As anyone with furry friends knows, pets shed! Whether your four-legged family member is a short-haired Labrador retriever or an independent feline, inevitably, their fur gets everywhere.
Now, while a good vacuum will help keep fur off the couch and floor, it won’t do much for the hair floating around your living room. Fortunately, with the help of the best air purifier for pet hair the air you breathe will be clean and fresh.
So before you go out and buy a purifier to pull animal hair from the atmosphere, there are a few things you should consider. First do you also want to remove dust, mold, and other pollutants from the air? If you do you’ll need a good HEPA filter. Second where are you going to put the purifier? If it’s in a laundry room near the litter box you’ll want something small. If you want to put it in a large room you’ll need something more powerful; but you’ll also want to think about where you’re going to place it.
It’s location will largely determine the style of purifier (tower, 360 degree intake, top exhaust, etc). But it will also have an impact on the design you choose. And, this is exactly why we chose the Alen Breathesmart as our top pic. It looks great, and it’s a solid performer in almost every measure.
Our Top Pick – Alen Breathesmart Fit50
If you want the best air purifier for pet hair and dander we think the Alen Breathesmart Fit50 (with the fur family filter package) is a great value. It has excellent performance statistics. The foam pre filter works great for removing pet hair from the air, while protecting the HEPA filter from large particles. And, not only can you vacuum the hair from the pre filter… you can even wash it.
We also like that the Breathesmart purifiers are top exhausting. That means the clean air is not going to to blow hair around the room. Instead, air will travel toward the ceiling and back down the walls. Which should bring some hair back toward the purifier’s intake. Granted some will be trapped in carpet or under/behind furniture, but at least this machine’s design will not blow hair away from the purifier’s intake. This design however, is not ideal for bird owners. If you place it near the cage, the machine’s exhaust will scatter falling dander, feathers, etc. throughout the room. If you do use it in the same room with your bird(s), place it on the opposite wall.
- Lifetime Warranty
- Very Quiet
- Works well in very large rooms (up to 900 square feet)
- Tons of different faces to fit your home’s design
- Great Power in a Small Package
- Smart Features
- Affordable Filters
- Small / Slim Footprint
- Filter life is a little shorter than competitors
- Great value but it may be too expensive for some owners (we’ve listed cheaper options below)
Austin Air Pet Machine HEPA Air Purifier
First on our list is the Austin Air Pet Machine. This Austin Air is sized for rooms as large as 750 square feet. It sucks in air from 360 degrees into a medium particle pre-filter and a large particle pre-filter. Behind that you’ll find a ton of activated carbon and one of the largest true HEPA filters on teh market. It is also the only air purifier on our list that is made in North America.
- Effective Area Coverage of up to 750 square feet.
- Includes medical-grade HEPA filter, accompanied by a “special carbon blend” filter designed to eliminate pet odors
- Built-in medium particle pre-filter and a separate particle pre-filter
- Made in the USA!
- Weighs 45 pounds
Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA
Our next air purifier is the Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave Technology. It is a good air purifier for large rooms, with an area coverage of roughly 284 sq feet. Its patented PlasmaWave technology not only reduces allergens in the air, but actually attaches itself to viruses and bacteria in the air and breaks them down at the molecular level without generating harmful OZONE.
- Advertised Area Coverage ~284 square feet
- Five-stage air cleaning process
- PlasmaWave technology
- Only provides 180 square feet of coverage
- Somewhat poor customer service reviews
How did we choose these purifiers
1. A Prefilter is a Must
If you are trying to remove pet hair from the air with an air purifier; you need a prefilter. Pet hair is huge compared to other pollutants, and it would quickly clog a purifier’s finer filter stages. A pre filter prevents this by capturing the big stuff before it gets to the next stages.
Now, almost all pre filters are cleaned by vacuuming them off every couple weeks. But, some pre filters are washable. And, that is a very nice feature to have if you own a furry pet. In fact, that was one of the main reasons the Breathesmart Fit50 is our top recommendation.
Also, the purifiers we chose all have easy to clean pre filters. If you are capturing pet hair from the air you’ll need to clean the filter frequently. And, if it’s hard to access… you’re less likely to do so.
2. Clean Air Exhausts from the Top
We mentioned it earlier, but it deserves another mention. If you get a purifier that sits on the floor and blows air from the sides or bottom… you’re going to make things worse. Have you have ever plugged in an oscillating fan and had pet hair blown around a room you know what we mean. If not, trust us… it is not pretty. Especially if you have a Lab or other dog that sheds an undercoat. We did this one time and it was so bad, we have never made the same mistake again.
Bottom line; don’t blow pet hair around the room. Use a purifier that exhausts clean air upward.
3. Should have a True HEPA Filter
Whenever you’re in the market for a good air purifier, always make sure to get one with a HEPA filter. HEPA is short for “High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance”, and that means that air is forced through a series of mesh filters that trap microscopic particles in the air. HEPA filters are the standard in hospitals and doctors’ offices, airplanes, and homes. Sometimes a HEPA filter is paired with an activated carbon filter, which collects odors in the air and helps to neutralize smoke, chemicals, and fumes.
4. Activated Carbon is a huge plus
Many pets have a distinct odor. And, there’s nothing better at removing odor than activated carbon. Is it necessary for someone concerned about pet hair? No, but it is a huge plus for pet owners in general. In our opinion it would be silly for a pet owner to not get a purifier that offers activated carbon somewhere in the filtration process.
5. Sized for larger rooms
To capture pet hair you’ll need to move some air. Purifiers sized for larger room move more air than those sized for small spaces or desktop use. So when we thought about room sizing for this article we omitted purifiers that are too small to be effective in the average room.
For pet hair, we wanted at least 1.5 times more coverage than you would typically want. For example many bedrooms are smaller than 150 square feet… when we thought about those rooms we said to ourselves “we need more power.”
So rather than pick something sized exactly for people with 150 square feet to purify… we looked for purifiers sized for 225 SF or more. It may sound kind of arbitrary or confusing but when we evaluate purifiers for a list we discuss a ton of factors behind the scenes. Room size is one of them.
Final Thoughts on Purifiers
The Alen Breathesmart is an excellent choice. But, it’s doesn’t beat out the competition by a landslide. That’s why we included some other options. All of which will help you remove pet hair and dander from the air in your home. They will also help with other allergens (like pollen), remove stubborn odor, and dust.
If you want to remove pet hair from there are some purifiers that will help a lot. But, to be honest, you will need to do your part and clean up some of the pet hair that settles behind furniture or gets stuck on carpet. If you don’t it will eventually get kicked up into the air; of you’re lucky the purifier will snatch it before it settles. If not it will probably find another spot to rest until you stir t up again.
Pets & Purifiers FAQ
A: Yes and no. They definitely help when it comes to pet hair that’s floating in the air or that’s easily blown around the hardwood. However, if your dog has coarse hair you’ll want to also consider a HEPA vacuum and a dust mop to help pick up the heavy stuff. They’re great when paired with a purifier to capture dander and dust.
A: Yep. They sure do. Most of the common pet allergies are a result of dander (dead skin cells) or saliva. While some of the reactions are caused when you come into contact with a pet (or its saliva… hair… or dander); most of the problems you relate to a pet allergy are from airborne dander. Basically what happens is that your pet sheds both hair and dander, and when the dander breaks down or separates from the hair… it becomes dust.
From there the dust is stirred up (or your dog shakes) and its airborne. An air purifier is the best defense against airborne allergens. As long as it can capture them before you breathe them in you should be good. There are other things you can do to reduce dust and dander in your home, but we’ll save that for another post.
A: There are a lot of things that fall into the “pet odor” category, but many of them can be removed from the air with a purifier. But, you’ll need one with activated carbon or something similar. Filtration media alone (like a HEPA filter) captures particulate matter… not odor.
Our Pet Hair Free Strategy:
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy one product and stop worrying about pet hair? Well… we both know that’s definitely not possible. But, there is a way to minimize shedding and dander with a few products and some easy to do chores here and there. Here’s what we did to battle the hair from our pups.
- REGULAR BATHS: This pays off in so many ways. First, is removes dirt and dust. Second, it removes loose hair and dander. And, if you use the right products it conditions and moisturizes both skin and hair to reduce shedding in the future.
- BUILD A BETTER COAT: Speaking of stopping shedding before it starts; we changed our dog food and started giving the pups some fish oil. This helps a lot. The food is a little pricey but after a month or so we noticed the change in coats. Look for high quality food, that’s low in fat.
- BRUSH REGULARLY: Our dog that recently passed away had an undercoat that drove us nuts. Fortunately somebody gave us a special brush that collects dog hair. That thing collected grocery bags full of hair.
- SUCK IT UP: Get a vacuum with a HEPA filter and vacuum regularly. We bought a Miele canister vacuum recently and its incredible. It’s pretty much a HEPA purifier on wheels. The air filters in these things rock. Not only does it vacuum up the animal hair, it stops anything from blowing out of the vac’s exhaust. Including dust mites.
- BUY AN AIR PURIFIER: Get a purifier for the rest of the pet hair and dander floating around. Other than a bit of dusting you should see much better air quality. There are some next level things you can do; but we’ll discuss those in another post.