Choosing the best quality vacuum cleaner for you and and the best vacuum cleaner for home means thinking about more than just that. Consider what surfaces you’ll be vacuuming, how your home is laid out and how much time you have for cleaning up. Immediately below are our picks for the best quality vacuum cleaners in key categories.
best vacuum cleaner for home
best quality vacuum cleaner
Dyson Ball Multi Floor High Performance HIPA Filter Upright Vacuum: $297.18 at Amazon or similar model for $349.99 at Walmart
Courtesy of Amazon
As part of his duties with his real estate group Poplar Holdings in Granite Falls, Washington, Thomas Ngo has had to clean his share of investment properties. “Good equipment makes the job comes easier,” he says. His Dyson vacuum cleaners “dig into the carpet very well. Many times I spray carpet cleaner and just vacuum it up,” he says. And he appreciates the company’s commitment to quality. “When I have a problem, the local Dyson shop fixes it for free, for years.”
Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional: $199.99 at Amazon or $178 at Walmart (out of stock)
Courtesy of Amazon
Mélanie Berliet is the general manager of the lifestyle website The Spruce, and she calls the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional “the best overall vacuum. What’s great about this model is that it’s easy to assemble and use, plus it maintains powerful suction whether you’re using it on carpet or bare floors,” she says. “For those suffering from allergies, the Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology traps dust and irritants, plus the vacuum comes equipped with a HEPA filter that traps 99.9 percent of allergens in the vacuum. The swivel steering makes it easy to maneuver, and the detachable and portable canister is ideal for hard-to-reach places.”
Best Vacuum for Carpets
Shark Apex Stick Vacuum with DuoClean and Self-Cleaning Brushroll: $199 at Walmart
Courtesy of Walmart
When it comes to floors, most of us have some combination of tile, hardwood, rugs and carpets, so it’s good to pick a vacuum that can tackle whatever surface it’s thrown on. If you mostly have carpeted surfaces, consider the Shark Apex Stick Vacuum.
Irina Nikiforova is the owner of the Los Angeles-based cleaning company Rocket Maids, and she calls the Shark Apex “lightweight but powerful enough to clean carpeted floors. Its brush roll is wonderful for collecting pet’s hair even the most stubborn ones,” she says. “The dust cup is big enough even for a 3,000-square-foot house with pets. This vacuum won’t break your back even if you’re getting your house ready for the in-laws’ visit.”
Best Budget Vacuum Cleaner
BISSELL PowerForce Helix Vacuum: $54 at Walmart
Courtesy of Walmart
Of course, as Berliet admits, “You don’t need to spend a bundle to get a clean home. This top pick from the trusted brand Bissell will clean your house in a jiffy and all for under $50,” she says. “Its lightweight construction makes it easy to clean all corners of the home while a washable filter means you won’t have to replace it often.”
Best Vacuum Cleaner for People With Allergies
BISSELL Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner: $99.99 at Amazon
Courtesy of Amazon
Cats and dogs provide love and companionship and snuggles. For some people, they also provide sneezes. If your lovable ball of fluff is wrecking your allergies, Samantha B. Wenig of the New York City home organization company Neat Spaces recommends the BISSELL Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright .
“Pet hair, human hair and dander are the main causes of allergies, and now that everyone is working from home, this vacuum will easily get the job done. It has specialized features such as triple action brush, which help to remove unwanted hair and particles in your house,” she says. “With the swivel head, it makes cleaning around furniture and other large objects very easy. As a bonus, BISSELL donates up to $10 to the BISSELL pet foundation for every pet product purchase upon activation, so you’re giving back and cleaning your home.”
Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster Handheld Vacuum, Cordless: $54 at Amazon or Walmart
Courtesy of Amazon
Handheld vacuums aren’t what you will turn to when you want to clean your floor, but if there’s a problem area that needs some elbow grease to take care of, they’ll be your best friend. Berliet recommends the BLACK+DECKER Dustbuster.
“Small but mighty, this is a great vacuum for picking up small spills or getting to those hard-to-reach spots. Not only does the lightweight design make this model easy to use, but the narrow nozzle, with an optional brush attachment, means you can even reach those previously inaccessible spaces like the crevice between your counter and your refrigerator,” she says. “Plus, the filter is washable, meaning you won’t have the extra cost of replacing it down the line.”
Best Vacuum Cleaner for Liquids
Vacmaster Pro 8 Gallon Certified Hepa Filtration Wet/Dry Vac: $175.94 at Amazon or Walmart
Courtesy of Amazon
A lot of vacuums can’t handle water or other spills, so it’s best to wipe up any wet spots you notice before you vacuum. But sometimes spills can get really out of control. So if you’re looking for a vacuum that works on wet surfaces as well as dry ones, then Ryan Thompson, a Miami blogger and plumber, recommends the Vacmaster brand.
“As a plumber we often clean up after water and other liquid spills from broken pipes,” he says. “The Vacmaster Professional is a wet and dry vacuum that makes for a great choice to clean up after spills in your home and cars. Its high-performing motor can remove any water or drinks from the carpet, and with the 20-foot power cord it makes it convenient to vacuum around the house. You can also use it to vacuum your car. It’s not just for cleaning liquids either, it still does a great job at removing dirt and dust from the carpet.”
Things to Consider When Buying a Vacuum Cleaner
The old vacuum cleaner has “bitten the dust” and you need a replacement. One quick look online is all it takes to realize that choosing a new machine might be more challenging than you thought. It’s easy to get caught up in the “latest and greatest” when perusing vacuums online or in magazines and end up with a machine that is either too much or not enough, or just doesn’t fit your needs.
We’ve put together a few questions for consideration to help focus your search efforts before purchasing that new vacuum cleaner. Maybe you’ve already thought about some of these, so please use the following list to quickly navigate to the concerns most important to you.
What Flooring Types Do I Have?
Probably the most obvious consideration is whether you have mainly carpeting, hard floors, or a fairly even combination of both. Generally speaking, for homes with a lot of carpeting, especially in large areas, an upright vacuum cleaner is a good choice. However, if your personal preference tends toward canister style vacuums, there are quite a few excellent choices available. You will want to be sure that it has a floor nozzle with a motorized brushroll and height adjustment options for various pile carpets.
If you love hardwood or tile flooring with a few rugs here and there, or enjoy low-pile carpeting, a canister style vacuum is a great option. Using a specialized floor brush, these are usually very maneuverable for working quickly around and underneath furniture. Some are equipped with combination floor tools that easily switch to effectively clean scatter rugs. For true canister vacuum lovers, there are machines that feature high quality motorized floor nozzles that can effectively handle deep-pile carpets.
Most people have a combination of both carpeting and hard floors. At this point, style preference will be your guide. However, be sure to check for convenience features such as on/off brushroll control, height adjustment, and suction control. Be sure to note whether the brushroll is air-powered or electrically powered as this affects the effectiveness of deep-pile carpet cleaning.
Do I Need to Control Allergens?
This is a key question to consider since we spend, on average, about 90% of our time indoors where pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. This is especially important to ponder if you or someone in your family has asthma or allergies. A vacuum cleaner that provides HEPA filtration can be an important contributor to improving your indoor air quality. HEPA filters capture particulate matter down to 0.3 microns so that the exhausted air is actually cleaner than what was sucked into the vacuum. There are also machines that include some level of charcoal filtration to help control odors—great for pet owners.
An additional consideration is a vacuum that not only uses HEPA filters but does so in a completely sealed system. This means that there is virtually no leakage of air through the housing or fittings of the machine and all air (along with pollutants) is forced through the filtration system, leaving your indoor air allergen free. See this article for more information about allergies and vacuums.
How Often Do I Vacuum?
Something you may not have thought about, the frequency of your cleaning schedule can be impacted by the ease or difficulty of storing and accessing your vacuum. For those folks who shed their shoes the minute they hit the door, walking on floors that quickly accumulate pet fur, crumbs, and tracked-in dirt or sand, daily vacuuming is standard operating procedure. In that case, a vacuum that is difficult to access and use quickly can make this routine a real chore. Consider a robotic vacuum that can be scheduled to clean while you’re at work or running errands so you return to grit-free floors, really nice if you frequently bring home company.
If your debris tends to concentrate in specific areas, a stick vacuum is a champ at quickly taking care of daily messes whether on hard floors or carpets, as well as effectively handling more extensive weekly cleaning. There are also light-weight uprights and compact canisters with parking features that make them easy to store and use at a moment’s notice.
How Many Levels are in My Home?
In other words, how many stairs do you have to carry your vacuum up and down? There are many maneuverable, light-weight cordless vacuums that have great suction power and long run times that can handle multiple floor types. There are also lightweight vacuums in both upright and canister styles that make transporting them between floors easy.
An additional thought is the type of flooring on each level. While it sounds crazy, sometimes more than one vacuum is a very good idea. If you have a main floor that really benefits from a machine that can handle a variety of floor types, your upper floor may only require a vacuum best for carpets or hard floors. Or, the reverse may be true. In either case, consider purchasing a smaller stick vacuum for the space best suited for it, and save yourself grueling trips up and down stairs with your larger machine.
What Additional Surfaces will I be Cleaning?
If you like vacuuming away all the accumulated dust from furniture, curtains, moldings, and baseboards instead of dusting, you’ll want a vacuum that includes a variety of accessory tools. Most include at least a combination brush and crevice tool, while others have additional floor nozzles, an upholstery tool, and specialized accessories for specific types of cleaning. If you own pets, or have a lot of stairs, consider a vacuum that includes a mini-motorized tool for easy cleaning. Some offer an even wider variety of specialized tools and extension wands which you can purchase separately as you need them.
How Much Noise Can I Stand?
Given the technology, if you will, of vacuums, there is a certain amount of expected sound generated during use. Typically, the larger and more heavy-duty the machine for the job, the louder it is. For homes, and for office spaces where a quieter sound level is desired, there are vacuums that have been designed with insulated motor housings as well as newer low-noise motors for quieter operation. Some can run as lows as 47 dB at maximum power while still delivering 120 CFM. Vacuum manufacturers such as NaceCare, Miele, and Sebo have recently redesigned some of their machines for quieter operation. Check specifications for your selection before buying.
How Much Maintenance is Required?
This is a question that really depends on your definition of “a lot” and how tedious different kinds of maintenance are for you. Bagless vacuums don’t have bags that need to be changed, but dust bins still need to be emptied and washed periodically, especially if your home includes allergy-sufferers. Any vacuum with a HEPA filter will need that filter to be replaced when necessary, depending on individual home environments. The same is true for any other type of filter unless it is specified as a washable filter.
Brushrolls will collect pet fur, hair, threads and other debris and will need to be cleaned to maintain top operating capabilities. Ease of access to it should be a consideration. For quality vacuums that last for years, sometimes accessory tools like dusting brushes may need to be replaced. Check to see if these are available for purchase either at retail or from the manufacturer.
The Main Vacuum Types
There are five primary shapes of vacuum cleaners, each performing a slightly different function, although some combine those forms in order to provide more bang for your buck. Being aware of the expectations you have of your vacuum cleaner can help you more intelligently and decisively pick one of the following.
Handheld vacuums are perfect for getting those painfully hard-to-reach areas that desperately need a cleaning. The most common example for use is in vacuuming cars, since, as the name suggests, this model can be held in only one hand. Its versatility makes it a dream for suctioning up dirt and debris in a variety of tight places, but it would not serve well for general flooring cleaning, which would take a long time to clean with a handheld. This type of vacuum cleaner comes in all sorts of different forms with equally different price tags.
Canister vacuum cleaners are a happy medium between the upright model and the stick model. They are powerful like the upright cleaners, but feature a slender frame, like the stick cleaners. In this case, a separate canister is attached to a long wand which can be used to maintain not only carpeted areas but also bare flooring as well. This style of vacuum cleaner tends to be one of the most expensive options, given its technologically-forward and multi-functional design.
These cleaners are perhaps the most popular and sought-after forms of vacuum cleaners. When you imagine a vacuum cleaner or see one advertised in media, the image you picture is probably that of an upright machine. These models provide the most powerful clean-up for your house, and offer the comforting benefit of usually easy-to-understand functions and accessories, since most people have used an upright vacuum cleaner at least once in their lifetime. Most models provide settings that allow these vacuum cleaners to be used not only on carpeted surfaces but also bare floors.
While perhaps the least powerful of the vacuum models, stick vacuums have a knack for getting into narrow places and doing a tremendous job on hardwood floors, area rugs and light carpeting. This type of vacuum features a long stick-like handle and a slender construction. The slimness of this model makes it a perfect addition to any closet space, as it tucks neatly into most corners after its purpose has been served.
5. Autonomous / Robot
Robot vacuum cleaners have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, mainly due to the fact that they require little effort on your end. These vacuums are able to roam freely around your home, sucking up any small mess in its way. They not only save you time, but they are also able to reach places that larger vacuums wouldn’t be able to, such as under the couch. One main drawback of robot vacuums is that they typically come at a steep price.
Location, Location, Location
Do you have primarily hardwood floors throughout your house? Are these floors covered with area rugs, or are they bare? Is your home filled with wall-to-wall carpeting? These are considerations you must make before taking the leap and purchasing your very own vacuum cleaner.
If you have bare floors, you’re better off with models that provide a number of attachments and which don’t have quite as much heft as some of the others. Using a regular upright vacuum on flooring like hardwood poses a number of problems, which includes scratching your smooth and coveted floors and being counterproductive by scattering debris across their surfaces. Some upright vacuums do provide settings that function better on non-carpeted areas, but for the most part your best bet would be with a model like the canister vacuum, which can also take care of your area rugs if you have any. These vacuums usually come with a bare-floor brush, which makes keeping your floors squeaky clean and scratch-free a piece of cake.
On the other hand, if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s definitely worth considering a model with different advantages than a vacuum cleaner suited for hardwood flooring and tiling. You won’t need to worry about scratching the surface of your carpet, and in fact, you’ll want something powerful that pulls up all the lingering debris from the carpet strands. In this instance, an upright cleaner is a great way to go. There are all sorts of extra conveniences that upright vacuums have recently come out with, including a dirt sensor which makes sure you get that last speck of grime.
Know the layout of your flooring and what sorts of surfaces you’ll be dealing with to ensure your needs will be met with your new vacuum cleaner.
To Bag or Not To Bag
The general consensus is that, whether you have a bagged vacuum or a bagless vacuum, your house will be clean either way (as long as you keep using it). However, there are a few small differences that may make or break your decision to buy one or the other.
If you or any of your family members are sensitive to allergens or have asthma, the bagged vacuum is probably more for you. Dust exposure is minimized when the bag is emptied and most bags are guaranteed to trap all but .03% of the dust and pollen in your carpeting. You do have to replace the bags on a regular basis, although these are typically available at most supermarkets.
If you are environmentally-minded and prefer to not have to deal with replacing bags, the bagless vacuum is more for you. These vacuums usually have a see-through canister which gives you perfect access to seeing how full the vacuum is, which can help you determine when you need to empty it out.