Don’t Let Pet Hair Destroy Your Vacuum

In a dog-eat-dog world, no vacuum is safe. I know—I have three of them (dogs, not vacuums). Don’t let those sweet faces fool you, our family dogs have inadvertently demolished multiple vacuums. Not even the top-of-the-line vacuum stood up to these (adorable) beasts and their constant, insidious shedding.

Three dogs that clog up vacuums with their pet hair
Our three precious mongrels, from left to right: Boo-Boo, Maggie, Pebbles.

I went through four vacuums before I realized how important routine vacuum maintenance is for pet owners. Pet hair gets tangled around rollers and wheels, causing belts to snap. Pet dander clogs filters and hoses. So just like our furry friends, our vacuums need love, too!

Here are a few things I’ve learned about protecting your vacuum from pet hair. And some guides to rescue your vacuum if it gets choked up on Fluffy’s fur.

Groom thyself and thy animal

Cute dog with lots of pet hair that gets caught in a vacuum

The more hair that’s brushed out, the less that lands on the floor, saving your vacuum from a perilous death.

Vacuum Regularly

Don’t wait too long to vacuum. Dirty floors with lots of pet hair make your vacuum work harder.

Use the Correct Tools

If you just brushed your fur baby, don’t try to mow over the tufts of fur with the vacuum. Use the hose on the large tufts to prevent clogs and tangles on the roller.

Routine Maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to a long vacuum life. Here are some things to look out for and ways to inspect and clean your vacuum’s vital components:

replacing a roller during vacuum repair
  • Rollers/Brushes: Hair gets caught around the rollers and embedded in the brushes, making it hard for your vacuum to move around. Once a month or so, flip your vacuum over and inspect the brushes. Pick fur out of brushes and cut tangles free from the roller. It’s a little tedious, but worth it to keep your floors fur free (and your vacuum working.)
  • Filter: Filters get dirty quick when you’re cleaning up after pets. If the filter is clogged, it can cause the vacuum to smell like wet dog and the vent may not be able to cool the motor. Pet dander can cause allergy problems too, so be sure to replace or clean your filter regularly.
  • Belt: The belt is what pushes the rollers. When hair is tangled on the rollers, the belt can snap! If your vacuum is hard to push, stop, unplug it, flip it over and inspect the belt. If your belt is broken, it’s usually a quick fix and a cheap part to replace.
  • Hose: Loss of suction could be caused by holes in the hose or hair and toy parts caught in the curve. Stretch the hose out to release clogs or—if possible—detach the hose and use a long tool to remove the obstruction. If you see any kinks or tears in the hose, try wrapping duct tape around the weak spot for a temporary fix.
  • Waste Bucket: Many waste buckets have tight spots where dirt can accumulate. Take a pipe cleaner or other long object to pull dirt out of tight corners and fully clean your waste bucket.

If your vacuum is still having trouble, check out these vacuum repair and maintenance guides to help you get your vacuum going again. If you’re beyond the point of maintenance, you might need to replace some parts. Luckily, companies like Hoover, Bissell, Dirt Devil, and Dyson make it easy to order replacement parts—and you can also search for parts on Amazon. More vacuum repair guides are available at info-vacuum-cleaner.com. But if you don’t know what needs to be repaired, try troubleshooting your vacuum cleaner at repairclinic.com or searspartsdirect.com.