? 1. What’s the difference between a regular and a pet vacuum cleaner?

In short, pet vacuums are significantly better at removing pet hair from all surfaces in your home. To tell the difference between a regular vacuum and a pet vacuum, you need to pay attention to the power rating, design, filtration system, brush roll, and accessory pack.

In comparison to regular vacuums, pet vacuums have greater suction power and they feature unique designs that optimize airflow and enhance suction. They contain high-efficiency allergen filters, they come with motorized brush rolls for easier removal of deep-embedded hair, and their accessory packs include pet-related attachments, mainly for removing pet hair from crevices, upholstery, stairs, and various above-floor surfaces.

Essentially, every aspect of pet vacuums is designed with pet hair removal in mind, which is why the best pet vacuum cleaners are able to make your home truly hair-free, unlike their regular counterparts.

To find out more about the differences between regular and pet vacuum cleaners, click here.

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? 2. What types of pet vacuum cleaners are there?

Currently, there are 5 types of pet vacuum cleaners. You can opt for an upright, canister, stick, handheld or robotic pet vacuum.

Upright or traditional pet vacuum cleaners feature a single unit including both the motor and the suction head. During vacuuming, the unit is pushed across the surface. Uprights are known for their superior suction power, ergonomic design, wide cleaning path, large dust capacity, excellent performance on carpets, and great versatility. They can be easy to maneuver, but they are often rather heavy, bulky, and noisy.

The main element of canister pet vacuums is a unit referred to as the canister, which contains the motor, the filter(s), and the bags. The unit is connected to the cleaning nozzle through a wand and a stretchable hose. When vacuuming, the unit needs to be dragged along, which can be annoying. Canister pet vacuums are easily maneuverable, their performance on above-floor surfaces and bare floors is more than satisfactory, and they are great for vacuuming under the furniture. However, they are inferior to uprights in terms of suction power and carpet performance.

Stick pet vacuums are lightweight, easily maneuverable devices consisting of a single unit with a handle at the top and a cleaning nozzle at the bottom. They are great for quick cleanups and they can often transform into handhelds, but they suffer from major flaws like low suction power, high noise levels, small dust capacity, and poor performance on carpets.

Handheld pet vacuums are usually small, lightweight, and cordless, which makes them perfect for vacuuming on the go and cleaning car interiors. However, their suction power is always low, they make floor and carpet vacuuming difficult, they have a small dust capacity, and their cleaning path is usually quite narrow.

Finally, robotic pet vacuums are hands-free devices that you can program to automatically vacuum your home, with no effort invested on your part. They are great for busy people who have zero time to vacuum. Still, they can only vacuum floors, they do not excel at carpet vacuuming, most of them are prone to malfunctions and glitches, they can be difficult to program, and they never fail to leave some hair and dirt behind after they are done.

If you want to learn more about the different kinds of pet vacuums, be sure to read our guide on the most common types of pet vacuum cleaners.

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? 3. How to choose the best pet vacuum for my needs?

In order to pick the right pet vacuum, you need to consider several crucial characteristics of your household. These include the size and floor plan of your home, the kind of carpets you own, the number of pets you have, and your pets’ shedding levels. Furthermore, the kind of pet vacuum you need depends on whether any member of your family suffers from pet allergies and whether your pets spend time on your furniture or travel with you in your car.

For smaller apartments, stick and handheld vacuums are recommended, as they are easy to use and store and they are good for vacuuming in narrow spaces. Pet parents who live in large houses should opt for upright or canister pet vacuums.

If your home’s floor plan includes staircases, you need a pet vacuum with a long hose and an extension wand. The vacuum should be cordless or feature a long power cord. If you have low-pile carpets, you can go with a canister vacuum. If you have high-pile carpets, an upright vacuum is a better choice. If you own both low-pile and high-pile carpets, the best option is an upright pet vacuum with multi-level height adjustment.

If you have more than one pet and/or if your pets shed a lot, you should opt for a pet vacuum with a large dirt canister. To make sure all the allergens stay in the dirt canister and away from your family, you should get a pet vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency allergen filter.
If your pets spend time on the furniture, you need a pet vacuum with pet-related accessories particularly designed for upholstery cleaning. Finally, if you travel with your pets, a handheld pet vacuum, a stick pet vacuum or an upright pet vacuum cleaner with a lift-away canister can help you easily remove pet hair from your car.

Read our complete pet vacuum cleaner buying guide for more concrete recommendations and tips for choosing the best pet vacuum for your needs.

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? 4. Do I need a pet vacuum cleaner even if my pet does not shed a lot?

While shedding levels vary across breeds, the truth is that all pets shed all year long. Your pet’s hair lands on every surface and object in your home, including floors, carpets, curtains, and furniture, as well as your clothes. Once pet hair lands on any kind of fabric, it tends to get entangled with the fabric fibers, which makes it difficult to extract.

Regular vacuum cleaners lack the suction power and tools necessary to remove deep-embedded pet hair. They may remove most of the hair from bare floors, but they cannot eliminate all the hair stuck in the carpets and upholstery. In other words, the results they produce are never perfect and there is always going to be some pet hair left in your home after you finish vacuuming. This means that with a regular vacuum, the air you breathe is constantly filled with allergens and other potentially harmful microscopic particles.

On the other hand, pet vacuum cleaners are particularly designed to remove pet hair. They have powerful motors, they employ special technologies that improve suction, they come with motorized brush rolls that lift and remove deep-embedded hair, and they have specialized pet-related accessories that facilitate above-floor cleaning. All these features allow them to provide a deep clean on a variety of surfaces.

Thus, if you want your home to be hair-and-allergen free, you do need a pet vacuum cleaner, even if your pet sheds moderately.
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? 5. How often should pet owners vacuum?

The optimal vacuuming frequency is determined based on the number of pets in the household and the pets’ shedding levels. With only one short-haired, single-coated pet in the house, you can vacuum as rarely as once a week, but twice is considered optimal. On the other hand, more than one long-haired, double-coated pet in the house increases vacuuming frequency to once every other day.

In addition to these general rules, there are 2 more specific recommendations.

Firstly, seasonal shedding is observable in most cat and dog breeds and it occurs during spring and fall. During these seasons, you should vacuum twice as often, as the amount of hair on your floors and furniture is likely to be significantly increased.

Secondly, during peak tick and flea season, you should vacuum after every adventure in the outdoors to make sure these sneaky parasites are out of your home and unable to endanger your family’s health.

For more useful tips, see our detailed article on the optimal vacuuming frequency in one-pet and multi-pet households.

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? 6. How much do pet vacuum cleaners cost?

The prices of pet vacuums vary immensely, ranging from under $20 to about $1,000. The price highly depends on the type, with handheld and stick models being the most affordable options and the most advanced upright and canister pet vacuums coming with the highest price tags. To give you a sense of what you can expect, here is a quick overview of the price ranges for different pet vacuum types.

You can get a handheld for less than $20 and the most expensive handheld models cost just around $200. Stick pet vacuums are a bit pricier, with prices ranging between about $30 and just shy over $300.

Robotic pet vacuums are somewhere in the middle, coming at prices between around $100 and $600. Uprights can cost even less than robotic models, with the most budget-friendly options costing just $50. However, some of the highest quality uprights cost as much as $700.

Finally, the least expensive canister pet vacuum cleaners cost around $60 while the most advanced canister models can reach the retail value of more than $900.

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? 7. Can pet vacuum cleaners help with allergies?

Removing pet hair and dander from your home can alleviate allergy symptoms. However, unless your pet vacuum is able to keep the allergens it picks up within the dirt canister, it is of no major help. That is why the highest-rated pet vacuums feature multi-level filtration with advanced allergen filters.

It is important to note that not every pet vacuum cleaner possesses filters that are able to capture more than 90% of the allergens. If you or members of your family suffer from pet allergies, be sure to choose a pet vacuum with a HEPA filter or equivalent (removing up to 99% of airborne contaminants).
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? 8. Do pet vacuum cleaners eliminate odors?

This is not a highly common feature, but some of the best pet vacuum cleaners are known for great odor control. Usually, they feature special odor-eliminating filters that do not only catch potentially harmful microscopic particles but also freshen the air during the process of vacuuming.

That being said, a pet vacuum cleaner cannot fully eliminate pet odors – unless it is a hybrid that also allows for steam sanitization, which kills virtually all odor-causing germs and bacteria.
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? 9. Do pet vacuum cleaners work on all surfaces, including furniture?

Some pet vacuums only work on bare floors, some are best suited for above-floor surfaces, others work on all surfaces, including upholstery, but their effectiveness may vary depending on whether you are cleaning bare floors, high-pile carpets, furniture or carpeted stairs.

In other words, not all pet vacuums work on all surfaces but, luckily, some of them do. The highest-quality pet vacuum cleaners are not only suitable for cleaning both floor and above-floor surfaces, but they consistently provide great results, even with deep-embedded hair and dirt.

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? 10. How much maintenance do pet vacuum cleaners require?

Generally speaking, pet vacuum cleaners do not require you to invest a lot of effort into maintenance. Usually, you just need to replace the bag or empty the dirt canister after a couple of uses and occasionally clean the canister, the hose, the brush roll, and the filters. With most pet vacuums, you need to replace the belts and filters approximately twice a year, although replacement frequency highly depends on how often you vacuum.

If you follow these general recommendations as well as the maintenance tips provided in the user guide, you can minimize the chance of malfunctions. Still, it is wise to choose a pet vacuum with a lengthy warranty, so you can have your vacuum repaired free of charge in case of any unexpected issues.

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