How to get rid of pet hair: 16 clever cleaning hacks

If you're a pet owner it's likely you fight a losing, daily battle trying to get rid of pet hair. However, with clever cleaning hacks and a little know how, getting rid of pet hair can be done with ease. Here's how

dining room with fireplace and dog
(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

Cats and dogs: can't live without them, can live without their hair. If your home – and therefore, you – are forever covered in pet hair, you'll no doubt be looking for ways to get rid of it, especially if you're a house proud allergy sufferer as well as a pet owner. So, what are the best ways to get rid of pet hair? In our experience (we're a neat dog/cat owner split in the office), it's not as hard as you think, and all about having the right cleaning tools, combined with the best pet hair cleaning know how. Read our step by step guide below for all the advice you need.

And you might like to know that we've got tons more advice on cleaning up after dogs and cleaning up after cats – and if you like a regular cleaning fix, don't miss our cleaning hub page for clever hacks, tips and the best buys. 

1. Groom your pet regularly

Do it outside if you can. Hate grooming your pet? Think of it as vacuuming – but before it hits the floor. And if you want them to love being groomed, choose the right grooming tool. We (or rather our dogs) really like the Trixie Care Brush, which has a hand loop, so it’s easy to use on both long- and short-haired dogs. However, there are tons of five-star rated dog grooming brushes to choose from online. For cats, our favourite is the Luxury Cat Brush with Extra Soft Silicone Pins but search for five-star rated cat grooming brushes for an alternative your moggie will like.

2. Choose pet hair resistant surfaces

Renovating your house? If you’re a pet lover but driven crazy by pet hair mess, investing in surfaces that repel pet hair will make life much easier. That means swapping carpets for hard floors, velvet sofas for cotton or leather sofas, woollen bed throws (yes, we know they get up and sleep there) for cotton ones.

3. Cover surfaces with a pet blanket

If your dog or cat has a favourite sunny spot on your bed, sofa or carpet, protect it by covering it with a pet blanket or rug that can go in the washing machine once a week. Doing so won’t just protect your flooring and furniture, it’ll help your vacuum cleaner live longer, too. And don’t forget to wash pet beds regularly, too – you’ll know it’s overdue if you can smell it (or if guests wrinkle their noses when they enter the house). Pssst! We've reviewed the best pet beds, just in case your pet has been using the sofa/bed instead – these might lure them.

4. Get rid of pet hair in a tumble dryer

Talking of using the washing machine to remove pet hair… before you do, pop your pet hair laden fabrics in the tumble dryer with a fabric softener sheet or tumble dryer balls for 10 minutes before they go in the wash. Unlike the washing machine, which can work pet hair further into a fabrics fibres, the sheets/balls, action and hot air of the tumble dryer will loosen the hair and it will end up in the lint trap, ready to be neatly disposed of. Shake the washing out before putting it into the washing machine. Need a new tumble dryer? See our pick of the best.

5. Get rid of pet hair in a washing machine

Washing pet blankets and rugs on a hot wash will help get rid of household germs and bacteria (use our guide to find out more) and get rid of dust mites (again, read our guide). Add a liquid water softener like Calgon or half a cup of white vinegar to the washing cycle to help further loosen pet hair in the washing machine. At the end of the cycle, ensure you scoop any pet hair you can find out of the drum. Knowing how to clean a washing machine regularly will be an important job for your cleaning checklist – our guide tells you how. And find more ways to clean with vinegar – it’s another magical, natural cleaning product that can tackle grime and bacteria. 

7. Invest in a vacuum for pet hair

Next up, a quick vacuuming of floors before you do anything else (sorry, but if you’re deep cleaning, you may need to vacuum twice, once before and once after you remove pet hair from upholstery). Vacuums for pet hair are designed to tackle not just effective collection of the hair, but they should be equipped with a HEPA filter, which is a must-have for removing allergens from the rooms, including pet dander. 

If your budget allows, our reviewer recommends buying the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2. Its cleaning power is hard to top and it is super easy to use, with great manoeuvrability. But if you're after a cordless vacuum cleaner then we certainly wouldn't hesitate to buy the incredibly impressive Dyson V11 Animal (and it's so reasonably priced too!). Don't have a budget to stretch to a Dyson? If this is the case then we can highly recommend buying the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 which rivals both the top Dyson models, without the price tag.

It’s important to empty your vacuum cleaner regular (pet hair vacuum or not) to help it function well, and to ensure the brushes are cleaned of pet hair regularly. Ensure you’ve got an upholstery attachment handy if your dog or cat loves the sofa (or bed). Find more tips in our guide to how to vacuum

8. Run a robot vacuum cleaner while you’re out

Using a robot cleaner to remove pet hair while you’re out won’t take the place of a thorough vacuuming but it will keep pet hair under control between weekend cleaning blitzes. Our favourite robot vacuum for pet hair is the Dyson 360 Eye which wins top spot for suction power, vacuuming up pet hair with ease. It's smaller than some models, so it can tackle tight spots, and it can even call for help when it gets stuck. You can view all the best robot vacuum cleaners in our buyer’s guide.

9. Remove pet hair smells from carpets and rugs

Pet hair – or, more accurately – pet dander can make carpets and rugs pretty smelly, so after the first quick vacuuming session and while you tackle upholstery, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over them, and leave for an hour. The magic of the bicarb is that it helps loosen the pet hair as well as deodorising. By the way, you can keep your vac fresh by sprinkling bicarbonate of soda into the canister every now and then. Read our guide on cleaning with bicarbonate of soda for more tips.

10. Use an anti-static spray on upholstery and soft furnishings

Spritzing your furnishings with anti-static spray – like you’d use on clothes – or with a mixture of water and fabric softener can help keep pet hair from sticking to upholstery, cushions, throws, curtains. You can also use the spray just before you remove pet hair with a lint roller to loosen it from the fabric. Always patch test before spraying on to delicate fabrics. And find all our favourite home cleaning buys in our top 50 cleaning essentials sourcebook.

11. Use lint rollers to get rid of pet hair

You might already have a lint roller for your clothes – in fact, if you have pets you almost certainly do. Anyhoo, these little tools are really effective at removing pet hair from upholstery and curtains. They’re cheap, too.

12. Use tumble dryer sheets to get rid of pet hair

Just like the mix of fabric softener and water and the anti-static spray we talked about above, tumble dryer sheets will loosen pet hair and discourage it from settling on furniture and fabrics. Just like you would with any chemical you apply to your furnishings, patch test first to ensure the dryer sheets don’t leave a shiny residue.

13. Use rubber gloves to get rid of pet hair

Dampen your (clean) rubber gloves, then simply wipe your hands across the furniture, curtains and pet beds to lift the pet hair with unbelievable ease. Got pet grooming gloves? You can use these instead. Rubber gloves are a brilliant pet hair removal tool for getting into nooks and crannies, like the corners of carpeted stairs or between the carpet and skirting board.

14. Use a squeegee to get rid of pet hair

Dampened rubber squeegees work just like rubber gloves. Use one to remove pet hair from carpets, especially on staircases and into corners. 

15. Use old socks to remove pet hair from furniture and floors

Sports socks, worn inside out really work well for this, especially if they’re slightly dampened. Pop the socks on your hands to wipe them off furniture (check how much lint they shed before you go too far), or slip them on to your feet to tackle hard floors. By the way, those old (but clean) socks are great for cleaning windows and woodwork, and cleaning blinds and shutters, too.

16. Buy the best rubber broom or mop for removing pet hair from floors

If you’ve got hard floors only, you might that an electrostatic dust mop is the best tool to pick up pet hair. These tend to come with disposable wipes; if you’d rather take a more eco-friendly route, swap out the wipes for damp microfibre cloths, which are useful for removing stray pet hairs from furniture. Or, pick up a rubber broom to sweep and loosen pet hair from carpets before you vacuum a second time. Failing that, a good quality, dampened mop or a dust mop can be just as effective at picking up pet hair from hard floors that a vacuum cleaner. Find our best floor mop picks in our buyer's guide – and see the best deals on our favourite dust mop below.

More cleaning buys and advice:

Lucy Searle

Lucy is Global Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of in 2018 then moving to Homes & Gardens in 2021. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.