How to Get Rid of Pet Dander

Most furry pets are terrific companions. But even the cutest cats, dogs, and birds shed dander. Nobody wants to breathe in pet dander, especially people that react adversely to this indoor air pollutant.

You’re here to learn how to get rid of pet dander and make your home a happier, healthier environment. I bet you’re allergic to dog dander, cat dander, rodent dander, and bird dander, and you’re wondering whether there are any surefire ways for eliminating these pesky indoor air pollutants.

Animal dander isn’t the only particle suspended in your indoor air. But in this post, I will focus on how to deal with pet dander in your home.

Can You Really Live Without Your Furry Friend?

As a pet lover, you can’t imagine living petless because you and your furry friends have a special bond. It’s a deep emotional connection, and they’re always there for you while friends and even loved ones aren’t always predictable or available.

dog dander in the house

Sadly, most doctors say to give away your cats and dogs if you react to dander. Because living petless is the best way to get rid of dander in your home.

But what if don’t want to see your lovely pet go away…forever? Below is a list of pet dander removal strategies that don’t include giving away your pooch or cat.

What Is Pet Dander?

According to the American Lung Association, pet dander comprises small, microscopic flecks of skin. Animals with fur or feathers including dogs, cats, birds, and rodents naturally release dander.

pet dander
Image Credit: Florida Center for Allergy&Asthma Care. What you’re seeing isn’t pet dander. It’s pet hair/pet fur.

When dogs or cats lick or scratch their skin, you get pet dander. And pet dander is known to trigger allergic reactions in some people.

Pet Dander is a Huge Problem

Fully 67 percent of American households own at least one pet. According to a 2019-2020 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, nearly 85 million American families own a pet.

And pets are lovely, except they shed dander. While it’s everyone’s problem, pet dander worries allergy sufferers more than anyone else. Because these microscopic airborne particles contain allergens. And these pet allergens can trigger allergies in some.

Cats vs Dogs, Who Causes More Dander Problems?

cats and dogs

For every 27 households that own a cat, there are 32 households owning a dog according to the American Lung Association.

This data suggests dog dander allergy should be a bigger problem than cat dander allergy, but things aren’t always as they seem because…

For every person that reports suffering from dog allergy, there are two people complaining of cat dander allergy. 

Can You See Pet Dander?

No, you can’t see pet dander because these airborne particles are extremely small and can’t be seen with the naked eye. Pet dander particles are microscopic, measuring around 2.5 microns in diameter. And particles this small are outside of the human eye’s 40-micron detection range.

Just because you can’t see cat dander or dog dander doesn’t mean it’s not floating in your seemingly clean indoor air.

How Long Does Pet Dander Stay in a House?

Pet dander can remain in a house for up to 6 months even after a family has given away their pet. Dander is a kind of sticky air pollutant that stays in clothes, carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, curtains, and mattresses for prolonged periods. So, if you’re looking for a quick animal dander removal strategy, removing your pet isn’t it.

Dog and Cat Urine, Saliva, and Feces

The American Lung Association says that pet secretions such as urine, saliva, and feces contain different types of proteins.

Dogs produce Can f II and Can f I proteins vs. Fel d I proteins from cats. These pet proteins are essentially allergens, and they can make life difficult for people with breathing issues.

When your cat or dog licks its skin, it leaves saliva there which then dries into the fur. When your furry friend scratches with the paws, some of this dried saliva gets airborne, causing problems.

The same goes for dried urine and feces. Allergens from dried feces and urine are released into the air along with dust and other contaminants, worsening the overall air quality in your home.

15 Ways to Get Rid of Pet Dander In Your Home

You likely won’t manage to eliminate 100% of the pet dander swirling in your indoor air. But below are 15 ways to remove a substantial amount of cat dander and dog dander from your home:

1. Keep all solid surfaces such as curtains, carpeting, area rugs, floors, bedding, and countertops clean.

2. Use a lint roller to remove dander from soft surfaces such as upholstered furniture, carpeting, and rugs.

3. Open windows whenever you can for better air circulation.

4. Feed your pets properly so that they shed less.

5. Remove parasites from your pet’s skin.

6. Ask your vet for advice on what supplements you can give your pet to improve their skin health.

7. Keep pets out of areas such as the bedroom. 

8. Choose pets that don’t shed much.

9. Use indoor air purifiers to capture airborne pet dander, preferably True HEPA air purifiers/Medical-grade air purifiers)

10. Clean your ducts on a regular basis.

11. Give Fluffy a nice bath every once in a while.

12. Brush your pet from time to time.

13. Male cats shed less compared to female ones. So, where possible…

14. Clean your kids’ toys regularly.

16. Use a lint roller or cat hair remover.

1. Regularly Clean Solid Surfaces

Keep your surfaces squeaky clean. Clean your countertops, baseboards, banisters, tables, crown molding, wood floors, chairs, walls, and ceilings. Because dog dander and cat dander like sticking onto solid surfaces.

pet dander likes baseboards

To remove pet dander from these surfaces, use a suitable cleaning solution and a damp cloth for countertops and other small surfaces. Using a damp cloth to clean pet dander makes sure that these contaminants don’t escape back into the air.

For larger surfaces such as tile, laminate, or wood flooring, use a good mop or a powerful vacuum cleaner. The best choices for picking pet hair from bare floors are typically canister vacuum cleaners.

2. Remove Carpeting Where Possible, Or At Least Vacuum It

One effective way to eliminate pet dander is to remove your rugs and carpeting. But maybe your carpets and rugs are exquisite and you like appreciating their beauty all the time.

pet hair vacuum

If you prefer to keep your shag rugs and deep-pile carpeting, make sure to vacuum them regularly. Make sure to use a good high-pile carpet vacuum for the job.

The best carpet-cleaning vacuums have a motorized brush roll. And they also allow you to turn the electrified rotating brush on or off so you can smoothly transition between surfaces.

What about getting pet hair and dander off your couches and pet beds? Use a proper handheld vacuum with a suitable pet hair attachment. You may also need a crevice tool for sucking up pet hair and dander hiding in the nooks and crannies of your sofas.

It’s best to use a bagged carpet vacuum because not only do they have better suction, but they also offer great HEPA filtration.

3. Clean Your Tot’s Toys Regularly

…Because there’s dander on them. Don’t have the time to do it as frequently as you’d like? Use a lint roller between major toy cleans.

4. Use a Lint Roller 

Pet dander loves settling on carpets, rugs, toys, upholstered furniture, lampshades, and other soft surfaces. And removing pet dander from these surfaces can be difficult.

Fortunately, you can use a lint roller to pick up ticks and loose hair from your pet. You can also use it to remove pet dander from your couches, toys, curtains, carpeting, and rugs.

And with a little creativity, you can remove pet dander from textured ceilings. Get a paint roller with an extender and fit a lint roller on each end. With the modified paint roller, removing dirt, grime, and pet dander from your ceiling becomes easier.

Get a Proper Pet Hair Remover 

You can use the ChomChom Pet Hair Remover to get cat hair and dog hair off sofas and beds. *Affiliate link. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission on qualifying purchases.

pet hair remover

This tool uses a brush-based mechanism that scrapes cat or dog hair and bins the fur in a little, easy-to-clean compartment.

You can remove pet fur from your jeans and curtains with this tool. But you have to hold them down flat because ChomChom works best on flat surfaces and less reliably on angular ones.

It’s probably the best pet hair remover ever from beds, carpeting, jeans, and curtains. You can also use it to clean the hair your long-haired dog leaves on your car’s interior upholstery.

I use ChomChom to remove cat hair from my bed. And it does a great job. I rolled on my bed after collecting the ball of cat hair my long-haired tabby had shed on my bed. And I didn’t see a single strand of cat hair there. I can’t recommend it enough.

5. Improve Ventilation in Your Home

Throwing your windows open isn’t something you may always be able to do. But whenever the weather allows, try to open your windows some of the time.

Opening windows vastly improves air circulation. Fresh, dander-free air from outside gets in as dander-laden air exits.

6. Healthy Diet-fed Pets Shed Less

Proper feeding not only keeps your pet healthy and happy but can also reduce the amount of dander it sheds. Good nutrition in dogs gives them healthy skin with stronger hair follicles.

And stronger hair follicles translate to fewer dead cells and less shedding. Talk to your vet about how to feed your dog for less shedding.

7. Treat Your Pets to Healthy Supplements

Certain supplements can improve the health of your pet’s skin and potentially minimize shedding. If your pet is a dog, consider adding supplements containing healthy fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals according to Dr. Sarah Skinny, a qualified pet vet.

Omega–3 and omega–6 fatty acids are an example of healthy fatty acids. Always consult your vet before introducing your dog to any kind of supplements.

8. Parasite-free Pets See Less Shedding  

Fleas, mites, and ticks are common parasites on pets, mostly dogs. These parasites can make life miserable for your pet. Not only do they cause itching but also negatively affect your pet’s skin health. Mites, for example, have your dog shaking its head while scratching at the ears.

Ticks don’t always cause itching, but they do. When ticks attack the area around the ears, your pet will usually scratch. Lice are not as common as ticks, but they too can be a problem.

If your dog or cat has fleas, they’ll scratch intensely.  The pet may also lick and even chew its skin. All this scratching adds to the amount of pet dander in your home.

If you notice scratching, licking, or skin chewing, contact a vet to come and examine the pet. A parasite-free pet scratches and licks less compared to a parasite-infested one. And the more licking and scratching, the fewer dead skin cells and dander in your home.

9. Reduce Your Exposure to Pet Dander

Having your lovely pet in your bedroom may be OK, but it’s probably not a good idea if you react to pet dander.

I’m not saying to get rid of your pet. I’m suggesting that you keep certain areas such as the bedroom off-limit to pets, especially if pet allergens cause you to wheeze and sneeze.

10. Choose Dog Breeds that Shed Less

There’s no such thing as pets that don’t shed. All dogs shed. Pet dander mainly comes from dry animal skin, and don’t all pets have skin?

Whether your pet has short or long hair, you’ll have pet dander carpeting various surfaces or just floating around.

But choosing a dog breed that doesn’t shed loads might help reduce animal dander in your apartment or home.

Airedale Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Belgian Malinois, and Irish Water Spaniel are examples of dogs that don’t shed much.

11. Male Cats Produce Fewer Allergens

If you’re looking to own a cat, you may want to pick a male instead of a female one. Because female cats produce more Fel d I (a known allergen) compared to male cats.

Researchers don’t know why this is the case, but you probably should choose a male cat over a female one if you want less pet hair in your home.

12. Use True HEPA Air Purifiers

Trie HEPA purifiers trap tons of allergens including PM2.5 (fine particles including mold spores, dust particles, dense smoke particles, pet dander, dust mite feces, pollen, and whatnot.

Pet dander air purifier
Image Credit: Levoit.com

Some question the effectiveness of these air-cleaning devices in removing cat allergens, dog allergens, and other contaminants.

But this study revealed that using a True HEPA portable air cleaner may have some benefits. The study was conducted to determine whether air purifiers were effective in reducing allergen levels in homes. The participants were cat-allergic and owned at least one cat.

Findings of the Study

The researchers recorded significantly lower Fel d 1 levels in the bedrooms of participants that used an active air cleaner as directed. Fel d 1 is cat-secreted protein, and there’s a lot of it in the saliva.

When a cat is grooming, it distributes these allergens to the coat and skin. That’s why being close to a cat triggers allergies in some people.

What are the best air purifiers for removing pet dander? Some Levoit air purifiers are great at capturing indoor dander.

Others are Medify, Blue Air, Honeywell, Airthereal, and a few other purifier brands.

To be clear, an air purifier won’t remove every bit of dander you have in your house or apartment. Air purifiers don’t do anything about pet dander that’s embedded on surfaces. They’re designed to remove airborne pet dander and other impurities.

So, use these devices alongside other effective dander removal measures.

13. Keep Your Air Ducts Clean and Replace Filters Periodically

A home’s air ducts contain tons of pet food bits, construction debris, dust, dander, and other invisible pollutants. When you turn your heater or air conditioner on, these hiding contaminants blow back into your home.

Good air filters block dust, pet dander, and other airborne particles. If you don’t clean out your duct system, it’ll clog up and become less effective at capturing dander and other impurities.

So, hire a professional to clean your ducts from time to time. How often should you clean your home’s air ducts? Most experts recommend once every 2 – 4 years.

Your HVAC system is a great ally when it comes to capturing allergen triggers. Fit your HVAC system with high-quality air filters and convert it into a worthwhile whole-house air filtration system.

Choose MERV-rated filters with a value of 10 or higher. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. To keep your whole-house system filtering out contaminants optimally, be sure to replace the air filters per the manufacturer’s instructions. Read more about Merv ratings here

14. Brush Your Dog Regularly

Brushing a pet helps spread healthy oils on their fur and skin to the rest of the body. As a result, your pet’s skin and hair stay healthy, which often means less shedding.

Don’t brush your dog inside your home. Doing it outside prevents dead pet skin and hair from settling on the floor and other surfaces. If there’s dander on the floors, you’ll disturb it as you shuffle across the room, kicking it into your indoor air.

What’s the best brush for grooming a shedding dog to reduce pet dander?  According to Pets.WebMD, the brush and your pet’s coat type should be a good match. Bristle brushes work well for all coat types. For short-haired pups, this authority recommends a brush with short, stiffer bristles and a long-bristle brush if they’re long-haired.

To brush dogs with a curly or wooly coat, a wire-pin brush works best. And if you’re brushing a short-haired pet who loves massages, a rubber comb is the best tool for the task. This video demonstrates how to brush a dog’s coat correctly.

Can You Brush a Cat’s Fur?

Yes, you can brush a cat’s fur if you need to, but cats are naturally great groomers. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, brushing a cat’s coat removes dirt, grease, dead hair, and skin flakes. Also, cat coat brushing promotes blood circulation while improving skin health over the long term.

How often should you brush your cat? The ASPCA advises pet owners to groom a cat’s coat once or twice a week. For older cats, brushing should be more frequent because older cats don’t groom themselves as meticulously as younger ones. Here’s how to correctly brush a cat’s coat.

15. Bathe Your Pet Correctly, But Don’t Overdo It

Bathing your cat or dog is one of the best ways to eliminate pet dander. Your pet may not always enjoy it, but you should bathe them periodically.

How often should you bathe your dog? Bathe your dog once every month according to thesprucepets.com. While you can bathe your pup less frequently, make sure to clean them at least once every three months. You can bathe your pooch more often as long as it’s not more frequently than once a week.  

Watch this video on how to properly bathe your dog at home. As for your shedding kitten or cat, be careful when bathing them. Check out this detailed resource on how to bathe a cat safely.

How to Remove Pet Dander from Your Home: Conclusion

Some effective strategies include bathing and brushing your pet, dusting your floors, and cleaning your countertops.

You can also use a pet hair remover to pick up dander from your sofas, clothes, beds, curtains, and car interiors. Choosing a pet that sheds less also helps a little.

Other dander elimination strategies you can leverage are proper nutrition, giving supplements, running a good True HEPA purifier, fitting a MERV-rated filter to your HVAC system, and keeping your pets parasite-free.

What remains now is to implement these suggestions.

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