There are 1000’s of models of vacuum cleaners out there, so I guess that you are here to see which of them is best for you. If you need an expert in the cleaning field, you get one here, for free. I’m Jason and I’ve built this site to help you get the most suitable vacuum cleaner for you and your home. There is really no need to look any further; I’ve covered here hundreds of models that I reviewed personally. I’ve spent countless hours testing these products, building comparison charts, quantifying the pros and the cons of each model, marking each vacuum cleaner with my personal rate (on a 0-100 scale) based on several characteristics such as suction power, maneuverability, accessories, and several other things I find fundamental. Moreover, I do this on a daily basis, so rest assured that this is the most updated and most complete guide to choosing your vacuum cleaner.
So, what is the best vacuum cleaner? Just the other day, I was reading an article that was saying people clean on average around 1-2h per day. Considering this, I believe every household should be equipped with a device that enhances this activity. A great vacuum cleaner makes boring activities such as house cleaning if not pleasant, at least bearable. Anyways, nobody wants to buy a product that will utterly prove to be not worthy. You can try to search yourself for all the little things, all the tiny details that fit together into making a great vacuum cleaner, or you could take my advice and save hours of unnecessary browsing. Why trust me? Because I like what I do and because I do it well.
A lot of people waste their money on products they see in TV informercials. They just buy vacuum cleaners without even looking for a review. Another way of getting a bad appliance is by joining MLM scheme. Even door-to-door salesmen are not to be trusted, as the quality of the products they are selling is highly questionable. Just think that all these marketing techniques cost money, money that you will utterly pay from your own pocket. And what is worse, you could end up with a discontinued old vacuum cleaner that you buy for new. Other danger consists in buying a product from an US established brand that is actually produced in China. If there would be no quality loss, I wouldn’t mind this practice, but in most cases, you will get an inferior product. Although there is a feeling of frustration that gets to you when clicking on Google results, online media is cheap (almost free, I might say) and in the case of this site, sincere.
Now, let’s not lose any more time and get started. Here is the latest version of the 2016 comparison chart, containing the best vacuum cleaners and cleaning systems out there. IMO, this is the single piece of information you’ll need to make a quick and smart choice when buying a vacuum:
Why I’ve built this site
You now may think: “This guy is crazy! Who in his right mind would focus on becoming an expert in vacuums?” It may be so, but just remember, I do not sell any of these products, nor do I have any affiliation with any vacuum cleaner producer. So what does that make me? An impartial entity that you can trust. And boy, I’ve done the hard work for you. You’ll find on this site the most bought and the best rated vacuum cleaners classified by type, price tag, filtering options, lifetime estimates, warranty time frame and so on. I’ve chosen to give most of my reviews for Amazon products, since this company is the number one online retailer, selling appliances since 1998. Most importantly, you can find on this site the widest selection of vacuum cleaners. There are literally thousands of models available to be shipped immediately.
Another thing to remember: I do not do only product reviews. In fact, product reviews are not even the most important thing that is happening here. Think of this site as a domestic cleaning portal. You can find here definitive guides for virtually any cleaning aspect, how-to articles, interviews with cleaning experts or cleaning companies, round-ups and monthly giveaways. I talk about brands, I talk about accessories, detergents, cleaning hacks and so on. All under one roof: VacuumsGuide.com.
My rating system
I give marks to vacuum cleaners from 0 to 100. Here are the main variables that I take into account when rating a vacuum cleaner:
- Suction power
- Input power
- Dust capacity
- Filtration system efficiency
- Weight and dimensions
- Special features (cordless, bagless)
Naturally, handheld, hybrid and robotic vacs have much smaller grades, but I am using a compensation factor to establish the true value of their grade on a 0-100 scale.
Still unsure which vacuum cleaner to buy?
As you may already know, price isn’t everything. Unless you’re a rock star, you’ll make your choice based on your budget. But just before you rush into things, hear me out for a few seconds. The most expensive vacuum cleaner is not necessarily the best, nor the best for your, for that matter. The latest advances in materials and the continuous design improvements allow you to choose among a wide range of gadgets above average, many of them delivering a good price/value ratio. If you feel you need to see more products before making up your mind, you could get a good start by checking out my tops (still working on these, so no live links yet):
Or, if you are set up to buy a certain brand, you could check out my brand reviews (top menu). Every producer adds a personal touch to their products, making each vacuum cleaner model unique. Some producers focus entirely on building mostly vacuums (such as Bissell, Dyson or Hoover), whereas others are long established companies that build other home appliances as well (i.e. Panasonic or Electrolux).
Just as a side note, learn which one I’ve bought in the end, for my personal use.
What to look for in the best vacuum cleaner?
When buying a vacuum cleaner, people always seem to be searching for the product that delivers the best “suck for the buck”, as we say in our branch. So, let’s cover the main features.
Types of vacuum cleaners
This kind of vacuum cleaners is used mostly in US/UK. Basically, upright vacuums are based on a single segment stick that supports the handle and the recipient that will hold all the dirt. They are usually equipped with a rotating brush-roll that swipes away the surfaces and collects all the dust. There are 2 types of upright vacuums, considering their structural design: direct fan cleaners and fan-bypass cleaners. The main difference between these is that direct-fan uprights use less power, but have less cleaning power as well, while fan-bypass uprights require two times more power, but are suitable to be used in both carpet and floor cleaning activities. Models come with a single drive belt that is used for both the main suction motor and the rotating brush-roll, or may have separate drive-belts, in order to allow you to turn off the brush-roll if needed.
Canister vacuum cleaners are more common in Europe, Russia and China. Their bag or compartment that holds the dust is clearly delimited from the motor. The product comes as a single unit usually mounted on 2 wheels. The main feature of this type of vacuum is the possibility to attach different heads, suitable for different jobs. Latest models usually come with special heads for furniture dust, different types of surfaces such as hardwood floors, carpets, hone and so on.
The 2 types of vacuum cleaners presented above may cover most of your needs, but handheld vacuums bring usability required i.e. when cleaning up your car, complex furniture pieces, between sofa cushions or even clothing. I bet in every home there is a narrow space you simply can’t reach with an upright or a canister vacuum cleaner. Well, with handheld vacuums, you can easily remove pet hair, various stains, spills and other stuff you want gone.
A nice trend in the industry is the emergence of robotic vacuums. The main feature of this kind of product is the movement algorithm. Most robotic vacuums use a combination of fuzzy logic with reinforcement learning (i.e. Q-learning), neural networks, potential field or similar artificial intelligence methods to achieve a homogenous cleaning of the entire floor space and to return safely to the docking station for battery recharge. The great thing about these it the “set it and forget it” approach. In order to reach to tight corners, many robotic vacuums use spinning brushes or variable air flows. And some models even deploy UV sterilization or possess mopping capabilities. Just don’t expect to jump over stairs any time soon.
Also called Shop-Vacs, these vacuum cleaners look like a cylinder and are usually used to clean liquid/wet stains. Shop-Vacs are suitable for both indoor and outdoor usage, and their main feature is that you can reverse the airflow, in order to blow garbage and dust, instead of sucking it. You can thus gather all the dirt into a corner and get it out easy. You can even use this function to unclog the hose. And what’s nice: they are relatively cheap and ready to do a lot of tasks.
Additional cleaning tools
There are some special cleaning tools worth mentioning that don’t fit in any of the categories above. These are either meant for specific tasks, such as carpet cleaning or hard floor cleaning, or are hybrid machines that incorporate several features from the classes above and along with vacuuming, they may include steaming capabilities, sweeping attachments, they may shampoo, scrub, and even paint your floors.
Carpet cleaners, also called deep cleaners some times, are designed especially to help you clean your carpets. They usually are equipped with a hot water heater and with special power brushes that reach deeper into your carpets and rugs, removing more dust and stains than common vacuum cleaners. Some of them are aiming to replace professional rental units: by purchasing one of your own, you will never have to pay to rent one and further more, you may not need to use similar services provided by cleaning specialists. There are 2 producers particularly specialized in manufacturing these appliances: Hoover and Bissell.
If carpets are handled by deep cleaners, bare floors may be cleaned with specialized tools called steam mops. The idea of steam sanitation is not new, but manufacturers have created incredible appliances that put it in practice. There are steam mops which sanitize hard floors in under 5 seconds, using just tap water. Most of them require just under a minute to start. Some of them are even battery operated, in order to offer you maximum flexibility.
Although people love specialized tools, most of us are also avid to use complex appliances, that can help with a large set of cleaning jobs. I.e. you may need to vacuum your home, but you may also need to remove the dust, sanitize your hardwood floors, scrub the kitchen tiles, get the insides of your car cleaned and so on. To this desideratum, manufacturers built hybrid cleaning tools, such as the ones listed bellow.
I know most of you guys consider this as the main indicator. No matter how much money you have, you most likely want to buy the best product for your budget. As people tend to categorize, so will I: you can either buy a cheap product that will get you through the next couple of years, or you could invest in a vacuum cleaner that can last the next 25 years. Both approaches are perfectly valid IMO. Want to pay around $100 for an upright? You can, and you’ll get a basic model that will do the job just fine. Want to buy a serious tool at $400-$500? You’ll get a cleaner you’ll use with pleasure, warranty, accessories, great filtration systems and so on. Want to buy a handheld vacuum? They are cheaper, you’ll spend anywhere between $30 and $150.
Suction and power
The suction power refers to the pressure difference created by the pump of the vacuum. A common vacuum cleaner has a suction power of 20kPa. The pump actually lowers the pressure inside the vacuum from 100kPa (the normal atmospheric pressure) to 80kPa. As you can expect, higher suction equals more power. Usually, producers only state the input power in watts or amps which refers to how much electricity is consumed by the product (and has little to do with the actual suction power, which depends on the product design, filtration system and so on).
One of the biggest issues that appear when using vacuum cleaners is dust circulation. The air exhausted by the pump contains small dust particles that are sent directly to the lungs of the user. No matter how good the filtration system, ultra-fine dust particles and potential harmful microorganisms such as mites still pass along into the air. This happens not because of technical drawbacks, but because a perfect filtration system will clog up immediately and become ineffective. Over the recent years, manufactures have been trying to make a better compromise between the filtering effectiveness and guaranteeing optimal airflow, by building the following filtration options:
- Disposable filters. These need to be replaced every few months. Main con is the high upkeep.
- Washable filters. Lately, producers are featuring filters made out of foam-like materials, which can last for years. You can use your dishwasher or your washing machine to get these cleaned, wait for them to dry (very important!!!) and them place them back into the vacuum.
- Cyclonic separation. The air sucked into the vacuum is cycled so fast that the dust particles are forced by the centrifugal force to fall into the dirt recipient.
- Water filtration. The air sucked in passes through a water layer, wetting the dust particles which become heavy and cannot fly any more. The main disadvantage is that you have to clean the water compartment after each use, for sanitary reasons.
- HEPA filtration. Designed especially for sensible allergic people, HEPA filtering traps most of the ultra-fine particles and releases virtually no amount of dust. HEPA filters 99.97% of dust particles – all particles with 0.3 microns in diameter and higher are filtered.
- Odor filters. Made out of active coils, these try to eliminate dust along with any funny smell.
Check out my ultimate guide to commercial vacuum cleaner filters to find out more.
I’m the type of person that likes things to be as simple and neat as possible. Applying my lifestyle to vacuums, I enjoy products under 10 pounds. However, you can definitely find very good vacs that weight around 20 pounds. The trick is to buy one that has the self-propelled feature, which will come handy especially if you have to vacuum large surfaces. If weight is an issue to you (i.e. if you have back problems or you’re simply a comfy person), you may focus on the stick versions most manufacturers produce at the moment. You can find vacuum cleaners that weight as low as 4-5 pounds, but be careful, these models don’t work so well on deep rugs of carpets, and you’ll end up pushing hard to get at the root of the fibers. As for handheld vacs, weight is an issue. Buyers expect these to be light, flexible, so, here’s a top I’ve made based on my rating system, or better yet, here’s one that weighs around a staggering 4 pounds.
Cordless vs. Corded
One of the latest trends in the vacuum cleaning industry is to produce cordless devices. However, if you own a large to average home, cordless vacuums may not be the solution for you, as even the top rated models last around 30 minutes before they need to be recharged. There’s also a suction power decrease that is trivial for cordless appliances.
With/without a bag
Bagged vacs need a new bag every couple of months, depending on your cleaning frequency. If you don’t like the idea of buying bags and replacing them every once in a while, you can opt for a bagless model, an eco-friendly approach some people embrace with pleasure. The downside is that you have to clean the dust container and remove the stuck hair. Some popular vacuum cleaners enhance this process by using better structural designs that allow easier access to the dust cup.
Most vacuum cleaners come with a warranty that lasts anywhere between 1 to 5 years. Just like any other appliance, most common vacuum cleaners have 1 year warranty, which includes both parts and labor costs. Almost all retail stores require you to register the product for warranty. As a side note, a 5 year warranty (offered by i.e. by Dyson) is a great indicator of the quality of the product.
Thank God we’re at conclusions, my back hurts from all this time spent in front of my laptop. I believe I got most of the basic things covered; hopefully, you’ve already put an eye on what vac you want. If you’re still unsure what to choose, or you want to buy a product I haven’t covered, send me an email, or comment here, I’ll reply as soon as possible. Be sure to check my site occasionally, as I’m updating it almost every week.
Have a great day!