How to Keep Pet Hair Off Your Clothes

how to keep pet hair off your clothesHow do you keep your clothes looking nice when you live with animals?  Reader A has a great question about pets and clothes:

I have a question about caring for your clothes when you live with animals. I have a wonderful dog, who unfortunately sheds. His fur also builds up a lot of dander, and when he walks past me, the dander often brushes off on my pants leg or tights and leaves a white-ish residue (similar to the texture of dry shampoo). I use a lint roller constantly to get rid of the hair, but I can’t seem to get rid of the white residue unless I dry clean it. Any tips, other than washing my dog every day? Thanks!

Pet hair can be a real problem.  Having never had a pet, I’m really looking forward to the wisdom from the readers here.  Some suggestions, off the top of my head:

1)  Lint brush, lint brush, lint brush.  In a pinch, the FedEx pouches are great lint rollers.  Your dog’s dander sounds like you might also want to try out something like a special pet hair remover sponge or some of the other offerings on Amazon such as the magnets, stones, mitts, or brushes.  There is even a Furminator (which seems to be, ahem, pretty popular).

2) Reconsider what your main clothing colors are.  For example, one friend with dogs preferred to wear beige or gray suits because black and navy suits were too hard to maintain.

3) Minimize the amount of time your pet spends around your good clothes.  For example, change into jeans or other comfy clothes as soon as you get home for work (I’ve always found it’s a great way to tell yourself it’s time to relax anyway), and keep your closet door shut.

Readers with pets, what do you recommend — how do you keep your work clothes free from pet hair? Do you have any favorite removal tools or other ways to cut down on the amount of shedded fur?

(Pictured: Penelope Gets Furminated, originally uploaded to Flickr by Oaktown Pirate.)


  1. Senior Attorney :

    Great topic! I generally do strategy c — I change out of my good clothes the minute I get home, and I make sure to put them away and close the closet door so Kitty can’t, for example, take a nap on my black pencil skirt.

    I am also very good friends with my lint roller.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I do the same thing and also don’t put them on in the morning until I’m a out ready to walk out the door. I’ve also learned not to sit down on my fabric covered chair in my work clothes. The leather couch is fine, but my computer chair is another story and it took me awhile to remember that one!

    • I agree with all the suggestions about limiting contact between dogs/cats & your work cloths. (Limiting the colors of your wardrobe doesn’t work, though, if you have dogs and cats in basically every color, which we do.) The most important thing is lint rollers everywhere — I try to do a pass before I leave home but then check again before a meeting or hearing. (My secretary also will not hesitate to point out when I’m wearing pet hair and will give me a swipe with a lint roller if needed.) Target sells nice small lint rollers — located with travel/sample size items — that are great to throw in a briefcase or purse.

      However, despite all my efforts, a surprising amount of cat hair has woven itself into the upholstery of my desk chair at work, even though I have never once brought a cat to the office.

      • Anonymous :

        +1. My chair also has hair from both my cats as well as my own head (long wavy strands woven into the netted back).

  2. Love my dog, hate her hair. I’m mostly in the #3 camp–I keep her away from my work clothes. Once I change for work I don’t touch her, and I get out of my work clothes right away before touching her at the end of the day. I’m lucky to have two bedrooms, and she is not allowed in the bedroom where I keep my work clothes. (She sleeps with me in the other one, though, so I have to be careful about tracking in the fur all over my pjs and other casual clothes.).

  3. Fluff rules my house :

    Lint rollers, lint rollers everywhere!
    At my desk, in my car, also at home.

    Work clothes go on immediately prior to leaving (no sitting down or going near the pets or where they sleep), come off immediately after coming home.

  4. Not just FedEx pouches – the humble office scotch tape can also serve for lint removal. I’d feel better about wasting it, too.
    Pet contact may happen right up to the moment you step out the door, so clean up either when you get into the office, or in the garage before you get into your car – if you have both, of course.

  5. Great topic, as I have 2 cats–one long hair grey/brown tabby and a short hair Siamese/tabby mix. I don’t leave the house without one last wave of the lint roller, and I keep one in my desk.

    TJ: I’m going to be in NYC next weekend with my husband to celebrate our anniversary. Does anyone have any suggestions for what to do over 2 days? The wrinkle in all this is that I’ll be 12ish weeks pregnant. The constant tiredness is starting to go away a little bit, but I’m not sure how I’ll be a week or so from now.

    In particular: nice restaurant that’s not too pricey for Saturday night? Also, discount places to shop now that Filene’s is gone?


    • Sydney Bristow :

      It’s in Brooklyn, but I cannot recommend Pâtés et Traditions enough. It’s a crepe restaurant with a great feel. The meal is very relaxed (so don’t go if you’re going to be in a hurry) and its small but they take reservations. It’s really cute inside too. I want to say most of the savory creeps are in the $12-15 range. They have other entrees as well, but I haven’t ever tried those. I go there every year for my birthday and always take people who come to town to visit.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I love An Choi, a Vietnamese place on the Lower East Side. It’s next door to the Tenement Museum, which is a great place to visit if you’re interested in history at all. (But beware, it involves climbing multiple flights of stairs.)

    • Ms. Van Squigglebottoms :

      Candle 79 is my favorite place to eat in NYC! If you have any veg-leaning tendencies at all, eat there. Also good are Gobo and Red Bamboo (which is cheap & casual).

  6. Maddie Ross :

    We limit the locations of our dog in the house and his access to our work clothes. We feed him in the evening when we get home from work in our work clothes, and then change while he’s out “doing his business.” He’s also not welcome in our bedroom unless we’re in their with him.

    Also, one thing that’s really helped is to have leather seats in both our cars. We both had cloth seats in our cars when we got our little shedder. Cloth seats just grab and hold on to animal fur. The leather seats make it easier to clean off and less likely to get on you (or your passengers).

    • Leather helps a lot for us, too. When I had cloth car seats, there was pretty much no choice but to put a towel over the seat if I was wearing black. We also got all leather couches, for the same reason.

      It’s an expensive solution, though!

    • financialfashionista :

      +1 on limiting areas of the house.

      We have large yellow lab who sheds. A lot. Our rental is fairly small, but we have a shared back yard with neighbors who also have a lab, so the dogs spend a lot of time outside together. In the house our dog can be in the kitchen (tile floor, back door opens to the kitchen) and on a large area rug in the living room designated as “his area”. I keep all of our clothes out of the living room and change right when I get home.

      Other than that, lots of lint rolling.

  7. If we lay clothes out on our bed while getting ready, a dog will appear out of nowhere and position itself smack in the middle of the outfit. It’s motivation to put up our clothes too. Our canine royalty get grumbly when we remove them from the furniture so we keep lint brushes at home, in the car, and at work.
    Feeding a high-quality pet food and using a fish oil supplement, along with regular grooming, help with skin and coat issues.

    • The supplement comment reminded me of a story. Years ago when our labrador had a problem with dry skin the vet suggested we try a little vegetable oil — and my husband said to her, “Okay, so we just rub it on her coat?” Um, no. I shudder to think what THAT would have done to our furniture and clothes.

    • Senior Attorney :

      I installed a couple of valet poles in my closet and they are a great alternative to laying out clothes on the bed!

  8. S in Chicago :

    May sound counter-intuitive but you may want to look at how often you are washing the dog. The more frequently you wash it, the more his skin is likely to get over dry and flake. Also good to look at the food you’re feeding–I don’t think the white dander thing is that normal.

    • Anonymous :

      My cat’s dander, which was pretty substantial, cleared up immediately when we switched her to a grain-free high quality canned food (in her case, venison).

    • Yes, you may want to look into a dog shampoo meant for dry or sensitive skin, and bathing less often. Some breeds are more prone to dry skin than others. Other general tips: hardwood & tile floors are easier for our family to keep de-furred than carpet or rugs. For the rooms that do have carpet we run a roomba daily, regular vacuum weekly and shampoo the carpet 2-4x year (or more when we also had a messy toddler + dog).
      Also, masking tape wrapped around your hand works as well or better than lint rollers, although I always find a few stubborn hairs that won’t come off my clothes unless I pluck them with tweezers.

  9. Putting my pants on is one of the last things I do before I leave the house, and if I’m wearing my best stuff, the dog stays in his pen until I’ve taken them off after work. We cover our couches when no one is home and also don’t let the cats in our bedroom while we’re out, either. I’ve never had a problem with dander, though if it were me, I’d re-consider:

    what I’m feeding the dog (consider plant/fish-based fats and whole foods instead of processed kibble – our dog gets a mix of kibble and veggies)
    what the bathing schedule is like, including the type of shampoo I’m using
    more frequent brushing, if I wasn’t already

  10. Yay for kitties :

    With cats, diet is huge factor in both the quality of their coats and how much they shed. Higher-quality cat food (not “premium” brands, which is just marketing, but actually healthier, higher protein, grain-free food) makes such a difference!

    • Yep. Also, wet food (exclusively) just makes softer cats. Maybe it’s the oils. My mom adopted an adult shelter cat and it’s amazing how much softer and less shed-y he’s gotten since being with her and having a better diet.

  11. Ms. Van Squigglebottoms :

    Love the Furminator! I have one for my longhaired cat, and gave a bigger one as a gift to my parents for their dogs. The only problem is that cats and dogs love it so much that if you’re brushing for a long time and not paying attention (say, watching tv), you can give your unsuspecting pet a bald spot!

  12. On this topic, I’m thinking about getting a Brittany. Does anyone have one? All the websites say they are light to moderate shedders–any insight?

    • Friend had a brittany growing up. Two of the kids had mild dander allergies and did well with the dog and its shedding. They weren’t crazy neurotic about cleaning, and there was very rarely obvious dog hair anywhere (unlike my house, where I clean ALL THE TIME and cannot rid myself of dog hair :::curses to the shelter special who is 40% cute, 20% trouble and 40% shedding machine:::)

    • My family and I have had several brittanys. They shed a lot. They are also extremely high energy. As in, do not even think of leaving food, pantyhose, your mom’s chemotherapy wig, etc. anywhere within reach, until they are about 12 years old!

    • My parents have a Brittany who goes bird hunting with my dad. She doesn’t shed more or less than other dogs – there’s still dog hair on the couches and clothes after petting her (which is why my 80lb shed machine isn’t allowed on the furniture). She’s 8 now and was fairly high energy when younger. She also runs 1-2 miles every morning with my mom. The chewing and stealing of things that “a lawyer” mentioned never happened once she grew out of puppyhood and was fully trained. You just have to train them firmly and consistently, as with any dog, although if you hunt, that may be helpful as it gives them a job to do.

  13. mamiejane :

    I basically have house clothes and other clothes. Work outfits come off as soon as I walk in the door and are put away behind closet or dresser drawers and the same is essentially true of casual weekend clothing that’s likely to attract cat hair. I wear old workout clothes that aren’t in rotation anymore around the house and no black if I’m entertaining at home.

  14. Mary Ellen J :

    The breed of pet you have makes a difference too. I have 3 Bengal cats and they shed very little and don’t leave fur on my clothes. Previous to the Bengals I had a white Himalayan cat and although he was the best cat ever, I had 19 years of extensive shedding of white fur to deal with. That’s one reason I have Bengals now.

    • sdchicky619 :

      Agree! I have a Bichon-poodle mix. He looks like a fluffy white furball but he absolutely never sheds, I love it.

  15. One of our cats has long hair and sheds A LOT, so we get her a lion cut about every 8 weeks. First of all, she is happier and much, much more comfortable with short hair – but secondly, we wouldn’t be able to control her hair if we didn’t do that.

  16. The furminator removes fur from your pet not your clothes. But if you furminator your cat or dog regularly they won’t shed as much.

  17. I save the clear plastic dry cleaning bags that come with my clothes and every piece of suiting I own gets its own separate bag. Like everyone else, work clothes are the last thing on and first thing off for me each day. Then they go into the dry cleaning bags and into the closet. Keeps my suits fur-free. I’m starting to do the same with my winter coats but I need to collect enough bags (and get them all cleaned!) first. But coats are a major culprit of fur for me since I wear them often.

  18. Alexandra :

    The school clothes/play clothes dichotomy continues into adulthood. Work clothes/home clothes helps with animal fur and protects the investment in good clothes (less frequent cleaning and replacement).

    When my orange love beast is engaged in extreme shedding in Spring/Summer (like a dandelion poofing it’s seeds), the daily brushing becomes twice or thrice daily.

    Beyond this clothes and fur management, it is perspective management. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, having hair on you just shows you are loved and love others. That’s the measure of success.

  19. This is the best lint roller I’ve used, $5. A dollar for each cat.

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