Cleaning’s a pain at the best of times, but it can be even more of a pain when you have pets. From cat hair on carpet to shedding on the sofa, cleaning up after our furry friends can be a big job – but with the right vacuum cleaner, it doesn’t have to be.
Whether you’re looking for something super portable or need the most powerful vacuum ever made, there are lots of options for pets, pockets and purses of every size.
How to choose a pet vacuum
There are two kinds of vacuums: cordless ones and corded. Cordless are much more convenient but there’s a trade-off: the batteries don’t last very long, the suction isn’t always as good and their bins aren’t very big and need more frequent emptying. Corded vacuums are often cheaper, have larger capacities and tend to have more powerful suction, and of course, they never run out of battery because they aren’t battery-powered.
For pet vacuums, it’s worth considering several factors. If you’ve got big dogs that are prone to shedding then a low-powered cordless is going to struggle: a corded vac will mean fewer trips to the bin to empty it, and it’s likely to have sufficient suction to shift even the most tenacious dog hair. Dedicated “Animal” brush heads can be really useful too, their spinning brushes grabbing hair from sofas that normal heads can’t budge.
Bagless cleaners mean less ongoing expense, but they also need to have their filters cleaned (or replaced) frequently and dumping their contents in the bin can be an issue if you have allergies.
If you’re considering cordless vacuums, check the battery life carefully: the quoted figures are usually for running in normal mode and full power will drain the battery much more quickly.
It’s worth noting that vacuum cleaners tend to be heavily discounted during sales events such as Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday so it might be worth picking your preferred product now and waiting for the sales.
Bagged vacuum cleaners might not get the adoring attention of bagless turbo sticks, but they’re still a brilliant option – especially if your pets are particularly prone to shedding. This Hoover model has a large capacity 3.5L dust bag for less frequent trips to the bin and it works on all kinds of floors, with included nozzles for crevices, dusting, furniture and parquet floors as well as a dedicated turbo brush for getting pet hair off fabrics such as upholstery.
The filter is a washable EPA filter and with a noise level of 64dB, the Hoover is noticeably quieter than some bagless models. It might not be quite as convenient as a cordless but with a 10m working radius it’s big enough for even very large rooms, and it’s considerably less expensive than most rivals.
If you want a Dyson and don’t want to spend a lot of money, this is the one to go for. It might be getting on a bit but while it doesn’t have the more advanced digital motor of more recent Dysons it still outperforms the similarly-priced VAX when it comes to picking up everyday dust and dirt.
There are, inevitably, compromises. We know from experience that that 30m run time is a bit optimistic because pet hair often requires full-power MAX mode, and the 0.54L bin is awfully small. But nevertheless, the Dyson represents very good value for money thanks to its convenience and the useful tool collection that includes various brushes as well as the “Motorhead” direct-drive motor, which is great for getting stuff out of fabrics.
The VAX offers Dyson-style features for considerably less cash: at the time of writing it’s less than half the price of the V11 Animal and a little less than the V8. Also, it has headlights so pet hair has nowhere to hide. Once again we’re in cordless territory and that means a relatively small collection bin – 0.6L here, which is very slightly larger than the bin in the Dyson V8 – to try and keep the weight down; the VAX comes in at 3kg compared to around 2.5kg for the equivalent Dyson.
There are two ONEPWR Blade 4 models: the standard one is great, but a little extra cash gets you an antimicrobial brush bar and a mini motorised pet hair tool for getting pet hair out of furniture.
Shark’s Lift-Away wants to be all things to all people: it’s an upright cylinder vacuum that can convert into a handheld portable, so it’s a lot less effort to clean stairs and other awkward spaces: just unclip the cylinder (which at 6L is smaller than some corded models but around the same size as the similar cordless models) and take it with you so you’re not stretching the hose for metres.
The TruePet refers to the Dyson-esque pet tool that’s designed to work in Lift-Away mode: it’s designed specifically to get pet hair off sofas and carpets.
This is more powerful than the V7 but it isn’t Dyson’s most powerful stick; that’s the V11, which is quite a bit more expensive and which we’ll look at in a moment – but it’s a good option for more budget-conscious buyers and ideal for pet owners who live in flats rather than big houses.
With up to 40 minutes of fade-free suction (dropping to 7 in MAX mode), it won’t run out of puff like older cordless vacuums were prone to doing, and the Reach Under tool is useful for getting pet hair from under the sofa. The main drawback here is the bin, which like the V7 has just 0.54L capacity: if you’ve got big dogs you’ll be taking your Dyson to the bin quite a lot. Otherwise, it’s convenient and effective thanks to its direct-drive cleaning head, which we’ve found does a good job of getting pet hair out of carpets.
If you like Shark’s style but prefer cordless to corded, the Anti Hair Wrap Cordless is an interesting option. The Anti Hair Wrap bit refers to the bristle guard that prevents long hair, whether human or canine, from getting wrapped around the brush roller, and Flexology is a fancy way of saying that it bends so you can get it under tables and sofas. Like its corded siblings, the Shark also has LEDs to illuminate dark corners and the bits below the sofa.
The Shark isn’t as pretty as a Dyson, and it trails Dyson in other ways too: at 4.1kg it’s over a kilogram heavier than a Dyson cordless, and its 0.4L bin makes Dyson’s fairly small bins look positively gigantic.
Meile has a deserved reputation for making high quality, high-performance vacuum cleaners and the C3 is a great example of the breed. In addition to a generous 12m radius and large 4.5L storage so you can get on with the job without running back and forth to the bin or changing plug sockets there’s Miele’s AirClean filter, which replaces pet odours with something a little more neutral.
As with other Miele vacuums it’s built like a tank but despite its 7kg weight it’s easy to move around thanks to its triple castors – and it won’t damage anything it bumps into or be damaged itself thanks to the built-in furniture protection strip. Despite the high powered motor, this isn’t a loud machine: at 67dB it’s one of the quieter models here.
For larger homes or particularly hairy pets, there’s no substitute for a corded vacuum cleaner: no matter how tough the cleaning job you never need to worry about running out of power and having to wait for the battery to recharge. As you’d expect from Dyson, its Animal uprights are extremely well designed and very flexible – and as with all of its Ball designs, it’s incredibly easy to move around.
The tangle-free turbine tool – which is supplied in addition to the familiar turbine head – makes short work of pet hair and the Animal 2 is certified asthma and allergy friendly by Allergy Standards Ltd. With a 1.8-litre bin it’s much bigger than the cordless Dysons, and the 15m operating radius means you won’t be cursing a too-short power cord.
Not everybody needs a massive or massively powerful vacuum, and if you have smallish pets in a smallish space – such as cats in a flat, or corgis in your car – then there’s little point in spending enormous amounts of money on some Super Turbo MAXXX model when a glorified DustBuster will do. And it just so happens that the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is exactly that: a little handheld vacuum that’s been designed specifically for pet hair.
In effect that means as well as the normal nozzle there’s a motorised brush roller to better pick up pet hair and related messes such as spilt food. It’s not massively powerful and the run time is just 15 minutes, but that’s more than enough for a quick cleanup.
Dyson’s V11 is the most powerful cordless that Dyson has ever made, and the claims that it’s as good as any corded vacuum do stand up. It’ll run for up to 60 minutes between charges and the bin is significantly bigger than the V8, at 0.76L compared to the older model’s 0.54L.
That’s still relatively small compared to many corded vacuums but at least the quick-empty mechanism enables you to empty the bin with ease. It is, of course, very expensive – you could buy three Hoovers for the same cash and still have some money left over – but ultimately you’re paying extra for the convenience of a cordless vacuum that doesn’t compromise on cleaning power.
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