How to Remove Pet Hair From Clothes

We love the dogs and cats we share our homes and lives with. But is there anything worse than walking out the door of your home covered in cat or dog hair?

Person hovering animal fur from sofa
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Cats and dogs shed so much at times that it seems like no amount of vacuuming or wiping down the countertops can keep it at bay. Pet hair is a nuisance, but by keeping your clothes clean, at least you can look like you've got the pet hair under control, even if you really don't!

Hair or fur?

Many people use the words "hair" and "fur" interchangeably when referring to an animal's coat. But many people also break it down into the explanation that humans have "hair" and animals have "fur." On the bodies of both humans and animals, hair and fur both grow from the same types of follicle. And chemically speaking, both hair and fur are made of keratin, a type of protein.

There are some differences between hair and fur, but we also use the words to mean different things. Hair is thought to keep growing — that's why we humans have to continue to get our hair cut every few weeks. Fur, on the other hand, is thought to grow only to a certain length. But in reality, human hair does not actually keep growing and growing indefinitely, according to Mental Floss.

They say that although human hair grows much longer than animal hair does, the length that human hair will grow to on an individual person is genetically controlled. Hair will stop growing when it reaches that genetically determined length. It seems that animal hair grows less because the cycle of growth is much shorter in animals than it is in humans.

White cat lying down and looking through window
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Seasonal shedding

Animals with hair typically have hair for the protection it offers them from their environment. Fur or hair can both insulate from hot weather and protect against cold weather. Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, Georgia, explains that animals' coats change with the seasons. Their bodies are very tuned into the seasons, and they have hormonal changes in their bodies that control their hair growth and thickness.

In summer they don't need as much fur because their body is trying to stay cool, so hormonal changes trigger their hair to start to fall out. When the weather starts to turn cold again, hormonal changes trigger a return to a thicker coat.

Now, back to the real question of how to remove that pet hair from your clothes!

Rubber gloves

Those yellow rubber gloves that you might wear when you do dishes can be helpful in removing pet hair from your clothes. Apartment Therapy says to keep a pair of basic rubber gloves under your couch cushions. Put them on and swipe the gloves over your upholstery to help keep pet hair at bay.

It works for clothes too! The rubber glove trick works because of the friction between the glove and the fabric. A static energy builds up, which causes the smaller bits of hair to stick to the "conductor" (a.k.a. the static friction-activated glove).

Woman holding vacuum standing with fluffy white dog
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Lint roller

A lint roller is a common way to remove pet hair. It's basically a sticky surface that is rubbed gently along the clothing to pick up the debris. The lint roller surface could be a piece of sticky tape or other sticky surface, similar to the old-fashioned "Velcro" hair curlers that had a special, soft surface that hair clung to.

Our Everyday Life says that there are some lint rollers that are in the shape of small combs that collect stray debris as you move the comb along the surface of the fabric. There are also battery operated lint rollers. Any of these can be used on both fabric and furniture. If you don't have a lint roller handy, try wrapping your hand with a piece of duct tape or other sturdy tape, sticky side out, and pat your clothing with it.

Dryer sheets

If you have clothes that you really want to wear that are covered with pet hair, put your dryer to work. You probably already have some dryer sheets on hand. Taste of Home says to remove as much of the pet fur by hand as you can, using one of the methods above, and then put the clothing in the dryer along with one or two dryer sheets. The anti-static properties of the dryer sheets will help repel the hair and catch it in your dryer's lint trap.

Leave the clothes in the dryer for about 10 minutes. The heat and the movement will help loosen the pet hair from the clothing. When it's done, give your clothes a shake. Hopefully they will look and feel fresh and clean. Don't forget to clean the hair from the lint trap so it's clean for next time!

One good reason to regularly remove pet hair from your clothing is so the excess hair doesn't clog your washing machine. Consumer Reports says that pet hair is difficult to remove from fabrics, and once the pet hair gets wet, it's even harder to remove. When wet clumps of hair build up in a washing machine filter, it can prevent the water and air from flowing the way that it needs to in the appliance. They say that the best way to remove hair is with a lint roller or masking tape (pat the clothing with the sticky side of the tape, or make a loop around your hand as described above).

cat standing next to vacuum cleaner on carpet
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You can help reduce the amount of pet hair that your cat or dog sheds by brushing your pet every day. Bonus! Your pet will probably love the attention they get from you at brushing time.

For more information on getting pet hair out of your life, check out our article on how to remove dog hair from everything.