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Love Your Pet But Not Pet Hair

pet-hair-article-womanwithcat.jpgAlmost all pets shed, whether you have a dog, cat, or something smaller like a ferret or rabbit. They shed naturally all year, and can shed more during the spring and summer to lose their thick winter coats. Stress or sickness can cause excess shedding as well.

Pet hair is hard to get out of carpets and can get into areas that are hard to reach or clean, like upholstery, stairs and curtains. It can make your floors and couches look dull, dirty, and old.

If someone in your family has pet related allergies you need to be especially mindful of pet dander. Dander isn't just hair but is also skin cells, saliva, and other proteins, which is why even hairless animals can cause an allergic reaction.

What to look for when buying a vacuum for a home with pets

You will need a vacuum with good suction to grab the pet hair from your carpet or flooring. Specialty tools and attachments are extremely helpful at getting into corners and baseboards, or to assist in reaching up high to get to ceiling fans or book shelves collecting dust and dander. Hand tools that delve deep into carpet to get trapped hair are also useful.

Vacuums that are specially designed for pets come in many different types. Some people like having upright vacuums that clean large areas with ease, while others want a vacuum that is smaller and more portable. If you travel with your pet, your car can have lots of pet hair imbedded in it that isn't easily removed. There are handheld vacuum cleaners for easy maneuverability in the tight spaces of a car that are rechargeable or come with very long power cords.

Some vacuums have bags and others are bagless. Studies have shown that both clean equally as well, it's more of a matter of personal taste when considering the pros and cons of bagless versus bagged. Some people with allergies or asthma find that bagged vacuums are cleaner than bagless in that they trap the dirt and pet dander inside the bag when you remove it to throw it away, while a bagless version can possibly expose you to allergens. The downside to bagged vacuums is that you do need to buy replacement bags, which is unnecessary with a bagless vacuum. A vacuum with a bag can hold more dirt than a bagless version, but it can be harder to tell when it is full (unless you get a vacuum with an indicator light that alerts you when your bag is at capacity). Whether you choose a bagged design or a bagless one, make sure to empty the bag or canister before it is overly full, or it will lose suction and not be as effective at removing pet hair.

How filters can help pet allergies

pet-hair-article-twodogsOver half of all U.S. households have pets that live indoors and it's estimated that 10% of the population have pet allergies. That means that many people who are allergic to pets still choose to live with them, either because they love having pets, or because they are the only one in their family that have pet related allergies. Even if no one in your house is allergic to your pets, you may have friends or relatives that are. By using an allergen poof vacuum or vacuum bag, you can remove pet dander and other potentially harmful particulates from the air. A common filter is a high efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filter which has 99.97% efficiency. Both vacuums and bags themselves (for vacuums with a bagged design) can have HEPA filters. Another option is getting a vacuum with a hospital-grade S-Class filtration system. These have three layers of filtration and a rating of 99.9% efficiency. The difference between HEPA and S-Class filtration is mostly a difference the size of the particles that they filter, and some vacuums combine the technology.

There are also vacuums that filter the air from the motor and ones that have odor removing elements like charcoal or baking soda. You can vacuum up pet hair and remove unwanted pet smells at the same time!

Make sure that you read your vacuum's manual on how to keep the vacuum clean. Pet hair can clog some vacuums and make them less effective if not given proper maintenance, causing them to lose suction or not properly rotate. Longer pet hair can get caught in the rollers or vacuum brush, and less frequently in the hoses and other attachments (this also goes for human hair as well).

Also note how often you will need to change your filter. Some filters are washable, which saves money long term and is environmentally friendly, but can be a little dirty if you have allergies to pet dander and dust. In general, disposable filters catch smaller particles. You can check how efficient potential filters are by comparing their Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) which is based on a rating of 1 to 12, with 1 being the least efficient and 12 being the most efficient.

Steam cleaners can help too

pet-hair-article-blueeyedcat.jpgSteam cleaners are also good for removing pet hair, which can be trapped deep in your carpet or ground into the fabric itself. Steam cleaners have the added benefit of removing pet allergens, killing off dust mites, bacteria, and mold spores. Using hot steam loosens up fibers of your carpet to allow for deep cleaning. Most steam cleaners will also kill off any flea eggs if you've been having problems with your pet getting fleas from being outside or from visiting with other animals. You can get a steam cleaner that runs solely on water if you are sensitive to chemicals or want to have a green household.

Air filters and purifiers

Even if you are vacuuming regularly, pet dander can be floating in the air itself. An air filter or purifier not only removes the dander from the air but can remove pet smells as well.

Suggested items:

Bissell 89Q9 Lift-Off MultiCyclonic Pet Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Austin Air Pet Machine Air Purifier
Bissell 33N8 SpotBot Pet Handheld Carpet Deep Cleaner
McCulloch MC1275 Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner