Till Dust Do Us Part

Hair, There, Everywhere! Part One: Floors

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Long hair. Short hair. His hair. Her hair. Pet hair. Here, there, everywhere there’s hair!

Here’s how people generally ask about hair: “The hair! It is everywhere! How can I make it stop?!?” And that’s a shame for someone like me, who’s in the business of giving out cleaning advice, because if the question is posed to me in that way then the answer has to be, “I know! It will do that! And you cannot make it stop!!” And I hate it when the answer is “you cannot make it stop!!”

In a more perfect world, hair would never shed and, if it did, the questions asked of those who are in the business of giving out cleaning advice would be more along the lines of, “The hair! It is everywhere! What can I do to keep it at bay?” And so today we shall pretend that this is a more perfect world and answer the question, “What can I do to keep hair at bay?”

Vacuums

Of all the tools that you might use to keep stray hairs at bay, the vacuum is going to be the workhorse of the bunch. This means that when purchasing the one that’s right for your home, you’ll want to take both size and weight into consideration — a smaller, lighter weight model will be easier to store and retrieve than will bulkier options.

The big thing you need to know, however, about vacuums when it comes to dealing with longer hair (so: not pet hair, not body hair, we’re talking more about head hair here) is that the strands will become entwined in the brush bar and you will have to deal with that. That is not hard to deal with! Basically you’ll just need to cut those hairs out from time to time to keep the brush clear, which can be done with a small pair of scissors or a seam ripper. Or you can just always use the hose attachment, which has no brush bar that will need to be cleaned! Shop vacs are also great for hair clean-up because they’re hose-y.

Handheld vacuums generally do not have brush bars either, and they are lightweight, portable and convenient. For those reasons, I strongly encourage the use of a handheld vacuum for day-to-day use. Please feel free to employ a loose interpretation of “day-to-day use” here — by that, I mostly mean that the handheld can be pulled out from time to time during the week for a quick once-over on highly hairy areas like the bathroom. Spot cleaning, essentially, is what you’ll do with the handheld.

The handheld, however, won’t cover large areas and needs to be emptied frequently, which means that for more heavy duty vacuuming you’ll want to use a full-sized model. Upright and canister-style vacuums can be bulky and expensive, so if you’re tight on space, money or both there are some alternatives you can consider.

Mops & Brooms

Wet mops

Here’s what you need to know about wet mopping when it comes to hair removal: nothing. You need to know exactly nothing about them. No wait, I take that back! You need to know not to use them. The end.

Okay, fine, you caught me, it’s not the end! Wet mops are a disaster when it comes to getting hair up off the floor because the cleaning solution will cause the hair to stick to the floor. To put it in more relatable terms: You know when you’re in the shower and strays come out when you’re washing your hair? And you know how they stick stubbornly to your hands and just will not come off? That’s the same effect that wet mops are having on the hairs on your floors. I guess the floor would be your hand? Right, yes, that’s the way this analogy is going to work.

Dry mops

Dry mops — which are the ones that have the sort of muppet-y looking fringed pads — are excellent options for quickly cleaning floors free of hair. You can use a dry mop spray to make them even more effective, just be sure not to use wood furniture spray in place of dry mop spray as those products can leave floors slippery and unsafe.

The biggest drawback to dry mops is that the removable head needs to be laundered regularly, so if you’re a person who doesn’t have his or her own laundry facilities you’ll want to take the extra washing into account.

Swiffers et al.

The mention of the extra laundry that dry mops generate leads nicely into a discussion of the Swiffer Sweeper and its ilk. These types of products, which are essentially disposable dry mops, have their pros and cons, and generally speaking are not high on my list of recommendations when it comes to floorcare solutions. This is true for two primary reasons: 1. I worry that they engender lazy cleaning (I mean that literally. Sometimes I wake up at three in the morning fretting about all the lazy cleaning that’s going on in the world. I also suffer from chronic middle-of-the-night insomnia, which may be a salient point to make here.) and 2. They’re expensive and wasteful.

With that said, they can be more convenient than dry mops because the pads are disposable. See how fair I just was?! In exchange for being so evenhanded in allowing that Swiffers have some redeeming qualities, can you promise me that you’ll use them for maintenance rather than as a replacement of properly vacuuming and/or scrubbing the floors regularly? Thank you, I feel better about things already!

Brooms

Brooms are marvelous for many things: Transportation to the gathering of your coven, swatting at neighborhood cats and skulking children, sweeping crumbs up from tight kitchen corners. They are less marvelous when it comes to hair because that hair tends to stick right to the husks and then you gotta grab those nasty clumps off with your hands and woof.

But! Rubber brooms do not eat hair in the same way that corn brooms (that’s the proper name for your standard broom, you know, this thing) do. So if you’re a dedicated broom person with a hair situation, a rubber broom might be just the thing for you! In fact, there are rubber brooms that are marketed especially for hair picking-upping (well, they’re marketed for fur picking-upping, but more or less hair is hair is hair, ya know?)

Carpet Rakes

Somewhere in an old filing cabinet in my brain there was a manila folder containing a one-sheet on carpet rakes. By which I mean, they’re not new to me but they’re also something I totally forgot about until I started researching this post and now I’m obsessed. Like, I want to lay down some carpeting in my home just so I can buy and use a carpet rake.

Carpet rakes do exactly what they sound like: they rake your carpet. This is a good thing to do before or in place of vacuuming; the raking will help to loosen dirt and debris stuck in the carpet’s fibers, making vacuuming more effective. The raking alone will also pick up a lot of hair, and restore the nap in a way that will make it appear almost new. The caveat on carpet rakes is that they’re intended for cut-pile carpeting, and shouldn’t be used on woven or loop-pile rugs.

Giant Lint Rollers

The technical term for these products is “sticky mop” but “giant lint roller” is a bit more evocative. They are particularly great on carpeting and upholstery, but suffer from the same cost and waste issues that plague Swiffers.

Coming Up Next

Now that we’ve covered hair management vis-a-vis flooring, we need to talk about hair management vis-a-vis drains and pipes. I know! It’s terrifying to even consider. But it must be done, which is why Part Two of our discussion of hair will be entirely devoted to what to do when it clogs up your drains. Get excited.

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and the author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha.

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