Tackling Cat Hair and Pet Odor

The best defense is a good offense. Heres why.

The best strategy to minimize a pet hair problem in your home is to remove loose hair from your cats coat before it hits the floor. And ironically, shorthaired cats often shed more than longhaired cats. Of course, you cant possibly catch all pet hair before it falls out. So


when it does make its inevitable landfall, the following are ways to pick up pet hair as easily and thoroughly as possible.

Tackling Upholstery. Vacuuming is the first approach to removing cat hair from upholstery; however, if your vacuum isnt removing enough hair, you can try one of several other approaches.

Get Sticky – Lint rollers (a rolling brush that has tape “sticky side out”) work by adhering cat hair to the sticky tape. Manufacturers market pet hair rollers in various sizes to pick up pet hair. Pocket-sized packs of lint pickup sheets are also available for owners who frequently find cat hair stuck to their clothing.

Tip: Forego the special rollers and use inexpensive packing tape. Take a length of tape (a 12-inch section should be more than enough) and wrap the tape – sticky side out – around your fingers. Press the tape against any areas that you want to remove cat hair.

Several manufacturers make special “pet” attachments for their vacuums. These usually consist of a rotating brush that works in concert with the suction of the vacuum. Pet attachments can be particularly helpful when the upholstery fabric is more textured. Hair tends to accumulate on the attachment itself, so you should pay attention to cleaning the hair off of the attachment, as well.

Damp Does It – For leather couches or very smooth, tightly woven fabrics, clean first with a soft (non-rotating) vacuum brush attachment, and finish by using a damp cloth, a leather wipe (if its a leather couch) or a Swiffer pad.

Cleaning Your Floors. When vacuuming pet hair, use a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. This air filter traps particles as small as .3 microns and prevents them from circulating in the air. Some pet owners feel the traditional bag vacuum is better for the capture and disposal of pet hair than a bagless vacuum. Their experience has shown that with a bagless vacuum, pet hairs can stick to the walls of the canister and wont shake out when the collection canister is emptied. Tip: If youre using a bagless, canister system, rinse the canister with warm water to remove hairs and any other clingy debris.

Odor Control – One newer pet vacuum, the Eureka Boss 4D Pet Fresh, integrates baking soda into the vacuuming system to control odors in upholstery and carpeting. If you dont own one of these vacuums, you can shake baking soda on your floor and vacuum it up for additional odor control.

Hard Floors – If shedding is light, using a damp mop or Swiffer can be enough to control pet hair. In multi-cat homes, sweep or vacuum first with a hard floor attachment and then finish with a damp mop or Swiffer to pick up remaining hairs. Tip: When mopping, use a cleaner that is safe for your cats. Cleaners with pine, which can be toxic to cats, should be avoided. Rather, pet owners should consider using a mixture of vinegar and water to clean surfaces.

Throw Rugs – Small area rugs can collect significant amounts of hair. In addition to regular vacuuming, you might want to regularly wash your throw rugs. Tip: For maximum hair removal, vacuum throw rugs first, then air fluff them in your dryer before washing, wash then dry.

Working the Walls. Errant hairs can wind up in the strangest places, including your walls. To trap the hairs (rather than get them airborne), you can use a damp cloth to wipe down walls, or if you like gadgets, try an electrostatic duster. The duster is made of a fabric that is electrostatically charged so it attracts hair and dust much like a magnet. When placed back in its slot on the vacuum, it spins itself clean and is ready for the next time you need it.

Practically speaking, there will always be some pet hair somewhere in your home. It is possible to keep up with the shedding using a few cleaning tricks, and if you like gadgets, there are a few out there that can make your job simpler or do the work for you.