Vacuuming is never fun. But it is necessary. This is especially true if you have pets. Having a great vacuum cleaner can certainly be a huge help when it comes to managing pet hair. Choosing a new vacuum cleaner can be tough. There are so many manufacturers (each with several different models) that claim they’ll be your new best friend when it comes to cleaning up after man’s best friend that you can quickly become overwhelmed and frustrated. Before getting sucked into the hype and marketing gimmicks, it would be a good idea to understand some vacuum cleaner basics that can help you determine which model will work best for you.
The most important element of a vacuum cleaner’s functionality is airflow. Not motor power or suction power. Airflow. The motor does dictate overall power, including airflow, and airflow drives suction. The motor powers a fan that causes air pressure within the machine to drop, creating a vacuum that causes air to be pulled into the machine, along with any dust and dirt in the vicinity. This air and the dust collected are moved through the filtration system and into the bag or canister. The debris stays trapped, and the air is sent out through an exhaust port. The stronger a machine’s airflow is, the better it will work. Many models that claim superior motor and suction power actually have airflow systems that aren’t well sealed. Leaks along the airflow route affect suction. A machine with a great suction rating combined with poor airflow will not maintain optimum suction beyond the first few minutes of operation. Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute. A higher CFM is one of the best indicators of a vacuum cleaner’s overall performance ability. CFM is usually measured without any attachments connected, so any rating you see will be for bare floor or carpet cleaning and may drop a little when attachments are used.
A well-sealed air flow circuit combined with a great filtration system is the best way to make sure that your vacuum cleaner picks up and then retains as much dust, dirt, and pet hair as possible. We’ve established that great airflow means more dirt gets sucked up. The dirt-filled air being pulled into the machine passes through a filter. This filter should ensure that all of the dust stays in its receptacle, leaving only clean air to pass through the exhaust port and back into your room. An optimum airflow/filtration combo will make your cleaning efforts more effective and could even mean that you can vacuum a little less often.
The next thing to consider is the type of flooring you have. Vacuum cleaners designed for carpets work differently than those designed for bare floors. Carpet heads contain roller brushes designed to brush the carpet at a fairly high speed, causing dirt below the surface to be stirred up and sucked up. Bare floor models sit closer to the floor and work on direct suction without this agitation. Pet owners with carpet should look for brush roller heads with softer, shorter bristles. This type of brush head is less likely to end up so entangled with pet hair that it becomes virtually ineffective. If you’re a pet owner with no carpet, the airflow and filtration really are your only performance concerns.
Once you’ve got your performance issues sorted out, you can look at accessibility issues. If you have furniture that’s raised off of the floor, you need a vacuum cleaner that can get to the flooring under your furniture. Some machines have a low enough profile to go under furniture, but most will rely on attachments for this kind of work. When considering attachments, look for pieces that will let you clean vertical and overhead surfaces, furniture surfaces, stairs (if you have them) as well as the nooks and crannies throughout your house. The key to controlling pet hair (and allergens) is to remove as much of it as possible every time you clean. A vacuum cleaner with awesome airflow that lets you reach every corner could be your new best friend when it comes to cleaning up after your favorite fur babies.