7 tips for staying on top of pet hair

Close-up high-angle view of unrecognizable young woman gently combing pretty white small Spitz pet dog, sitting on floor at home
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Our pets are practically members of the family, and we wouldn't trade them for the world. But keeping pet hair from coating every surface of your home, on your clothes, in your carpet — everywhere! — can be a full-time job. The good news is that the right tools and techniques make keeping on top of pet hair a breeze.

I have three cats and a dog, and while I love them dearly, pet hair is pretty much the bane of my existence. Most days it feels like, if I turn my back for just a second, a whole animal's worth of hair magically pops up in every corner, kicking it with the dust bunnies. It can be overwhelming. 

But by incorporating the following tried-and-true methods for pet hair removal into my regular cleaning schedule, I feel like now I have it under control. Rather than the other way around. 

Before diving in, two important things to note: There are some quick tricks you can use to cut your cleaning time in half, but you'll need dedication to effectively rein in your home's pet hair problem. Short of your fur babies spontaneously going bald, shedding is a part of life for as long as they're in yours.  

Secondly — no, you'll never be able to completely eradicate pet hair from your home. Especially if you have multiple pets like me. There's no magic solution, but that doesn't mean you have to throw in the towel in the fight against fur. So here are the best tips to ensure you come out victorious. 

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1. Remove pet hair from clothes before washing

a cat watches a lint roller used to clean up hair on pants

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You may be tempted to just throw your fur-covered outfits into the wash to get them clean, but that will only help remove some of the pet hair. 

And unless you're really keeping on top of regular maintenance for your machine (check out our how-to on how to clean a washing machine), all that pet hair is likely to gum up your washer over time. That'd make even the best washing machines struggle to get your clothes clean. 

Instead, tackle the problem before it becomes a problem and remove as much hair as possible before starting a load. Lint rollers and fabric brushes are best designed to get the job done. But in a pinch, some scotch tape wrapped around the tip of your finger will pick up plenty of hair. 

If the hair is really ingrained, don some latex gloves and run your hands over the fabric to easily dislodge the hair. Let static electricity do the work for you! 

2. Regularly brush your pets

A woman removes dog hair after molting a dog with a dustpan and broom at home

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Regular grooming is going to be your best tactic for getting pet hair under control. For dogs, veterinarians recommend brushing your dog's coat at least once a week. Long-haired breeds may need even more frequent grooming sessions to keep their luscious locks from matting or tangling. With short-haired or wiry-haired dogs, you can get away with brushing every few weeks. 

Cats can be a bit more high maintenance. If your kitty has a long or curly coat, it'll need daily brushing, particularly around the ears and the back of the legs where their hair tends to get tangled up. If your cat's coat is on the shorter side, it may only need one or two brushings a week. 

Long-toothed metal combs are great for working out tangles or for grooming wiry-haired coats.

What type of brush picks up the most hair depends on your pet's needs. Stiff bristle brushes work best on short coats or sparse undercoats. For long-haired breeds, you'll need something more like a pin brush to remove hair from both the undercoat and top coat. Long-toothed metal combs are great for working out tangles or for grooming wiry-haired coats. 

If your pet has a thick undercoat or is prone to shedding, you'll likely want to use a deshedding tool like a FURminator to get rid of all that loose hair before going back through with a pin brush. 

3. Use one of the best vacuums to pick up pet hair

iRobot Roomba 694 with a dog on a rug

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Investing in one of the best vacuum cleaners can be a game-changer when it comes to pet hair. Part of what makes it such a nightmare to clean is that the hair fibers get more embedded into your carpet and upholstery with daily traffic and footfall. 

Thankfully, there are certain vacuums that are especially effective at collecting pet hair. Which type you should buy — an upright, handheld or robot model — will vary depending on how you plan on incorporating it into your cleaning routine. 

If you're looking to set it and forget it, check out the best robot vacuums for pet hair. The iRobot Roomba s9+ is pricy, but it comes with a self-emptying base, which automatically empties the onboard dustbin when full. That keeps the hair and dander the machine just picked up from re-entering your home when it’s time to empty the bin. Or, if you're not looking to splurge, we've also rounded up the best cheap robot vacuums that'll keep your floors clean without breaking the bank. 

4. Microfiber dry mopping is great in a pinch

A microfiber mop cleans near a couch

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Let's be real, we don't always vacuum as much as we know we probably should. If you're short on time or energy, dry mopping with a microfiber mop pad is an easy way to round up a bunch of those hairball dust bunnies quickly. 

I tend to do a quick sweep before people come over, and it's frankly alarming how much hair the microfiber mop head picks up. Even when I've just vacuumed in the past day or so! I'm constantly gobsmacked that my pets have any hair left on their bodies with how much they shed. 

You'll be surprised by how much sweeping up those hidden hairballs before they're rolling around out in the open can make a difference.

Focus on the nooks and crannies where hair tends to accumulate first to get the big clumps gone, then do a sweep of the rest floor. 

And don't forget to get under your couches, tables, and any other big furniture items! You'll be surprised by how much sweeping up those hidden hairballs before they're rolling around out in the open can make a difference. You don't necessarily need a mop for this part either. An extendible microfiber dusting wand does the trick beautifully — no moving heavy furniture required. 

5. Tackle deeply ingrained hair

A jack russell dog has shed hair on a sofa

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One of the trickiest aspects of keeping on top of pet hair I've found is tackling deeply ingrained hair in your couches, cat trees, pet beds and anywhere else your fur babies regularly curl up. The kind of hair that refuses to budge no matter what you do. It laughs in the face of any vacuum. 

I've learned it's all about the right tools. Lint rollers like the Chom Chom Roller that use static electricity to pick hair are great for large, flat surface areas, like your couch or chair cushions. But they're less useful for more confined spaces and can leave a lot of hair behind in tight corners.  

Some people swear that using water to dampen the latex glove first attracts even more hair.

To carve off the layer of hair that can build up on pet beds and cat trees, latex gloves are your friend. Put on a pair and rub your hands back and forth in short movements over the upholstery to pick up hair. The friction between the glove and the fabric creates static electricity that causes stray debris to cling to it. Rubber brooms use the same method to get the hair, lint and other debris out of carpet.

Some people swear that using water to dampen the latex glove first attracts even more hair. I've experimented with both wet and dry methods and haven't noticed much of a difference. So your mileage may vary. 

6. Get one of the best air purifiers

A line up of the air purifiers tested by Tom's Guide

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So you've emerged victorious and managed to rip up all the pet hair from your carpet and upholstery. Your vacuum or dust mop picked up most of it, but there's still going to be plenty of pet hair wafting around in the air from day to day as your pets shed. And so the cycle starts anew. 

Investing in one of the best air purifiers puts an end to that. It can help you breathe easier by sucking up hair and filtering out pet dander and other airborne pollutants from your home. They’re particularly useful for people with allergies, but are also ideal for deodorizing a room and helping you sleep easier at night.

For the best bang for your buck, the Honeywell HPA300 HEPA Air Purifier covers an impressive amount of space. In our tests, its three filters were able to remove most of the pollutants in a large-sized room of 465 square feet.

7. Get your pet a blanket for their spot — then wash it regularly

Young English Cocker spaniel puppy hugs kitten under a blanket

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Odds are your pet's already staked out their preferred spot for lounging around. If they have a regular snoozing space, get them their own throw blanket and then wash it regularly. The idea behind it is pretty much the same as couch covers, only less hassle to set up and clean. Plus adding a blanket or two in strategic spots is easier to incorporate into whatever aesthetic you already have going on around your house. 

Throw them in the wash at least once a month and preferably more often than that, using your usual laundry detergent or white vinegar to loosen up hair and get rid of odors. Because the last thing you want is your couch to smell like you have animals. 

If you're looking to tidy up more than just pet hair, check out our guide on how to clean every room of your home for step-by-step guidance on every cleaning task imaginable.

Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.