We all love our pets, but cleaning up after them can be a real chore! In the constant battle against fur balls and dirt, your vacuum should be your strongest ally.
Sadly, lots of inexpensive vacuums just aren’t up to cleaning up pet hair. They have weak suction, flimsy attachments, and poor designs which clog easily. You don’t want to waste your money on those!
Of course, there are always the “pet” and “animal” models, but they’re easily over $300 to $400. What about the rest of us who can’t afford the high-end options?
Don’t worry! We’ve gone on a mission to find the affordable vacuums that can actually tackle pet hair!
We looked at professional ratings from Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping and other publications. We also took the time to read hundreds of reviews from people who have actually bought these models and spent time with them in their homes!
On this page, you’ll find our own in-depth reviews of 3 fantastic models that will solve your pet hair problem without breaking the bank!
After the reviews, you’ll also find a helpful guide to shopping for a pet hair vacuum, including which important features you should look for as you compare them.
– BISSELL Cleanview
– Shark Navigator
– Shark Rotator
Pet Vacuum Reviews: Bagless, Small, and Lightweight Models for Carpet and Furniture
1. BISSELL CleanView Deluxe
The CleanView Deluxe is one of our favorite budget vacuums for pet owners on a budget.
Its powerful cyclonic suction and adjustable brush roll make it an ideal solution for people with lots of carpets in their home! We also love its smart features, like automatic cord rewind, a filter alert system, and turbo brush attachment.
The CleanView uses several tiers of cyclonic suction to produce lots of power. This is the same type of suction used on the high-end Dysons! It also preserves the filters by drawing finer dirt and dust particles to the edges of the dust bin and away from the motor filters. This is key for cleaning up after pets, since dander and fine dust can pose a real threat to the average filter.
There are also several layers of filtration, which help keep those tiny allergens inside the vacuum. You’ll be keeping your air cleaner as you vacuum, and remove lots of airborne particles which can cause allergic reactions.
The CleanView features a triple-action brush roll, which uses multiple bristle types to work on different flooring. The longer, softer bristles loosen surface dirt and dust from hardwoods and tile, without damaging finishes. The shorter, scrubbier brushes work their way into carpet fibers and rugs to dislodge ground-in dirt, pet hair, and allergens that are clinging to carpet fibers.
Our favorite feature for cleaning up after pets is the turbo brush attachment. It has a 6” brush roll which is perfect for scrubbing pet hair off of fabric upholstery and carpeted stairs. The CleanView also comes with a dusting brush, crevice tool, and extension wand.
The cord rewinds automatically into the housing. It’s a nice touch that makes the BISSELL feel more expensive. Likewise, the power switch is located on the handle, for convenient control.
We also love the extra-long power cord. At 27 feet, the BISSELL can get through a couple rooms without needing to be unplugged.
Another great feature is the smart filter indicator light. It lets you know when the filter is getting dirty, and turns red when it’s time to clean it out.
It’s all covered by a 3-year warranty. That’s pretty impressive for a budget vacuum!
It’s pretty loud. Like many other budget vacuums, the CleanView is made from nearly all plastic parts. The plastic combined with the echoey canister can produce a lot of noise.
It’s a bit top-heavy. Some previous buyers said that the Deluxe tipped over rather easily when they were using the attachment hose.
2. Shark Rotator Pro Complete Lift-Away
Our most versatile recommendation for dealing with pet hair on a budget is the Shark Rotator. It’s 3 products in one–you can use it as an upright, canister, or hand-carry vacuum.
It has a powered brush head for carpets, and a sweeper head for hardwoods and tile. It’s the perfect choice for people who have more than one different type of flooring in their home.
You can use this model as 3 different products. It starts out as a powerful upright with a full brush head for tackling carpets and rugs. You can lift the canister off to clean stairs with the hard floor attachment. You can also put the canister in the included wheeled caddy to produce a canister vacuum, perfect for cleaning the rest of your hard floors.
We like the 3-in-1 design because you can choose the one that works best for the task at hand, as well as the one the best suits your own preferences. We love the Rotator in particular because while other Sharks have lift-away features, the Rotator is one of only a few that has the caddy. Having a canister vacuum is a lot more convenient than having to carry the canister yourself for all your hard floors.
The powered brush head has headlights built in. It can also be switched off to clean hard floors without getting out the DustAway attachment.
We really like the Dust Away attachment for hard floors. It combines a wide suction nozzle with a microfiber sweeper pad. After the suction head takes care of all the larger surface debris, the microfiber traps all the invisible little dust and hair particles which might otherwise stay on your floor. This attachment also gives your hardwoods a polish as you clean!
The Rotator has a completely sealed air system, with HEPA-certified filtration. The vacuum will trap all the tiny airborne allergens that your pets leave around the house. This is one advantage that the Shark has over the BISSELL, which has filtration, but isn’t completely sealed or certified.
In addition to the standard dusting brush and crevice tool, the Rotator comes with 2 other attachments that we love for dealing with pet hair. There’s a wide upholstery brush for getting hair off of furniture and carpeted stairs. Plus, there’s a unique “under appliance” wand which reaches under kitchen appliances, cabinets, or TV stands to get at tricky furballs in hiding. It’s narrower than a crevice tool, and allows you to vacuum under tricky spaces without bending over.
Previous buyers said the Rotator does struggle with deep shag carpeting. They said it gets bogged down, and takes a lot of effort to push.
3. Shark Bagless Navigator Freestyle Cordless
The Freestyle is one of Shark’s best-selling vacuums.
It was also recognized by Consumer Reports as being the #1 stick vacuum for tackling pet hair! It’s lightweight, compact, and powerful enough to tackle carpets and rugs that most stick vacuums won’t touch.
It’s the perfect choice for apartment-dwellers with pets, or people who want a small, light vacuum for regular light cleaning in a home with both carpets and hard floors.
It’s one of the only stick vacuums with a powered brush head. There also are two speed settings for the roller brush, so you can adjust between carpets and bare floors. The brush head is low-profile, perfect for vacuuming under chairs and coffee tables. The neck joint also swivels for better maneuverability around corners.
It’s cordless. We love cordless vacuums for vacuuming stairs, hard-to-reach areas, and for vacuuming normally without worrying about cord length, or finding outlets.
It’s very inexpensive. The Freestyle is one of the only cordless vacuums under $100 that can handle cleaning full rooms. When you factor in the powered brush head, you’re getting a real bargain!
The dust cup is larger than other stick vacuums. It also has an easy empty feature. You just lift it off the body, hold it over the trash, and press a button to release the bottom trap door.
The charging station doubles as a stand. Since it’ll shut off automatically when the battery is charged, you don’t have to worry about leaving it plugged in for days at a time.
The 15-minute runtime won’t get you through your whole house, if you’ve got a larger home. The Freestyle is a better choice for people with small houses or apartments.
There aren’t any attachments or accessories. That makes the Shark much less ideal for cleaning corners, nooks and crannies. We wouldn’t recommend the Freestyle as a primary vacuum for a whole house.
The warranty period is only for 1 year. Some previous buyers had trouble with the battery losing charge after that.
Which Vacuum for Dog and Cat Hair is Perfect for You?
We strongly recommend the BISSELL CleanView to people who have mostly carpeted floors, and a whole house to clean. It’s the most powerful of our three recommendations, thanks to cyclonic suction.
It also has the largest, most adjustable brush head for digging into deeper carpets that will cause the Sharks to struggle. However, it’s not ideal for homes with lots of hard floors.
The Shark Rotator offers a lot of versatility, which makes it the top choice for people with a mixture of carpets, rugs, hardwoods and tile. It has a fully-powered carpet head like the BISSELL, albeit without multiple settings.
The Rotator also comes with a really nice hard floor attachment with a sweeper pad, which makes it the best choice of the three for hardwoods and tile.
We also like its smart design features like headlights, an under-appliance wand, and HEPA filtration. It has the maneuverability and versatility to rival much more expensive canister vacuums, all for under $200.
The Shark Freestyle is a more affordable alternative to the Rotator. It’s a fantastic low-cost choice for people with multiple flooring types.
It works on carpets and hard floors, thanks to the adjustable brush head. We also like the Freestyle’s cordless cleaning range. However, since it doesn’t come with attachments, it doesn’t do as well with tight or awkward spaces like stairways, corners, and edges of rooms.
How to Shop for Vacuum for Pet Hair
Look for upholstery attachments:
Most of us have some sort of upholstery in our houses. To get pet fur off of couches, chairs and cushions, you’ll want a brush attachment for your vacuum.
These come in powered and unpowered versions. The powered versions are more expensive, but are much easier to use and require much less elbow grease to scrub.
Look for motorized carpet brushes:
If you have any carpets or big rugs in your home, you’ll want a good carpet brush for your new vacuum.
Many carpet attachments are air-driven, and don’t have independent motors. These work alright for some houses, but really aren’t as good when it comes to dealing with pet hair.
You want to make sure you get a vacuum with a fully-motorized carpet brush to really pull hair and dander out from deep carpet fibers.
Make sure you get a big dust chamber that’s easy to empty:
As you know, pet hair piles up at an unbelievable rate. You’ll want to make sure your new vacuum has a pretty big dust chamber, so you don’t have to empty it after each room of your house.
Plus, a bigger dust chamber helps keep filters clean, which means you won’t lose suction as it fills up.
Attachments and brush heads are all useful tools for vacuuming pet hair. The single most important feature, though, is suction.
You want a new vacuum with the maximum amount of suction possible. If your vacuum has the power to pull pet hair from corners, you won’t be relying as much on crevice attachments.
Likewise, even the best roller brush won’t help you on carpets if you don’t have the suction to back it up! In looking for value-priced pet hair vacuums, we’ve kept suction as our number one priority. Attachments and tools are all extra features you can add later, if you find you really need them.