Pet owners will be only too aware that regular vacuum cleaners rarely cut the mustard. Those entrenched pet hairs, dirt and whiffs need extra-strong suction and brush action, as well as good filters and mechanisms that lock in the finest particles.
When buying one, be sure to consider the type of flooring in your home. While some pet vacuums are good all-rounders, others are outstanding on one type but not others. If your stairs are a favourite hang-out for your pet, don’t buy a machine that is too heavy or with a short cord or the right attachments. And if your pet goes on the furniture, you’ll need a vacuum cleaner that can tackle upholstery too.
We’ve tested a range of machines that claim to excel when it comes to animals – upright, cylinder, cordless, hand-held and robot vacuums. Here are the ones that made the cut.
1. Dyson DC41 Mk2 Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner: £469.99, John Lewis
As long as you don’t expect to be able to hold much of a conversation while you vacuum (it’s quite loud), then it’s hard to fault this upright, bagless vacuum cleaner, which was made specifically with pets in mind. It’s incredible on hard floors, only marginally less impressive on carpets and the tools work a treat on upholstery, reaching ceilings and getting into tight corners. It also boasts a well-sized dust collection area (which is easy to empty) and long cable reach.
2. Vax Air Steerable U88-AM-Pe Upright Vacuum: £103.22, Amazon
We like the way this bagless, energy-efficient upright machine worked equally well on all floor surfaces – and although it wasn’t the most powerful we tried, it’s a good budget choice. Elderly people will love how surprisingly light and nimble it is to move around. And you can expect durability too, with a massive six-year guarantee. But it’s hard to use under furniture and on stairs, while we also think the cable could be longer.
3. Sebo Automatic X4 Pet Boost Upright Vacuum Cleaner: £329.95, John Lewis
Sebo machines can look a bit dated, but make no mistake about their capabilities. The first thing you’ll notice is the serious oomph, on top of which there’s a boost button for deeply engrained pet hair and dirt. We were fascinated to find the filter embedded with charcoal to remove pet odour (it really works) and other nifty features include the extra-long hose (a marvel for stairs), wand (for ceilings) and turbo brush (for upholstery). Best of all, this machine will go on years after many of its contemporaries will have faded away. But it’s heavy.
4. Bosch BCH6PETGB Athlet Animal Upright Cordless Vacuum Cleaner: £188.89, Amazon
Animal owners get a lot of bang for their buck with this cordless machine because it powers through homes, regardless of the floor surface, without a pet hair (even those pesky entrenched ones) left in its wake. It’s so light that you can hang it over your shoulder when using it in handheld mode (the strap helps), but we didn’t find it works quite so well in this mode. You get a whopping hour-and-a-half run time, but with no tailing off of power towards the end. You’ll need to empty it a lot, though, as the capacity is only 0.9L.
5. AEG Ultraone Quattro Bagged Cylinder Cleaner: £369, Amazon
You don’t get much heavier shredders than labradors and retrievers and the hairs seem to find their way into every nook and cranny of your home. So when this one appeared to eliminate them all in our first cleaning session, we were dazzled. It’s whisper quiet, with a nice long lead and the bag holds plenty (5L). And because the particles it sucks in get locked in the machine, allergy sufferers will benefit from it too. Laminate flooring is the only area where it might let you down, so it’s better for those with carpet and wooden floors. It is heavy, though.
6. Black & Decker Lithium Flexi Vac with Pet Hair Removal Tool: £85.12, Amazon
Cars can be a nightmare for removing entrenched pet hairs, dirt and pongs, but this one will have your vehicle interior looking spick and span in no time, as well as smelling as fresh as a daisy. The flexi-hose is brilliant for reaching under the seats and you get around 20 to 30 minutes of surprisingly strong suction when it’s fully charged. It works well in the home too, especially if you want to whizz over curtains or in favourite pet hang-out areas, with its compact design meaning it’s easily stored away.
7. Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog Bagless Vacuum Cleaner: £350, Miele
Surprisingly, this is the first time that this market leader has moved into the realm of bagless vacuum cleaners, although both the regular version and the pet one were well worth the wait. Both suck up dust and grime with ease, speed and very little noise. In fact, the only difference is that this one also has a so-called “turbobrush” for hair and dirt, which will cost you an extra £50 – but it works wonders on all floor types.
8. Vax Air3 Agile U87-AA-Be Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner: £99.99, Currys PC World
Evidence of your pets’ moulting will soon be eradicated with this easily manoeuvrable upright machine that’s really impressive at deep cleaning, particularly on carpets and floorboards, and not bad on laminate. It has other strengths too – it’s energy efficient, lightweight, and easy to empty. On the downside, it isn’t the quietest and it can be difficult to move around tight corners, while stairs are definitely not its forte. But for the cleanability factor, it’s impressive.
9. Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Vacuum Cleaner: £519.99, John Lewis
If you are attracted to everything about the Dyson DC41 Mk2 except for the fact that it’s corded, then say hello to this cord-free machine, engineered for pet owners. Yes, you’ll probably gasp when you see the hefty price tag, but this has twice the suction of any other cord-free stick vacuum on the market and it’s got a 40-minute run time (enough even for large homes, given the speed at which this thing works) and a post-motor filter that only expels clean air, bringing an end to dog and cat whiffs. It attacks even the most stubborn pet hair and dirt, while confined spaces pose no challenge.
10. GTech Air Ram MK2 K9 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner: £249.99, Argos
This might look like a regular upright vacuum cleaner, but this cordless machine is so much lighter (although still heavier than the Dyson cordless). We found it excelled on carpets, but was disappointing on hard floors, so not the best all-rounder. It was one of the easiest vacuums to empty of all those we tested and it doesn’t need doing as much as other cordless devices. If you’ve got particularly pongy hounds or tabbies, you might like the fragranced filter too, which can be topped up with scented refills.
The Verdict: Pet vacuums
The Dyson DC41 Mk2 Animal is a pet owner’s dream, with easily the most impressive suction of all the machines we tried. For carpets alone, owners of the GTech AirRam K9 will feel like the cat that got the cream. Meanwhile, our favourite budget model is the Vax Air Steerable U88-AM-Pe, while the Black & Decker Lithium Flexi Vac is a phenomenally good handheld option.
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