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When you first met your furry friend, it was love at first sight. You played, you bonded, and from then on, your life was forever changed. Now, however, you’re faced with a dilemma: Your home is covered in your beloved animal’s fur, and it’s time to buy a pet vacuum. But do pet vacuums actually work? And which can handle the most fur? Woof, is this going to be expensive?
Jump To: Best Overall | Best Budget | Best Vacuum for Carpet | Best For Hardwood | Best That Also Mops | Best Lightweight | Best For Stairs | Best Dustbuster for Pets | Best For Fleas | Best Bagged Upright for Pet Hair
Fret not — Fido and Fluffy might shed like crazy, but we’re seasoned experts in both pet care and vacuum cleaners, and we’ve found the best affordable pet vacuums to clean up whatever they dish out with the help of four experts: a pet groomer, a vacuum cleaner store owner, a vacuum collector and refurbisher, and a pet rescue owner with six dogs. Your animal might be a full-time shedder, but these experienced professionals have armed us with recommendations to clean up all the hair clumps and cat litter your furbaby can kick around.
What To Look For
When choosing a pet vacuum, the most important quality is the suction.
“You want something with a good motor,” said Joseph Callegari, owner of Mr. Vacuum Stores in Brooklyn, New York — a shop with more than 32 years of expertise.
Patricia Lynn Hough, owner of the non-profit animal rescue organization Rescue Dogs Rock NYC, agreed that power is paramount — but so is ease of use.
“I look for the most suction, and I look for something easy to carry around,” said Hough.
It doesn’t matter if you’re living in a 400 square-foot apartment or sprawling ranch house — if you have pets, you don’t want to trip over your own feet every time you need to drag the vacuum out of the closet.
“When you have pets, you want convenience,” Hough said. “You don’t want to carry and lug around a huge, industrial kind of vacuum to get the job done. You just want to have something that is super high power.”
For this reason, Callegari said, many customers with mostly smooth floors are gravitating toward canister vacuums instead of uprights. The lightweight hoses make them easy to sneak into around all kinds of spaces, and the canisters are light enough to carry from room to room.
Pets make enough messes on their own, and the last thing you want is a vacuum that creates even more chores. The definition of easy clean-up, however, might vary from person to person.
Especially for cleaning up after pets, vacuum collector and refurbisher Luke Gedhart argued, a bagged vacuum is best.
“The dust and everything goes into the bag, and then you can just throw it away,” he said.
Take note though: Those with respiratory issues like asthma will want to wear a mask while emptying bagless vacuums.
That said, bagless machines are more eco-friendly and, for many, more convenient — and Gedhart offered recommendations for a few of them alongside some bagged models.
A HEPA filter can also go a long way to keep the dander and dust that pets produce off your floors and out of the air, and so we’ve prioritized entries with superior filtration wherever possible.
As pet owners know, the fluff tends to go everywhere — especially into hard-to-reach places like stairs, corners and underneath furniture. To truly conquer the mess, you’ll need a machine that can get into all of these spots and then some.
In addition to suction and convenience, Hough said she also recommends looking for vacuums with all the attachments you’ll need to clean every nook and cranny in your home. Canister vacuums can be great for this, as Callegari pointed out they tend to come with a better array of attachments, but Hough’s favorite is actually a convertible upright that lifts out of the base to become a canister vac — delivering the best of both worlds at a surprisingly low price. (You’ll find it on our list!)
Are pet vacuums different from regular vacuums?
“Technically, they really are not that much different,” said Gedhart. While some pet vacuums will come with a special pet hair tool, he said, “Usually, the basic attachments that come on most of the machines still will combat the pet hair.”
Is it worth getting a pet vacuum cleaner?
That depends on the features. As Gedhart pointed out the “pet vacuum” label is “more of a marketing thing than anything” on some machines, and in those cases, you’ll likely wind up paying more just for the name.
That said, Gedhart added, some pet vacuums do come with special features like charcoal filters to help mitigate pet odor — so it’s worth reading past the label to see what additional features the pet vacuum in question might include.
Are higher-end brands like Dyson and Miele worth it?
When it comes to Dyson, the question depends on whom you ask. While Callegari confirmed that both Dyson and Miele make machines that are worth their sticker price, our other experts were a little wary of Dyson.
Ani Corless, owner of the pet grooming company Luxury Groomer, said that in her experience, a Dyson vacuum mostly pushes dog fur around. Gedhart was similarly unimpressed and called the brand “more of a gimmick.”
In the case of Miele, however, our experts were unanimous in their praise. Corless confessed that pretty much all of her higher-end pet grooming clients own that machine, while Gedhart emphasized that with proper care, these vacuums should last a good 20 or 30 years. Callegari, too, was effusive in his praise.
What kind of pet vacuum is best for hardwood or carpet?
When buying a pet vacuum, it’s important to consider what surfaces you have in your home and choose a machine that prioritizes the appropriate tools.
If you’re dealing with mostly carpet and rugs, you’ll want a high-quality brush roll with lots of strong but gentle bristles that aren’t too spaced out. For tile and hardwood, meanwhile, you’ll want a vacuum with a good bare floor brush and wheels that won’t scuff.
If you’re planning to buy an upright vacuum to clean both smooth surfaces and carpets, make sure that it has two settings — one for carpet, in which the brush roll is spinning, and one for hardwood and tile, in which it stands still. (If the brush roll spins on bare floors, it flings the dust and fur around instead of allowing the vacuum to pull it up with suction.)
Our Recommendations for Best Pet Vacuums That Won’t Break The Bank
1. Best Overall — Miele Classic C1 Bagged Canister Vacuum
Power: Corded, 1,200 watts (indicates power used, not suction) | Maneuverability: 6.1 lb, canister | Cleanliness: Bagged, HEPA compatible | Versatility: Good for all floor types
For those with the budget to think decades ahead, a Miele is worth the investment, according to our experts. There are more cost-effective models on the market, but we recommend this one for its pet-specific brush, which makes it a better match for pet hair on carpet compared to the base model, which some Amazon reviewers found doesn’t stand up to heavy carpeting.
“They’re made in Germany,” Callegari said. “That’s why they’re better.”
That said, if you’ve got allergies or respiratory issues, swap out the stock filter for a HEPA filter for even better air quality.
- Pros: Long-lasting, Charcoal air filter for odor, Adjustable suction
- Cons: Expensive, HEPA filter not included
2. Best Budget — Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum
Power: Corded, 1,200 watts (indicates power used, not suction) | Maneuverability: 15.96 lb, swivel steering | Cleanliness: HEPA filters, anti-allergen seal, bagless | Versatility: Converts from upright to handheld canister
Not only is this vacuum cost-effective — it’s also the top recommendation from animal rescue owner Hough, who lives with six dogs.
“The suction is great, and it’s the smaller, more compact one that has the canister that you can just unclip and empty,” she said.
The more bare-bones of Shark’s lift-away line, this powerful little vacuum can handily get any job done — whether you’re using it as an upright or detaching from the canister.
- Pros: Lightweight, Cost-effective, Adaptable
- Cons: Suction too powerful for some Amazon reviewers, Comes with only two attachments, Cord too short for some
3. Best For Carpet — Kenmore Pet Friendly Lightweight Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner
Power:Corded, 600 watts (indicates power used, not suction) | Maneuverability: 22.6 lb, canister | Cleanliness: Bagged, stocked with HEPA filter | Versatility: Great for hardwood and carpet
This was among Gedhart’s recommendations for mid-budget shoppers who want a quality machine but aren’t quite able to shell out for a Miele. The vacuum comes with several attachments, including a crevice tool and special Pet PowerMate brush, and like many of our top picks, it includes a HEPA filtration system. (The bagged design also ensures you won’t make a mess when it’s time to empty the tank.) The “POP-N-GO” bare floor brush installs quickly to tackle different surfaces with ease.
- Pros: HEPA filtration, Motorized pet attachment works great on stairs, Easy transition from carpet to hardwood, Retractable cord
- Cons: Some Amazon reviewers complain it’s hard to maneuver
4. Best For Hardwood — BISSELL 2998 MultiClean Allergen Lift-Off Pet Vacuum
Power: Corded | Maneuverability: 15.5 lb, swivel steering | Cleanliness: HEPA sealed allergen system, bagless | Versatility: Converts from upright to handheld canister
This BISSELL has more than 5,600 five-star reviews on Amazon and comes with a number of features our experts love: It’s got a HEPA filter, an on/off brush head to switch from carpet to bare floors, and the lift-off feature makes it maneuverable and easy for awkward places like stairs. The LED headlight makes dusty zones easier to spot, and the 30-foot cord makes this machine all the more flexible. Best of all, it’s priced as competitively as they come.
- Pros: Affordable, HEPA filtration, Limited five-year limited warranty
- Cons: Not maneuverable enough for some, Not enough suction for some
5. Best Vacuum That Also Mops— BISSELL Crosswave Pet Pro All in One Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner and Mop
Power: Corded | Maneuverability: 11 lb, upright | Cleanliness: Comes with Rinse & Clean Out Storage Tray | Versatility: Safe for tile, sealed wood floors, laminate, area rugs, and more
Amazon reviewers complimented this lightweight machine’s maneuverability, and when asked whether any mopping vacuums actually work, Gedhart pointed to this one. “It does get up all the hair and little crumbs,” he said. “It cleans it up, and then the floor is essentially dry right after you’re done with it.”
- Pros: Convenience, Portability, Three-year limited warranty
- Cons: Pricey
6. Best Lightweight Pet Vacuum — Hoover ONEPWR Evolve Pet Cordless Vacuum, BH53422V
Power: Rechargeable battery | Maneuverability: 8.2 lb, upright | Cleanliness: Bagless | Versatility: On/off brushroll for carpet and bare floors
Not all lightweight vacuums can actually stand up to pet hair, but this one “works pretty well,” said Gedhart, who noted that his mother uses one.
- That said, he noted, “She just has a lower Berber carpet, and she just has a cat so it’s not like you’re sucking up a golden retriever with it.” If you’re looking for a competitively priced vacuum that won’t be too arduous to lug around, this is the one.
- Pros: Versatile, Cost-effective
- Cons: No HEPA filtration, Short battery life
7. Best For Stairs — Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright Vacuum
Power: ,150 watts (indicates power used, not suction), powered lift-away handle | Maneuverability:: 15.4 lb | Cleanliness/strong>: Bagless, anti-allergen seal, HEPA filtration | Versatility: Converts from upright to handheld canister
This model is similar to the Navigator we chose as our budget pick but, per Gedhart’s recommendation, includes one additional key feature that sets it apart — a motorized lift-away nozzle that provides additional power when you detach from the base. That gives this model a leg up when cleaning upholstery and stairs.
- Pros: Convertible, HEPA filtration
- Cons: Short hose, Slightly heavy
8. Best Dustbuster for Pets — BLACK + DECKER dustbuster AdvancedClean Cordless Handheld Vacuum
Power: Cordless, Lithium Ion batteries | Maneuverability: Handheld with rotating nozzle | Cleanliness: Washable filters | Versatility: Stocked with flip-up brush, crevice tool
In addition to the Miele vacuums that Corless frequently sees in clients’ homes on the job as a professional pet groomer, she noted that these legendary handhelds also show up a lot — perhaps because, as she put it, they’re “shockingly good.” This model comes with a two-year warranty, and its nozzle rotates to get into hard-to-reach places.
- Pros: Lightweight, portable, Easy to clean
- Cons: Filters require regular washing
9. Best For Fleas — BISSELL PowerForce Bagged Upright Vacuum, 1739
Power: Corded | Maneuverability: 11.32 lbs, upright | Cleanliness: Bagged | Versatility: Comes with dusting brush, crevice tool
When asked whether it’s ever okay to use vacuums to take care of fleas, our experts recommended cleaning the machine thoroughly after use — and even then, it’s a dicey proposition. Leave any fleas or eggs in the vacuum, and you could have a big mess on your hands, especially if the machine lives in your home. Bagless vacuums will require even more cleaning.
- That said, Gedhart offered a clever solution: A Walmart exclusive, the affordable BISSELL PowerForce bagged upright is a basic, straightforward, cost-effective machine that could remove fleas from an infested carpet without putting your main vacuum at risk. Just put down your flea-killing solution, wait for the required amount of time, vacuum it all up, and then toss the bag and scrub down that vacuum.
- Pros: Affordable solution
- Cons: Less eco-friendly than risking your own vacuum
10. Best Bagged Upright for Pet Hair—Kenmore BU4050 Intuition Bagged Upright Vacuum
Power: Corded | Maneuverability: 14 lb, upright | Cleanliness: Sealed system, HEPA filtered bags | Versatility: Two-motor system for separate brush rotation and suction, detachable wand
Gedhart, a bagged vacuum devotee, shouted this machine out as one he really likes, and he’s not alone. Pet owners especially have been giving this vacuum five stars on Amazon for its powerful suction and ease with hair. The relatively lightweight design is easy to maneuver, especially with the detachable wand, and best of all, this model is even gorgeous to boot.
- Pros: Comes with four attachments, Bag fill indicator, Converts to canister with detachable wand
- Cons: Attachments don’t always fit securely
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.