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Pets and Vacuums: FAQ's

FAQs:  Choosing a Vacuum for Households with Pets

Choosing the right vacuum for the household with pets

It is easy to have a love hate relationship with your pet.  You love the pet and hate the mess.  Choosing the right products to keep your house clean and smelling fresh can be a daunting task when you have pets in the home.  We’ve been selling vacuums, central vacuums, and cleaning products to pet owners and veterinarians since 1948.  90% of the Experts at Central Vacuum Stores have one or more pets.  Based on all this experience, here are some answers to questions pet owners often ask us about the type of vacuum they should purchase.

What should I do about a pet odor problem?

Chances are, if you have a pet, there are some unpleasant odors you have to deal with.  There are three steps to eliminating odor.

  1. Eliminate the lingering odors that remain from past accidents. You will need to use a good quality odor neutralizer to remove odors from carpeting and upholstery. Going forward treat each accident immediately to stop the odor before it starts.
  2. Keep odors in check by bathing your pet and cleaning litter, sawdust, and birdcages frequently.
  3. Choose a vacuum cleaner that does not recirculate animal odors back through your home via the exhaust. Central vacuums are the best at this, because they remove the dirt, hair, and allergens away from the living area via a sealed system that can be exhausted outside. If you don’t choose a central vacuum system, then consider a good quality portable vacuum with HEPA or an Activated Charcoal filter. Be sure it’s a true HEPA and not  “HEPA like.” Choose a portable vacuum with paper bags, and buy the good quality bags. With a HEPA filter this gives you two points of filtration…but be sure to change the bag often. Avoid vacuums that use a collection cup instead of a paper bag.  At Central Vacuum Stores we have been in this industry since 1948 and it has been our experience that ALL vacuums with dirt collection cups leak and send contaminated air back into your home as you run the vacuum.
I have mostly hard floors, what type of vacuum is best for cleaning up after pets?

If your home has mostly hard floors, cleaning up after animals is much easier.  In this case we recommend a central vacuum system, or a good canister vacuum. If you have some limited area rugs you might want to consider a canister or central vacuum system with a turbine powerhead. You can see our recommendations here. Upright vacuum cleaners are really not a good choice for homes with mostly hardfloors. Uprights were designed and work best on carpeting.

I have mostly carpeting, what type of vacuum should I choose?

If your home has mostly carpeting then you will need a central vacuum system or powerful canister with an electric powerhead or a good quality upright vacuum cleaner. If accessories are important to you and you prefer an upright vacuum, make sure the vacuum has easy to use attachments available.

I have lots of carpeting, hardfloors, and pets, what are my options?

If your home has hardfloors and carpeting it’s probably a good idea if you stick with a central vacuum system or canister vacuum with an electric powerhead. This choice will give you superior cleaning for your carpeting and all the tools you need to clean hard surfaces.

My pet is terrified of loud noises, and has a nervous breakdown every time I run the vacuum, got any ideas?

Many pets are frightened by vacuum cleaners. High end vacuum cleaners usually are much quieter than their less expensive counterparts, however, nothing says quiet like a central vacuum system. A central vacuum system is the quietest choice available because the motor of the unit is located far away from the living area (usually in a garage or utility room). When you turn on a central vacuum system, the only noise your pet will hear is the turning of the powerhead beater brush and the suction sound from the hose.

When it comes to homes with pets, what are the benefits and drawbacks of the different types of vacuum cleaners?
Compare Vacuum Options

Central Vac System

  • Powerful Motor
  • Sealed System removes allergens and exhausts away from  living area
  •  Odor free cleaning in your living area because of the sealed system
  • Can be exhausted to the outside, cyclonics MUST be exhausted to the outside
  • Wide selection of pet accessories available
  • Quiet because the motor is far away from the living area
  • Excellent for all floor and carpet types
  • Larger dirt capacity means your dirt canister or bag holds gallons instead of quarts, like portable vacuum cleaners
  • Installed DIY product
  • Slightly more expensive than a high quality portable vacuum

Wet-Dry Central Vac

(Aqua Air)

  • Powerful Motor
  • Sealed System removes allergens and exhauts away from the  living area
  • Odor free in home
  • Can be exhausted to the outside
  • Wide selection of pet accessories available
  • Quiet because the motor is far away from the living area
  • Flushes dirt down a drain so it can be used as is to pick up wet materials
  • No bags to buy, the dirt is flushed down a drain
  • No canister to empty, ever, limitless dirt capacity
  • Excellent for all floor and carpet types
  • Must be plumbled to a drain and water source
  • More costly

Canister with HEPA or Charcoal Filtration

  • Portable
  • Powerful
  • Filters dust and allergens before exhausting the air back into the living area
  • Wide selection of pet accessories available
  • Works equally well on carpet(with an electric powerhead)  or hard surfaces
  • Accessories are easy to use
  • Canisters with dust cup options always leak
  • Air exhausts back  into living area
  • Paper bags are the only option for adequate dust control
  • In spite of excellent filtration, over time, the vacuum may still retain an animal odor so bags must be changed frequently

Upright with HEPA or Charcoal Filtration

  • Portable
  • Powerful
  • Works extremely well on carpeting
  • Accessories available
  • Much easier to use on carpeting
  • Attachments are not as versatile as canister or central vacuum attachments
  • Does not clean hard surfaces well
  • Need to change bags frequently to avoid odors

Rechargeable Wet/Dry Hand Vacuum

  • Great for quick pickups and spills
  • Rechargeable
  • Lightweight
  • Convenient
  • Only for light spills and clean ups
  • Must be cleaned thoroughly after each wet cleanup
  • Small dirt capacity