How to avoid washing machine problems caused by pet hair

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Pet hair is not just a problem for your clothing, it's also pretty bad for your washing machine. Plenty of pet owners count on their washing machines to, well, wash the pet hair off of their stuff. But according to the experts at Consumer Reports, that might not be the smartest way to handle it.

You could be fixing one problem, but creating a whole host of others.

RELATED: Sick of folding laundry? This machine will do it for you

The McDermott family loves their dog, Coco.

Her hair? Not so much. "Her hair goes all over the house, gets all over everybody's clothes, and just, is just everywhere, as you can see, in sort of these giant tufts," said Natasha McDermott, Coco's dog owner.

When things get hairy, it might be tempting to toss everything right into the washing machine. But Consumer Reports says that is one of the worst things you can do. "When you mix water and pet hair, it clumps. It can get caught in those little drain holes inside of your washer drum, or even clog your drain pumps," said Hinaya Rae, Consumer Reports Home Editor. "And that could put a lot of stress on your plumbing," she said.

So, deal with pet hair before you put your laundry in the washer.

RELATED: Thinking of ditching the dryer? Try line-drying clothes instead

The first step is simple. Brush your pet every day to keep loose hair to a minimum. A lint roller can be another quick fix. Or even some masking tape, which picks up hair in a snap.
In spots where pet hair becomes embedded in fabric, a damp rubber glove allows you to sweep hair together, so it lifts off easily.

"Another thing you can do is toss items in the dryer along with a dryer sheet, and if you leave it on a no-heat setting for about 10 minutes, the dryer sheet will work to loosen hair off the clothes and then the hair will get caught in the dryer's lint trap," said Rae.

These are all helpful suggestions to keep pet owners, and their washing machines, happy.

It's also a good idea to run an empty wash cycle once in a while and wipe down any hair left on the inside of the drum. Or let the machine dry and vacuum in there with a soft attachment.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.