Dog and cat owners know that pet hair shows no mercy. It somehow ends up in every corner of your home and covers the floor, furniture and even your clothing. To ensure you're always on the offensive against pet hair, there’s one tool experts recommend keeping among your arsenal of cleaning products: A really great vacuum.
“While our pets are part of our family, they leave behind a lot of hair, debris and dander,” says Zeynep Mehmetoglu, the director of marketing and brand management at Maid Bright, a professional house cleaning service. “The vacuum you choose has to be able to get rid of those things and leave your home clean.”
We talked to experts about how to shop for vacuums when getting rid of pet hair is your main concern. They shared tips for narrowing down your options, which we used to recommend a handful of corded vacuums, cordless vacuums, handheld vacuums and robot vacuums across budgets.
How we picked the best vacuums for pet hair
Brands often market specific vacuums as being designed to clean up pet hair, but you don’t have to limit yourself to those options if you have furry friends at home. Experts recommend prioritizing the following factors while shopping to ensure you’re choosing a high quality option:
- Filter type, which experts say impacts how well vacuums can trap microscopic particles like pet dander and dust.
- Anti-tangle brush heads so pet hair won’t clog your vacuum.
- Included attachments like upholstery cleaners and crevice tools.
- Battery life for cordless models and cord length for corded models. All of the options we recommend have a cord length of at least 25 feet, and a battery life that promises at least 40 minutes of use for full-size and robot models and at least 15 minutes of use for handheld models.
- Multi-floor compatibility to help you clean across carpet, wood, tile and more.
The best vacuums for pet hair in 2023
To choose the best vacuums for pet hair, we highlighted options from brands we’ve previously covered that have features experts told us to consider when tackling pet hair, like filters, anti-tangle brush heads and a variety of attachments. We included various vacuum types like cordless, corded, robot and handheld that work on all floor types to give shoppers an idea of the different styles that might be right for their home. Experts and Select staffers also shared some of their picks.
Best corded vacuums for pet hair
This corded Dirt Devil model is one of the most affordable vacuums we recommend. It’s designed to swivel around furniture and has a 25-foot cord plus a built-in cleaning wand with a 10-foot reach, allowing you to remove hair, dirt and dust from small or elevated spaces like the tops of door frames and above curtain rods. You can turn off the rotating brush roll when cleaning hard floors like wood and tile, which Zach Neumann, a product expert at pet supplies retailer Chewy, says is an ideal feature to look for — rotating brush rolls help deep clean carpets, but may be too harsh for hard floors like wood or tile.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 13.12 pounds | Bin capacity: 1.5 liters | Filter: Three-stage filtration system, including a washable filter | Included attachments: Turboclaw pet tool for stairs and upholstery, 2-in-1 combo and dusting brush tool
This swivel steering vacuum is often one of the most-purchased items by Select’s readers during sales like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day. It’s built with a detachable pod that you can carry around your home to clean small or elevated spaces. You’re also able to add attachments to the wand’s head. You can shut off the vacuum’s rotating brush roll when cleaning hard floors and it has a 25-foot cord.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 12.5 pounds | Bin capacity: 1.1 quarts | Filter type: HEPA filtration system | Included attachments: Wide upholstery tool and crevice tool
Mehmetoglu recommends Dyson vacuums for pet hair and general household needs. ”They are one the more expensive side, but cleaning them is easy and the fact that you don’t have to replace vacuum bags is also an advantage,” she says.
This corded option has an anti-tangle brush roll that automatically removes hair that gets wrapped around it as you clean (you can shut off the brush roll when you’re vacuuming hard floors). Notably, this vacuum comes with a dog grooming tool to remove loose hairs, dead skin and other allergens directly from long-haired pets. The vacuum has a 35-foot cord and its construction allows you to easily swivel around furniture, according to the brand. Plus, it offers three cleaning modes that adjust suction power for different floor types.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 11.02 pounds | Bin capacity: 0.55 gallons | Filter type: Proprietary whole-machine filtration system, including washable filters | Included attachments: Tangle-free turbine tool, dog grooming tool, stair tool and combination tool
Kenmore’s canister vacuum has a two motor system to provide extra powerful suction, according to the brand. Its swivel head helps you maneuver around furniture and it has a built-in telescoping wand that extends up to 10 feet to help you clean small spaces. The vacuum has a 28-foot cord and the motorized brush head lifts grime off surfaces while preventing hair from tangling around it. You can turn the rotating brush head off while cleaning hard floors and store the included attachments inside the vacuum.
Bagless: No | Weight: 22.6 pounds | Bin capacity: Not specified | Filter type: HEPA filter | Included attachments: Crevice tool, bare floor tool, dust/upholstery tool and Pet PowerMate tool
Best cordless vacuums for pet hair
When I bought my Tineco vacuum, I realized how much value there is in investing in a high quality model specifically designed with pets in mind. This vacuum’s LED headlights illuminated pet hair I’d previously been missing and the powerful suction cleaned it up quickly. Beyond getting rid of hair, this vacuum easily sucks up cat food crumbs and cat litter, too. I love that the vacuum can sense dirt and automatically adjusts its suction power accordingly. The vacuum’s LED screen also shows you a status report with information like whether the brush roll is tangled or the air channel is blocked. My favorite feature is that this vacuum converts into a handheld vacuum, allowing me to easily spot clean small messes or add the included tube to reach elevated surfaces. One full charge gives you 40 minutes of run time, according to the brand.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 11.6 pounds | Bin capacity: 0.6 liters | Filter type: 4-stage HEPA filtration system, including a washable filter | Included attachments: Power brush, mini power brush, dusting brush, crevice tool, hair cleaning tool
Rebecca Rodriguez, NBC Select editorial projects manager, shares her home with two cats, and since Shark sent her this vacuum, she says her floors have never been cleaner. There's a button on the vacuum's handle to switch between designated cleaning modes for carpet and bare floors, and its brush head cleans itself so you don't have to worry about hair getting tangled. The appliance also converts into a handheld vacuum with a long wand so you can reach areas like above doors, under furniture and stairs.
Rodriguez's favorite feature of this vacuum is that it empties itself when docked in the included charging base, which is built with a compartment that holds up to 30 days of debris. Rodriguez says watching dust, dirt, pet hair and more get sucked from the dustbin into the base is so satisfying and makes the cleaning process more convenient.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 13.85 pounds | Bin capacity: 0.13 quarts | Filter type: HEPA filter | Included attachments: Duster crevice tool, pet multi-tool
The design of this cordless Dyson stick vacuum is similar to the Tineco one above. It offers three adjustable levels of suction power and separately converts into a handheld vacuum lightweight enough to reach elevated surfaces. Dyson’s vacuum gives you up to 60 minutes of run time on a single charge, according to the brand, and its main cleaner head has a motorized brush roll to automatically clean wrapped hair from the brush while in use.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 5.71 pounds | Bin capacity: 0.2 gallons | Filter type: Proprietary whole-machine filtration system | Included attachments: Motorbar cleaner head, crevice tool, mini soft dusting brush, hair screw tool, 2-in-1 wide nozzle and brush
Updates editor Mili Godio uses this vacuum at home to clean up dog hair, dog food and dirt her furry friend brings inside after a walk. It gives you up to 60 minutes of run time on a single charge and the Digital Motorbar XL cleaner head automatically clears wrapped hair from the brush bar as you clean. You can also monitor the vacuum’s settings via its LED screen.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 7.85 pounds | Bin capacity: 0.5 gallons | Filter type: Proprietary whole-machine filtration system | Included attachments: Digital Motorbar XL cleaner head, hair screw tool, crevice tool, combination tool, mini soft dusting brush
Best hand vacuums for pet hair
“Pet hair eraser” is an accurate way to describe Bissell’s hand vacuums. I’ve used a few different models and have always been impressed by how quickly and efficiently they’re able to get hair off surfaces like carpets, pet beds, wood floors and car seats. This cordless handheld vacuum gives you up to 17 minutes of run time on a single charge.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 3 pounds | Bin capacity: 0.7 liters | Filter type: Three-stage filtration system | Included attachments: Motorized brush tool, crevice tool and upholstery tool
The brush head on Black+Decker’s Furbuster vacuum has motorized anti-tangle rubber bristles that lift pet hair off surfaces and prevent it from creating knots that can cause a clog. It offers two suction levels and has a battery indicator to let you know when it’s almost time for a recharge. The handheld vacuum gives you up to 25 minutes of run time on a single charge.
Bagless: Yes | Weight: 2.6 pounds | Bin capacity: Not specified | Filter type: Pre-filter and washable filter | Included attachments: Crevice tool
How to shop for pet hair vacuums
When buying a vacuum for general household needs, it’s important to pay attention to features like size and weight, floor settings and more. But when shopping with pets in mind, experts also recommend focusing on the following three areas to ensure appliances are equipped to handle lots of hair, additional dust and other messes cats and dogs may create.
You typically hear about HEPA filters in regard to air purifiers, but vacuums also rely on them to clean your home’s air. Depending on their rating, Neumann says HEPA filters — otherwise known as high efficiency particulate air filters — can capture between 99.95% and 99.99% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size, the particle size that most easily evades filtration, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (A micron, also known as a micrometer, is 1,000 times smaller than a millimeter. It’s the standard unit for measuring particles at this scale.) These filters essentially “scrub the air” by capturing particles like dust and pet dander, which those with allergies or asthma may find irritating, he explains. The filters trap particles so they’re not released back into the air, thus reducing the presence of them in your home, says Marla Mock, president of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company that offers house cleaning and maid services nationwide.
Pet hair is usually larger than 0.3 microns in size, so HEPA filters won’t help get rid of it — anything larger than 0.3 microns has a difficult time fitting through this specific type of filter, but is likely to be captured by other components of the vacuum, like additional filters it may be built with. However, they’re a must for those who experience allergy symptoms when exposed to pet dander, dust and other microscopic allergens on cat and dog hair, says Carl Prouty, product specialist at Abt, an appliance and electronics store.
Not all vacuums are designed with HEPA filters, however. Some are designed with general filters that may only be able to capture large particles, which is why Mehmetoglu says vacuums with HEPA filters are superior to those without — they do the best job of reducing the presence of tiny allergens in the air. Another filter you might want to look for when shopping for vacuums is a pre-filter, which Neumann says can trap larger pieces of pet hair while the HEPA filter deals with the smaller particles.
Anti-tangle brush heads
When you see a vacuum’s brush head described as being “anti-tangle,” it usually means the brush head has features built-in that helps prevent hair from getting stuck around the roller, which can create knots. Some of these features include angled brush bristles or brush heads that automatically clean themselves while you’re vacuuming. Anti-tangle brush heads are especially helpful if your pet has long hair, like a golden retriever, says Prouty. If your vacuum doesn't have an anti-tangle brush head, you’ll likely have to clean it frequently in order to keep it functioning properly, Mehmetoglu says.
Neumann also recommends purchasing a vacuum with an automated brush roll. Automated brush rolls spin while you’re vacuuming to pick up pet hair quickly on fabrics, while no-spin brushes only rotate as you manually push your vacuum along the floor. The benefit of automated brush rolls is their ability to pick up pet hair quickly on fabrics, but they can be too harsh for hardwood or tile floors, he says. In these cases, it’s best to swap out the rotating brush roll for a no-spin option if your vacuum comes with one, or turn off the rotation feature if your vacuum allows.
Regardless of which type of brush head you’re using, be sure to check it for collected hairs or fibers, which can twist around bristles and spinny pieces, reducing their efficiency.
Pet hairs find their way into every nook and cranny of your home, and different areas require different cleaning attachments. Experts say the following four are particularly useful, although “any attachment can do a good job of picking up pet hair, as long as the vacuum’s motor is powerful enough,” says Prouty.
An upholstery attachment is designed to gently clean pet hair off fabric furniture. In addition to using mine on couches and mattresses, I also use it to clean cat trees and pet beds.
A soft bristle tip attachment is great to sweep along baseboards, molding, vents and ceiling fans.
A crevice tool is usually a small, long, skinny attachment that fits into tight spaces in your home and between cushions on furniture.
An extension arm allows you to clean spaces at high elevations, like curtains and above door frames.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Zeynep Mehmetoglu is the director of marketing and brand management at Maid Bright.
- Zach Neumann is a product expert at pet supplies retailer Chewy.
- Carl Prouty is a product specialist at Abt, a national retailer of electronics, appliances and home goods based in Glenview, Illinois.
- Marla Mock is the president of Molly Maid, a neighborly company.
Why trust Select?
Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor at Select who covers home care products like laundry detergent, dish soap, fans, air conditioners and more. For this piece, Malin interviewed four experts and researched vacuums designed to clean up pet hair with their guidance in mind.