And what makes them more effective in the fight against fur?

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If you have recently gone shopping for a new vacuum, you may have noticed the numerous models on the market that are specifically targeted towards pet owners. But what do "pet" vacuum cleaners actually do, and do you need a pet to benefit from these machines' technology? Ahead, experts share how pet-centric models differ from traditional ones and how to determine which best suits your needs.

woman vacuuming living room rug
Credit: LumiNola / Getty Images

Language Matters

Plenty of vacuum cleaners are targeted towards specific purposes; there are options for hardwood floors, high-traffic areas, and even homes with four-legged friends. "Some vacuum makers may label their products as a 'pet' model or 'pet series,'" explains Hooman Shahidi, the Vice President of Product Management at iRobot. "Customers should consider what those marketing labels mean. Does the product truly have an advantage for tackling pet hair or does it equate to additional accessories?" Generally, vacuums designed with pet hair in mind are made with unique bristles or special filters for dealing with fur and dander; they often come with accessories that can be used to remove pet hair from the surfaces your cat or dog frequents.

Pet-Centric Features

One of the common complaints with traditional vacuums is that hair easily becomes tangled in the bristles, making them inefficient at picking up extra fur until it has been thoroughly (and laboriously) cleaned. Machines designated for pet cleanup come with covers over those bristles; they prevent that matted effect and are typically bagless, so they don't lose suction over time.

Bottom Line

You don't need to have a dog or cat to benefit from the added features of pet-specific vacuums, but most of these features are targeted towards jobs that involve excessive amounts of fur. With that said, you don't necessarily need a pet vacuum to get the home you share with your furry friends clean. "Almost all Roomba vacuums (from $199, target.com) come standard with dual, multi-surface rubber brushes—a patented design that lifts pet and human hair from carpet and hard floors and passes it through to the robot's bin, preventing hair tangles that are often found on bristle brushes," Shahidi says. "These unique brushes are meant to combat the fluffiest, hairiest pets and their manes, each brush adjusting and flexing to stay in constant contact with carpet and hard floors."

Other Considerations

All in all, you should consider more than just whether or not a vacuum is branded as pet specific before you purchase it. The tools, accessories, and ease of use are all valuable features for these cleaning machines. Ultimately, if your vacuum isn't simple to use, it's unlikely that you will turn to it frequently enough to stay on top of all that pet hair.

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