May 29, 2022
There are seemingly endless factors involved in choosing the best vacuum for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, which is why research is so important — and why recommendations should be taken with context. Here’s what to think about:
Types of Vacuums
Upright: These are the vacuums you’re probably most familiar with. They’re usually larger and heavier than stick vacuums in order to hold themselves up but have a whole lot of power and are especially suited for deep carpet cleanings. This makes them ideal for larger households.
Stick: These vacuums are the most popular, especially for those in smaller spaces and apartments. Usually, they’re lightweight and easier to store than bigger upright models. They also have great maneuverability. The downside? They typically can’t stand on their own and aren’t as powerful as other vacuums, and they work better on hardwood and low-pile carpeting since all debris has to make a sharp right angle to reach the canister.
Canister: While these vacuums are an older style, they’re now made with today’s standards and are still a great option if you want something powerful for your hardwood flooring and low-pile carpet. The long hose makes them convenient for reaching out-of-the-way spots, and they tend to be lighter than uprights, although the fuller-sized models can be difficult to store if you lack closet space.
Handheld: If you have pets, kids, a vehicle, or just don’t want to deal with your regular vacuum’s attachments, a handheld vacuum is a good addition to your cleaning arsenal. They’re best for light cleaning (like pet hair on upholstery or dry spills), but obviously aren’t ideal for large area cleaning.
Mini: More powerful these days than may be expected, mini vacuums are palm-sized picker-uppers that are great for those on the go or who like to keep their immediate space sparkling clean.
Robot: Another great option for households with pets, robot vacuums are designed to run on their own. They aren’t great for a deep clean but are a solid choice for regular maintenance.
Corded: Most vacuums are corded, meaning they must be plugged in to run. The con of a corded vacuum is that you have to keep finding new outlets if you have a large space, giving you less flexibility. But they make up for being limited by usually being more powerful than cordless models.
Cordless: Most stick vacuum models are now cordless, meaning they run on a battery charge. While cordless vacuums give you freedom to access every spot in your home with no trouble, they need to be constantly charging when not in use to avoid dwindling battery power, which reduces their effectiveness, possibly without you even knowing it.
Bagged: Most traditional vacuums come with a bag that has to be emptied out once it’s full. Bagged vacuums catch everything rather than use a filter to decrease what’s collected, so they fill up quicker. While emptying the bag more often can be annoying, bagged vacuums are recommended for those with allergies since there is less contact with dust and debris during and after use.
Bagless: Many people prefer bagless vacuums, which use a filter instead. Although bagless vacuums are more convenient, they do require maintenance — you should clear out your dustbin after every use and replace your filter every year, which can sometimes be more costly than replacing bags.
Mop: It’s 2021, after all. Some vacuum models can switch back and forth between mopping and vacuuming (usually with a quick accessory change or some supervision). If you have mostly hard flooring or are able to clear your space for a day, you could even solicit a robot wet vac to work a room while you do something else.
Type of Household
Larger houses: If you’re cleaning a good deal of square footage, go with an upright or canister vacuum. Uprights are best at cleaning all types of flooring and have enough power to give your entire home a deep clean. If you have minimal carpeting or high ceilings, a canister vacuum is recommended, especially if you don’t want to deal with lugging a 20-pound vacuum up and down stairs.
Smaller homes and apartments: If you lack storage space and have a smaller area to clean, a stick vacuum is probably best. Stick vacuum technology is getting better every year, and some models can compete with uprights in terms of power, but you don’t necessarily need all that power if you live alone in a small studio. Plus, sticks are much easier to store — especially those that break down into easily connectable parts.
Pets: Dealing with a lot of pet hair? Really any vacuum can work, and you don’t necessarily need a vacuum that’s branded as “made for pets.” It more so depends on the surfaces your pets spend time on. Many pet owners like a bagged vacuum to keep fur and dander contained, while others might be annoyed at how quickly those bags will fill. Just make sure your vacuum has a strong, sealed filter, and consider buying a handheld or robot vacuum for easy maintenance.
Allergies: If you have serious allergies, you’ll likely benefit from a bagged vacuum. Emptying a dustbin can make allergens go back into the air, so keeping them contained in a sealed bag is healthier.
In previous years, if you were serious about buying a good vacuum, you had to be ready to spend. While budget vacuums have always existed, there are some on the market now that will stick around for a while — it’s more about maintaining your vacuum than spending the most you possibly can for one.
What We Look for in a Vacuum Cleaner
We tested and researched a wide range of models to find the best household vacuums, judging them on the following criteria:
Functionality: How well does the vacuum clean dirt and debris? Does it work on a range of surfaces? Does it require multiple runs in order to pick everything up? What’s its range of motion like?
Durability: How long does the vacuum last? Does it require a lot of maintenance? Does it have a warranty?
Ease of purchasing: Is it easily ordered online, or does it have to be purchased in a store? Is it only sold to professionals or can it be found commercially? How much does the vacuum cost? Does it go on sale?
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