Recently, Unclutterer posted some useful information for those of us who drown in piles of pet hair. In response to a post about speedy house-cleaning, a reader asked what to do about piles of fur shed by their Chocolate Lab. The question came up because most "Clean your house really quickly!" plans don't take pet ownership into account.
Erin from Unclutterer responded with a number of tips for dog and cat owners. In summary, and with a few parenthetical comments from me, they are:
- Pick up pet-hair dust-bunnies with damp paper towels daily.
- Bathe pets as frequently as you can: a lot of excess fur will go down the drain with the water. (Bathing a dog more often than every few weeks can really dry out their skin, so be careful with this one. Also, it can clog your drains.)
- Brush pets regularly. (A shedding loop/blade may be more helpful for longer-haired or double-coated dogs.)
Find the rest of the tips, more ideas about how you can put them into action, and information about equipment that might help you, all after the break!
- Change air filters regularly. (This won't help with the shedding, but it will help with allergic reactions.)
- Let your dog sleep on a frequently-washed fleece blanket. (This could kill your washing machine's drain, but is otherwise a good idea.)
- Vacuum thoroughly at least once a week.
- Feed your pet the best food you can. (For so many reasons: good food usually also means fewer vet visits and happier pets.)
I have two cats, as well as a double-coated dog whose fur ranges in length from about half an inch to eight inches (on her tail). There is no possible way to clean all the associated shed fur up quickly, except to keep up with it every day or so. (Ha ha ha ha ha.)
With this in mind, I think the most useful item is the pet hair sponge, which is a foam rubber "brick" that you rub briskly over a surface (such as a sofa cushion or a section of carpet). The label will claim that it "lifts" pet hair, but actually, it pushes loose shed hair along and rolls it into stringy balls that usually come to rest at the edge of the area you're working with.
These stringy balls may or may not stick to the edge of the sponge, but they are easily picked up and thrown away. This sponge lasts practically forever -- in my house, we're still using one we bought four or five years ago -- and can be washed with a little bit of dish soap when it starts to look grungy.
Other suggestions in the comments at Unclutterer: people seem to like the Furminator pet brush, recent Roomba vacuum cleaners that are better at picking up pet hair and getting into tight spaces than the original models, microfiber rags used with regular Swiffer handles, and light electric sweepers.
One last thing: most allergic people aren't particularly allergic to pet hair itself. Pet dander and pet saliva are larger culprits, so this "pet hair removal" may be more of a cosmetic issue than a health issue. Vacuuming with a HEPA filter is probably the least you can do to alleviate pet allergies in your home.