You’d be forgiven for assuming that any vacuum cleaner stands a good chance of tackling most suction-based cleaning jobs. However, as any owner of a shaggy dog or shedding cat will tell you, cleaning up after pets is one of the toughest jobs for a vacuum cleaner to tackle.
The problems are manifold. Pet hair gets everywhere, it never stops growing, it appears regularly (and in vast quantities) and it’s spectacularly good at sticking to things. Your standard vacuum’s floor head might be enough to make a good effort on your floors, as long as it’s got a rotating brush bar with stiff bristles. However, you probably don’t want to use the floor head to pull the hair out of your furniture, and they’re usually too bulky to tackle stairs.
Don’t worry. There’s a good range of vacuum cleaners available that have been designed specifically with pets in mind. Here’s what you need to look out for.
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Best vacuum cleaner for pet hair: At a glance
How to choose the best vacuum cleaner for you and your pet
What type of vacuum cleaner should you choose?
There are many types of vacuum available, from corded uprights to cordless sticks. The type of vacuum cleaner you buy doesn’t really matter, but look for one with a floor head that has a brush roller. These spin as you vacuum, lifting dirt and pet hair out of carpet, which means the vacuum will perform a better job regardless of how powerful it is.
Do you need anti-hair tangle?
The biggest problem with brush rollers is that they tend to collect hair, particularly if your pet has longer hair. Standard brush rollers can wrap hair around themselves as they clean, before the vacuum has a chance of whisking it away. This can easily be cleared with a pair of scissors, but will need to be performed regularly. Choosing a vacuum with a way of protecting the roller from build-ups of hair means you won’t have to maintain your vacuum cleaner as regularly.
Does it have to say “Pet” or “Animal” on it?
Not necessarily. While this is a good indicator that a vacuum cleaner comes with the correct equipment for tackling pet hair throughout your home, there are certainly some models that come with the right bits without trumpeting it.
Buying a pet-specific vacuum cleaner usually means that it comes with a pet accessory. This is a handheld tool that looks like a smaller version of the main floor head, with its own motorised brush roller. To use it, simply clip it onto a hose or the end of the device as you would a crevice tool or other accessory. You can then use it on furniture and upholstery. These attachments are good at cleaning stairs, too.
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The best vacuum cleaners for pet hair to buy in 2022
1. Dyson V15 Detect Animal: The best all-round vacuum cleaner for pet hair
Price: £ 529 | Buy now from John Lewis
Dyson’s flagship cordless stick is one of the best all-round vacuum cleaners. Although this version has ‘Animal’ in the name, you don’t strictly have to opt for this particular model, as both the V15 Detect Absolute and the V15 Detect Complete also come with Dyson’s Hair Screw Tool accessory.
The Hair Screw Tool is an update of the Mini Motorised Tool that comes with older Dyson models, and is specifically designed to lift stubborn hair and other problematic dirt from upholstery, mattresses, and all the other places you don’t want to use the traditional floor head. The tapered screw design of the Hair Screw Tool’s rotating brush bar moves any trapped hair away from the workings of the brush and towards the vacuum, avoiding tangles and keeping the brush clean.
The regular floor head is one of the best at agitating carpet and also comes with anti-tangle, which should stop it from getting too bogged down with longer hair. With high suction power, you can also expect that a Dyson V15 is going to be more than capable of transferring dislodged pet detritus into its collection bin.
Read our full Dyson V15 Detect review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 250 x 252 x 1,264mm (WDH); Weight: 3kg; Bin capacity: 760ml; Vacuum Type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: 240AW
Buy now from John Lewis
2. Shark Anti Hair Wrap with PowerFins, Powered Lift-Away & TruePet ICZ300UKT: The best cordless upright vacuum cleaner for pet hair
Price: £ 429 | Buy now from Amazon
Shark’s ICZ300UKT is slightly unusual because it’s a hybrid model, mixing the form of an upright with the convenience of a cordless. Watch out for the product name on this one, because there are two very similar models, and only the ICZ300UKT comes with its TruePet Anti Hair Wrap Pet Tool.
This is Shark’s take on the motorised accessory for cleaning upholstery and other vacuumable areas that aren’t your floor. It uses stiff fins on the roller, instead of brushes, which does a great job of flicking dirt up and into the suction outlet. The handle of the main unit detaches from the extension wand but stays connected to the hose, and you attach the motorised pet tool onto the end. The main unit can also be lifted away from the floor head, which helps it get to places that are trickier to reach.
Read our full Shark ICZ300UKT review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 260 x 250 x 1080mm (WDH); Weight: 6.2kg; Bin capacity: 600ml; Vacuum Type: Cordless upright; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: N / S
3. Vax Blade 4 Pet & Car: The best value cordless vacuum cleaner for pet hair
Price: £ 299 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’re looking for a more affordable cordless stick vacuum that still has the tools you need to clean up after your pet, then the Vax Blade 4 Pet & Car is just the ticket. This is essentially the same main unit as a standard Vax Blade 4, but it comes with some unique accessories to help combat pet hair and tricky-to-reach areas.
The main helper for those tackling pet hair is the Mini Motorised Pet Tool. This can be attached to the device in place of the extension wand. It resembles a miniature version of the floor head, with a rotating brush roller that lifts hair from furniture so the vacuum can suck it up. For extra convenience, the Pet & Car version also comes with a Flexible Powered Hose, which can also power the Pet Tool when connected. This helps get the tool into the awkward places your pet might visit that aren’t otherwise easy to get vacuum tools to.
Watch out for offers on this one, as it’s regularly discounted as low at £ 199.
Read our full Vax Blade 4 Pet & Car review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 185 x 240 x 1,140mm; Weight: 3.1kg; Bin capacity: 600ml; Vacuum Type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Suction power – stated: N / S
4. Gtech Multi MK2 K9: The best handheld vacuum that combats pet smells
Price: £ 169 | Buy now from Amazon
Shedded hair isn’t the only thing that pets bring into the house. Many also deliver a certain aroma that only their owners could love. If you aren’t so enamoured with your pooch’s pong, the Gtech Multi MK2 K9 has the answer – a scented cartridge that freshens the air as it passes out through the vacuum’s filter.
It sounds like a bit of a gimmick but it actually works rather well. If you’re inclined to spray air freshener around to tone down the smells your pets leave behind, this alternative air-freshening system takes the freshness straight to the nub of the problem without directly spraying the soft furnishings you’re using it to clean.
The vacuum itself is great, too. It’s a handheld only cordless with few extra frills, though it does come with a motorised pet power head that’s armed with a rotating brush roller. It’s comfortable and light to use and is a great handheld addition to your vacuuming arsenal.
Read our full Gtech Multi MK2 K9 review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 136 x 386 x 250mm; Weight: 1.5kg; Bin capacity: 400ml; Vacuum Type: Handheld; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: N / S