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Published Nov. 22, 2021

Vacuum cleaning technology has come a long way in the past few decades, from when large, oversized vacuums that weighed upwards of 50 pounds were the only option for removing dirt and debris from floors, upholstery, draperies, and other surfaces around the home. Now, the market is flooded with different types of vacuum cleaners, from traditional upright model to stick vacuums, canister vacuums, handheld, even robot vacuums, and more.

There are also a lot more features to take into consideration. For example, modern vacuums allow you to choose between filtration bags or bagless, attached electrical cords or rechargeable cordless, as well as a multitude of various accessories and attachments geared towards removing dirt and dust from every corner and crevice of your home or vehicle.

But with so many options to choose from, buying a vacuum cleaner can also quickly become overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve assembled this list of the best vacuum cleaners for every job, big or small, to help break it down. Because, unlike those cumbersome vacuums of our parents’ generations, you can leave the heavy lifting to us.

How we picked the best vacuum cleaners

With so many types, features, and designs on the market, narrowing down a list of the five best vacuum cleaners was a challenge. Not only did we want to choose a selection of the most top-rated products by consumers, but present a selection of vacuums geared toward a variety of cleaning objectives and a wide range of homes, square footage, and lifestyles. As such, we thoroughly evaluated and researched a wide handful of comparable vacuums for each style that we chose—about 35 to 40 in total, when all was said and done.

The features and considerations we most honed in on were ease of use, suction power, battery life for cordless models or alternately user-friendly power cords options, debris removal and disposal, and smart features when applicable. We also wanted to select various products at different price points to appease a range of different budgets, as not everyone has the extra cash or wants to spend a lot on a vacuum cleaner. Customer reviews were another critical factor. Manufacturer descriptions tend to omit helpful information such as, say, when a vacuum’s brush roll will quickly become clogged with pet hair, rendering it useless.

The best vacuum reviews and recommendations

Best vacuum cleaner: Miele Classic C1 Pure Suction

Premium suction

Clean curtains, stairs, and other tricky spots with no problems. Miele

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Why it made the cut: This German-engineered canister-style vacuum features an extra-long electrical cord and stainless steel wand for an impressive cleaning radius.

Specs:

  • Form factor: Canister
  • Surface recommendation: Hard floors
  • Weight: 13 pounds

Pros:

  • 1200-watt Miele-made vortex motor
  • Six different suction power settings
  • Long electrical cord and stainless steel wand

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work as well on carpets
  • HEPA filter bag not included

Boasting a proprietary 1200-watt vortex motor, the Miele Classic C1 Pure Suction lists its most impressive feature right in the product’s name. The powerful suction can be easily adjusted to six different settings depending on the surface being cleaned with an easy-to-use rotary dial. Though many users find that the vacuum isn’t quite as effective on carpeted floors, the footswitch allows you to switch from hard floors to carpeting with ease, with rubberized wheels that prevent scratches on flooring.

This canister vacuum offers superior versatility. The long electrical cord and stainless steel wand provide a remarkable cleaning radius of nearly 30 feet so you can easily reach the tops of curtains, ceiling fans, and shelves. This feature is also ideal for multi-level homes with lots of stairs that can be challenging to traditional vacuums.

The vacuum also won’t release dirt and dust into the air thanks to the Miele AirClean System, which consists of a filter bag, motor protection filter, exhaust filter for maximum filtration, and self-sealing collar. Some customers note that the vacuum only comes with only one dust bag, which is not even a HEPA bag, so additional bags must be purchased. However, just one dust bag is enough to last many folks for three months or more of regular or daily use.

Best value: Shark NV360 Navigator Lift

Lightweight maneuverability

This convertible-style vacuum gives you the best of both worlds. Shark

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Why it made the cut: Dynamic swivel steering provides excellent control when maneuvering around furniture and other obstacles, or simply lift the pod to clean anywhere above the floor.

Specs:

  • Form factor: Upright
  • Surface recommendation: Carpet and hard floors
  • Weight: 13 pounds

Pros:

  • Lift-away pod for hard-to-reach areas
  • Large capacity dust cup
  • Anti-allergen technology and HEPA filter

Cons:

  • No LED lights on the vacuum
  • Cord not telescoping/long enough

The Shark NV360 Navigator Lift combines the practicality of an upright vacuum with the convenience and versatility of a canister vacuum with a detachable Lift-Away pod to clean hard-to-reach areas. The swivel steering offers excellent control for maneuvering around furniture while vacuuming floors. The brush roll shutoff also lets you quickly alternate between deep cleaning carpets and cleaning bare hardwood and tile floors.

The large capacity dust cup is easy to empty for extended cleaning without interruption. If you’ve never used a bagless vacuum before and are concerned about dust escaping, you’ll rest assured as the combination of an anti-allergen seal, and HEPA filter captures and traps 99.9 percent of dust and allergens to prevent them from getting back into the air. 

Customers seem to love the Shark overwhelmingly; but, some note that the inclusion of LED lights at the bottom would help you see the floor as you’re cleaning. A few other folks lamented that the power cord was not long enough or wished it was telescoping for more accessible storage. These are features you might find on some higher-end models with a less competitive price tag.

Best vacuum cleaner for pet hair: Bissell ICONpet Cordless

Designed for pets

A clean home free of pet hair ensures happy pets and even happier pet owners.
Bissell

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Why it made the cut: Pet hair and messes are no match for this vacuum with a powerful digital motor and premium features designed with man’s best friends in mind.

Specs:

  • Form factor: Stick, upright
  • Surface recommendation: Bare floors, carpet, area rugs, sealed hard floors, upholstery
  • Weight: 7 pounds

Pros:

  • High-performance digital motor
  • Tangle-free brush roll
  • Converts to handheld to clean up pet messes

Cons:

  • Dirt cup and hoses can clog easily
  • Sides of the brush roll may gather clumps

The Bissell ICONpet Cordless is a game-changer for anyone with pets. The high-performance digital motor spins at up to 420 miles per hour for powerful cordless cleaning performance, with a patented tangle-free brush roll that leaves no hair wrap behind. Some customers note that pet hair may clump to the sides of the brush roll, though it’s still easy enough to remove and resume cleaning quickly.

For spot cleaning or pet messes, the ICONpet also converts to a hand vacuum, with additional accessories such as a motorized turbo brush tool and an LED crevice tool, plus a dusting brush so you can clean anywhere your pet goes. And all of the dirt, hair, and dander stays contained thanks to the mess-free dirt tank with clean slide technology that eliminates the need for cleaning up after you’ve already cleaned.

In addition to potential brush roll clumps, a small number of users have also had issues with hair clogging in the dust cup or internal hoses. But for all intents and purposes, regularly cleaning your floors should prevent pet hair buildup that may cause these issues.

Best stick vacuum cleaner: Dyson V11 Torque Drive

Smarter cleaning

Twice the suction of any cordless vacuum for a cleaner, healthier home.
Dyson

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Why it made the cut: Outstanding features on the Dyson V11, such as smart tools, extra-long run time, and powerful suction were engineered for deep cleaning even larger homes on a single charge.

Specs:

  • Form factor: Stick
  • Surface recommendation: Hard floor, carpet
  • Weight: 6.68 pounds

Pros:

  • LCD screen provides intelligent reports
  • Up to 60 minutes of run time
  • High-torque cleaner head adapts suction

Cons:

  • No on/off switch or button
  • Vacuum doesn’t have a headlight

For a vacuum that boasts a reputation that precedes it, the Dyson V11 Torque Drive has twice the suction of virtually any cordless vacuum on the market. In addition, depending on the type of flooring, the high-torque cleaner head automatically adapts suction across three settings, eco mode, auto mode, and boost mode. It also has up to 60 minutes of run time that likewise intelligently adjusts depending on the floor type, power mode, and whether any attachments are used.

But those aren’t the only intelligent features on this vacuum. The helpful, easy-to-read LCD screen provides intelligent reports such as selected power mode, current performance, remaining run time, filter maintenance reminders, and blockage reports. Your home will also be healthier as the advanced whole-machine filtration traps 99.99 percent of particles, dust, and allergens—even those as tiny as 0.3 microns!

One of the only minor drawbacks to the Dyson is that it doesn’t come with an on and off switch, so some people find that their fingers get sore after pressing and holding down the button after 10 or 15 minutes of continuous use. As a few others have noted, another feature that would have been great is a headlight, which seems like a pretty standard feature to have been omitted from such a high-end product.

Best robot vacuum cleaner: iRobot Roomba i7

Intelligent power

This highly intelligent robot vacuum is guided by serious smarts. iRobot

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Why it made the cut: For clean floors without having to lift a finger, this intelligent robot vacuum is always learning the layout of your home and building smart maps.

Specs:

  • Form factor: Robot
  • Surface recommendation:  Hard floor, carpet, dual-action
  • Weight: 7.44 pounds

Pros:

  • Premium three-stage cleaning system
  • vSLAM navigation learns the layout of your home
  • Compatible with voice assistant

Cons:

  • Emits loud whirring noise when operating
  • Cannot run at night in the dark

In the nearly two decades since the first Roomba was first introduced, robot vacuums keep getting smarter and smarter. Case in point, the iRobot Roomba i7 features vSLAM navigation that actually learns the layout of your home and builds personal Smart Maps, which enables it to clean and navigate in neat, efficient rows. With the help of Google Assistant or Alexa voice assistant, you can also command your Roomba to clean as messes occur. For example, you can simply say: “Tell Roomba to clean under the kitchen table,” and the bot will get right on it.

The robot can also be programmed with “keep out zones” so it knows to avoid potentially sensitive areas such as pet bowls or sleeping babies, so you can focus your attention elsewhere while your house gets clean. And it will get clean. Because aside from the intelligent features, the vacuum pulls in dirt and messes with a premium three-stage cleaning system and ten times the power-lifting suction when compared to previous models.

One of the few downsides is that the i7 is still somewhat noisy and emits a loud whirring noise with random whining and bumping noises. Unfortunately, it also cannot operate in the dark, though with the considerable noise it makes, you probably wouldn’t want to have it running while you’re trying to sleep regardless.

Things to consider before buying a vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaners are a critical home investment—but they become moot if they don’t fit your particular necessities. So when choosing the best vacuum cleaner for your home, it helps to start by assessing your basic cleaning needs. For instance, does your home have primarily hard floors or carpeting? Are there a lot of stairs, or is everything on one level? If you’ve got hardwood floors and multiple levels, a canister-style vacuum might be your best bet. But on the other hand, people who have carpeted floors may be better off with a standard upright vacuum that deep cleans even high-pile carpeting.

While our furry friends add plenty of joy to our lives, their hair often doesn’t. It can make choosing a vacuum particularly challenging. Few things will clog a brush roll as much as pet hair does, so if you’ve got dogs and cats, it’s crucial to purchase a model specifically designed for pet hair. In other words, people with multiple pets, in particular, may want to steer clean of robot-style vacuums that clog easily, or worse, track pet messes throughout the house. In that case, head for the best vacuum for pet hair that you can get.

Depending on the size and layout of your home, you may even want to invest in a multiple-vacuum strategy to tackle a number of different surfaces and messes. Having more than one vacuum for different purposes can also extend the overall life, as you won’t be taxing a canister vacuum on carpeted floors or lugging a heavy upright vacuum up and down multiple flights of stairs. As such, this is why some folks prefer to have a designated vacuum for everyday cleaning, with a handheld or stick model for spot cleaning messes.

FAQs

Q: How much should you spend on a vacuum cleaner?

Most experts agree that you should spend a minimum of $150 on a new vacuum cleaner. Yes, there are cheaper options on the market, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Of course, if you have the money to splurge, there are high-end options that cost upwards of a thousand dollars or more, but overall, $400 to $500 is a reasonable price range for a top-of-the-line model that should last for many years to come with little to no maintenance.

Q: How long does a vacuum last?

How a vacuum cleaner will last depends on a range of factors such as quality, brand, and vacuum style. However, in general, you can expect most decent vacuum cleaners to last a median of approximately eight years before needing to be replaced.

Q: Is it worth getting a vacuum repaired?

If your vacuum is fairly new, it’s probably worth getting repaired, particularly if the product is still under manufacturer warranty and replacement parts may even be free. However, experts don’t advise fixing older vacuums after five years for upright vacuum cleaners and seven years for canister vacuums. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t fix your vacuum if you’ll be spending more than half the cost of a comparable new model.

Final thoughts

Though it’s the most pricey model on this list, it should come as little surprise that our overall pick for the best vacuum is the Dyson V11 Torque Drive. We love the suction power it provides in a lightweight, cordless package that can easily be carried around the house from floor to floor and that it works impressively on a variety of surfaces.

However, those looking for powerful suction but something a bit more affordable can’t go wrong with the Shark NV360 Navigator Lift. It scores high points for having the versatility of an upright vacuum combined with a canister vacuum and that it can also be used for various flooring types, upholstery, curtains, and more. Whether you go with the best stick vacuum or the best vacuum for pet hair, these models will serve you well for many years to come.

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