Inside Consumer Reports Test Labs: Which vacuums make pet-hair cleanup less of a nightmare?

Consumer Reports News: October 28, 2009 10:27 AM

The menacing-looking device in the photo (right) isn't a prop from Saw VI or some gruesome Halloween slasher film, though it could play a part in Nightmare in Yonkers: Pet-Hair Perils. The photo is actually a shot of John McAloon, a project leader in our Technical department, holding a new device he and his team created to embed pet hair into the carpeting we use for vacuum testing.

About three years ago, we instituted pet-hair testing, having recognized that so many readers were looking for the best vacuums to deal with their dogs' and cats' (furry) droppings. We decided to use hair from Maine coon cats because it's especially long and provides a rigorous test for the dozens of vacuums we review each year.

We're always looking for ways to improve and enhance our testing. In this case, we're experimenting with a different way to embed it into the carpet.

That’s where the rolling rake above might come into action. Basically a row of washer and spacers attached to a handle, the rake weighs more than 19 pounds, heavy enough to create furrows that are more representative of how pet hair works its way into the carpet fibers in your home. The vacuum testers simply roll the rake back and forth over the pet hair they’ve laid down. 

If you don't own a cat or dog or other furry creature, you might not care so much about pet hair. But as anyone with a shedding animal can tell you—including folks on our vacuum forums—removing hair from carpeting or furniture can be a real nightmare. —Ed Perratore | | Twitter | Forums | Facebook

Essential information:
Check out our free buyer's guide to vacuums and read other Inside Consumer Reports Tests Labs coverage of vacuums designed with pet owners in mind, including the Bissell Lift-Off Multi-Cyclonic Pet 89Q9, $180; the Eureka Whirlwind+ Pet Lover 3276, $120; and the Eureka Pet Pal 4716, $80. To see how well vacuums do with pet hair and our other tests, look ay our continuously updated ratings of canister and upright vacuums (available to subscribers).

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