Ahhh, pets. Adorable shedding machines, slowly covering our homes in a fine layer of hair and ever eager to sit in our laps when we're wearing our most delicate duds. Pet owners can typically spot each other at 50 paces — especially if polar fleece, heavy knits or a black sweater are involved. They're messy, our pets — but many people can't live without them. So how do we as pet lovers keep our best friends around and still stay stylish? Here are a few ideas:
Roll with it
It may seem obvious, but it's an essential pet hair management tool: Invest in a lint roller. In fact, invest in several. Buy one for your home, your car, your office, maybe even a travel-sized one for your briefcase or handbag. But don't be fooled by pet hair-specific rollers. Although they claim to be stickier, they're not noticeably different from other rollers. Invest in name brands: 3M lint rollers move more fluidly and individual sheets are easier to remove.
Dry it out
You probably know that running your clothes through the washer and dryer will remove most pet hair and some dander. But did you know that as little as 30 minutes in the dryer alone can strip off unsightly fur? It might not remove everything, but a few tumbles can get the pet-hair-removal ball rolling.
Suck it up
For a preventive strike, try keeping your home's surfaces clean. Consumer Reports tested several vacuum cleaners for animal fur removal, and although the Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Pet UH30310 and Miele S 7260 Cat & Dog both got high marks, testers pointed out that most high-quality vacuums will get the job done. For those pesky, pointy cat hairs that get embedded in carpet fibers, go for a canister model with attachments over an upright. Wet and dry sweepers are terrific for wood floors.
Running a rubber-gloved hand over surfaces can get the majority of the fur off, too. This is especially helpful with fibers like chenille that may hold onto pesky hairs, but be careful not to damage fabrics in your hair-removal enthusiasm. Rub gently and discard any hairballs that form. No need to buy anything fancy, as cheap grocery store rubber gloves will do the trick. This method can also work on car interiors.
Feel free to ignore anyone who suggests that a static-laden balloon will lift pet hair. This entertaining trick might work if you've got some stray hairs on your slick dining room table, but anything embedded in cloth? Not a chance. Static isn't strong enough to pull hair from anything other than a nonporous surface.
Consider barrier methods
If your pets are allowed on the furniture, you may be spending more time and energy removing their hair from couches and laundering your hair-covered blankets than is necessary. Grab an old flat sheet from the linen closet and throw it over the sofa or bed while you're at work. Your pet will sit and shed upon the sheet, which can be pulled back whenever humans need to sit down themselves.
Utilize durable bottom layers
If you have a pawsy pooch or feline that cannot resist rubbing up against you, try to wear jeans, tall boots, maxiskirts and other durable goods on your lower body as often as possible. Ponte knits are a great compromise since they're heavy and thick, but also stretchy and comfortable.
Last line of defense
So you're stuck in a bathroom before a big presentation, notice some stray hairs on your blazer and are sadly without a lint roller. Panic? No need. Wet your hands with a bit of water, and run them over your clothes. Just don't use too much. Damp hands can stand in for sticky rollers in a pinch.
Sally McGraw is the Minneapolis-based style blogger and author of Already Pretty (www.alreadypretty.com).