How to Buy the Best Vacuum Cleaner in 2020: The Ultimate Guide

What is the best vacuum cleaner for my needs? And how do I choose the best vacuum cleaner that will meet all my expectations and budget? Should I pick a specific brand, look for particular vacuum cleaner specifications, or get a certain vacuum cleaner type? If you had any of these questions as of late, we are here to help!

You have plenty of vacuum cleaner models and brands on the market, but are they capable of answering to your needs? Besides color and design, the best vacuum cleaners of our hi-tech world boast features and specifications that help you preserve a clean home with little to no effort!

So let’s see today the ultimate guide on how to get the best vacuum cleaner to cater to your needs, no matter if you want a vacuum for pet hair, a vacuum against allergies and asthma, or a vacuum that can perfectly clean both carpets and hard floors.

Vacuum Cleaners’ Basic Information You Should Know

how to pick the best vacuum cleaners

When you get ready to buy a new vacuum cleaner for your home, you need to take into consideration plenty of aspects and factors that might influence your decision.

Among these factors, we can count the size of your home, the types of floors and surfaces you want to clean, the presence/absence and the number of stairs, and more. Moreover, the best vacuum cleaner for pets might solve the hair and dander issue on the floors and carpets, but you may also need to buy a handheld vacuum cleaner for the upholstery to maintain a completely clean house.

As you can see, the choice is not easy. You may need a more powerful upright vacuum cleaner or canister vacuum cleaner with cyclonic technology for a large house with multiple types of surfaces. On the other hand, if your home features multiple floors and stairs, you should consider a lightweight vacuum to ease your work around the house. Last but not least, the type of surfaces you have plays a crucial role when picking the best vacuum cleaner. A multi-floor vacuum will do a great job should you get the best make and model.

Since we don’t buy a vacuum cleaner every day, it is essential to know everything there is to know about them, especially since they do not come cheap. In other words, you have to get a high-quality product that will last long.

Top Things to Consider When Buying a Vacuum Cleaner

Now that you decided you wanted the best vacuum cleaner for carpets or a vacuum cleaner that easily cleans both rugs and hard floors, you should follow this guide on how to pick the best vacuum cleaner for your needs. It is one thing to look for the best lightweight vacuum cleaner for the elderly and quite another to get a commercial vacuum cleaner for your business.

So, you have many features and specifications to consider, not to mention the multitude of vacuum cleaner types. Since vacuuming is not an easy feat per se, you want your new vacuum cleaner to do a fantastic job without you putting in too much effort. Moreover, it has to meet some of your most specific needs. Therefore, let’s see next to the aspects you need to factor in your purchase decision!

Vacuum Cleaners’ Design and Build

dyson ball multi floor upright vacuum cleaner

When it comes to a vacuum cleaner’s design and build, you might have to choose between different construction types. Each comes with its benefits and downsides, and we will discuss them later in this guide. However, let’s see in short what you should consider when it comes to a vacuum cleaner’s design and building.

1. Bag or Bag-less Vacuum Cleaners

One of the main things to look for when you buy a vacuum cleaner is their “with bag” or bag-less construction. Both varieties are quite useful in cleaning different types of areas, but each has its upsides. Users consider bag-less vacuum cleaners to be more convenient because maintenance is easy: you just detach and remove the full bag of dirt and throw it away. Of course, you should always have vacuum cleaner replaceable bags at hand to put a new one instead of the filled one.  On the other hand, machines that feature no bags but a dust bin, are easy to clean any time you want to, with the amendment that such models are not the safest of choice for people with severe dust allergies.

2. Corded or Cordless Vacuum Cleaners

A cordless vacuum cleaner allows you to move freely around the house while cleaning, without you tripping on the cord or putting in the extra effort of dragging the cord along. Cordless vacuums are more lightweight in general than corded ones and make some of the best lightweight vacuum cleaner options for elderly people or those who are too weak to handle a corded vacuum. The main downside of cordless vacuum cleaners is that they run on batteries, and you should replace these batteries often to get your machine to perform. Cordless vacuum cleaners are, obviously, ideal for smaller apartments and homes.

3. Robotic vacuum cleaners

As vacuum cleaners types and configurations go, robotic vacuum cleaners feature dust bins (so they are bag-less) and a docking station for charging, so they are also cordless. While they tend to move chaotically around your home to vacuum. Eventually, they map your home and learn how to clean without bumping too much into the furniture. As we said on a previous occasion when we discussed robotic vacuum cleaners

They are autonomous vacuum cleaners that operate as carpet sweepers and vacuum cleaners at the same time. They usually return to their docking station to recharge batteries. Some models can even empty their dust containers into the docking station. Robotic vacuum cleaners are great for home use – small houses and apartments – but you will also find models for offices, hotels, etc. When it comes to tech specs and features, they do not match the suction power and capabilities of their “manual” cousins.

As you know, there are many other vacuum cleaners’ types out there, but we will get to them in a few moments.

Specific Problems in Your Home

Now that you saw some of the leading vacuum cleaners’ designs and builds, it is time to look at the next factor that you should consider before buying a vacuum cleaner: some specific issues in your home that require specific interventions.

1. Asthma and Allergies

Unfortunately, according to health experts,

more than 25 million people in the United States have asthma. Allergic asthma is the most common type, affecting around 60% of people with asthma. Both allergic and non-allergic asthma have the same symptoms, such as shortness of breath and wheezing. Having allergic asthma means allergens trigger your asthma symptoms. Allergens cause an allergic reaction because your immune system thinks they are harmful. Your immune system responds by releasing a substance called immunoglobulin E (or IgE). Too much IgE can trigger inflammation (swelling) of the airways in your lungs. This can make it harder for you to breathe and can trigger an asthma attack.

In other words, keeping your home free of all possible allergens is mandatory if you have one or more family members dealing with such issues. The best vacuum cleaners for asthma and allergies usually feature authentic (genuine) HEPA filters, certified to trap and remove 99.7% of harmful allergens, dust, mites, and other asthma/allergy triggers.

As we said before, it is imperative to clean your HEPA filters or change them every six months to avoid any health inconveniences. Each vacuum cleaner designed to alleviate allergens in your home will feature its specifications when it comes to replacing HEPA filters. However, in case you don’t find much information in the instructions manual, keep in mind to change the filters at least twice a year.

2. Pets

No matter if you are a dog lover or a cat lover, pet hair gets all over the place, from floors to carpets, to upholstery. The main issue is to keep pet hair and dander away from babies, young children, and people with a vulnerability/allergic sensitivity to pet hair in general. For this reason, you should look for the best vacuum cleaners for pets. Such vacuums come with particular tech specs and features to help remove pet hair from all nooks and crannies.

Pick a vacuum cleaner with significant suction power and even cyclonic technology to ensure a clean home all the time. Some of the best vacuum cleaners for pet hair also come with genuine HEPA filters and several attachments and brushes to ensure all pet hair, dander, dandruff, and pet allergens are gone from your home.

3. Noise

If you have a powerful sensitivity to sounds, keep in mind that many vacuum cleaners are noisy. If you live in an apartment with a baby or thin walls, keep in mind you want a quiet vacuum cleaner that doesn’t wake kids up and doesn’t disturb the neighbors. You can handle your cleaning routine with no discomfort for you and others if you choose a vacuum cleaner within the 60-65 decibel range.

4. Weight

Small to medium vacuum cleaners work best for the elderly and the homes featuring multiple types of floors and even more than one story. On the other hand, a sizeable, heavy vacuum is best for single floor homes and people who do not mind carrying and dragging around a heavy-duty cleaning machine. Just make sure you pick one you know you can lift, work with, and store easily.

5. Electricity Consumption

Go for a more powerful vacuum cleaner if the electricity bill is not a problem in your household, and you need to remove plenty of dust, debris, pet hair, and allergens from your home. However, if you are into sustainable practices and you don’t want your vacuum cleaner to take a toll on the environment or your budget, opt for a more lightweight, less powerful model. However, keep in mind that low-powered vacuum cleaners work best in homes that are generally clean and free of allergens.

Also, we said it before, and we will say it again, a vacuum’s electrical power has little to no influence on its actual suction (cleaning power), but more on that in the next chapters of this guide.

How to Get the Best Vacuum Cleaner According to its Specifications

vacuum cleaner specifications

One of the trickiest parts when it comes to getting the best vacuum cleaner for your needs is the understanding of its specifications. What do you want from a vacuum cleaner? The best cleaning capabilities, of course. Unfortunately, as we already mentioned, many people mistake a vacuum’s cleaning ability with its power (as in electrical energy) or suction power. While both are crucial in picking up a good vacuum cleaner, you need to find a balance between handfuls of vacuum cleaner specifications to get the best one for your needs.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a single unit to measure and describe “cleaning power,” so you need to sift through plenty of tech specs and features.

When you look for a new vacuum cleaner, split your research into two categories:

  • Primary specifications: watts, amps, water lift (or suction pressure), horsepower, air watts, and airflow.
  • Secondary specifications: filtration, agitation (cleaning tools), bin/bag capacity, noise level, other comfort features, and price.

To understand better how these tech specs and features work together to give you that cleaning power that you need so much, we will have to learn how a vacuum cleaner works.

How Does a Vacuum Cleaner Work?

No matter their make, model, or design, all vacuum cleaners operate in the same way. The vacuum’s motor (the suction motor) creates an airflow from the cleaning head or tool’s mouth (opening) through the vacuum cleaner’s body and to the bag/dust bin, and then out the exhaust port.

The air rushes through the vacuum cleaner because the electrical components of the motor attached to a fan or more create a difference in air pressure. In other words, by spinning, the fans inside the machine create a partial vacuum that is below the air pressure in the room.

A vacuum’s motor power correlates with a vacuum’s suction power and airflow, but are not the same thing. In fact, the motor’s specifications do not necessarily relate to or influence the overall performance of the vacuum, representing just one chapter of a much longer story. For this reason, we mentioned above that you should understand the primary vacuum cleaner specifications and learn enough about them to know how they work together in tandem to give you the best cleaning power.

Primary Vacuum Cleaner Specifications

As we said, you should look for the following tech specs and features when you read a vacuum cleaner’s label and manual.

1. Watts

We measure the input power of a vacuum cleaner in watts. The motor’s wattage is a crucial way to measure and compare the power of an engine, even if it does not describe the efficiency of a vacuum cleaner. The Watt is a measure of energy – just like in light bulbs and other home appliances. It tells you just how much energy your vacuum cleaner needs to operate properly.

For instance, many industrial and commercial vacuum cleaners consume an average of 1000 – 4000 W, depending on their application. One-motor vacuum cleaners for smaller#e0f3fb homes usually require only 1000 – 1500 Watts to function.

Most manufacturers in the United States don’t even provide you with the motor’s input power specification measures in Watts. However, most vacuum cleaners sold in Europe have this unit written on the item itself if not on the label.

Another issue for those concerned with energy consumption is that most manufacturers rate the entire vacuum cleaner in Amps instead of Watts, which makes product comparisons even harder. For best results, do not compare a vacuum’s wattage with another vacuum’s amperage (also if you convert the units), because the measurement themselves describe different things.

2. Amps

The amperage measurement describes the input power/current of a vacuum cleaner. It is the total amount of electrical current used by all the vacuum cleaner’s components while it operates. The motor’s power – measured in Watts – is just a part of the total amperage. This measurement includes the consumption of all other electrical components inside the vacuum, such as the power nozzle motor, the light bulb inside, and more.

In the United States, the standard household outlet allows for a maximum of 12 amps. If you see a vacuum cleaner with an amperage rating above 12, you should read more about that vacuum cleaner. It is possible that what you see is not the true amperage of the machine, but some sort of “special” rating created by the manufacturer to give you the impression that the item is a “more powerful” vacuum cleaner.

So far, we learned that even if wattage and amperage are essential to know, none of these electricity consumption measurements is enough to tell you anything about the real cleaning power of a vacuum. So let us move on to the next specification!

3. Suction Pressure/Water Lift (Sealed Suction)

Now things get interesting. Suction pressure is the measurement you seek when you want to learn how much power a vacuum has to lift dirt and debris from the floor. The suction pressure/water lift measure also describes a vacuum cleaner’s ability to handle resistance within itself. As we said on a previous occasion

The higher the suction pressure/water lift, the easier it is for the vacuum to pick quickly up significant bits of debris from a surface.

A good water lift rating (measured in inches or Pascal) is indicative of a vacuum’s performance at high levels as the dust bag or bin fills up. At the same time, the filters load with fine particles, becoming more and more resistant to the air that passes through them.

The suction pressure/water lift specification is essential when comparing vacuum cleaners. As you can quickly figure out, the more water lift a vacuum generates, the better it will clean. 

4. Horsepower

Unfortunately, in vacuum cleaners, this rating has no bearing upon a vacuum cleaner’s cleaning capabilities. In comparison to cars, in vacuums, horsepower is more of a marketing stunt than anything else, as it has no relation with the machine’s performance in the real world. Luckily, this rating seems to disappear from manufacturers’ specifications.

5. Air Watts

Air watts differ from the “usual” watts measurement, as we have already mentioned. The Air Watts ranking represents

the power measured in watts of the airflow at the end of the cleaning hose. Keep in mind that many manufacturers use Air Watts as a unit of measurement for a vacuum’s suction power. Since an air watt is a watt needed to carry a unit of air through the vacuum cleaner, Air Watts is the most surefire way of finding out the real suction power of a vacuum cleaner. However, two vacuum cleaners with the same input power, (12 Amp or 1440 Watts) can have a very different output power (listed as Air Watts). 

For this reason, we will move on to the next – and most important – vacuum cleaner specification you need to know in conjunction with air watts.

6. Airflow

A vacuum cleaner’s airflow is by far the most crucial specification when it comes to determining the cleaning ability of a vacuum cleaner. Measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), airflow is the machine’s power to pick up the dirt and move it to the dust bin or bag. In other words, the more airflow a vacuum cleaner has, the better it will clean.

This dimension considers both the motor power of the vacuum and the resistance of the exhaust system. In other words, the higher the CFM value, the higher the suction power you will enjoy. Most commercially available vacuum cleaners feature airflow between 50 to 100 CFM. While the suction power is highly relevant when it comes to a vacuum’s tech specs and features, but airflow is probably the most important one.

How to Compare Primary Specifications in Vacuum Cleaners

When you are looking to buy the best vacuum cleaner for your needs, you have to look at two of the primary specifications first, and then move on to the next ones.

  • Water lift/sealed suction. Look at two different models you have on your shortlist and see if they have a measurement for the water lift/suction power. It is an essential specification as it helps you figure out how well the vacuum cleaners perform when the bags/bin fill and the filters load. This specification is of utmost importance especially when you choose a vacuum cleaner with high filtration capabilities or featuring HEPA filters. This rating also gives you a good idea of how well a vacuum cleaner picks up sand, grit, and more massive debris from a surface.
  • Airflow. You will not find this specification offered in many upright vacuum cleaners, unfortunately, so you should look for extended reviews and product comparisons before you decide on a specific vacuum cleaners. If you see this tech spec mentioned on a vacuum cleaner’s description label, keep in mind that most manufacturers offer a CFM measurement of the vacuum without any connected hoses, wands, cleaning tools, or other accessories. So you should know that the real airflow you get is likely lower than the one written on the package.

Knowing these measurements and specifications might not help you (yet) decide on the best vacuum cleaner to buy for your home. What do the numbers represent? And what numbers should you be looking for in a home vacuum cleaner? Let’s help you out with this one!

Vacuum Cleaner Specifications to Look For

  • For a canister vacuum cleaner (with or without a powerhead), you should look for an airflow of 100 CFM or more and 90 inches or more of water lift.
  • A highly performing upright vacuum cleaner does a terrific job at 60 CFM or higher. In uprights, the water lift matters less, as the air travels from the surface to the collecting container for a minimal distance.
  • In upright vacuum cleaners, you will see Air watts as a comparison measurement. An upright vacuum cleaner that stands out of the crowd should feature 100 AW or more, while a high-end canister vacuum cleaner of the same performance class should sport at least 220 AW.

As a note, remember that when you choose the best vacuum cleaner for your home, getting one with high airflow and excellent water lift specifications, you are on your way of buying a highly performant vacuum cleaner with fantastic cleaning capabilities.

However, there is more to vacuum cleaners than these primary specifications, so it is time to move on to the next chapter of our guide!

Secondary Vacuum Cleaners’ Specifications

Before you buy any vacuum cleaner, you should also consider its secondary specifications. While they speak less of the machine’s ability to clean, they are all measures of your comfort on all levels. 

1. Filtration

A vacuum cleaner’s filtration system is crucial, because the filters (including HEPA ones) increase a machine’s interior resistance. A vacuum cleaner with regular filters will display higher airflow ratings. On the other hand, vacuums with HEPA filters have increased resistance, lower airflow, but better results in cleaning a home properly for people with asthma, allergies, or pets. It may also be one of the reasons why vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters cost more than regular vacuums.

When it comes to a vacuum cleaner’s filtration system, you should not forget that the dust bag is a part of it too and it influences airflow as well. If you found a vacuum cleaner with replaceable bags, remember you will have to change them when they are full. For a lengthy discussion on whether you should pick genuine (OEM) dust bags or generic ones, check this guide here!

  • Besides the traditional paper bags, manufacturers use now new materials that are capable of retaining fine particles, dust, and other micro specs of dirt while allowing the air to flow smoothly;
  • When it comes to dust bags, its surface area is also important to consider, as it has to allow the air to flow freely through it as well. As the bag fills, the vacuum will show better cleaning capabilities.
  • Choose full-sized vacuum cleaners versus medium or compact ones as they feature better dust bags.

2. Cleaning Tools and Accessories (Agitation)

We have talked about vacuum cleaners’ attachments and fittings on numerous other occasions. Still, we have to emphasize that cleaning tools and accessories play a crucial part in a vacuum cleaner’s cleaning abilities. The primary cleaning tool taps into the agitation feature of a vacuum – the force that dislodges debris, dirt, dust, and particles from the surfaces you clean.

A vacuum cleaner comes with a handful of accessories these days. Explore what such extra cleaning tools are the best for your needs:

  • A motorized power nozzle in an upright vacuum will help you deal with carpets and difficult cleaning issues such as pet hair;
  • A thin long flexible cleaning tool should help you reach under furniture pieces;
  • The crevice tool is essential and usually comes with almost all vacuum cleaner models.

Remember that in the lack of a proper cleaning tool and versatile attachments, you will not get your home crystal clear even if you had the vacuum with the most powerful airflow in the world.

3. Container Capacity

The capacity of your vacuum cleaner plays a vital role in maintaining its high levels of performance. No matter if we talk about dust bins or dust bags, the larger the container, the better the airflow and the better the cleaning ability. 

4. Manufacture and Quality

You may have the most potent tech specs and features in a vacuum, and they would be all for naught if the vacuum itself is of cheap plastic or poor construction. In other words, look for reputable manufacturers with a long and strong tradition of making vacuum cleaners. Among the best on the market, you have Dyson vacuums, Shark vacuums, Hoover vacuums, Bissell, Oreck vacuum cleaners, Riccar, and more. Here are some tips on how to look for quality vacuum cleaners:

  • Length of warranty;
  • Type of materials used to build the vacuum’s body;
  • Quality of the fit and finish;
  • Heavy-duty housings;
  • The tightness of seals;
  • Manufacturer reputation;
  • Professional vacuum cleaners reviews, etc.

As a piece of advice, while the price of a vacuum cleaner is a critical matter, don’t go for cheap models made of shabby materials and coming from manufacturers you barely heard about in the last couple of years. Such vacuums, while compelling on price, will not deliver you the long-lasting quality you seek.

5. Noise

For many people, the sound is a considerable issue, as we said above. Some of the old vacuum cleaners were almost unbearable to hear and use. High-quality vacuum cleaners of our modern age operate at low noise levels that are comfortable even if you have kids, edgy pets, or grumpy neighbors.

If a normal-toned conversation at home peaks at about 50 decibels while a lawnmower ups at around 100 decibels, the best vacuum cleaner you are looking for ranges between 70 and 75 dB. However, if you are the sound-sensitive type, go for the ones ranging between 60 and 65 decibels. Even at 75 dB a vacuum cleaner is much quieter than the monster your grandma used to operate, so it will not be hard for you to get a high quality one.

6. Extra Features

The more features appliances have, the more comfort you will have in using them. It is also true for vacuum cleaners, as such additional features depending on what you want your machine to do. Consider the following as cleaning aids:

  • Cord rewind;
  • Speed control;
  • Tool storage on board;
  • Clear dust bin to see when you need to empty it;
  • Adjustable wands and cleaning accessories;
  • A wide assortment of brushes and cleaning tools;
  • Full dust bag display, etc.

7. Price

When it comes to reputable brands offering some of the best-performing vacuums on the market with an extended warranty and excellent customer support, you cannot put a price on such comfort, really. As with everything, great vacuum cleaners tend to cost more than their less performing, cheaper counterparts do. Should you pay a couple of hundred dollars for a high-end Dyson vacuum cleaner for instance? Well, yes, if you pick a Dyson model that combats allergies and will last for a decade with minimal maintenance.

Most Common Types of Vacuum Cleaners on the Market

vacuum cleaner types

Vacuum cleaners come in many designs and build, and it is time to discuss each and every one of them in detail. You should pick the best vacuum cleaner that meets your needs, as we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of all of them in the following chapters.

1. Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners are the most popular and the most common vacuum cleaner types in North America. Experts see them as the best choices to remove dust and debris from carpets. They can also help you clean large areas with little to no effort. The best upright vacuum cleaner will also help you clean hard floors and large area rugs/carpets with no problems.

When it comes to upright vacuum cleaners, there are two classes you can choose from next time you go shopping:

  • Single-motor upright vacuum cleaners. A single motor drives these upright vacuums, so they feature average levels of powerful suction and electrical power consumption. They work best for small surfaces like a studio apartment, etc.
  • Dual motor upright vacuum cleaners: Such vacuum models feature two separate motors, helping the device deliver more suction power for larger surfaces and thick carpets.

Upright vacuums come with exceptional features and are available in a multitude of styles and sizes. Let’s see a quick rundown of their best specs!

Upright Vacuums’ Tech Specs

  • Some designs come with a dust bag, and some (most) are bag-less.
  • Most upright vacuum cleaners are corded, but you will also find cordless upright vacuums, although they are rarer because they need frequent battery replacements.
  • Some of the best uprights come with a brush OFF and ON switch that is critical in the protection of bare floors’ finish.  
  • Upright vacuums also feature an adjustable head height; it is a crucial feature when you vacuum different heights of carpets, as you don’t need to stop and make adjustments as you move from one room to the next.
  • They all transition well from carpets to large bare areas of hard floors.
  • Suction control is another useful feature when you use the tool to clean upholstery, curtains, and draperies.
  • The motor-driven beater brush that loosens and removes dirt through suction is one of the best features of upright vacuum cleaners.
  • Most models come with onboard attachments.
  • Most of them offer excellent suction power.
Upright Vacuum Cleaners Advantages
Wide angles of cleaning and good coverage of multiple types of floors
Excellent for carpets and hard floors
Comfortable to handle and store
Readily available on the market
Both bag and bag-less models
Both corded and cordless models
Upright Vacuum Cleaners Disadvantages
Some models are cumbersome, thus difficult to use by some people
Not all of them feature full ranges of cleaning tools and accessories

If you want to clean carpets and hard floors impeccably, then you should check out the latest upright vacuums on the market!

2. Canister Vacuum Cleaners

Canister vacuums (or cylinder vacuums) are most popular in Europe. They usually feature a motor, bag/bin, and a flexible hose that connects the cleaning head to the canister. They also sport a pair of wheels to ease maneuverability.

These types of canister vacuum cleaners are usually lighter than upright units are. They make some of the best cleaning machines for tight areas, furniture, drapes, even cars, and a multitude of surfaces. Here are some of their best features!

  • A robust electrical motor offers them excellent cleaning capabilities.
  • Canister vacuums are lighter in comparison to upright models.
  • The separation of the motor and the head makes them easy to carry.
  • They work best on hard surfaces and small-carpeted areas, including upholstery and car interiors.
  • Most models feature a suction hose and a retractable cord for easy maneuvering.
  • Ideal for rooms with plenty of furniture and for multi-surface use (walls, ceilings, ceiling corners, etc.).
  • Most of them sport a large number of different attachments that you can swap out so you can tailor your carpet cleaning routine depending on your needs and reach very tight areas.
  • Because of the long flexible hose, you can reach farther areas (like the stairs) or a different room entirely before you need to lift and carry the vacuum cleaner.
Canister Vacuum Cleaners Advantages
They are excellent choices for small apartments and multiple types of surfaces, including upholstery, drapes, carpets, and bare floors.
They are easy to handle on stairs.
Both bagged and bag-less.
More affordable in comparison to upright models.
Cons of Canister Vacuum Cleaner
When connected and in use, canister vacuum cleaners are bulky and heavy.
Since they have power cords, they are more challenging to maneuver.
They are heavy and deliver less power when in comparison to upright vacuums.
They may be challenging to store.

Even if you might need both hands to carry them up the stairs, canister vacuum cleaners are an excellent choice due to their maneuverability and flexibility. They work great on almost all thinkable surfaces. One of the best canister vacuum cleaner on the market today is also one of the best vacuums for pets as well – and it is no coincidence.

3. Portable Cordless Vacuum Cleaners

In the category of cordless vacuum cleaners, you can find a handful of vacuum cleaner types that operate on batteries and feature full maneuverability and versatility: handheld vacuum cleaners, stick vacuum cleaners, backpack vacuum cleaners, and more.

3.1. Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

The lightest and the smallest types of vacuum cleaners available on the market, most handheld vacuums are cordless and very convenient for you to clean small areas around the house. Here are some of their best features!

  • A handheld vacuum cleaner is the best choice for upholstery, nooks and crannies, closets, cars, vents, furniture, blinds, etc.
  • They help you navigate in different areas with no effort.
  • They come with powerful battery packs, allowing smooth operation. Check this guide here to learn how to replace old batteries in a handheld cordless vacuum cleaner!
  • Lightweight, quiet, and easy to use for quickly removing spills;
  • Most people use them for car interior cleaning. While there are dedicated vacuum cleaners for cars, battery-powered handheld home vacuums do a swell job too.
Handheld Vacuum Cleaners Advantages
They are light and easy to carry and use
Excellent for cleaning after kids and pets and from removing small dirt spills
They are not big electricity consumers
Handheld Vacuum Cleaners Disadvantages
They do not have enough cleaning power as the full models

While handheld vacuums can successfully replace your broom and dustpan, they cannot replace a full-sized regular vacuum cleaner. They are ideal as a second cleaning machine to remove crumbs off the table, clean the car, and solve minor dirt spill in the living room, but you will also need a regular-size vacuum for your cleaning routines.

3.2. Stick Vacuum Cleaners

Stick vacuums are some sort of a battery-powered hybrid between an upright vacuum cleaner and a handheld vacuum cleaner. Since they feature the design of an upright but the small weight of handheld units, sticks make the best solution for quickly cleaning hardwood floor spills. They work best for kitchen and bathroom floors and are usually “the second” vacuum cleaner in a large home. Here are some of their shared features!

  • Most of them sport a dirt cup that collects the debris, as opposed to dirt bins or bags.
  • A stick vacuum cleaner is slick and it makes the best lightweight vacuum cleaner for elderly due to its incredible small weight.
  • Most of them rely on a rotating brush and light suction power.
  • Low profile and flexible cleaning heads allowing you to maneuver them even in rooms full of furniture.
  • They are ideal for helping people deal with easy messes and to use in homes that are generally very neat.
  • You will find them mostly in pet owners’ homes as the second vacuum, as they can remove pet hair from the tightest (or strangest) of places.
Stick Vacuum Cleaners Advantages
Usually cordless and bag-less, thus portable
Easy to use by the elders, kids and teens, and people with low mobility and strength levels
Great for hard floors
You will find plenty of combo stick corded vacuums that have better cleaning abilities than simple stick vacuums.
Stick Vacuum Cleaners Disadvantages
They are not powerful enough to deal with heard messes or with what we call a “thorough weekly cleaning routine.”
They are not the vacuums you are looking for thick carpet cleaning or deep cleaning;
Their battery life is relatively short

Stick vacuum cleaners are comfortable to use and easy to carry around. Still, you will most likely need a “main vacuum” for your house; especially, it is large and hosting a numerous family, children, and pets.

3.3. Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuum cleaning is not the most amusing of activities one should do, so robot vacuum cleaners home to the rescue of those who cringe when it comes to vacuuming and those with limited mobility and strength. We have talked about robotic vacuums before, and we even offered you some iRoomba models’ comparisons and reviews. Still, it is time to discuss robotic vacuums now, also if they are in a league of their own. Here are their most important features:

  • They are programmable and autonomous;
  • They use sensors to learn their way through your house and vacuum better and better from one session to the next;
  • Robot vacuums come with features that make them avoid (as much as they can) various obstacles in the house (furniture, stairs, etc.);
  • After a while, they learn to vacuum in the tightest of corners and hidden areas;
  • Ideal for small apartments and for people who do not have the time to use manual vacuums;
  • Perfect for households where cleaning is a daily routine;
  • They can clean carpets and bare floors as well;
  • For charging, they use their own docking stations.

Robot vacuum cleaners have become a staple of modern families who would rather spend some of their free time doing anything else than vacuuming.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners Advantages
Powered by batteries and coming with a docking station
The latest in vacuum cleaning tech, robot vacuums use advanced programming to map out the room and sweep it on their own
Being cordless, they can reach the entire house without you even moving a muscle
Work well with both carpeted and bare surfaces
Best lightweight vacuum cleaner for elderly
Feature various cleaning modes so you cans set it for a specific type of cleaning
Programmable to vacuum when you are out of the house
Robotic Vacuums Disadvantages
They cannot match the efficiency of manual vacuum machines (uprights, canister, and even some other cordless models)
You need to clean the floor first to make room for them
They are not is the best choice for shag carpets
They will inevitably stumble upon furniture even if they learned well your house configuration

Robotic vacuums have their fair share of advantages, but they are not as powerful as full-sized vacuums. For this reason, most people use them in between two regular in-depth cleaning sessions.

3.4. Backpack Vacuum Cleaners

Backpack vacuum cleaners are not your everyday cleaning tools. While incredibly powerful and easy to move from one room to the next in a big, multi-leveled house, these backpack vacuum cleaners are devices present mostly in professional cleaning service environments. However, you can get one for your home. Here are some of their main features!

  • Save a lot of time and make large areas’ cleaning easy;
  • An excellent choice for hard floors;
  • Large capacity;
  • You can find them in both corded and cordless models.
Backpack Vacuum Cleaners Advantages
Save a lot of time;
Easy to use;
High capacity bins;
Very powerful;
The corded models feature excellent cord lengths;
Great for large open areas.
Backpack Vacuum Cleaners Disadvantages
Not very useful for carpets;
You carry them on your back so if you have back problems you should better stay away from them, as they are very heavy;
They also heat up very fast;
Hard to maneuver in tight and crowded spaces, as they will bump into furniture and other obstacles;
Not recommended for the elderly;
They are not proper for cleaning small apartments or rooms.

Backpack vacuum cleaners do have their advantages, but we don’t recommend them for a regular home. Pick one if you have a large house with plenty of space to turn around. Also, make sure you switch places with another family member from time to time, as they can induce plenty of back pain if you use them for a long time in one session.

4. Wet-Dry Vacuum Cleaners

When it comes to home cleaning, it seems that we do not have enough solutions to help us achieve crystal-clear and thoroughly sanitized homes. However, technology is here to help. Some of the most popular wet-dry vacuum cleaners, we can count steam mops and carpet shampooers.

Here is the definition of wet-dry vacuum cleaners for home or commercial use:

Wet-dry vacuum cleaners are specialized types of drum/cylinder or upright vacuum cleaners that you can use to clean wet dirt or even liquids. After cleaning wet dirt or spilled liquids, you have to clean the machines thoroughly to avoid developing any unpleasant odors.

4.1. Steam Vacuum Cleaners and Mops

These types of vacuum cleaners and steam mops represent the hi-tech version of the more traditional and exhausting bucket and mop cleaning routine. Most steam vacuum cleaners and mops are incredibly efficient in cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces like bathrooms and kitchens, tile floors and walls, wood floors, and others.

They are quite effective in removing ground-in dirt, mold, allergens, stains, and bacteria. They allow you to disinfect all the surfaces in a home without much effort. Here is the main difference between steam vacuum cleaners and steam mops:

Steam mops are steam cleaners that are not using any suction mechanism and rely only on the steam to clean the surfaces.#e0f3fb

As similarities go, besides the fact that

Both steam vacuum cleaners and steam mops use water steam heated to 120°C (250°F) or even more.

here are some others that might interest you!

  • Steam vacuum cleaners and some of the best steam mops on the market feature different types of mop heads to clean tight and hard-to-reach spots;
  • Both steam mops and steam vacuums are corded units, as the water heating process would drain even the most powerful of batteries in a matter of minutes if not seconds;
  • Steam vacuum cleaners and steam mops come with a water heating reservoir – the bigger the capacity, the longer the time you can finish cleaning;
  • Many feature steam control so you can adjust the steam level (heat) for various needs.
  • Some of the more modern steam vacuum cleaners come with 3-in-1 designs; in other words, you can use it as a vacuum, as a mop, or as a carpet cleaner.
Steam Vacuum Cleaners and Mops Advantages
An excellent choice to remove mold, mites, dirt, allergens, pollen, stains, and other types of dirt from your homes;
They also remove bacteria from the house;
Easy to use and maneuver in tight places;
Modern models come in combo designs, including both the vacuum and the mop
Perfect for hard surfaces – wood, tiles, marble, etc.;
Some models also work well for carpets.
Steam Vacuum Cleaners and Mops Disadvantages
The process of heating water may consume a lot of energy;
Some models are bulky, heavy, and hard to store.

Steam vacuum cleaners and steam mops usually come as the secondary vacuum cleaners used for deep cleaning and disinfecting, especially if you have family members with allergies or a home with pets.

4.2. Deep Carpet Cleaners/Vacuum Shampooers

When we discussed shampoo vacuum cleaners, we said that

Carpet shampooers or shampoo vacuum cleaners represent a type of wet-and-dry vacuum cleaners that use water and a special cleaning liquid for removing dried strains and similar #e0f3fbdirty spots from areas that can’t be adequately cleaned by ordinary vacuum cleaners. The cleaning brushes of these devices often use vibrations to help the shampoo and cleaning liquid penetrate deeper into the carpet, separate the dirt from the fibers, and bring the dirt and dust to the surface. The vacuum suction power then removes the dirt together with the murky cleaning liquid.

These types of vacuum cleaners do not make part of the everyday cleaning routines of most families. People use them as in-depth cleaning solutions a few times a year. They are, of course, corded models that you should not use on hard floors.  

5. Commercial Vacuum Cleaners

Commercial vacuum cleaners – also called shop vacuum cleaners or garage vacuum cleaners – offer extra power for cleaning sizeable messes. You will find them mostly in professional settings – not in private homes – like hotels, offices, professional cleaning service businesses, or very large homes that need to step up their game when it comes to cleaning.

Commercial vacuum cleaners can easily remove heavy types of dirt, sawdust, and the grime you find in garages, commercial or industrial spaces, hospitals, workshops, etc. As we said before on our guide of best commercial vacuum cleaners,

Most commercial vacuums are upright vacuums, backpack vacuums, and compact canister vacuums.

Here are some of the features that might interest you!

  • Commercial vacuum cleaners sport high wattage, suction power, and airflow for very tough cleaning;
  • They come in both corded or cordless models, although the corded ones are, obviously, more efficient;
  • Some of the best commercial vacuum cleaners on the market come from reputable companies who made history in this field: Hoover, Oreck, Sanitaire, ProTeam, etc.
  • Most of them feature HEPA filters.
Commercial Vacuum Cleaners Advantages
The go-to cleaning devices in the industrial and commercial sector;
Given their power and flexibility, they reduce the risk of contracting diseases in high-risk environments such as restaurants, hospitals, medical clinics, kindergartens, etc.;
They are built for heavy-duty cleaning, making the pro-choice for cleaning services.
Commercial Vacuums Disadvantages
Expensive;
Consume a lot of energy;
Not suitable for home use;

Commercial vacuum cleaners can last up to 15 years if used correctly. While compelling for large homes, we still recommend you go for an upright model or a canister model, no matter if you live in a mansion of epic proportions. Commercial vacuum cleaners are noisy, hard to operate, expensive, and hard to store.

6. Specialty Vacuum Cleaners

In this category, you will find a couple of vacuum cleaners we already mentioned – but we have to discuss a bit further – and a couple of devices that are technically vacuum cleaners but not the way you imagine.

6.1. Drum Vacuum Cleaners

Drum vacuum cleaners, as their name suggests,

Heavy-duty or industrial versions of cylinder vacuum cleaners consisting of a large vertical drum usually used in hotels, clinics, large office buildings, large homes, and other commercial or industrial settings. High-end models have HEPA grade filtering and are suitable even for hospitals. Their water filters combined with mechanical air filters or even cyclonic filtration provide a very high level of air filtration. Many of them also feature UV lamps for disinfection.

6.2. Pet Vacuums

Well, when it comes to finding the best vacuum cleaner for pets, you have plenty of options, as we already discussed in this guide here. As you can probably figure out, pet vacuums are not specialty vacuums per se, although the better ones do feature a handful of impressive tech specs. So just as a reminder, some of the best vacuum cleaners for pet hair share the following features:

6.3. Mattress Vacuum Cleaners

Mattress vacuum cleaners are specialized vacuums that come mostly in handheld-corded designs. You will also find cordless units to help you get rid of dust mites, bed bugs, dust, and even allergens from your bedroom mattress and pillows. Naturally, mattress vacuum cleaners help you clean and sanitize sofas and other types of upholstered furniture, the car interior, even small carpets, etc. They come in a specific design that makes them easily recognizable. Moreover, they work a bit differently from regular vacuum cleaners, as you have to pull them over the surface instead of pushing them. Here are some shared traits of mattress vacuum cleaners:

  • Usually, they are corded units, but you can find excellent cordless mattress vacuums that do a great job at removing dust and allergens;
  • Most of the times, the superior suction power of these devices relies on the presence of two suction inlets instead of one;
  • To remove dust, mites, and bed bugs efficiently, these units come with beater pads or bars that deliver high oscillation frequencies to agitate the mattress and release germs and allergens;
  • Some modern mattress vacuums also come with hot air blowers to sanitize and dehumidify the bedding, UV lamps to kill microorganisms and HEPA filters for excellent cleaning results.

6.4. Garden Vacuums, Leaf Blowers, and Mulchers

Garden vacuums and blowers deserve their honorary mention on this list of best vacuum cleaners to get this year. As you can see, they are hi-tech devices to use outdoor to clean your yard, patio, or driveway. While garden vacuums are not home vacuum cleaners in their purest sense, you should know how to buy outdoor vacuums in case you need some cleaning tools for your open-air spaces as well. Most of them use the same principles as regular vacuums, so when you buy one, check their airflow, airspeed, motor power, and other similar tech specs and features!

6.5. Car Vacuum Cleaners

When you are looking to buy the best car vacuum cleaner, you need to consider the following:

Battery operated car vacuums are handheld vacuums that are excellent in emergencies, have decent suction and decent air filtration. However, keep in mind that performances and battery life depend on the price. Car vacuums that plug into the cigarette lighter socket use the car battery as a power source. Since such cigarette lighter sockets have 10 Amps fuses, these vacuums are usually limited to a 120W max – this is decent power for smaller handheld vacuums. Such vacuums often come with various tools for cleaning tight and hard to reach places, such as onboard hoses, crevice tools, cleaning brushes, and more.

6.6. Baby Nasal Aspirators

If you wonder why we put baby nasal aspirators on a list of vacuum cleaners types, it is because nose vacuums are in a league of their own and use the same working principles as regular vacuums. Tiny and boasting limited suction power – for obvious reasons – these nasal aspirators for babies and small children to a great job in releasing their airways. Some of the best baby nose vacuums are the battery-operated or electrical ones that work precisely like small handheld corded/cordless vacuums. You will also find bulb syringe nasal aspirators and manual ones (human-operated).

How to Buy the Best Vacuum Cleaner for Your Needs

canister vacuum cleaner

Next on our guide on how to buy the best vacuum cleaner on the market to meet your needs we want to summarize a few critical issues we mentioned so far. Additionally, we will offer you some pointers together with the answers to the most frequently asked questions that circle the minds of all people who are looking to buy a new vacuum cleaner.

1. What is Better – A Vacuum with a Bag or a Bag-less Vacuum Cleaner?

This is one of the most pertinent questions when going for a new vacuum cleaner. Now that you learned more about how vacuum cleaners work, we have to mention that both types come with their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see them!

Vacuums with Dust Bags

  • Naturally, the vacuums featuring bags can hold more dirt before you need to replace the bag.
  • When you empty these vacuums, you also release less dust into the air.
  • Most vacuum cleaners come with indicator lights and scales that show you when the bag is full, and you need to replace it.

Bag-less Vacuums

  • Since all you have to do is empty the bin when it is full, you save money on replacement dust bags.
  • These models often feature HEPA filters that you will have to clean or replace at some point.
  • Bag-less vacuum cleaners are less safe for people with allergies and asthma, as emptying the dirt bins may release dust and allergens into the air.

If you wondered if vacuums with dust bags were better for people with allergies, the answer is yes. People who have any respiratory problems must know that it is imperative to pick a vacuum cleaner that has an above-standard filter and purifier system. It will ensure that the device completely removes all allergens and dirt from a room.

What Should I Buy – An Upright Vacuum or A Canister Vacuum?

One of the main issues that you need to understand is that different vacuum types work on different conditions better than others do.

  • The best upright vacuums on the market today are excellent choices for carpets and hard floors, boasting high levels of suction power and great capacity;
  • The best canister vacuums are more versatile and more comfortable to maneuver in different locations of a house. They also work well for a multitude of floor types, although they are bulkier and harder to store.

Upright vacuum cleaners come with or without cords and, in the latter case you should consider getting batteries for them. Canister vacuum cleaners come with power cords, so battery replacement should not be a problem.

What Works Better for Homes with Pets – A Multi-Floor Mid-Range Vacuum or a Pet-Specific Vacuum?

If people were to buy a specific vacuum cleaner for hard floors, one for carpets, one for pets, and one that vacuums all by itself when the family is out of the house, we would all have quite a collection of vacuum cleaners at home. It rarely happens, so most clients are looking for the best multi-floor/multi-purpose mid-range vacuum cleaner that can solve all problems: hardwood floors, bathroom/kitchen tiles, carpets, and pet hair stuck in the upholstery or the rug.

However, pet hair is a significant issue in many homes, and keeping a large house clean and free from any pet hair and dander is no easy feat. For this reason, we recommend you get the dedicated best vacuum cleaner for pets you can find on the market. Either canister or upright, vacuum cleaners for pets do make the change you wanted to see in your home when it comes to cleanness and sanitation.

Here is a vacuum comparison chart to help you make easier comparisons between different types of vacuums, their pros, cons, and usefulness.

Vacuum TypeBest ForProsCons
Canister Vacuum CleanersHard surfaces
Small carpet areas
Stairs
Strong suction and cleaning power
Bag and bag-less models
Flexible hoses to reach stairs
Not great for large floor surfaces
Difficult to maneuver and store
Upright Vacuum CleanersLarge carpet and rug areas
Hard surfaces
Powerful
Bag and bag-less models
Corded and cordless models
Do not reach difficult areas (under furniture)
Bulkier and more massive than other vacuums
Handheld Vacuum CleanersSmall carpets or hard surfaces
Small spills
Upholstery/bedding
Car interior
Lightweight and easy to maneuver
Corded and cordless models
Easy to store
Not as powerful as full-sized models
Stick Vacuum CleanersSmall surface areas
Walls and ceilings
Affordable
Lightweight
Long handles for comfortable use
Corded or cordless models
Not suitable for regular deep cleaning
Not great for carpets
Dirt bins have small capacity
Pet Vacuum CleanersCarpets and hard floors
People with allergies and asthma
Very powerful
Excellent at removing pet hair and dander
Reduce pet odors
Excellent HEPA filtration
Canister and upright models
Heavy
Might be difficult to maneuver
Robot Vacuum CleanersMedium-size empty floor surfacesAutomated vacuuming
Cordless
Programmable
Hi-tech

Not as powerful as other vacuums
Need recharge in their docks
Not ideal for shag carpeting or area rugs
Small-capacity dust bins
Wet/Dry Deep Cleaning VacuumsCarpets and rugs
Upholstery
Hard floors
Use hot water/steam for better cleaning
Some prevent bacterial growth
Heavy

How Much Does a Good Vacuum Cleaner Cost?

When it comes to the majority of mid-range vacuum cleaners, you will find excellent models between $100 and $250. Check out this guide on the best vacuum cleaners under $100 and how to pick one as well if you are looking for handheld, canister, upright, stick, or mattress vacuums that do a great job at a very affordable price.

The vacuums you find between $250 and $500 (or more) are the heavy-duty, professional ones that come from legendary brands and feature extended warranties besides revolutionary cleaning technologies.

Do I Need HEPA Filters for My Vacuum?

lady using shark lift-away pro steam pocket mop

If you have asthma, allergies, any other respiratory condition, small kids, and even pets, it is crucial to get a vacuum cleaner equipped with HEPA filters. A genuine HEPA filter improves the air quality and reduces all allergens in the house. The filters remove dust, pet dander, mites, pollen, allergens, and other particles that can be detrimental to your health.

What is the Best Vacuum Cleaner for Carpet Areas and Rugs?

Usually, the best vacuum cleaners for carpets are upright vacuum cleaners – corded or cordless if you want. Our recommendation as some of the best carpet vacuums are the Dyson DC65 Animal Complete Upright Vacuum Cleaner, the Hoover SteamVac Carpet Cleaner with Clean Surge, and the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away NV Series.

What is the Best Vacuum Cleaner for Pets?

There are many excellent vacuum cleaner models for pets, but here are our top recommendations:

What is The Best Upright Vacuum Cleaner?

Some of the best upright vacuums on the market are the Dyson Ball, Small Ball, and Cinetic Big Ball upright vacuums. For more affordable units, check out this guide on how to compare and buy Shark vacuums, as some of their upright/convertible units are some of the best upright vacuums on the market.

What is The Best Canister Vacuum Cleaner to Buy?

Some of the best canister vacuum cleaners on the market this year are the Dyson Ball models. We also recommend the Miele Complete C3 Canister Vacuums and other canisters vacuums coming from Bissell, Kenmore, and Electrolux. Check this guide here on comparisons and reviews of the best canister vacuums that are lightweight and affordable!

What is The Best Vacuum Cleaner for Allergies and Asthma?

We recommend the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister Vacuum and other Ball vacuums coming from Dyson.

Which vacuum cleaner is best for mattresses and bed bugs?

If you want to buy the best vacuum cleaner for mattresses, bedding, upholstery, and especially against bed bugs, check this guide on how to pick one for your needs. However, we recommend the Housmile Anti-Bacterial UV Mattress Vacuum Cleaner and the Euleven 3005CH handheld mattress vacuum cleaner.

Which Vacuum Cleaner is the Best for Hardwood Floors?

Some of the best vacuum cleaners for hardwood floors are both canister models and upright models. Check this guide here to see how to choose hardwood floor vacuums. We recommend the Bissell 1132A Symphony All-in-One Vacuum and Steam Mop tool, together with the Hoover FloorMate Deluxe Hard Floor Cleaners.

Best Vacuum Cleaners: Bottom Line

We hope you liked this ultimate guide on how to buy the best vacuum cleaner on the market and it would allow you to make the best choices for your needs. If you have any more questions on how vacuum cleaners work and what vacuum cleaners’ tech specs to look for, feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

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