THE GIZMO: New cleaning accoutrements for your four-legged friend.
FUR'S FLYING: All we have to do is look at our furry cat friend Rufus, and he starts to shed. Now with the arrival of warmer weather, the boy's really gone into overdrive. But lately, I haven't minded. Rufus has given me good material (literally) to try out a trio of new pet-friendly cleaning gizmos.
SCOTCH BRIGHT: I'd heard mixed reports about 3M's previously available cleaning system for extracting animal hair from upholstery. But the maker can be justly proud of its new Scotch (brand) Fur Fighter Pet Hair Sweeper for hard surface floors.
This $10 gizmo consists of a 4-foot-long metal handle with a thin, flexible plastic sweeper head at the end, to which you wrap around a special "Super Cling" disposable sheet. Woven from polyester and plastic fibers, the sheet picks up animal hair shockingly well. And the business end is so thin and flexible it can slide into crevices - such as under the refrigerator or stove - otherwise hard or impossible to reach.
Having been warned against using plastic fiber-embedded paper towels to polish my car, I pass along the same warning that these sheets may slightly scratch a supershiny hardwood floor. But in our tile floored kitchen, I've become addicted to brushing up after him with the Pet Hair Sweeper.
3M encourages you to sweep once and throw away a sheet, but at 31 cents a piece, it's not so terrible to pick off the big clumps of fur by hand and reuse, then flip the sheet inside out and get another go-round.
The brush end gathers but doesn't pick up big crumbs, so bring in the Black & Decker hand vac for that.
CLEANING, PART TWO: Go to the Dyson website and read reviews of its new Dyson City (DC26), a pint-size, but pricey (about $315) canister vacuum cleaner.
While it's being pitched as the perfect vac for apartment dwellers, almost every reviewer cites first how amazing this little thing is for picking animal hair off furniture, using the supplied upholstery brush.
I also found the DC26 a marvel on hardwood floors. The supplied floor brush attachment swivels and slithers into the tightest of spaces - say, between the upright posts of a staircase banister - better than any other vac head I've ever tried.
With the small hand brush attached, the machine is light and likable for cleaning counters and wooden stairs, though the 12-foot (retractable) power cord barely lets me reach the top step, and the "flexi" hose is stiffer than I'd prefer.
The DC26's suction-powered rotating carpet head is pretty good at pulling up Rufus' remnants. But the brush sometimes goes into manual (got to push to swirl) form on my low-medium pile area rugs and easily locks up after catching a thread.
Dyson makes sure its vacs are easy to take apart, and you'll be doing that often with the little City. The dirt-holding tank in this bag-free canister model has a low "go-no-higher" limit point. You can still pull more dirt in, with undiminished velocity, but the excess then gets stuck onto the perforated grid zone in the top end of the compartment, a pain and a half to clean.
Kind of reminiscent of English sports cars of yore, the hot but fussy to maintain DC26 also requires you to remove and wash out two "permanent" filters "about once a month." I guess Mr. D assumes you'll be using it to clean a one-bedroom apartment, say, twice a week. Use less or more and your maintenance schedule will vary. And while Dyson suggests you wait "a full 24 hours" for the filters to dry out before reinstalling, 48 hours is really more like it.
STINK AWAY: A few years back, Consumer Reports did an expose of Sharper Image's hottest-selling, high-priced "silent" air cleaners that used ionizing technology to neutralize odors. CR basically called them useless, because the devices lacked a fan necessary to circulate much air.
Better by a mile is Sharp's latest IG-A10U Plasmacluster Ion Generator. This tidy little table model (available in white or maroon) uses a two-speed fan to expel the clusters of positive and negative ions it makes from the water that's in the air. These clusters then collide with airborne particulates and odors and inactivates them. Clusters also land on and neutralize porous surfaces such as carpets, curtains, clothing and linens without chemicals, perfumes or toxins. Then, after inactivating these particulates, the ions reform into the original, airborne water molecule form.
I plugged-in the small footprint (6 1/4-inch deep, 5 1/4-inch wide, 13 1/2-inch tall) device in my home office, adjacent to the closet where Rufus the cat does his business. Normally, I know when he's been there. And I'm usually accosted by the musty smell of clay litter dust in the air and the carpet.
Now, with the Plasmacluster on "high," the stinky smell disappears about 10 minutes after Rufus makes his deposits. And the air in the office - not only neutralized but pumped up with a little extra ozone - has a clean, fresh aroma.
Be forewarned, though. I've read that ionizers should not be used around birds. And this little gizmo isn't cheap - Amazon has it for $290.04.