If you have a furry family member, chances are you’ve wondered about how to get rid of pet dander in your home. There’s so much to love about having a dog or a cat, but the allergens they generate can make things less than ideal for their human companions.
Pet dander is similar to dandruff except it’s flakes of skin from dogs, cats and birds. Like pet fur, pet dander clings to surfaces and can be very hard to remove. Luckily, there are tips you can follow to live with animals without letting their pet dander get to you.
How Long Does Pet Dander Stay in a House?
It turns out dander can stay around long after a pet is no longer in a home. Pet dander can stay in a house up to 4-7 months after a pet is gone. That means if you move into a new home, you could be affected even if you don’t have a pet of your own. It also means new dander from your furry friend isn’t likely to go away on its own.
Tips on How to Get Rid of Pet Dander in a House
Even though weekly baths can cut pet dander by up to 84% the remaining allergens can still cause problems. The best advice we have to give is to take a comprehensive approach. Getting rid of pet dander requires different solutions for different areas of the home.
How to Get Rid of Pet Dander in Carpet
Carpets and pets don’t go together for several reasons, and pet dander is one of them. Ideally, allergy sufferers will have limited carpet in the home since it traps allergens that can build up over time.
Other than ripping out the carpet altogether, the best solution to get rid of pet dander is regular cleaning. These tips will help you get rid of more pet dander every time, so break out the vacuum.
Dust before you vacuum using a damp cloth. Removing pet dander from hard surfaces like the walls and baseboards is extremely difficult to do with a dry cloth because the particles will get kicked back into the air.
Use a High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) microfilter vacuum bag to prevent pet dander from getting back into the air.
Vacuum the carpet a few times going in a different direction each time.
Steam clean the carpets once every 2-3 months.
While you’re at it, you may want to use the vacuum cleaner on the floor rugs, curtains and pet bedding. Better yet, put them in the washing machine if they are machine washable.
How to Remove Pet Dander From the Couch
One spot where pet dander can accumulate is the couch - even if you don’t allow pets on the furniture. Keep your couch free of pet dander by:
Getting a pet dander lint roller. There are furniture lint rollers that are designed to pick up pet dander.
Using the vacuum nozzle accessory to clean out all of the crevices.
Steam cleaning an upholstered couch if it’s possible.
If the couch cushions come off and are machine washable, clean them in the washing machine.
Like the carpets, the couch is going to need regular cleaning to keep the pet dander under control. And if your cat or dog currently lounges on the couch, you may want to consider getting them their own bed for the living room so they stay off the furniture.
How to Get Pet Dander Out of Air Ducts.
Pet dander isn’t just in the air. It’s also in your HVAC system and air ducts. This can be especially problematic if you don’t have an adequate air filter or your filter is overdue for a change.
If you get your HVAC system checked annually, air duct cleaning may be part of the service. The technician has a specialty vacuum that can get into the ductwork and suck out all of the dirt, debris and pet dander. You can help keep the air ducts clean by wiping down air vents and registers that can collect dust and particles.
The Best Air Filter for Pet Dander.
The filtering grade of your HVAC filter (also known as your MERV rating) makes a big impact in removing pet dander from your HVAC system. The best air filter for pet dander is one that fits perfectly and has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 10-13.
A MERV rating of 10-13 is a sweet spot for residential use. At this rating, air filters are able to clear 95-98% of airborne particles, including pet dander. The other reason to go with a MERV rating between 10-13 is because you shouldn’t have airflow issues. Air filters with a higher MERV rating can restrict airflow, which affects comfort and can damage HVAC equipment.
Filter fit is extremely important for air purification. An air filter that’s too large will be loose, allowing air to pass without going through the filter. And an air filter that’s too small can become damaged and bent causing the same air flow problems. If this isn’t done right, no MERV rating will make a difference.
Even the best air filter for pet dander can only work for so long. Filters need to be cleaned or changed at least once every three months, but if pets are in the home it should be closer to once a month.
How to Incorporate HEPA Air Filters
You may have heard of HEPA air filters and their amazing ability to keep airborne allergens under control. While that is true, HEPA filters aren’t the best option for use in the HVAC system.
HEPA air filters are extremely thick, which is why they clear out 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. But they also significantly restrict airflow. This can have a damaging effect on your HVAC components and reduce comfort in your home.
What you can do is use a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter. Air purifiers can provide additional pet dander removal in a single room or portion of the home. They can be used in common areas like the living room or the bedroom of a family member with allergies.