No matter how much you love your pets, you don't love the mess they make. Between muddy paws and shedding fur, pets (especially dogs and cats) can add a large chunk of extra time to your daily chores. If your vacuum cleaner struggles to keep up, consider buying a dedicated pet vacuum. Read on for our short but sweet guide to pet vacuums that will tell you all you need to know about these helpful home appliances.
Considerations when choosing pet vacuums
Canister vs. upright
Most pet vacuums are either canisters or uprights. Canister models tend to make it easier to clean in corners and other hard-to-reach places, but those without beater brushes won't do a great job of getting pet hair out of carpet. Upright models are usually bulkier and harder to store than canisters, but their large cleaning paths tackle wide spaces quicker, and their beater brushes work out pet hair from the shag.
Bagged vs. bagless
Ultimately, there's no difference in performance between bagged and bagless pet vacuums, but most people prefer bagless models for their convenience and the fact that there's no need to buy replacement bags. Bagged vacuums, however, may cause fewer issues for people with dust and dander allergies when emptying, since it's all locked away in the bag.
Corded vs. cordless
Cordless vacuums give you the freedom to clean anywhere without worrying whether you're near an outlet or having to switch outlets when you run out of cord. However, they're not quite as powerful as corded models. That said, they are catching up, so it probably won't be long before you can buy cordless pet vacuums that rival the performance of high-end corded models.
Cleaning path size
This is the width of the sucking part of the head. Pet vacuums with a larger cleaning path pick up more dirt in one pass, which ultimately makes cleaning quicker. However, unless you have an extremely large home, an extra inch or so on the cleaning path size won't drastically speed up the time it takes to vacuum your home.
The beater brush, or beater bar, is a rotating brush in the head of the vacuum. This is a must-have for pet vacuums in carpeted homes, as it's what works deeply into the pile of your carpet to remove pet hair and dirt.
Ideally, a pet vacuum should have HEPA filtration, especially if you or a family member suffer from pet allergies or other environmental allergies. HEPA filters are able to trap 99.9% of particles, including dust, pollen, pet dander, and spores.
At the lower end of the price spectrum, you can find basic pet vacuums for as little as $100 to $200. These vacuums give a decent performance, but they aren't necessarily ideal for multi-pet homes or homes very long-haired pets. For $200 to $400, you can find some excellent mid-range pet vacuums. They might not be the very best on the market, but they're fine for most users. High-end pet vacuums perform exceptionally well, but they cost a lot - expect to pay between $500 and $1,000.
Q. What's the difference between a standard vacuum and a pet vacuum?
A. Pet vacuums feature specially designed brushes that work deep into the carpet to remove stuck-in pet hair and mud. In order to meet the additional cleaning needs of homes with pets, they tend to be slightly more powerful and durable than standard vacuum cleaners.
Q. What type of vacuum is best for hardwood floors?
A. Any vacuum with an adjustable beater brush is fine for hardwood floors. If it's not adjustable, however, it could scratch your flooring.
Q. Do pet vacuums come with an upholstery attachment?
A. If your pets hang out on your couch or other soft furnishings, they'll be just as covered in hair as your carpets, which is why an upholstery attachment is so helpful. Not all pet vacuums come with an upholstery attachment, so check before making your purchase.
Pet vacuums we recommend
Best of the best: Dyson DC65 Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Our take: This powerful pet vacuum outperforms all others on the market, but it does come with a high price tag.
What we like: Powerful brush bar removes pet hair and dirt from deep in the pile. Self-adjusting cleaning head takes on carpets and hard floors with ease.
What we dislike: The brush bar can be tough on more delicate carpets.
Best bang for your buck: SharkNinja Canister Upright Vacuum
Our take: An innovative pet vacuum that includes a lift-away mini canister for cleaning hard-to-reach spots.
What we like: Easy to use. HEPA filtration. Reasonably priced, especially considering the quality of performance.
What we dislike: Heavier than some similar models.
Our take: It might be pricey, but owners say this pet vacuum is worth the money due to its exceptional performance.
What we like: Cleans deeply while being gentle on your carpets. Comes with a range of excellent attachments. Quiet operation.
What we dislike: Not the best option for extra-deep pile.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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