Does your pet leave a trail of hair wherever he goes? If so, you don't always want to lug a large cylinder or upright vacuum around just for spot cleaning - which is why a handheld can be a great purchase. In this article, we've listed 4 of the best handheld vacuums for pet hair in 2018.
If you own a dog, cat or other animal that sheds, keeping hair in check can be an endless task. Some pet owners need to vacuum almost daily - which can be tiring when using a heavy upright vacuum cleaner. The fact that hair can get everywhere - from furniture to stairs - makes this even more difficult.
For this reason, buying a handheld vacuum for pet hair can save time and energy. These vacuums are small, lightweight and convenient to use in "tricky" locations such as stairs or on sofas. Most are also cheaper than full-size vacuums.
Of course, you need to have realistic expectations of a handheld vacuum. These models don't have the suction power or cleaning performance of full-size vacs. This means they can't remove the same quantity of dirt and other debris. Many are also cordless and don't have a long run-time, which means they are better suited to spot cleaning than long sessions.
Even so, there are some handheld vacuums with strong performance. They are great for removing the worst of hair on a daily basis, so your weekly clean with a more powerful vacuum is easier and faster.
In this article, we'll start with a guide to choosing a handheld for pets. We've then listed five of the best handheld vacuums for pet hair to help you make an informed decision.
What to Look for in a Handheld Pet Vacuum
Before we go any further, you need to decide whether a handheld vacuum is the right choice.
Handhelds excel at spot cleaning or tackling tricky areas, such as stairs or above cupboards. The best models also have decent suction power considering the small size of the machine. If you need a vacuum for removing the worst of pet hair around your house quickly and conveniently, then they are a great option. Most are also relatively cheap.
What they can't do is compete with full-size uprights or even cordless vacuums when it comes to cleaning performance. This is partly due to size - handhelds don't have a large floor head which means it would take a long time to clean large areas. Also, while the suction power of the best handhelds is enough to get rid of pet hair, they struggle with the toughest dirt and other debris.
If you're sure a handheld is a right choice, here are some things to look for:
- Corded or Cordless. Most handheld vacuum cleaners have a cordless design. They run on battery power, which is great for mobility and convenience, but means they usually only last 10-20 minutes before needing to be recharged. Vacuums with a cord are less manoeuvrable, but are often more powerful and run for as long as you need them.
- Battery Life. If you decide to get a cordless, the battery run-time is one of the most important considerations. Handhelds tend to have short run-times, so they are often only suitable for spot cleaning.
- Cleaning Performance. It sounds obvious, but make sure a vacuum can suck up pet hair on a variety of surfaces. The performance of a vacuum doesn't only depend on the suction power though. Factors such as whether it has a powered brush bar, the shape of the nozzle and internal sealing all affect whether a vacuum cleaner struggles with pet hair.
- Weight. Most handhelds are lightweight - especially compared to full-size vacuums. There's still variation between the lightest handhelds and the rest though. Choosing a light model is especially important if you need to clean locations above your head.
- Capacity. Handheld vacuums tend to have very small internal capacities. This is a natural consequence of a lightweight and small design. Even so, the larger the capacity the less you'll need to empty the machine, so make sure you check this before you buy.
- Price. The cheapest handheld vacuums for pet hair cost as little as £50, while the most expensive (from brands such as Dyson) can cost considerably more. A higher price doesn't always mean better performance, but the more expensive options on the list below are likely to remove more hair than cheaper options.
We also need to point out that the majority of handheld vacuums are terrible for getting rid of pet hair. This isn't a criticism - most aren't designed for such a tricky cleaning task - but it means you need to be careful about which you choose.
To give a solid example of this, one of our top recommendations for a handheld - the Black+Decker Lithium Pivot - is great for almost everything but is not suitable for pet hair.
4 Best Handheld Vacuums for Dog or Cat Hair
Now you know what makes a great handheld vacuum for pets, here are four of the best options on the market. These models range in price, but all provide great performance and excellent value for money.
1. Dyson V6 Trigger Pro
Our top recommendation for a handheld vacuum for pet hair is the Dyson V6 Trigger Pro. Part of Dyson's excellent V6 range, it's a powerful model that comes with a range of useful tools. As you'd expect from a Dyson vacuum, it's not cheap, but it can make cleaning pet hair much faster.
Dyson V6 Trigger Pro
- Excellent fade-free suction power
- Mini motorised tool
- Great all-round performance
What exactly is the Trigger Pro and how does it compare to Dyson cordless vacuums? Firstly, the Trigger Pro uses the same motor as the full-size V6 range. This provides powerful suction and a run-time of approximately 20 minutes. It doesn't have the floor tools or long rigid tube of the V6 Fluffy or similar models, but comes with a mini motorised tool, crevice tool and combination tool.
Most importantly for this page, the Trigger Pro is fantastic for cleaning cat and dog hair. It provides powerful suction so can tackle almost any surface. The mini motorised tool also provides the extra cleaning power required to get rid of stubborn hair.
There are a few drawbacks to the Trigger Pro though. It's a noisy handheld, so it's not suitable for cleaning when people are asleep. It also doesn't cope with larger debris as the nozzle can become clogged (thanks to Which for this bit of information). For most tasks, however, it does an excellent job - but it has a high price tag to match.
The Dyson V6 Trigger Pro is a fantastic all-round handheld vacuum that does a great job on pet hair. It's powerful, easy to use and provides fade-free suction throughout the 20 minute run-time. The motorised tool is also great for getting rid of hair. If you don't mind paying extra for the Dyson, it's our top rated handheld vacuum for pet hair. Click here to view its price.
Note: Dyson also produces a model called the V6 Top Dog. It's a similar vacuum to the Trigger Pro, but also comes with a "Stubborn Dirt" brush for getting mud out of carpets. If your dog or cat regularly treads mud through your house, it might be worth getting the Top Dog.
2. Vax Gator Pet H85-GA-P18
Another of the best handheld vacuum cleaners for pet hair is the Vax Gator Pet H85-GA-P18. It's much cheaper than the Dyson and has less suction power, but is great for removing hair on almost any surface. If you're looking for a handheld pet vacuum on a budget, this is the one to get.
Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator Pet
- Powered turbo tool
- Built-in crevice tool
- 20 minutes run-time
The first thing to note about the Vax H85-GA-P18 is that it comes with a powered turbo tool. This is rare on a handheld vacuum, and is one of the biggest reasons Gator Pet is so effective at cleaning pet hair. We're also big fans of the built-in crevice tool, as this is great for getting into tight spots.
Aside from its cleaning performance, the Vax is easy to use. The filter can be quickly removed for cleaning, which is important for keeping the vacuum in top condition. The dust canister, while relatively small at just 0.3 litres, is also quick to empty.
There are very few drawbacks to the Vax H85-GA-P18 Gator Pet. It's inexpensive, powerful and does a fantastic job of pet hair. It's not the quietest vacuum and the turbo tool is difficult to use at awkward angles, but for getting rid of dog or cat hair there aren't many better options. Click here to view its price.
3. Gtech Multi MK2 K9
One of the most popular cordless vacuums in recent years was the Gtech AirRam. While it's since been superseded by the AirRam Mk2, the original model was the reason Gtech rapidly became a household brand. What many people don't realise is that the company also produces an excellent handheld vacuum called the Multi - and the Gtech Multi MK2 K9 version is fantastic for cleaning pet hair.
Gtech Multi MK2 K9
- Powered turbo tool
- Scented filter to hide pet smells
- 20 minute run-time
The Multi MK2 K9 is designed to maximise cleaning performance while minimising weight. It comes with a 22V battery for a 20 minute run-time, along with an interior capacity of 0.4 litres. This is slightly smaller than the Dyson but still enough that you won't be emptying it every few minutes.
To make quick work of pet hair, the Multi K9 comes with a Power Brush Head tool. This, like the Vax equivalent, provides extra cleaning power for getting rid of stubborn hair and dirt. There's also a flexible on-board hose for getting into tight spots. A bonus is that the vacuum has headlights, so you can illuminate wherever you need to clean.
Another welcome feature of the K9 is the scented filter tabs. These hide unpleasant pet smells to leave your home smelling fresher and cleaner. While we would have liked an activated charcoal filter, as these absorb smells rather than just hide them, the scented filter is a decent alternative.
The biggest drawback to the Gtech Multi MK2 K9 is the price. It's a powerful vacuum that does a great job on pet hair though, so we think it's worth the money. Click here to view its price.
4. Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
Bissell is a brand that often slips under the radar when choosing a vacuum cleaner, but they produce some decent models at great prices. An example is the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser, which has been specifically designed to get rid of dog, cat and other animal hair. It does a great job too - mainly due to the motorised brush.
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
- Motorised brush bar
- 15 minute run-time and five hour charge
- Crevice & upholstery tool
With a name like the "Pet Hair Eraser", you would expect the Bissell to be pretty good at getting rid of hair. Fortunately, it isn't a let down. The motorised tool has a rotating brush bar to dig into carpets, sofas and stairs, so it's much more effective than the average handheld.
Aside from the motorised brush, the Bissell comes with a crevice tool, upholstery tool and dual filtration system. It also has an easy-to-empty bin and is relatively quiet - especially compared to the Dyson or Gtech.
If you're looking for a compact handheld vacuum cleaner to spot clean between regular cleans, the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is a great choice. It's much cheaper than the Dyson, but does a good job of picking up everything from dirt to hair. It also has a much larger dust capacity (1.5 litres) than the other options on this list. Click here to view its price.
If you have a pet that covers your house in hair, a handheld vacuum can be a useful tool for keeping hair under control. Unfortunately, most handheld vacs don't have the suction power or cleaning performance to tackle stubborn hair - so it's vital to choose one that's been designed for this task.
Our top pick for a handheld pet vacuum is the excellent Dyson V6 Trigger Pro. It's not cheap, but is probably the most effective handheld for getting rid of hair. If you don't want to pay the high price of the Trigger Pro, the Vax Gator Pet H85-GA-P18 is a great (and cheaper) alternative.
Do you have any questions about choosing the best handheld vacuum for pet hair? Or have we missed a vacuum from this list? We want to hear from you!