Best Tools for Handling Pet Hair

posted: 05/15/12
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For artist Betty Burian Kirk of Illinois, the hair that pets shed is the bread and butter for keeping her business afloat. According to the Chicago Tribune, the weaver relies on it to create her handmade scarves and shawls, which she sells online. It may be surprising, but dog and cat hair -- the same stuff you find on furniture, floors and clothing in pet-filled homes -- can be spun into yarn, much like sheep's wool, alpaca or other animal fiber.

Turning pet hair into textiles is a growing trend, but of course, not everyone has the time, patience or skills to take the crafty approach with these unusual fibers. For the majority of pet owners, hair and fur presents less of a creative opportunity and more of a pesky problem, but it's one that can be kept under control if you use the right supplies. To keep things tidy and also minimize reactions for any allergy-prone household members or visitors, take a look at the types of tools available.

In the House

If you allow your pet to roam freely throughout your home, determining all the hair-laden areas that need attention can be overwhelming. Start with the basics by simply running a damp sponge over surfaces that collect hair, such as lampshades and blinds. You can also try using a soot sponge, which should be available at most home improvement stores. Soot sponges work dry since they are chemically treated to absorb dust, dirt and hairs into their pores.

The sticky sheets on a lint roller can also be good snatching up hair from leather, suede or fabric surfaces. There are also furniture brushes marketed specifically toward pet owners, which are typically handheld devices with rubber tips designed to help get at the hairs that are embedded more deeply.

If you have a lot of carpet, vacuuming a few times a week also can go a long way toward keeping pet hair under control. As is the case with lint rollers and fabric brushes, there are special vacuum models available that go above and beyond the basics, such as those equipped with High-Efficiency Particle Air (HEPA) filters, which can catch and hang onto pet dander as you clean. For wood or other hard floors, however, an electrostatic mop may be a better option for capturing the hair, because using the vacuum on these types of surfaces tends to just blow the hair around without making much of a dent.

On Your Pet

When it comes to handling pet hair, having some tools that address the source -- your dog or cat -- can make a difference as well. Grooming your pet is important, because doing so on a regular basis can help decrease the amount of shedding that's happening in the first place. There are a number of brushes and combs on the market created specifically for home use on your pet. One popular style resembles a small razor of sorts; it works by pushing through the topcoat to remove dead undercoat and loose hair.

You could also use grooming gloves for tackling pet fur. These are usually made of rubber, cloth, or a combination of both, and work by allowing the wearer to remove loose hair while rubbing and petting an animal. Anti-shedding shampoos and oral supplements are other options for addressing pet hair at its source, but the effectiveness of these types of products isn't proven.

If you do decide to use any liquid cleaning products on your pet -- or on your house -- while tackling pet hair, don't forget there are green options. Using harsh chemical ingredients can irritate pets and other family members. For example, cleaners can end up on pets' paws if they walk across them before a surface has completely dried, and pets may later lick and ingest them. There are some non-toxic, plant-based shampoos and cleaners to choose from, and many of them are said to be as effective as traditional products. Regardless of what hair-control strategies you decide to try, keep in mind that it might take your furry friend a little time to warm up to the routine. Be patient and make sure to read all the directions carefully so that you use the tool or product properly. And consult with your vet when it comes to grooming, since how frequently you need to do it may vary depending on the breed of pet you have. This might seem like a lot to consider, but taking the time to create a targeted, effective tool kit for cleaning your pet's hair might just keep you from pulling out your own.

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