Hidden Gems: Finding the Best Cheap Vacuum for Pet Hair

TL;DR: The Eureka Blaze 3-in-1 Swivel Handheld & Stick Vacuum Cleaner is the best value for money option.

Our current vacuum cleaner is a beast when it comes to cleaning up after our pets. And no, it’s not a fancy Dyson. It’s a budget vacuum cleaner with a lot of suction power.

We do believe you can find gems for a fraction of the price. Here’s a guide to finding your best cheap vacuum for pet hair.

We’ll be reviewing these machines to find out which is the best cheap vacuum for pet hair:

Vacuum cleaners: Do you need to pay for quality?

They say you get what you pay for.

But is price tag a good indicator of the quality of the product?

Does paying more means the product will survive and still be in great condition after many rounds of usage, and even with rough handling?

Let’s examine this in the case of vacuum cleaners.

First consider this: Expensive vacuum cleaners have much more features than cheaper one, in most cases. They are also usually the newer models in the brand.

And if you examine vacuum cleaners by their category, you’ll notice that some features are the main contributors to the hike in cost.

Here are a few features to look out for if you’re doing a cost/benefit analysis.

Corded vs. cordless

Batteries are hands down one of the most expensive components in the vacuum cleaner. When you compare cordless and corded units of similar features sets, you’ll see that batteries do drive the cost up significantly.

So go for a corded vacuum cleaner if you’re trying to save up. Not only will you be saving upfront cost of the purchase, but you’re also future-proofing your purchase.

Often times, cordless units cease operating because the battery no longer holds a charge. But if you must go for a cordless unit, then look out for units with batteries that are detachable.

And the maker sells replacement batteries at a reasonable price. Sometimes the replacement is so costly that it almost makes more sense to get a new vacuum altogether.

Another thing to look out for is the type of battery. A nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery is a cheaper alternative to the popular lithium ion battery. The lithium ion battery is lighter and smaller in size.

Is a motorized brush really useful?

A motorized brush is a more advanced feature commonly available in newer models. Typically, a vacuum cleaner relies on suction power to attach dirt and dust up into the nozzle.

A motorized brush is a step before that. The brush rotates and vibrates to loosen the dirt or dander stuck to the cleaning surfaces. This is especially true on fabric or carpets. The brush then catches and pulls them into the nozzle.

A motorized brush provides a deeper clean, but it’s not a necessity if you’re only cleaning hard surfaces. The suction itself from the motor should be sufficient to pull dirt into the machine.

The motorized brush adds complexity to the machine. And therefore cost to the construction and operation of the machine. The vacuum cleaner needs more power to run the extra component. And it usually requires a bigger battery (in cordless units) and/or a stronger motor to facilitate it.

Is a feature-loaded model a good idea?

Aside from the feature directly adding cost to manufacturing of the vacuum, consider this: More features means more elements that might break down. Sure if it’s well made, that shouldn’t be a worry.

But have you ever experienced this: We used to own a high-end washer from a German manufacturer once. It was a well regarded brand, and the salesperson at the store insists it’s the best thing more can buy.

And because we do quite a bit of laundry at home, cleaning up after our own pets and fosters, we thought it would be a worthwhile investment.

Low and behold the washer broke down after about 2 years. And the best part? It broke down just right after the warranty period ended. It’s a washer unit with all the bells and whistles you can get, and it was the electric display that broke.

We tried getting it fixed but the problem keeps coming back. We found out that the electrical components are very fragile, and they don’t hold up well. Being as frustrated as we were, we got one of the cheapest washers at the store to replace it. And we’re still using that same cheap washer 8 years later.

After that episode, we really started to think long and hard about the features that we really need in our electrical appliances.

Are they necessities or just nice-to-haves?

Can the machine still operate fairly optimally if we didn’t get the features-loaded models?

This has become a purchase philosophy that we’ve always come back to. This doesn’t mean we don’t splurge on items, but only if they have exactly the features we need and nothing more. If we’re on a tight budget, then we look even closer.

Getting a budget vacuum cleaner for pet hair

Our current vacuum cleaner is a budget unit and it’s been running smoothly for the past 2 years. We’re quite happy with it and think that budget vacuum cleaners can be good machines as well. And for this research piece, we’ll be comparing the most affordable options in each segment across all brands.

Robot vacuums are significantly costlier compared to other types of vacuum cleaners. This is mainly because you need to be guiding the cleaning process in a standard vacuum cleaner. Whereas the robot vacuum does that for you.

If you want to free up your brain, then have a robot decide how to work around the furniture to get to the dust and dirt. Be prepare to pay at a premium for it.

In most cases, the convenience of running the robot vacuum with just a push of a button is definitely worth the price. Especially if there are multiple pets in the household.

What can you expect from budget vacuum cleaners?

At this price range, you can expect a corded unit and it usually comes without a motorized brush. Batteries are expensive and so are the add-on rotating motor to power the motorized brush.

These vacuum cleaners are best suited for homes with hardwood or tiled floors, and some small area rugs at most. Without a motorized brush, the vacuum cleaner most likely will not be able to deep clean any carpets.

We’ll be selecting models from well regarded brands. This is primarily because they tend to provide better after-sales support. Their machines also usually come with a more comprehensive and longer guarantee period.

We might be paying more for machines from these brands (vs. those from less well-known brands). But we need to keep in mind that we must also consider the durability of the product. We’re not sacrificing durability to make purchases that are going to last us no more than a few months.

Now on to our picks of the best cheap vacuums for pet hair.

Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum

Best cheap handheld vacuum for pet hair

If you want a handheld vacuum for picking up pet hair (and pet hair only), then look no further than the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum. It does exactly as advertised, pet hair is what it’s built for. It is made for spot cleaning around the home, especially around areas where your pet frequent the most.

For most household, this includes the stairs area, the lounge area and on the couch. It handles carpet, rugs and upholstery well, but again, don’t expect to deep clean the high pile carpet with it. It just won’t cut it.

Given its size and cleaning path, you’ll probably need to go back and forth a bazillion times. And it doesn’t come with a motorized brush (so good luck with loosening the hair from the carpet fibers).

This handheld vacuum comes with 2 attachments: rubber nozzle and suction nozzle. The rubber nozzle is what you’ll be using for picking up pet hair.

If you’ve used a Evriholder Furemover before (if you haven’t, you’ll need to get on that train asap), this rubber nozzle is similar to it, in concept. The nozzle has a few rows of rubber ‘teeth’, which trap hair as you rake it through the surface.

The rubber material is a natural hair magnet because of static electricity. Static electricity is the buildup of electrical charge in the object. It causes objects to cling to one another, according to Scientific American. So hair clings to the rubber and the suction power of the machine sucks it up, neat!

Although this is a very compact handheld vacuum, it is one of the heavier (5 lbs) ones in that category. This comes back to using it as intended – if you’re using this for quick cleanup around the house, it’ll not be a problem.

But maneuvering it back and forth over a large area can quickly become quite a workout. And like most of the other models on this list, this is a corded unit.

The cord is 16 feet long. It is fairly sufficient for spot cleanups as you’ll mainly be focusing on one specific area that Mr Fluffy loves to sleep in and not trying to clean the whole living area.

Pros: Pick up pet hair well on most surfaces, compact size, fairly long cord

Cons: Don’t deep clean well, heavy

Black+Decker Airswivel Upright Cleaner

Best cheap upright vacuum for pet hair

Compared to the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum, the Black+Decker Airswivel Upright Cleaner is much lighter relative to its size.

Weighing at only 9.1 lbs, it is the perfect vacuum cleaner for your weekly deep clean around the house. It’s portable, comes with a long 30 feet cord (and an 8 feet hose) and a 12 inch cleaning path.

Corded units are often times more powerful. Not having to rely on the battery output, the machine can really deliver powerful (real) fade-free suction. This upright cleaner performs well on all types of surfaces, including high pile carpet and upholstery.

This model comes with a small motorized pet brush roller that’s attached to the hose. It’s suitable for smaller above-ground surfaces like the pet bed but you can’t really use it for the floor.

Upright vacuums are often overlooked, it’s being replaced by the ever-so-sleek stick vacuums as the go-to vacuum. But this upright vacuum is not like what your mom used in the 50’s. It’s not an old-fashioned clunky machine that’s impossibly heavy.

This upright vacuum is something you should definitely consider if a stick vacuum is no longer up for the job. Either it’s shedding season. Or, against your better judgement, you’ve finally decided to get that thick, luxurious high pile rug even though you know that’s a cleaning nightmare. This is where a corded unit definitely outperform a cordless unit.

This upright vacuum is very easy to maneuver, and swivels around tight corners and furniture. And if you want to get into even tighter spaces, you have the 2-in-1 crevice and small brush tool for the nooks and crannies.

The dust cup has a 8 cups capacity, and it is detachable from the machine. It empties with a single release from the bottom of the cup, making it a somewhat mess-free cleanup. The foam filter is washable, and it needs to be properly air dried before reassembling.

Pros: Long cord, powerful suction, wide cleaning path

Cons: Loud, short hose

Bissell Zing Canister 2156A Vacuum

Best cheap canister vacuum for pet hair

The Bissell Zing Canister Vacuum is a small machine with a powerful suction. It’s weighs only 7.5 lbs, and zips around the house with you, moving from room to room with ease.

It’s lightweight enough that you can use it like a handheld vacuum, holding it in one hand and maneuver the wand with the other. No more dragging the vacuum behind you if that doesn’t work for you.

But at the same time, you have the option of settling it down if you need to free up the other hand. A disadvantage for its lightweight body is that it easily topples on its side.

It comes with a 15 ft cord and is the only model on this list that comes with an automatic cord rewind. Most of the corded vacuum cleaners will at most come with hooks to wind the cord around when you’re done using it. Some don’t even have that, you’ll just have to wrangle the cord as you’re putting the vacuum into its storage area.

This automatic cord rewind feature is usually only available in higher end brands such as Miele. This is such a no-brainer feature that all corded vacuums should have.

This bagless model (there’s a Zing bagged model) comes with an 8.5 cups capacity dust cup. To empty it, detach the dust cup from the machine and release the bottom-empty cover with a single release. The cup and filter are washable.

This canister vacuum crevice tool, dusting tool and floor brush tool. The floor brush tool is not motorized, so you need to manage your expectations when it comes to deep cleaning high pile carpets.

But for such a small and compact machine, the suction power surprisingly strong. It is sufficient to pick up pet hair off the carpet or upholstery, or the tumbleweed that’s been gathering in the corner. It has a switch pedal on the floor brush that allow quick transition from hard surfaces to carpet.

The wand can be on the shorter side. Anyone over 5’5” would probably need to crouch and bend over when using it. So if you are tall or have back pain, you should consider getting an extendable wand attachment.

Pros: Strong suction power, lightweight

Cons: Short wand, don’t handle high pile carpets well

Eureka Blaze 3-in-1 Swivel Handheld & Stick Vacuum Cleaner

Best cheap stick vacuum for pet hair

As you’ve probably gathered by now, budget vacuums are usually also the most lightweight models in the lineup. This is because they are usually without any frills.

The Eureka Blaze 3-in1 vacuum cleaner is the lightest on this list, coming in at only 4 lbs. Like it says in its name, this vacuum can be used as a stick or a handheld vacuum.

In handheld mode, you can attach the floor brush tool. This will allow you to use the vacuum on upholstery and other above-ground surfaces. The floor tool does not come with a motorized rotating brush.

It cleans hard surfaces very well, picking up pet hair or stray cat litter effortlessly. It also perform fairly well on low pile rugs. The vacuum also comes with a crevice tool for cleaning up the nooks and crannies.

The dust cup holds about 2.3 cups, which is fine when you’re doing above-ground cleaning. Not so fine when you’re cleaning the entire floor area in your home. In a single cat household, that might be doable.

I have a minimum of 3 pets, at any time in my home. Usually more than that when I foster. Anything beyond that is quite impossible to not have empty it at least twice in a cleaning session.

Unlike dust, pet hair won’t compact that much if you’re trying to push the machine capacity limit. Especially when shedding season hits, and the undercoat starts to shed.

In stick vacuum mode, this vacuum stands up on its own. You don’t need to lean it against something while you’re moving things around while vacuuming. It makes this vacuum feels more like an upright model than a stick vacuum. This feature is something you don’t know you need it until you lose it.

And it’s something that even the funnest, most pleasurable-to-use stick vacuums come up short (I’m looking at you, Dyson).

Pros: Lightweight, versatile design, good suction power

Cons: Small dust cup capacity

Ecovacs Deebot N79S Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Best cheap robot vacuum for pet hair

Most robot vacuums work by collecting the dust with its bristle brush, and pushing the dust towards the suction nozzle. It does not rely on strong suction power to pull dust around it but uses the mechanic action of sweeping instead.

The Ecovacs Deebot has 3 sweeper brushes at the front of the machine, sweeping and gathering dust under it. And when the machine glides over the dust, the nozzle picks them up. It handles most floor surfaces rather well, but do less well on shaggy high pile rugs.

Occasionally, it has trouble transitioning between different surfaces. This is especially true when the height difference is significant. And the anti-drop feature is triggered, stopping it from moving forward. Even on lower pile rugs, it can have trouble transitioning if the edges is upturned.

This robot vacuum has 3 cleaning modes (auto, edge and spot). You can set it with the remote control that comes in the box, or with an app you can download on your phone. This model also work with Alexa, allowing you to voice activate the cleaning process.

As with most robot vacuums, the dust cup has less than a cup in capacity. You’ll need to empty it at the end of each cleaning session. The run time is about 110 minutes and it starts making its way back to the dock when the battery is running low. It almost always finds its way back, unless it got stuck in a tight spot and the battery died before it can free itself.

And like all robot vacuums, you’ll need to robot-vacuum-proof the house before letting it loose. It can and will eat up lightweight mats and cords.

Secure the mats down with sticky pads and reroute the cords off the floor. Every now and then, it needs to be rescued because it couldn’t get out of a tight spot or ate a small cat toy.

Overall, this robot vacuum provides great value for money. It handles most situations well. And it has features that belong to more premium models but at a fraction of the price.

Pros: Handles most floor surfaces well, can be controlled with remote control, smartphone app and Alexa

Cons: Have trouble transitioning, doesn’t handle high pile carpet well

No one size fits all

Even with a small budget, you’re still quite spoilt for choices. More than 10 different models made the cut to be considered as budget options.

And we’ve narrowed it down to one recommendation for each of the 5 categories: handheld, upright, canister, stick and robot.

These are some of the best cheap vacuums for pet hair. Any one of them would make a great choice for cleaning up after your pets. Whether it’s spot cleaning or weekly cleaning around the whole house – know the job you want it to handle, and make your decision based on that.

For the best bang for your buck option, you can’t go wrong with Eureka Blaze 3-in-1 Swivel Handheld & Stick Vacuum Cleaner. It’s a 3-in-1 vacuum, as it can be snapped into different configurations to clean in different areas of the home. It’s versatile and lightweight.

The suction power on this vacuum cleaner is quite impressive. It would clean most surfaces, including low pile carpets, efficiently. But because it lacks a motorized brush, you might not get a very deep clean with high pile rugs. The build quality is high. It feels sturdy and not made with cheap plastic.

With the Eureka Blaze 3-in-1 Swivel Handheld & Stick Vacuum Cleaner, or any vacuums on this list, it does proves that you sometimes don’t need to pay a lot for quality.

If you can do without all the advanced features, then a budget vacuum cleaner might just do the trick with cleaning up after your pet.