For the average American, housekeeping duties are unavoidable. There is no getting out of it, but there are ways to make things easier on ourselves. The classic phrase “work smarter, not harder” is heavily applicable when it comes to everyday household chores, perhaps never more so than to vacuuming. Vacuum cleaners come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and claim to do pretty much the same thing, but as anyone with long hair can testify to: that is simply not true.
Vacuuming up hairs, be it your own or shedding from a long-haired pet, poses a host of complications that most vacuums don’t handle very well, which is why it is important to buy a machine with design features built to cope accordingly. The trouble is brands do not categorically state what models perform well for long hair specifically. Instead, you see advertisements along the lines of “perfect for pets” or “pet friendly”, which doesn’t necessarily mean they will meet your long hair needs.
The only way to be sure you pick the correct model is to do some research into the components and cleaning techniques most effective for picking up long hair. If you know exactly what you are looking for, you can easily narrow it down to find the perfect one.
In this guide, we share all the best tips on how to find the ideal vacuum for long hair by describing desirable features, vital design elements to look for, and comparing the benefits of various styles.
What Makes a Vacuum Cleaner Good for Long Hair?
There is no singular thing that makes a vacuum great for long hair. Before we go into specifics, note that for the purpose of this guide, long hair is considered anything past shoulder length for humans, and pet hair long enough to run your fingers through.
A vacuum designed for picking up hair will have technology and mechanisms in place to pick up hair easily from different surfaces, and to stop it from getting tangled or disrupting the motor. This works best when the vacuum includes special features, which we will discuss in more detail soon.
Before breaking down the individual design features to look for to clear long hair, it is worth noting the various types of vacuums. They can be split into four main categories: upright, stick, canister, and robotic. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks, and what one is best for you completely depends on your space, floor type, and general cleaning needs. While the main thing you may be after is the hair-tackling side of things, you should also take into account the other pros and cons of the type of vacuum you are considering.
Overall, upright vacuums are a classic and popular choice, especially for family homes with a lot of carpeted surfaces or rugs.
Most often has a large bin (bag or cartridge) so you can clean for longer without having to empty it.
Standalone design is a classic and is useful mid-clean.
Best results for deep cleaning carpets.
Usually have the strongest suction power over an extended period of time.
Some modern designs include convertible features.
Upright models are comparatively heavy.
They take up space and are not as easy to store in a small space.
This style is the ultimate quick fixer. A stick vacuum is usually there as a backup vacuum for small messes that need immediate attention.
The small footprint is great for restricted spaces such as studio apartments.
The lightweight and compact design make the stick vacuum super easy to use and store.
They are usually cordless.
Very convenient for a quick clean.
Battery power usually lasts well.
Not as powerful as full-size designs.
The small dust tank means more stop time if you clean for any length of time.
Canister vacuums are similar in many ways to upright vacuums but are superior on hard floors like concrete or hardwood and are a little less heavy.
Most models come with a great range of accessories and components, so are good for multipurpose cleaning.
Perform well on hard surfaces.
Good size dusk bin for extended cleaning.
Not as noisy as an upright vacuum.
These are big vacuums, so not good for small spaces.
Hard to store because of the size.
The vacuum of the future! Robotics is revolutionizing the way we clean our houses, and vacuuming is no exception. All about convenience, robotic cleaners are built for people who want to set it up and go.
Smart cleaning with automatic features for ultimate convenience.
Because of digital controls and app compatibility, you can control the vacuum without having to be in the room as it cleans.
Often multifunctional, including other cleaning tools such as mopping or buffing.
Can clean in small or tricky spaces.
Struggle with large debris.
Small dust tanks that need to be emptied regularly.
Before you start looking at more specific features, have an idea of what type of vacuum you want and will suit your home.
What Else to Consider
After thinking more about what vacuum type suits your home and lifestyle, the next step is to think about how to handle the hair. The following components are vital to determine if a machine is going to work for you or not.
Vacuum power is categorized in two ways: motor, and suction.
The motor wattage is what determines how much bite goes along with the bark, and often the noisiest vacuums have the more powerful motors. A good motor lasts longer and gives your machine a longer life expectancy, so it’s worth paying a little extra for a bit more juice. It is worthwhile going into a store to try out a test model of the vacuum you want to see how the power truly feels.
Suction is pretty much the whole point of a vacuum. There is nothing more frustrating than running over the same spot of dirt on the floor for 30 seconds and seeing no change, which is what happens if the suction is dead on your machine. For long hair, suction is really important because of how much hair likes to cling to a surface, particularly a soft surface. Buying a machine not known to have great suction is likely to be a waste of money if you have long hair or a long-haired pet.
Be wary, however, if you have fluffy rugs or carpets. Too much suction can ruin certain types of carpet pile, particularly on mass-produced small rugs or floor throws.
The construction of the brush roll is everything when it comes to vacuuming long hair. Do not even consider a model that doesn’t advertise an anti-tangle or self-cleaning brush roll.
Motorized brush rolls turn much faster and leave less opportunity for hairs to get twisted and shut the whole thing down, and are also far more effective on carpets than a purely suction-operated model. On some types of hard floors, however, a motorized brush roll could leave scratches. If you have a mix of carpet and hard floor look for a model that includes an on/off switch for the motorized feature; this way you get the best of both worlds and can tackle hairs no problem without worrying about floor damage.
You can also find a few designs with dual brush rolls for even more pick-up power.
Accessories and Add-ons
Pretty much any vacuum worth its salt these days comes with at least a few attachable components for a more multi-functional cleaning range. The variety of tools out there is impressive but for long hair, the most beneficial ones are:
Crevice tool- gets into corners and edges where hair often gathers
Upholstery tool- specifically designed for cleaning sofas and other soft furnishings
Turbo brush (with rubber components)- a compact brush roll for targeting smaller areas. If you can find one with rubber bristles this is a big plus as hair sticks to rubber really well!
Pet groomer- if the hair plaguing your home is not your own but that of a furry friend, some vacuums come with extensions to use on a pet! It might sound a bit strange, but a little light vacuuming directly on your dog’s coat (with the pet safe extension, of course) can prevent extensive shedding and reduce your workload further down the line.
Size and Style of Dust Bin
We already touched on dustbins when comparing the types of vacuum, specifically the size. The bigger the space you have and the more mess you need to clean, the more important a large bin becomes; but the size is not the only variable.
Deciding between a bagged or bagless vacuum also makes a difference. More modern designs are opting for bagless to allow for more space and easier cleaning, but bags do provide an extra seal to keep everything inside. If you do go for a bagless vacuum, make sure it has a high-quality seal or air filter.
Anti-Allergen Seal and Filter
Dirty air particles get broken up and dispersed as you vacuum, and if your machine doesn’t have an efficient seal, they get re-released back into the air from the bin. This is not only a waste of time on your part, but it is also bad for the environment and your health. If you have allergies, asthma, or young children around the house you should look for a HEPA anti-allergen seal and air filter. This is even more important if you opt for a bagless vacuum, or if you have pets.
Check the Warranty
A good-quality vacuum cleaner of any kind is not often cheap. No matter how reliable the brand or how well built the machine, things can go wrong. This is why you should always check the warranty agreement to find out what is covered and for how long. Reputable brands usually offer substantial warranties to back up the quality of their products.
How to Care for Your Vacuum Cleaner
Maintenance is important for any electric cleaning appliance to help get the most out of it. Housekeeping is time-consuming enough, we know, but it gets much worse if your vacuum breaks down on you ten minutes before the in-laws arrive when you still have half a room to go! Properly caring for and maintaining your machine will keep it running smoother for longer, so it’s worth it in the long run. Here are a few top tips for how to keep any vacuum in working order:
After every use, remove the collected trash right away and rinse out the cartridge or canister. This helps avoid a build-up of dust and grime inside, which can lead to blockages or overheating. The best way to rinse is outside with a garden hose on low power. This way, no mess ends up back on your floor.
You should also clean the brush roll at the end of each cycle to remove any leftover trapped hairs or other debris. The cleaner the brush roll, the better the clean. Also, even the best vacuum cleaners for long hair can end up twisted with hairs after a while if you don’t clean it regularly.
If you have a vacuum with a bag, don’t ignore the recommended time of use. Bags need to be replaced every now and again, and it is important to do it in the time frame the manufacturer suggests.
Check the specifics of your filter, a.k.a. Is it washable or replaceable? If you have a washable filter, you should clean it at least once a month, and a replaceable one should be swapped in accordance with recommendations.
You should also check the belt once a month. The belt is what makes the brush move on a non-motorized brush roll, so if it’s broken then the quality of the clean will be seriously reduced.
Regularly clean any accessories and add-ons to keep them clear of debris or hair build-up.
The most important piece of advice regarding vacuum cleaner maintenance is to always keep the manufacturer’s guidebook and refer to it before you jump to any conclusions. They made the thing, so they probably know it best!
What difference is there between a bagged and a bagless vacuum when cleaning long hair?
Bagless vacuums allow for more space in the dustbin, so if you have a lot of hair to clear, for example, if you have multiple indoor long-haired pets, a bagless vacuum is beneficial. This is for two reasons: you won’t waste time having to swap halfway, and you don’t have the expense of having to buy new bags.
On the other side of the coin, emptying and cleaning a bagless bin can be pretty messy, and for somebody with allergies, it could be problematic.
So, to conclude, if you have lots of hair to clean and don’t mind emptying and cleaning the bin each time you do then go bagless. If you don’t have a great deal to tackle, have allergies, or just don’t want the hassle of emptying out all the hair when you are done, opt for a bagged vacuum.
How do you clear long hair caught in a vacuum?
If you have done your research well then you should have landed on a vacuum with a self-cleaning or anti-tangle brush roll and this issue will be minimal, but if it does happen then the easiest method is to carefully cut the hair where it is most tangled and gently pull it out.
Our Top Pick
Our top vacuum cleaner for clearing long hair is the Dyson Animal V11 Stick Vacuum Cleaner. This is based on its pick-up abilities and the tangle-free brush roll, which is effective across a wide range of floors, surfaces, and materials. Dyson is an industry giant with extremely reliable quality that has withstood the test of time- and then some!
Please note, this opinion is also based specifically on clearing long hair. This design is modern and compact and not meant for cleaning a large house all in one go. Its performance for clearing long hair is superior and has a dust bin big enough for a small apartment. It would be an excellent secondary vacuum in a large home for use on this specific task.
Remember, many components must come together to make the best vacuum for clearing long hair, and the results can be different for each person. Weigh up the scope of your cleaning needs, the size of your space, and what the most important feature is to you. Do all this, and you are well on the way to finding your ideal machine!