The best vacuum cleaner will be powerful to suck up dust, debris and dirt from your carpets and hard floors in no time. What's more, it should be light to manoeuvre around awkward corners, and carry up and down stairs without hassle.
But with so many different types of vacuum cleaner on the market, it can be challenging to know which one is right for your home. First, do you want corded or cordless? Corded tend to be more powerful for large coverage, while cordless is great for zipping around small spaces. or tackling stairs. Or perhaps a 2-in-1 upright that can transform into a handheld for those small clean-ups may be more suitable. If you really wanted to relax and put your feet up, invest in a self-emptying robot vac to do all the hard work for you.
In the meantime, we've rounded up a great selection of the best vacuum cleaners to suit every home, size and budget right now.
If your carpets are looking worse for wear, here's how to clean carpets with or without a carpet cleaner. If you're looking to upgrade, these are 5 things to look out for before buying a Dyson vacuum cleaner.
The Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 isn't the newest vacuum cleaner on the market, but its market longevity shows that it is one of the best. The NV352 offers the performance of two vacuums in one: It can be used as a traditional upright or converted into a canister vacuum. Numerous reviews of this budget-friendly vacuum note its excellent suction on both pile carpets and bare floors. In lab tests, it picked up pet hair and cereal with equal aplomb, providing a deep clean with ease. One of the neater features on the Navigator Lift-Away NV352 is the suction-release valve control — conveniently located on the handle-- which can be adjusted to lessen the vacuum’s grip on small rugs and shag carpets.
Though it looks and functions like an upright, the NV352’s clever design allows it to be converted into a canister vac. It comes with several hose attachments, too, making it ideal for reaching small spaces or drapes. Because its main body lacks wheels, you'll have to carry this vacuum around, but there's a well-placed handle for just this reason. The bagless NV352 also has a HEPA filter and an anti-allergy seal for keeping excess dust at bay.
If your home is a mix of hardwood floors and area rugs, the Shark Apex DuoClean (AZ1002) might be the answer to your multi-surface conundrum. It comes with two separate rollers — one with brushes for rugs and a soft, brushless one for hardwood floors. In addition to pulling double duty on floors, this vacuum Optimus Prime works as an upright but also converts into a canister-like vacuum cleaner, with several attachments for cleaning hard-to-reach places. Its low-clearance in canister mode means the nozzle will slide easily under furniture and other low-slung obstacles. The Apex DuoClean features three separate suction settings plus LED lights on the handle and floor nozzle that illuminate the dirt in front of it.
In addition to receiving high marks for cleaning a variety of surfaces, the Apex DuoClean got excellent reviews for picking up pet hair without getting it wrapped around the brush roll. Reviewers also praised the included motorized pet attachment for cleaning up cat hair on furniture.
The Miele C3 Complete Calima is a big step up from canister vacuums of yore. Its attachments all fit onboard and the nozzle hooks into place on the canister itself, virtually eliminating the potential for cartoon-like vacuum hose antics. The nozzle tube is also telescopic, which makes cleaning dusty ceiling fans a breeze.
Out of the box, the C3 Complete Calima is equipped with two floorheads—one for pile carpets and one for hardwood—plus a dusting brush and upholstery and crevice nozzles. Miele sells additional attachments for vacuuming almost anything you can imagine, including mattresses.
With HEPA filtration, tight rubber seals and a bagged design, the C3 Complete Calima is a great choice for allergy sufferers. Pet owners will also appreciate how well it picks up pet hair, dust, and dander on both bare floors and carpet.
Closely resembling what The Jetsons robot maid Rosie would use to clean, the Kenmore Elite 31150 looks like an old-school upright, but it's got a few tricks up its nozzle. This bagged vacuum features a HEPA filtration system, a telescopic wand and an extra long, 35-foot cord, making it a great choice for homes where available outlets are scarce.
Reviews praise this vacuum cleaner's carpet-cleaning prowess, while noting that it picked up nearly all of the debris on bare floors, too. The Elite 31150 features five levels of manual height adjustment for switching between bare floors and high pile carpet, but you’ll have to bend down to access it.
The crevice, brush and roller attachments also earn high marks for their suction, providing a deep clean. Too much power? The Elite 31150 features adjustable suction control to stop the vac from pulling the drapes off the rod. The vacuum is a bit heavy, and it's not as maneuverable as other uprights, but it excels at cleaning along edges.
The V11 Torque Drive cordless stick vacuum is Dyson's flagship cleaner that trumpets a 60-minute runtime and 14 cyclones generating 185 air watts of suction in Max mode. Dyson's unique, cyclone technology means vacuums are engineered with six layers of advanced whole machine filtration. Essentially, this captures 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns, expelling cleaner air around the home.
In addition to obliterating pet hair, the V11 has Dynamic Load Sensing technology that adjusts the vac to the surface and the battery's corresponding runtime. This information is displayed on the LCD screen near the handle where you can choose between Eco, Auto and Max cleaning modes as well as get guidance if the vac needs a blockage cleared.
Like Dyson’s other stick vacuums, the V11 Torque Drive’s brightly colored aesthetic isn’t for everyone. Its $600 price tag isn’t for everyone either. But reviews praise the V11’s automatically adjusting brush roll and strong cleaning power, especially for a cordless machine.
Is it overkill? Probably. But if you can afford it, why not get the most powerful cordless vacuum Dyson makes?
If you’re looking for a stick vacuum, but don’t want to break the bank, then look no further. The Eureka RapidClean Pro Lightweight Cordless Vacuum Cleaner features 2 power levels as well as LED headlights for when you vacuum dark spaces, such as under furniture. It can lie flat as you vacuum too, meaning it can squeeze under tight spaces. While it comes at a great price point, you still get some useful accessories including a crevice tool and a 2-in1 dusting brush.
With 40 minutes of battery life, you've got more than enough time to cover the whole house if need be. We like that you can also use it as a handheld to give the car or the stairs a quick once-over as well. Our only qualm would be that it can’t stand on its own, so you will need to prop it against a wall between uses.
Sometimes, the littlest messes are the biggest hassles, such as a box of spilled rice or kitty litter tracked through the house. While a full-size vacuum will get the job done, it can be a pain to lug around. Weighing in at just 2.6 pounds, the inexpensive Dustbuster CHV1410L features a rotating nozzle with an onboard brush and an extendable crevice tool for reaching into the far back corners of cabinets and under car seats.
While reviewers note that it's not the best option for cleaning Garfield's spot on the couch, this Dustbuster is ideal for eradicating the dust bunnies hiding out under the living room sofa. Like the Hoover Linx, the Dustbuster handheld vac is meant for short bursts of cleaning as reviewers note it lasts between 10 and 15 minutes on a charge.
If you really hate vacuuming, you’ll really like the iRobot Roomba s9+. It is one of our favorite robot vacuums and the most intelligent, but it is also the most expensive robot vacuum on the market today. This smartphone-controlled vac didn’t just go to college, it graduated at the top of its class.
We were impressed by its smooth, navigation around the home, which is due to its smarter, mapping abilities. Unlike other robot vacuums, it didn't bump into any baseboards or get stuck in awkward places. In addition, we liked its ability to clean inside corners very well.
Unfortunately, all that intelligence comes with a price tag of $1,099. But put the Roomba s9+ to work and prepare to be impressed. For starters, it maps the entire floor of a house in just a few runs. Once the map is complete, draw room boundaries, set no-go zones and set-up a cleaning schedule.
You’ll love the Roomba s9+ for more than just its brain, too. It’s a superb cleaner, too. In our tests, it picked up 100% of kitty litter on both carpet and hardwood floors. While it performs beautifully with minimal human intervention, it is loud, particularly when emptying its dustbin. However, its superior debris pickup and ease of setup and mapping were impressive. If this model is too pricey, check out more affordable picks on our best robot vacuums page.
The iLife V3s Pro is, without a doubt, our favorite budget robot vacuum and a Tom's Guide Editor's Choice. While it lacks the bells and whistles of fancier robot vacuums, the V3s Pro cleans house and does it exceptionally well-- especially for a budget vacuum. We were impressed by its performance in picking up pet hair and dirt/crumbs on hard floors. It also has no problems navigating over high-pile, throw rugs.
Unlike other robot vacuums equipped with a spinning roller brush, the V3s Pro has a suction opening that funnels debris directly into the dustbin. Though it’s loud, this design helps it dodge a common vacuum pitfall-- hair wrapped around the cleaning brush.
The V3s Pro’s cleaning prowess on hardwood floors blew us away. Though it struggled a bit on high pile carpet, it's ideal for homes with bare floors or thin rugs and multiple pets. In our lab tests, it picked up nearly all the pet hair we left for it, outperforming other vacs that cost three times as much.
Hopefully, you'll never need to use it to clean out a wet basement, but if you do, the 9-gallon DeWalt wet/dry shop vac (DXV09P) is the best vacuum cleaner for the job. It's nimble enough for smaller homes but large enough for cleaning up watery messes. Reviewers complimented the shop vac's superior build quality and excellent suction on everything from broken glass to wet carpeting.
This vacuum comes packaged with two extension wands; crevice, floor and utility nozzles; and a bag for all of them that attaches to the rear of the vacuum. Rubberized wheels give the DeWalt DXV09P easy movement and extra durability. It also comes with a washable cartridge filter that’ll trap small particles while you vacuum. But this vac’s most thoughtful feature is the hose strap on top. Anyone who’s wrestled with wrapping a 7-foot hose around a wet/dry vac-- only to have it magically come unwound-- will appreciate this subtle, but important, feature.
Which type of vacuum cleaner should I buy?
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There’s actually quite a few types of vacuum cleaner to choose from, including upright, cylinder, cordless, handheld and robot. If you’re new to the market you might be a little unsure of which type is best for you. Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons for each.
Upright — This is one of the most popular types. It sits ‘upright’ and you push it in front of you as you vacuum. It’s a corded design which offers lots of power. However, they can be quite heavy and uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. They’re also not the most maneuverable and struggle to reach under furniture. These are the best if you’ve got lots of high pile carpet though.
Cylinder — These feature a small body which rolls on the floor as you pull it behind you. It’s the most traditional of the designs and is particularly effective on hard floors. You can easily reach under furniture and up the stairs with this type of vacuum cleaner, plus it’s less work to use than an upright. However, they’re not great on pile carpets as many don’t come with a turbo brush. Ultimately, these are best for hard floor homes.
Cordless — Cordless vacuum cleaners have surged in popularity in recent years. They were originally designed for quick spills, but now they’re expected to replace corded models, covering the floors throughout a household before the battery runs flat. They’re not quite as powerful as corded types, but they’re getting close, and the lightweight, maneuverable design makes them the most pleasant and convenient type to use. They’re great if you live in a small space and don’t deal with stubborn debris. You will need to charge it between uses though, and the canister can fill quickly.
Handheld — Handheld vacuums are ideal for small spills and difficult to reach places. You couldn’t use it to vacuum a whole house — it’s usually compact and small enough to hold in one hand, and you typically use it for short periods of time. The canister can fill quickly though, and it’s not not great for embedded hair. These aren’t as popular to buy separately nowadays as most cordless models can also function as handheld vacuums.
Robot — Robot vacuum cleaners have been around for a while now, but they are still growing in popularity and becoming more developed. These will navigate themselves around your home independently and clean as they go. You will still need to empty the on-board canister, so it’s not completely hands-free, but it’s a much more convenient method of cleaning. They’re not as powerful as the corded models, but they’re getting there. More innovations are being introduced to robot vacuums, such as self-emptying designs and machine learning to recognize obstacles.
It's also important that you consider whether you want a bagged or bagless vacuum. Check out our guide on bagged vs. bagless vacuum for more info.
Even if you find the right vacuum cleaner, make sure you're using it properly. Here are 9 vacuum cleaner mistakes you’re probably making.
When to replace your vacuum cleaner
Depending on the brand and model, a vacuum cleaner comes with a one to five year warranty. But, on average, your vacuum should stay in good working order for eight years. Most manufacturers offer extended warranties but we don't recommend them since the repair cost is likely to be less than the cost of the warranty itself.
The main sign that a vacuum needs replacing is a lack of suction. But before buying a new one, make sure to replace the bag, remove hair and other debris from the brush head, clean or replace the filter, or clear any clogs in the hose. Your vacuum might also need a new drive belt, which is an easy and inexpensive fix. However, if you’re quoted more than 50 percent of the price of a new vacuum, our advice is to consider buying a replacement.
By purchasing a new vacuum, you can take advantage of some of the new developments. Many models now come with HEPA filters that trap microscopic particles like dust, dander and pollen, which is particularly useful if someone in your house has allergies. You can increase the level of protection from allergens by choosing a sealed model so air doesn’t escape from cracks and crevices and actually gets channeled into the HEPA filter.
The most dramatic change in the world of vacuums is the wide selection of robot vacuums that can effortlessly keep your floors spotless. They can even go behind the furniture and under beds, places you might not be able to get to if you were doing the job yourself. Most of these robots can be controlled with a smartphone app, or through Alexa or Google Assistant.
Vacuum Cleaner Attachments
Depending on the model you’ve chosen, this appliance can come with several attachments all of which do different jobs. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common attachments and what each are for:
- Crevice tool — This is a long thin tube which is designed to reach into awkward areas, such as down the sides of vehicle seats. These are also useful for vacuuming along skirting boards.
- Dirt brush — This tool comes with stiff bristles on it to help dislodge dirt as you vacuum.
- Mini motorized brush/Pet tool — Mini-motorized brushes are becoming more popular with stick vacuums. These alternative motorized heads are designed to be used on handheld vacuums. As they feature a rotating brush, they have much better pickup than other accessories and can be great for pet hair.
- Mattress tool/Upholstery tool — A small, flat head, which is designed to vacuum the mattress or upholstery, removing dirt and allergens.
- Combination or 2-in1 tool — A common attachment which features soft bristles that can slide over a small nozzle or be locked back in place. This makes it good for delicate work and everyday cleaning.
- Dusting brush — This tool features soft bristles over a small nozzle which makes it ideal for dislodging dust from delicate surfaces, such as lampshades.
How we tested
With the exception of robot vacuums, our selection for the best vacuum cleaners were based on extensive consumer report research, and online reviews. We rated power and how well each vacuum cleaner performed on various surfaces. These included use on high and low pile carpets alongside hardwood and tile flooring.
In addition, we looked at ease of use, and how weight impacted on lifting and carrying around the home. Other factors included practicality, design, number of accessories, and how easy it is to clean and store.
How often should you vacuum?
You should vacuum as often as necessary. If you notice fluff and crumbs appearing on your floors, then it needs a vacuum. Once a week is generally good guidance, however if you have shedding pets or allergies, then you may need to do it more often. This is also the case for high-traffic areas.
Should you dust or vacuum first?
You should always dust before you vacuum. That way, any airborne dust which you didn't collect will settle on the floor to be picked up by the vacuum. Doing this the other way around would be counterproductive.
Next: If you're interested in doing up outdoor spaces, then you may want to read our guide on the best outdoor rugs.
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