If you’re reading vacuum cleaner reviews to find out which is the best vacuum cleaner for you, you’re probably taking in a ton of information that can quickly become confusing. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of things to consider as you read each review, as the same vacuum isn’t going to suit everyone, and you want to find one that is the best investment for you and your family.
Cleaning the floor seems like such a simple task, but there are so many options when it comes to vacuums. It’s easy to get lost in the milieu of tools, filters, different suction powers and the myriad of other options available with the best vacuum cleaners today, not to mention the price tag, which can range from $30 to well over $500.
See the best rated vacuums of 2016
So how do you choose the best rated vacuum for you? A good place to start is actually defining what all the “buzz words” mean so you know if you need that particular feature. While you read the following, keep in mind how you’ll be using the vacuum. Do you have hard wood floors, tile, carpet or all three? Do you have a concern about pet hair or allergies? Do you have a lot of tiny spaces to maneuver around, or do you mostly have wide open areas in your home? I’m sure you’ll think of more questions like these as you go along in your search. After you’ve answered some of these questions and whittled down which model you might like, you’ll want to take a good look at the vacuum cleaner reviews for that model. At the end of the day, you want this question answered, “What is the best vacuum cleaner for me?”
1. Choosing a type of filter
As you suck up the dust and dirt from your floor, it goes into the vacuum bag or dust cup/collection bin. The air is then forced back out of the vacuum through a filter or series of filters. The job of the filter is to trap any remaining dust and dirt particles before the air is expelled back into the room. Knowing how a filter works is the first step in knowing how to choose a machine that has a filter you can live with.
– Disposable filters: If you buy a vacuum with filters that need to be replaced when they are dirty, that is an extra expense that you should consider. Many machines today feature washable filters, which will save you some cash if you don’t mind rinsing then waiting for them to dry prior to another use.
– Washable filters: Most of the top rated vacuum cleaners today use washable, reusable filters, usually made out of foam. Many of them can even be put into the top rack of the dishwasher for deep cleaning. This is nice because you won’t really have to get your hands dirty(!)
– HEPA filter: HEPA filters are designed to trap smaller particles than regular vacuum filters. This means less dust is blowing back into the air. They are especially good for people with allergies or those who sneeze at the slightest amount of dust. The new Dyson DC65 has one of the best HEPA filtration systems available. The new Shark Rotator Powered line, including the TruePet, also boasts a powerful HEPA system. If you have animals in the house and are looking to buy the best vacuum for pet hair, for instance, this is very important, as you want all that dander and the small hair particles to get filtered out.
2. To bag or not to bag?
This one is pretty obvious. If you choose a bagged vacuum, you toss out the bag when it’s full and put in a new one. With bagless, you will need to empty the dust cup or container whenever it gets full. While the first option is less messy, if you’ve already made a substantial investment in one of the best rated vacuum cleaners, you may not want the added expense of buying bags on a regular basis as well.
Emptying a dirt container may not seem like an attractive option and can be a messy one, but it is certainly more economical. One thing to pay close attention to in vacuum cleaner reviews is how easy it is to access the dust cup and if you will have to do any digging to get the gunk or hair out of it. Many times long hair will wind around inside, and you’ll need to pull it out. Yes, it can be a messy job. However, some of the best vacuum cleaners offer this feature because it just saves a lot of money in the long run, as vacuum bags, like most everything else, only increase in price over time. Some of the most popular bagless vacuums today are the Shark Rotator and the Shark Navigator.
One step above regular bagless vacuum cleaners is the Dyson line. You’ve likely heard their “never loses suction” tagline, and it’s a good one. Their bagless cyclone technology ensures the vacuum won’t clog up like many other vacuums, even the best rated ones.
Stuck with a clogged vacuum? Here’s one way to clean it out. OR – you can just buy one that won’t clog up!
3. What about cordless vs. corded vacuums?
Here’s the rub about cordless: Even the best rated vacuum cleaner that is cordless will not run for very long. If you have a smaller home or are only using it for spot cleanups, this may be a great option for you. However, if you will be running the unit for an extended period of time, say more than 15 or 30 minutes, you’re likely to get quite frustrated when it stops working, leaving the rest of the job for later.
For this reason, we recommend buying a corded vacuum if you have a larger home. While it’s a pain to keep plugging and unplugging, its really the only way to ensure you’ll be able to tackle the job all at once. Alternatively, you can pay close attention to vacuum cleaner reviews to see how long any particular cordless model will run on a charge.
That said, cordless is much more user friendly in that you don’t have to worry about the cord getting caught under furniture and doors as you’re moving through the house. We’ve all had the experience of running out of cord, only to find that it’s hung up somewhere, and we have to trace it back and unstick it.
You’ll find the best vacuum cleaners without a cord still offer amazing suction power, but you will need to recharge them often. So, if you have a small house or don’t mind doing your cleaning in shifts (waiting several hours in some cases for the unit to recharge), the best vacuum cleaner for you may be a cordless model. The Dyson DC59 Animal and cordless Motorhead are good models to check out. If you’re looking for a cordless more like a full-size vac, the new Hoover Air Cordless is getting great reviews.
4. How heavy is the vacuum?
Technology seems to have finally caught up to the fact that most of us do not want to feel like we’re lugging around a piece of furniture every time we want to clean our floors. For this reason, most of the top rated vacuum cleaners are so much more light weight than their predecessors.
You’ll find the best rated vacuums can still weigh around 20 pounds, so this can be a real consideration if you have any sort of back or joint problems. However, look for any sort of propulsion system the machine uses. If they are self-propelled, you’ll have a lot of assistance. In other words, the motor helps move it forward and back so you don’t have to do all the work. That can make all the difference.
On the other hand, there are many light weight vacuums, such as the stick-like models, that can weigh as little as 7 pounds or so. This is a great option, however, many of these vacs don’t work as well on deep pile carpet, as they just don’t have the weight to really push down and get into the fibers.
Weight is a special consideration if you’re shopping for a handheld vacuum. Keep in mind you’re going to be carrying it. There are no wheels. Carrying around even 5 pounds for a while can seem very heavy, especially if you’re maneuvering it around and up and down your staircase. For this reason, one of the lighter weight handheld vacuums may be the best vacuum cleaner for you. The Dyson DC59 digital slim doubles as both a full size and handheld vac and believe it or not, weighs about 4 pounds. It’s worth checking out if weight and versatility are really important to you. The Shark Rocket Series including the TruePet and Ultralight also come in at a very light weight when compared to other vacs.
5. Are the vacuum dimensions important? Only if you want to be comfortable
The dimensions of a vacuum are something most people don’t consider when making a purchase, and it may not even matter to you. However, for some, it can be a big deal. If you have a lot of area to cover, it might be best to buy a vacuum that can cover a wider path.
This is especially a concern for hand vacs. If you need to get into a tight space, you’ll want to look at the best rated vacuum cleaners that either have a small head or nozzle to get in and around where you need.
For upright vacuums, the dimensions (as in height) may be a concern to you if you’re exceptionally short or tall. No one is going to be comfortable stooping over or stretching their arm up to clean the floor every time. Many vacuum cleaner reviews complain of handle height or attachment length for these reasons. If you’re on the shorter side, you may want to consider a mid-size like the Dyson DC40 Origin or Multifloor or even the DC50, which is a compact upright. Overall, the Dyson line of vacs are all shorter vs those from Shark.
6. How much dirt will it hold?
This is a concern for both bagged and bagless machines. If it has a bag, how big is it? Can you clean for a while before you empty it? How many extras do you need to keep on hand? The same applies for a dust cup or dirt container. How many times will you have to empty it when vacuuming? Can you do the whole house, or will you need to stop repeatedly? This is something you should consider whether you are looking to buy a best rated vacuum cleaner or a real budget-friendly variety.
7. Will it do everything I need it to do?
Versatility is a big deal when choosing the best vacuum cleaner for your needs. Think about all the things you’ll want it to do. If it’s just going to go back and forth across the floor, this isn’t a huge concern. However, there are many situations where you’ll want it to do more. Can you use it to clean cobwebs from the high corners? Clean the blades on the ceiling fan? Suck dust off the blinds? Pick up cat litter from a hard wood floor without flinging it everywhere?
When choosing the best vacuum cleaner for you, make sure you do your homework so you buy one that has all the bells and whistles you need but not so many that they get in your way. The same goes if you’re looking to buy a carpet or hard floor cleaner like the Shark Sonic Duo. Or, if you’re looking for the best handheld vacuum, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples and not getting sidetracked reading upright vacuum reviews.
8. Where will I put it?
One thing many people overlook when looking at best rated vacuums is how the storage works. For most upright models, this isn’t an issue, as they just stand up wherever you leave them. You will want to pay attention, though to how the cord is fastened (or not) and where any tools are stored. Some of the best rated vacuum cleaners actually have a retractable cord, so you never have to wind it up (a great convenience). Also, if there is no place on the machine to store the tools, where will you keep them so they don’t get lost?
Storage is a bigger concern for some of the smaller handheld or canister vacuums. Many of the best rated vacuum cleaners come with some sort of mounting system so you can hang it on the wall instead of having it rattling around and falling over on the floor of your closet.
No matter how good a vacuum cleaner works, if it’s a pain to store or you don’t have room for it, you’ll likely not be happy.
9. What is the warranty?
Just like with a car, what will do you if your vacuum cleaner needs repair? For this reason, you should always make sure you know the warranty length and coverage prior to making an investment in a new vacuum cleaner. After all, this is a purchase you (hopefully) will not be making often, and you want it to last.
Some of the top rated vacuum cleaners, like Dyson vacuums, offer a 5 year warranty, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when shopping.
10. How much should I spend?
Now for the big one: How much can you, do you have to or are you willing to spend on this machine whose sole intention is to suck up dirt and debris? Can you only afford a “cheapy” to get you through, or are you looking to make an investment and hopefully have the machine for 20 years or longer?
For a basic upright, you can expect to pay $100+ dollars depending on the features and manufacturers. Or, you can go all out and spend $300 – $500 or so on one of the best rated vacuum cleaners like a Miele or Dyson. Are they worth the extra money? It may seem like they’re not, but if you ask the people who bought them, they are very glad they did. So, sometimes you do get what you pay for, but sometimes you can do with less if you need to. There are many people who have purchased a Hoover, Shark, Eureka, Bissell or one of the many other brands who are happy with their purchase as well.
For canister vacuums, prices generally range from around $50 to $1500. Again, it’s a wide range, but it all depends on the brand and what features suit you best.
Handheld vacuums are definitely the least expensive and range from about $30 – $300 or so. If you’re really on a tight budget, you could always buy one of these and just do a whole lot of spot cleaning, or you could make several hundred passes across your carpet(!)
No matter which vacuum you choose with whatever options, tools, cords, etc. it has, just be sure to do some thinking beforehand on what might suit you best. Each of us has different needs and preferences in our home. Choosing the best vacuum cleaner for you will depend on your cleaning style and exactly how you need to use it.
Popular Brands & Highlights
The Bissell CleanView with OnePass remains one of the best-selling uprights under $100 for solid performance.
The Zing bagless vac offers the versatility of a canister vacuum at a very low price.
Among handhelds, the Pet Hair Eraser is certainly one of the cheapest but a great job removing hair from furniture.
If you have pets and are looking for a way to get out stains and deep clean both carpeting and upholstery, the Deep Clean Premier Pet Carpet Cleaner may be just the right fit for you.
Black & Decker
The Dyson DC65 series remains one of the best uprights in the industry with models catering to pet hair and multiple floor surfaces. Wondering how it compares to Shark vacuums? Here’s the comparison chart.
The DC50 Animal is a scaled down version of Dyson’s larger vacuums, offering performance with a smaller footprint.
The DC47 Animal is a popular canister vacuum cleaner designed to handle pet hair for quick pick-ups.
The DC40 Origin and Multi Floor are interchangeable and are two versions of the same model. Both are great mid-sized machines.
The RapidClean Step 41a takes the place of the older model 71b and is one of the best handhelds for carpeted stairs.
If you’re looking for a lighweight cordless cleaner, the Air Cordless is one of the latest in the introduction of full-sized sweeper-type vacs, offering long battery life and good suction. Another very popular and highly rated model is the upright Linx cordless.
The Windtunnel 3 Pro Pet and UH70210 T-Series Pet Rewind are good options for those with animals in the house and are on a budget, while the WindTunnel T-Series Rewind works well for households without pets and costs a bit less. The Air Steerable offers all the power of an upright in a very easy to maneuver design under 14 pounds.
The Platinum Linx cordless hand held is another good option if you have pets and their associated dander.
The ILife A4 offers many of the features of an expensive robotic vacuum at a much more reasonable price.
Known for its German engineering, the Miele line offers many options. Among them are the S7210 Twist upright and many canister vacuums including the S8990 UniQ, the S8590 Alize and the S2121 Capri. All are bagged options.
Neato is right up there with iRobot when it comes to popular robotics. The XV Signature Pro Pet & Allergy is specifically designed for dog and cat hair.
For cleanup of small messes and stains on carpet, you can’t beat the Portable Spot Cleaner.
Shark has many options, and they are continually expanding. Among them are the highly rated Rotator and Navigator and Rocket Professional (see the comparison chart here) and the newer Rotator Powered TruePet.
If you’re looking for a powerful stick vac that can even handle pet hair, the Navigator Freestyle cordless is worth a look.
For handhelds, they offer the Pet Perfect II, which is a cordless option.
Shark also sells a machine specifically designed for scrubbing carpet, hardwood, tile and other surfaces. While it’s not a vacuum, the Shark Sonic Duo does a great job of scrubbing out stains and built up grime.
Samsung releases most of their uprights in Europe, but one increasing in popularity in the U.S. is the VU7000 Motion Sync.