rinse selector to wash with water and cleaning solution and/or rinse carpets with water. There is also a dual “v” nozzle to help with cleaning edges. The unit even has forced heated air to quickly dry all that you’ve cleaned. $159.99.
Hoover Max Extract 77 Multi-Surface Pro Carpet & Hard Floor Deep Cleaner FH50240 gets carpets and floors washed and dried quickly. Spinscrub Technology provides 77 counter-rotating brushes to surround individual carpet fibers in order to remove dirt. Options include spill pickup mode, gentle scrub mode, and power scrub mode. There is also edge-to-edge cleaning to lift stains with pressurized dirt-loosening spray. $199.99.
Shark Sonic Duo Carpet and Hard Floor Cleaner ZZ550 cleans carpets and hardwood floors using a concentrated, non-toxic cleaning solution. The two scrub modes for the different floor types deliver 1,000 scrubs every minute. This model swivels easily and has headlights to provide a clearer view of what you’re cleaning. Also comes with washable microfiber pads. $139.00.
Bissell Symphony Pet All-In-One Vacuum & Steam Mop allows vacuuming and steam mopping from the same source. The steam feature can be switched from low-steam to high-steam or to basic vacuum mode with the use of easy-touch digital controls. And the dirt tank can be emptied with a hands-free drop system. SwifferBissell SteamBOOST mop pads are scented and disposable. $194.99.
We put these in a separate category because there are times you don’t want to lug around the big vacuum. Some handheld vacuums have a HEPA filter, and that’s great, but their small motors mean dander and other irritants aren’t spewed into the air with the same force as from larger vacuums in the first place. They’re great for spot jobs — a quick lifting of fur from the couch or an upholstered chair in time for company or a pick-up of debris and dog hair from your car’s interior for those days that it’s your turn to carpool.
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum, Corded 33A1 has a flexible rubber, contoured nozzle for tidying up crumbs or cleaning the inside of your car. It can be released by pressing down on a button so you can put in the interchangeable hard nozzle for better stability. Has an easy-grip handle. $24.99.
Dirt Devil Classic 7 Amp Bagless Handheld Vacuum M0100 has a motorized brush for hard-to-remove dirt and pet hair, a 6.5-inch-wide nozzle, and tools that include a wand, hose, dusting brush, crevice tool, and upholstery brush. This handheld model also has a HEPA filter. $47.61.
Hoover Platinum Collection LiNX Cordless Pet Handheld Vacuum BH50030 lets you get at pet hair without the hindrance of a cord as you go about vacuuming drapes and upholstered furniture, stairs, and dog bedding. The vacuum has a pet upholstery tool with a three-blade design to help lift embedded hair, a deluxe dusting brush for surfaces that require a gentle touch, and a 25-degree pivot ability to maneuver around furniture and corners. $149.99.
Eureka EasyClean Corded Hand-Held Vacuum has one motor for suction and a separate one for the revolving brush. Stretch hose makes cleaning upholstery, stairs, and car interiors easier. Comes with riser visor for carpeted stairs and also a crevice tool. Wrapping 20-foot cord. $39.99.
Shark Pet Perfect II SV780 has a recharging 18-volt battery with a wall mount charging stand that also stores tools. The manufacturer says the secret to this machine’s efficacy is its twister cyclonic technology. It also comes with a direct suction tool, a crevice tool, a dusting brush, and a motorized pet hair brush. $48.00.