Many cats, much carpet, too many stairs. Help me choose a vacuum!
May 10, 2015 10:32 AM   Subscribe

I have three floors of carpet, three black cats, and little upper body strength. I need a light vacuum that inhales cat hair over both large carpeted surfaces and stairs.

I never want to lug my current upright vacuum up these stairs again. (If it weren't for the weight, I'd otherwise have no problems with my current 5 year old Hoover Pet Windtunnel - it actually works pretty well, but is just too heavy!) I'm not afraid to throw (some) money at this if the quality of the product(s) warrants it.

If need be, I'm not entirely opposed to a vacuum per floor, with perhaps a handheld for the stairs if its capable of getting the cat hair out. I just need vacuuming to be easier to do, hence encouraging me to do it more often!

Does anyone have any recommendations for the perfect vacuum solution for me?
posted by cgg to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Costco, $76 dollar Bissell pet vacuum, with cleanable filters. Not so heavy, with a "turbo brush" for stairs and furniture, nice, long retractable cord too.
posted by Oyéah at 10:55 AM on May 10, 2015

The best vacuum systems I've ever used are central vacs, with a power interface at the end of the hose that you plug into the vacuum ports. The power interface is for running a beater head, which is pretty much required for carpets.

Two or three wall ports will cover an average sized house, and managing the hose is about the same as managing the cord. The head and handle are lightweight, and I can easily hit my aerobic limit while vacuuming without having a problem with upper body strength. Air quality is very good, as the very fine dust is ejected outside. They're quiet, too.

The next best thing would be a cannister vac, so that you can vacuum a circle before you have to lug the cannister unit. Same lightweight head and handle as the central vac. Air quality is compromised, because while you can get bags and filters that will remove almost all of the 2.5 micron dust, suction in reduced as a result.

Dead last is the upright vacuum cleaner, where you have to lug the vacuum motor around with each stroke, and where the fine dust is evacuated right where you are breathing.

Without knowing any of your other requirements, I'd recommend a central vac.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:05 AM on May 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I bought a Eureka brand bagless upright vacuum at Costco and its been working really well. I don't have pets but I do have fake grass/carpet outside and I vacuum that, plus my area rugs with it.

For the long run, tho, if I were you I'd see into taking the carpet off the stairs. Seems like such a pain in the ass to vacuum stairs.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:11 AM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

have you considered a Bissell plus?
posted by bq at 11:27 AM on May 10, 2015

I've tried a few things to deal with my fluffy white border collie (I'm a lifelong cat owner as well and she easily outdoes three cats in terms of hair production), including the Eureka and your Hoover listed above. So far, my best solution is the Dyson Animal. It comes with a specific lint brush head for the hose attachment and is the only thing I've used that really pulls hair off of furniture. The hose is quite long, meaning you don't have to have the vacuum on the stairs to clean the stairs. As far as uprights go, it is pretty lightweight. It is also awesome for vacuuming up black widow spiders.

I have wooden stairs and the hair still accumulates and needs to be vacuumed - sweeping just throws it up into the air.
posted by chuke at 11:27 AM on May 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

My Dyson isn't a pet version but still works great on our fur accumulation (two cats, two single-coat dogs). Bed Bath & Beyond gave me 20% off a sale price. Without upper body strength, I'd recommend their canister vac since the head would be lighter.

The best vacuum setup I ever had for controlling fur was actually a Roomba paired with occasional Dyson runs. The Roomba is way more dedicated than I could be (vacuums longer in one go without getting bored), runs by itself, then returns to its charger. It cleared my effort to just "pick up anything the Roomba might eat" like cat toys, strings, etc. I've heard similar good stuff about the Neato and some other robot vacuums.

Woot has Roombas and other robot vacuums on sale every so often. You could eventually get one per floor and in the mean time carry it upstairs/downstairs to clean a different floor every day. Then all you'll need to vacuum yourself are the stairs.
posted by bookdragoness at 1:49 PM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can you afford a Dyson? They occasionally have refurbs on sale at Woot or Amazon for decent prices.
posted by kschang at 6:55 PM on May 10, 2015

Dysons are so funny...Consumer Reports and all the professional testing/ratings/reviews say they're not so great. Everyone who has one things they're the best thing ever. I have one. It's the best thing ever. I got mine on ebay for $200ish about 10 years ago. Still going strong.

My parents had one for about 5 years and the roller stopped working. Vacuum repair places wouldn't touch a Dyson and a new one was too much money. So they got what was top-rated on consumer reports. They hated it and spent weeks complaining about it. So I looked into it and found the parts and tools necessary for repair for bout $30 on Amazon. Now they're happily using their Dyson again.

So anyway, get a Dyson. I can't explain why Consumer REports hates them. They're awesome. If you're thinking about stairs and weight, get the canister version.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:38 AM on May 11, 2015

I think CR knocks a lot of points off the Dysons because of the noise. I have an older Shark that I really like, and if I had a stairs I'd get the Lift-Away model.

(Not knocking Dyson though, if you have the budget!)
posted by Room 641-A at 8:54 AM on May 11, 2015

I got a Shark Lift Away and I have two cats who love nothing more than sitting on something black or white and leaving a loaf shaped poof of fur behind. The Shark is a beaut-- so light and gets everything. There's a special pet attachment that does a great job of getting fur off of furniture. It's not incredibly loud, but it's still a vacuum that's putting in some serious work.
posted by thefang at 12:59 PM on May 11, 2015

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