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Home & garden.

3 August 2021

Best cordless vacuums for cleaning pet hair

Tired of finding pet hair all over your home? Discover the best cordless vacuums for pet hair and our top tips for cleaning up after your furry friends
Joel Bates
Labrador puppy sat on a sofa

If your pets keep leaving fur behind after a snooze on the sofa or a roll on the carpet, you’re sure to want a vacuum cleaner that can keep on top of all the shedding.

There are plenty of pet vacuums around, but these are often more expensive and not always better at sucking up fur and fluff than non-pet models.

In fact, our independent lab tests have found that only one in four cordless vacuums for pets have fluff-sucking power worth shouting about.

We’ve shortlisted the top five cordless vacuums that blew us away with their ability to whisk away pet hair (and other dust and grime) in a flash - and not all of them are pet vacuums.

Read on to find out our top picks, what you get with a pet vacuum and how to remove pet hair from your home effectively.

Or head straight to our cordless vacuum reviews to compare all the latest models and find the best option for your budget.

Top five cordless vacuums for pet hair

  • 85%
    £448.00

    This is the best cordless vacuum we've tested. Whether it’s whisking up pet hair or dust-busting carpets, it blitzes every cleaning task. It boasts a long battery life and a digital display, and even has automatic suction control so you don't need to worry about changing the settings. It’s far from cheap, but it’s the best there is.

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  • 82%
    £469.00

    This high-end cordless vacuum is jam-packed with features and accessories, such as a flexi-crevice brush, a filter-cleaning tool and even a smartphone companion app. It isn’t all bark and no bite, either - it delivers an outstanding clean in a variety of scenarios, from sucking up debris to whisking away pet hair. There are cheaper options available, but you do get an awful lot for your money even at this price.

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  • 80%
    £456.95

    This premium cordless vacuum is specially designed for keeping pet hair at bay, and it does that and then some. It’s pricey, but it's simply fantastic for cleaning up after your furry companions and it’s great at the standard cleaning jobs too. A unique design also makes it one of the most versatile cordless vacuums you can buy.

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  • 80%
    £300.00

    One of our top picks, this cordless vacuum cleans up in our tough dust and debris tests, leaving carpets and hard floors spotless. Pet hair is quickly dispatched and the battery lasts for well over an hour - handy if you've got a lot of floor space to cover. Handheld mode is rather clunky, as you have to hold the vacuum over your shoulder with a strap, but overall it cleans so well on floors that it's still worthy of a place at the top.

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  • 78%
    £274.90

    This cordless vacuum makes light work of household mess, dust and pet hair. It has great allergen filters that keep dust and allergens locked tight within the machine during vacuuming, and it’s a doddle to use. The battery life is rather short on the highest power, but it still cleans well on the minimum setting, so you can conserve the runtime and still get a first-rate clean.

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Not feeling any of these top cordless picks? Check out our Best Buy vacuum cleaners to see the top picks for plug-in vacuums.

Do you really need a specialist vacuum for pets?

Vacuum cleaner floorhead cleaning carpet

When you’re shopping around, it’s easy to be drawn towards vacuums that have ‘pet’ or ‘animal’ in their names - and why wouldn’t you be? You want the right tool for the job.

But our independent cordless vacuum cleaner tests have found that only opting for specialist pet vacs can lead you to miss out on some of the best vacuums for homes with pets.

At the time of writing, 71% of the cordless vacuums on test that score five stars for pet hair cleaning in our tests are not specific 'Pet' vacuums, so don’t restrict yourself by thinking these are the only ones capable of sweeping up those pesky hairs.

Many vacuum models are sold in a standard and pet version. The difference is usually just a mini turbo tool accessory. Pet vacs can cost around £50 more than the standard version, though prices jump around, so make sure to compare prices before you buy. You may end up landing one or two extra accessories with the pet version for the same price you’d pay for the standard vacuum.

Head to our best cordless vacuum cleaners page to see if any pet vacuums come top of the pile.

Things to look out for when choosing a pet vacuum

A Shark motorised pet tool being used to clean a sofa

Cordless vacuums are a good option for homes with pets as there's no pesky cord to trip or stress out your pet. But there are other features worth considering when choosing a vacuum that will keep your pet relaxed - and your home clean:

  • Motorised pet hair tool - Most pet vacuums come with an additional mini turbo tool attachment, which is essentially a miniature version of the main floor head that’s handy for cleaning furniture. They aren’t suitable for use where most pet hair collects, though - the floor.
  • Crevice tool - Most cordless models come with a crevice tool, which is not only handy for reaching into gaps between cushions on your sofa, but also around the edges and corners of rooms where pet hair often accumulates.
  • Upholstery brush - A solid but manual-intensive alternative to a motorised pet hair tool. An upholstery brush is designed for lifting fluff from sofas, but it can be used for sucking up pet hair, too - it’ll probably just take a little more effort.
  • Allergen retention - Keeping dust and fluff locked in the dust container is extra important when pet hair, and other bits of dust and fluff creep into your home. Claims around HEPA filters and allergens can be misleading, which is why our lab tests find out which vacuums will have you breathing in fine dust particles and which ones won’t.
  • Noise - If your pet gets nervous or excitable when a noisy vacuum cleaner starts whizzing around the home, you’ll want to find one that keeps noise levels at a minimum during cleaning. No vacuums are truly silent, but our cordless vacuum reviews score each model for how quiet it is and recommend ones that aren’t too loud.

You’ll find more buying advice in our guide on how to buy the best cordless vacuum cleaner.

Top tips for cleaning pet hair

Even if you use one of the best vacuums for pet hair, it can feel like an endless battle keeping on top of it. Below, we’ve listed a few useful tips that can help stem the tide:

1.  Use a pet blanket

Laying a blanket for your pet to snooze on will greatly reduce the amount of hair that reaches the sofa underneath. Cleaning it up also becomes a simple case of putting the blanket in the wash -though we’d recommend taking it outside to shake it out or giving it a brush first to stop the hair clogging up your washing machine. 

2. Vacuum in different directions

During cleaning, go over the same spots multiple times and in different directions. This helps to dislodge any deeply embedded pet hair.

3. Rubber helps with hair

Hair sticks to rubber, so items such as washing up gloves, squeegees and rubber brooms are great for lifting hairs your vacuum might struggle to suck up.

4. Soda the smells

If your pets are making your carpets smelly, lightly dusting them with bicarbonate of soda 10 minutes before vacuuming will help to neutralise the smell.

5. Little and often

If your pet sheds a lot of hair, it’s better to do a quick sweep with your vacuum every two to three days instead of doing less regular, deeper cleans. This way you’ll catch the hair before it has the chance to get deeply embedded in your carpets.

6. Brush and bathe

Regular brushing and bathing is the best way to grab loose hair from your pet and dispose of it before it has the chance to spread all over your home. Some dogs shed so much that they should be brushed daily and most will love a regular grooming session.

7. Maintain your vacuum

It’s good practice to empty bagless vacuums after each use, and keep on top of cleaning the brushes and filters. If you leave them for too long, dust and pet hair will clog up the vacuum and cause it to lose suction. 

If your vac is struggling to suck, head to our guide on how to fix a vacuum cleaner that's lost suction.

How we find the best vacuums for pet hair

Pet hair being laid out on the test carpet

At Which?, we’re dedicated to finding the best and worst cordless vacuums so you know exactly what you’re getting before you part with your money. We do this by putting every cordless vacuum we review through a series of robust, independent lab tests.

We comb an exact blend of real dog and cat hair into our test carpets, and accurately simulate a scenario of using a vacuum to suck up pet hair that’s matted into your carpets at home.

We time how long it takes to sufficiently remove the hair and any additional time required to clean the vacuum after use, to determine how efficiently it deals with the pet hair. The most efficient vacuums score the full five stars for pet hair removal, while those that struggle or even fail to pick up the hair at all receive one star.

Find out more about how we test cordless vacuums.