THE BEST VACUUM CLEANER BUYER’S GUIDE

THE BEST VACUUM CLEANER BUYER’S GUIDE

HOW TO SELECT THE BEST VACUUM CLEANER

The floors in your home experience more wear and tear than just about any other component and will need to be cleaned regularly if you hope to keep things looking nice and smelling fresh. In addition to maintaining a high standard of cleanliness, routine vacuuming can extend the life of most types of flooring by removing dirt and debris that can accumulate and cause damage over time. Not only will this make your home more comfortable, but it’s also likely to save you money since your flooring won’t need to be replaced as often.

Selecting the best vacuum cleaner for your home can be extremely difficult given the wide range of products currently available on the market. Before making a decision, it’s very important to consider the type of flooring that you’ll be cleaning and the effectiveness of the vacuum cleaner. If you’ll be cleaning carpet and you have pets that shed or leave stains on the carpet then you will likely want to purchase one of the more expensive wet machines that use water to extract as much dirt and debris as possible while removing tough stains. These types of products are very effective on carpet and often come with an upholstery attachment that will allow you to clean certain types of furniture, rugs, and vehicle interiors.

If your floors are primarily low pile carpet, hard wood, or laminate and you aren’t going to be cleaning medium to high pile carpet or upholstery then you’ll probably be fine with an automated robotic vacuum or one of the more versatile upright dry vacuums that you commonly see in large retail stores and online.

Below, you’ll find information about a variety of vacuums that offer different types of features and that fall within different price ranges. Again, it’s very important to consider your own unique situation when choosing a vacuum cleaner so that you get the results you want and are satisfied with your purchase for many years to come.

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Best Vacuum Cleaner for Carpet and Smooth Flooring: $400 – $1,000

Vacuums that cost over $400 are ideal for individuals who plan on cleaning a good amount of carpet, hard wood, or laminate flooring and who want optimal results. This price range includes both dry and wet vacuum options as well as corded and cord-free products. If you only intend to clean carpet then you might want to go with the wet vacuum option rather than the dry vacuums since they do tend to get better results on most carpets. If you’re planning to use the vacuum on both carpet and hard flooring then the upright dry vacuums would be the better way to go since wet vacuums aren’t usually designed for hard floors and you wouldn’t want to get them wet anyway.

If you’ve decided to go with a dry vacuum then you’ll want to find out if your carpet is low, medium, or high pile because certain products are really only recommended for low pile while others can be used on all three. Low pile carpet usually isn’t as soft or cozy as medium and high pile carpet. It has shorter fibers and is commonly used in high traffic areas since it’s less susceptible to damage and requires less maintenance. Most of the carpet installed in homes will fall into the medium to high pile category and you’ll just want to make sure the vacuum you decide to purchase is appropriate for the carpet that you have in your home.

One of the other big considerations that you’ll want to think about is whether or not you’re cleaning up after a pet that sheds or creates tough stains that are difficult to remove. Wet vacuums are generally better at removing persistent pet stains from carpet. If you go the dry vacuum route then you’ll want to make sure the vacuum has a good sized canister to contain the higher amount of dirt and hair that comes with a shedding pet. Most models in this price range indicate whether or not they’re designed with pets in mind so you’ll just need to double check to make sure you’re getting the product that is most appropriate for your needs.

Below, you’ll find our top rated vacuum cleaners in the $400 – $1,000 range…

Dyson V8 Absolute Cord-Free Vacuum

The Dyson brand of vacuum cleaners is widely recognized as one of the best dry vacuum options available on the market today. They manufacture an assortment of products from which to choose based on your budget and cleaning needs. The V8 Absolute is one of the best cordless vacuum options because it comes with all of the important features and attachments one needs to clean just about any surface. Its cord-free design makes it easy to carry around the house without having to plug anything in or hassle with a tangled mess. Although the cord-free feature does represent a huge convenience, you should note that the vacuum will need to be charged after about 40 minutes of continuous use. This usually isn’t an issue for many people, but it is worth noting if you like to vacuum for long uninterrupted periods of time or have a large area to vacuum on a regular basis.

The Dyson V8 Absolute has tremendous suction power that will easily vacuum up the majority of the dirt, debris, and hair that has accumulated on hard and soft surfaces throughout your home. With all of the particles you’ll be sucking up, you’ll be happy to know that this vacuum is designed with a whole machine HEPA filtration system that captures even the smallest particles including allergens that would otherwise be floating around your house. This coupled with an air purifier and well-maintained air conditioning / heating system will ensure that the air quality in your home remains consistently high.

Unlike some the more affordable Dyson vacuums, the V8 Absolute comes with a wide range of attachments that come in handy for cleaning hard to reach areas. These include a crevice tool, mini motorized pet hair removal tool, soft dusting brush, and an additional cleaner head for large debris. These attachments are especially useful for cleaning out your cars and vacuuming the furniture. While the attachments alone probably aren’t enough to justify the additional cost if you are only planning to vacuum the floor, they are a nice addition to a vacuum that has plenty of other features that do justify the additional cost.

Individuals who have used other Dyson products such as the V6 or V7 should notice an improvement in the battery life as well as a reduction in noise with the V8 Absolute. The V8 also seems to perform better when it comes to suction. It is very important to note that at maximum suction, this vacuum typically won’t run for the full 40 minutes that it would at lower power levels. If you’re looking for a vacuum that will run for more than 15 – 25 minutes at maximum power, then you’ll probably want to consider a corded option. Bottom line, this is a very popular option for those who can afford a higher priced product and who want tremendous suction power in a lightweight cord-free vacuum that will be used for short periods of time between charging.

Miele Complete C3 Calima Canister Vacuum

The Miele brand of corded vacuum cleaners is a great alternative to the Dyson dry vacuums and has an established reputation for making sturdy products that will last for many years. The C3 Calima is often considered the best canister vacuum on the market for residential use. Like the Dyson V8, it contains a HEPA AirClean Filter that catches all of those tiny dust and allergen particles that you don’t want floating around your home. The C3 Calima has a cleaning radius of 36 feet that is restricted by the length of the cord. While the corded feature does make this vacuum less convenient for transport it greatly extends the amount of time that one can engage in uninterrupted cleaning time. You also won’t have to wait hours for the battery to charge between uses which can be a deal breaker for those who vacuum a lot.

One very important consideration with the C3 Calima is the fact that it is designed for smooth surfaces such as wood or laminate flooring and low to medium pile carpet. If you have high pile carpet then you’ll want to consider purchasing the C3 Kona, C3 Marin, or C3 Brilliant. These higher end versions can handle thicker carpets and are generally better for cleaning up after pets that shed a lot. The Miele products have a unique design in that they are constructed with a six stage suction control that is operated using a foot switch. Similar to other vacuums they come with special attachments that are designed for cleaning hard to reach areas. The C3 Calima typically comes with a turbo brush for loosening dirt, parquet twister with 180 degree rotation for smooth surfaces, telescopic wand, dusting brush, upholstery tool, and crevice nozzle.

Many people find that they absolutely love the solid German manufacturing of the Miele brand compared to the cheap feeling plastic components of most vacuums available in major retail stores. Although these canister vacuums are designed in a way that may seem strange to people who are used to the more traditional vacuums commonly sold in the United States, they have significant suction power and tend to last much longer than other brands. In fact, many people will use their Miele vacuum for at least 10 years before replacing it.

Some downsides that are sometimes encountered with this vacuum include issues with the hose being too short and hair getting wrapped around the turbo roller brush. If you plan to clean things like ceiling fans or you have a pet that sheds heavily then you might want to consider one of the other products mentioned here.

iRobot Roomba 980 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity

No vacuum article would be complete without including details about products manufactured by Roomba. These robotic vacuums have become extremely popular mainly due to the fact that they will clean your floors automatically without you having to do any vacuuming yourself. The Roomba vacuums are often considered the best vacuum for hardwood floors and other smooth surfaces because they do a great job of collecting dirt, debris, and hair that has accumulated. The Roomba 980 can be programmed to clean at specific times on different days and can connect with your iPhone, Alexa, and a few other smart home products to allow you to make changes from your device. It also comes with virtual wall barriers that allow you to localize its cleaning efforts to specific rooms.

As iRobot has released new models, the suction power of the Roomba has increased to allow it to perform better on carpet, but we still find that it isn’t as effective on medium to high pile carpet as traditional vacuums especially if your carpet experiences heavy traffic or you have a pet that sheds a lot. It will still suction up a reasonable amount of hair and other debris, but you will likely need to vacuum your carpet with a traditional dry or wet upright vacuum in order to get it spotless. Many people choose to use the Roomba as a supplement to their traditional vacuum since it will greatly reduce the number of times you will need to clean during the week. Pet owners often consider the Roomba to be the best vacuum for pet hair because it allows them to keep up with the shedding by vacuuming 3 – 5 times per month rather than 3 – 5 times each week.

Aside from being largely automated, some of the other major benefits of the Roomba include its ability to clean underneath furniture that has a clearance of at least 3.6 inches and its ability to dock with the charging station itself. If your furniture is set lower than 3.6 inches then you will likely need to find a way to raise it up a bit or add some boards along the bottom to prevent Roomba from becoming stuck. Also, Roomba sometimes has difficulty finding its way back to the charging station which may cause it to run out of battery life before it finishes cleaning. If the battery dies completely then you may encounter errors that require you to reset the clock and cleaning schedule.

Some of the other downsides of the Roomba include the fairly small canister size and the fact that hair does become wrapped around the rollers despite the claim that they are tangle-free. So, as long as you set your expectations appropriately appreciating that a Roomba is not completely maintenance free and will not suction as well as a traditional vacuum then you may find it to be a great way to dramatically reduce the amount of time you are vacuuming each week. In order for the Roomba to continue working properly, you’ll want to make sure you empty the canister on a regular basis as well as clean the filter and remove hair from the rollers. This does consume some time, but nowhere near what you would be spending if you had to vacuum more often.

Bissell Big Green Deep Cleaning Professional Grade Carpet Cleaner

Up to this point, we’ve only covered dry vacuum options because they can be used on smooth surfaces such as hard wood and laminate as well as on carpet, but if you’re primarily planning to clean medium to high pile carpet and you want professional results then you really need a wet vacuum. You’ve probably used or are familiar with the wet vacuums that you can rent from your local grocery or hardware store. While these can clean your carpet very effectively, it often costs $80 – $100 by the time you rent the machine and purchase cleaning solution. Also, renting a cleaner can easily consume several hours of your time just hauling it to and from the store.

For these reasons, it’s often more cost effective and convenient to simply purchase the Bissell Big Green Carpet Cleaner. If you use the Big Green more than 4 or 5 times then you basically will have paid for the machine. People who have pets that shed a lot or persistent stains on their carpet are frequently amazed at how well the Bissell Big Green removes dirt, oil, hair, and other debris from their carpet. If you have some really tough stains that you want to get rid of, we highly recommend purchasing some pretreatment cleaning solution that is applied before using the Big Green. The pretreatment solution used in combination with the solution that you pour into the clean water chamber does an excellent job of removing even the toughest stains.

We consider the Bissell Big Green to be the best home carpet cleaner because it works as well as most professional machines while saving both time and money over the long term. Unlike some other wet vacuum brands, the Big Green has separate clean and dirty water tanks and works to remove debris during both forward and backward passes. This not only shortens the amount of time needed to clean the carpet, but also accelerates the rate at which it dries. The flow indicator located on the top of the machine makes it incredibly easy to see when you need to empty the dirty water tank and refill the clean water tank. Both tanks are removable for easy emptying, cleaning, and filling.

As if the carpet cleaning power of the Bissell Big Green wasn’t enough to make it the best carpet shampooer, it also comes with a 9 foot hose and cleaning attachment that can be used on stairs and upholstery. We’ve used this attachment to remove stains that an expensive auto detail couldn’t clean. This coupled with the impressive results we’ve seen on our carpet makes this one of our hands down favorite machines among top carpet cleaners. If you generally hire someone to steam clean your carpets then this machine will likely pay for itself in less than one year and if you usually rent a machine from your local grocery or hardware store then it should pay for itself in under two years assuming you use it two to three times each year which we believe you’ll do once you see the results.

Best Affordable Vacuum for Carpet and Hard Flooring: $100 – $350

While the best rated vacuum cleaners available on the market tend to fall in the more expensive price range, there are a number of options that are fairly effective and that cost significantly less. Although we wouldn’t recommend purchasing a vacuum under $100 if you want it to have reasonable suctioning power or if you want it to last more than a year or two, there are some excellent products in the $100 – $350 range that will suit most people’s needs. It’s important to keep in mind that within this price range, the top vacuum cleaner brands tend to offer fewer features and attachments with their products. This results in less versatility, but is often an acceptable trade-off for individuals who don’t need all of the features that tend to drive prices up.

Below, we’ve included several of the top vacuum cleaners that are more budget friendly…

Shark Rotator Professional Life-Away Upright Vacuum

The Shark brand hasn’t always put out the greatest products, but has recently become known for producing reasonably good vacuum cleaners at a more affordable price than some of the older brands such as Dyson, Bissell, and Hoover. Shark products have what could be considered a minimalist design that clearly emphasizes portability. In fact, many Shark owners state that they consider it the best lightweight vacuum cleaner when compared to some of the larger more established products on the market that cost way more. There are several models of Shark vacuums available that generally weigh between 12.5 – 15.5 pounds. One of the most unique features of these vacuums is the lift-away canister that detaches from the vacuum body so that you can quickly and conveniently clean stairs, upholstery, and hard to reach areas. The detached canister weighs between 5.9 – 8.4 pounds depending on the model you get.

The Shark NV501 model is considered by many people to be the best shark vacuum because it strikes a nice balance between price and features. Like other Shark models it has an anti-allergen complete seal HEPA filter that removes the vast majority of the particles that it vacuums up. It also comes with important attachments including a dusting brush, crevice tool, and pet brush for cleaning up hair. Its dust bin is a bit smaller than the NV356E model holding just 1.3 dry quarts compared to 2.2 dry quarts, but larger than the NV352 and NV682. It has a hose length of 8.4 feet and a cord length of 30 feet giving it more reach than other Shark models. Another feature that you won’t find on many vacuums is the swivel steering with LED headlights that makes it easier to clean under furniture where the light doesn’t always reach. If fingertip controls are a must for you then you might want to consider the Shark NV682 rather than the NV501.

If you’ve had experience with Shark vacuums in the past then you probably weren’t impressed with their mediocre performance and flimsy design. The newer Shark vacuums have incorporated many improvements and will do a pretty good job of cleaning your floors, but some people have found that the vacuums sometimes stop working after a short period of time. If you’re considering one the models above, it’s important to set reasonable expectations. The Shark vacuums are cheaper for a reason and generally won’t be as effective at cleaning compared to more expensive options. They may also have more mechanical problems that you should probably expect and be prepared to deal with.

Dyson V6 Cord Free Vacuum

This Dyson vacuum is a decent alternative to the more expensive V8 Absolute if you’re on a budget and you’re willing to go without some of the features included with the higher end products. Like the V8 Absolute, the V6 has no cord for hassle free handling. One of the things that you will notice with the V6 is the fact that the battery life is about half that of the V8 and you can really only expect to perform around 15 – 20 minutes of continuous vacuuming before needing to recharge the battery. Aside from a shorter battery life, you may also find that the cleaner head isn’t as powerful and you’ll have to forego many of the attachments that come with the more expensive models such as the crevice tool for hard to reach places, pet hair tool, dusting brush, and soft roller head.

The Dyson V6 is ideal for individuals who don’t want to spend over $300 for a vacuum and who plan to clean smaller areas using shorter more frequent cleaning schedules. Its cordless design makes it highly portable and very convenient for moving between rooms or up and down stairs. It has more suction power than most other affordable vacuums and can be used on a variety of flooring including carpet, hard wood, laminate, and tile. If you’re hoping to vacuum for extended periods of time or you simply want a more diverse selection of accessories that can be used in a variety of cleaning scenarios then we would recommend investing in the more expensive options that we covered above. This also isn’t a great way to go if you need the HEPA filtration feature for removing small dirt and allergen particles from the air since it doesn’t come with the filter.

EcoVacs Deebot N79 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner

EcoVacs makes robotic vacuum cleaners that look and act very similar to iRobot’s Roomba, but cost much less. As with the Roomba, the Deebot is really meant for low pile carpet or smooth surfaces such as hard wood, laminate, and tile. Although they will vacuum carpet to some extent, they usually won’t perform all that effectively and you’ll usually need to run an upright vacuum over the carpet on a fairly frequent schedule if you have pets that shed or the carpet experiences high amounts of traffic. The Deebot will usually run for around 1.5 hours before it needs to be recharged. This robotic vacuum has several smart motion sensors that allow it to clean with multiple passes as well as climb inclines, cross doorsills, and automatically dock with the recharging station.

The biggest benefit to owning either a Roomba or a Deebot is the fact that they operate automatically according to a schedule that you can program into the vacuum. While they are great for reducing the number of times you have to manually vacuum, the dust bin that is built into the vacuum is usually quite small and you will have to empty it out frequently if you have pets that shed heavily or there is a large amount of dirt and debris that needs to be cleaned. For this reason, they work great as a complementary product that is used in conjunction with a more traditional upright vacuum. Personally, we have found that the reduction in manual vacuuming is well worth the investment in one of these robotic vacuums.

Another benefit of the Deebot is its ability to clean under furniture as long as the clearance is high enough. If the clearance is borderline then you might find that the Deebot gets stuck on a regular basis which can be extremely annoying. It may also seem to follow a random cleaning pattern or might have difficulty finding its way back to the charging station. In this situation, you might need to manually place it back on the charging station and ensure that there is enough space for the Deebot to dock on its own. These are issues that are also common with the Roomba and should not influence your decision to purchase one brand over the other. In fact, many people find that the much lower price tag in conjunction with its ability to perform similar to the Roomba to be the deciding factor in purchasing the Deebot.

Hoover FH50150 Carpet Basics Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner

The Hoover Carpet Basics Cleaner is one of the most popular wet vacuums available on the market because it’s affordable and does a better job of removing dirt, debris, and persistent stains than a dry vacuum would. This vacuum is fairly lightweight at 19 pounds which makes it easy and convenient to transport from room to room or up and down stairs and it comes with a dual tank design that keeps clean and dirty water separate. One unique feature with this vacuum is the wash/rinse selector that allows you to wash with soap and water then rinse with water only to remove excess soap residue. This can also be accomplished using other wet vacuums by rinsing out the detergent tank after the first pass and filling it with clean water only then going over the carpet a second time to remove soap residue and additional dirt or debris.

This machine comes with several attachments that will help with cleaning things like stairs, upholstery, and hard to reach areas. They include an 8 foot hose, upholstery tool, stair tool, and crevice tool. Although the Hoover Carpet Basics Cleaner is widely considered the best carpet steam cleaner in the budget friendly price range, many people feel that it isn’t as durable, doesn’t clean as well, and can have issues with the brushes and with leaking. If you’re concerned that you may run into issues with the Hoover Basics Cleaner then you might want to consider investing in the Big Green. It’s also worth noting that the handle on the Hoover does not fold down for easy storage.

Wet vacuums like the Hoover Carpet Basics Cleaner and the Bissell Big Green are designed to be used on medium to high pile carpet and on some types of rugs. If you’re looking for a vacuum to use on multiple types of flooring such as carpet, hard wood, laminate, and tile then you’ll want to consider the dry vacuum options listed above. Wet vacuums work great for removing dirt, debris, and persistent stains from carpet especially if you have large pets that shed a lot and create oil stains. They are not multi-purpose vacuums and should not be purchased for cleaning smooth surfaces. One of the added benefits of a wet vacuum is the fact that they are usually very good at removing stains from certain types of upholstery and can be used to clean things like couches and vehicle seats.

Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner

The Rug Doctor wet carpet cleaner is a mid range vacuum that you might want to take a look at if you want something that is more affordable than the Bissell Big Green and sturdier than the Hoover Carpet Basics Cleaner. Rug Doctor claims that it has 75 percent more suction than other brands. It’s a bit heavier than the Hoover carpet cleaner weighing in at 25 pounds which may make it too heavy for some to easily maneuver around the house. Like other products, it comes with clean and dirty water tanks as well as an upholstery attachment for cleaning cars, furniture, and stairs. While the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner does seem to do a better job than the Hoover Basic cleaner, it shares some of the same downsides including issues with durability and leaking. It’s a good budget friendly product, but you may want to consider investing in the Bissell Big Green if you want professional results.

Bissell 3624 SpotClean Professional Portable Carpet Cleaner

This is a unique and highly portable vacuum cleaner that is specifically designed to remove persistent spots and stains from carpet, stairs, auto interiors, rugs, and upholstery. The Bissell SpotClean Pro is pretty much just a tank with a hose attached. It has a handle on the top which makes it incredibly easy to carry around the house. The tank is ¾ gallon and has a 22 foot power cord attached which gives you a generous amount of reach when vacuuming stairs or other hard to reach areas. It also comes with a 6 inch stair tool that can be used to scrub difficult stains to get that deep-down clean that everybody wants. It weighs approximately 13 pounds and could be a great option for you if you are looking for something that is simple, compact, and budget friendly. It obviously isn’t going to work well for vacuuming entire rooms or other large areas, but could be a great option if you find yourself cleaning a large number of stains and don’t want to invest the time and effort in cleaning the entire floor. It’s worth noting that some people have found that the hose doesn’t hold up well over time.

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