A vacuum cleaner is one of the most useful cleaning tools you have in your house. Either you want to spent a small fortune on it, or you want to go for a more budget friendly option, a vacuum cleaner is a must-have in every home.
Read our guide below if you want to know which things to consider when buying a vacuum cleaner and be sure you are making the best decision.
What should I look for when buying a vacuum cleaner?
One of the first things to consider when buying a vacuum cleaner is what type of surfaces you’ll be vacuuming and how much time you have for cleaning up. If your house has mainly carpets, an upright vacuum cleaner is the better choice. However, that doesn’t mean a canister style vacuum can’t handle carpets! More than that, they’re also great at cleaning bare floors, vacuuming stairs and sucking up dirt from corners. If you decide to go with this one, make sure it has a floor nozzle with a motorized brush roll and height adjustment options for different pile carpets.
As mentioned before, canister style vacuums are a great option for hardfloors. Therefore, if you are a hardwood or tile flooring lover, with just some rugs here and there, this type of vacuum will do the job for you. They are also very good for homes with low pile carpeting and are usually equipped with floor tools for cleaning scatter rugs. If you have deep pile carpets around the house and you don’t want an upright hoover, there are options for canister vacuum cleaners that feature high quality floor nozzles that can handle this type of carpets.
Another important thing to consider is how often you hoover and how much time you have for it. The frequency of your cleaning schedule can be impacted by the ease or difficulty of storing and accessing your vacuum. If vacuuming is part of the daily routine, a robotic hoover can be a life saver. You can schedule it to clean while you are at work or running errands, so you return to grit free floors.
If there are specific areas in your home, where the debris tends to concentrate, a stick vacuum will help take care of daily messes in a quick and effective manner. There are also light-weight uprights and compact canisters with parking features that make them easy to store and use at a moment’s notice.
Two other important questions to ask when buying a vacuum cleaner are: Is it easy to handle and manoeuvre and can it really remove dust and dirt from all areas of my home? There are many manoeuvrable, light-weight cordless vacuums that have great suction power and long run times that can handle multiple floor types. There are also lightweight vacuums in both upright and canister styles that make transporting them between floors easy. There is always the option of an additional hoover. Either you have a main floor that really benefits from a multi-function machine, or you have different flooring types on each level, you can purchase a smaller vacuum to save yourself from going up and down the stairs with a heavy machine.
If you can’t decide whether you need a vacuum with a bag or a bagless one, rest assured, as neither is better. It’s just a matter of personal preference. Bagless cleaners save you the trouble of buying extra bags, however they are a bit messy to empty and the filters must be kept clean. Vacuums with bags keep dirt and dust more contained, however in case you sucked up a small object accidentally, it might be quite difficult to retrieve it.
Don’t get fooled by the number of amps or watts. These numbers are simply measurements of the electrical current used by the motor. So more amps doesn’t mean better cleaning. A vacuum cleaner’s performance depends on airflow, the amount of suction it produces, and other factors including the overall design and attachments.
If you or someone in your family is struggling with asthma or allergies, then you might consider buying a vacuum that provides HEPA filtration. This can be an important contributor to improving your indoor air quality. This type of filters capture tiny particulate matter so that the exhausted air is actually cleaner than what was sucked into the vacuum. There are also machines that include some level of charcoal filtration to help control odours—great for pet owners. You could also opt for a vacuum that not only uses HEPA filters but does so in a completely sealed system. This means that there is virtually no leakage of air through the housing or fittings of the machine and all air (along with pollutants) is forced through the filtration system, leaving your indoor air allergen free.
Types of vacuums
Canister vacuum – they are great on hard surfaces or for smaller carpeted areas. They generally have great suction and flow rate, which means easier and faster cleaning for you; they are also quieter than other types of vacuums. The tool options for canister vacuums are quite extensive, which means are great for multi surface use. Crevice tools, small brush tools, dry floor tools, and carpet tools all help clean various types of floors and debris. You can choose between dry and wet-dry canister hoovers. The first type is a very versatile tool, and could be used for cleaning dust and dirt on both hard or soft floors. The second one is a great help in case of wet spills, like water or even oil residue. Some wet-dry canister vacuums can even clean flooded areas, depending on tank size.
Overall, canister vacuums are versatile, lightweight, easy to use and offer high manoeuvrability, making them high performing and built for productivity.
Upright vacuum – ideal for large, carpeted areas of the house. The large head allows upright vacuums to balance on their own, and it is very handy when vacuuming large areas. Its wide footprint helps you clean even the largest room very quickly. The one-piece design makes them easy to use and to store. You could place them in a closet or anywhere you have some space. There are models that offer customized wall mounts that help free up floor space. The handle on upright vacuums lets you push, pull, or carry the whole device with a single hand, so it is easy to move them around.
Some designs are bagless while others have bags to capture dust and debris. Features can include height adjustments for easy transition from dense carpet cleaning to hardwood floors with the flip of a switch. The bagless design makes them really easy to empty and clean.
In terms of manoeuvrability, upright vacuums can’t reach all those corners and crevices. Even with the added attachments, it can still be awkward to reach behind and around furniture. Not to mention that cleaning your stairs might be a bit tricky. You will have to move their heavy frame from step to step, and also balance them in case the wide head is bigger than the step.
And don’t forget about the power cord. Most upright vacuums do not include a retractable cord. Instead they tend to have hooks around which you can wrap the loose cord. Because of this, the cord is far more likely to get tangled and/or become a trip hazard. Upright vacuums are almost always louder than canister vacuums. Their unibody design makes it hard to muffle the sound from the motor.
Stick vacuums – also known as sweeper vacuums, they are the middle ground between an upright and a handheld vacuum. Very popular because of their compact size and lightweight, they are very agile, reaching into places where corded vacuums won’t, or are inconvenient to use. When you have a quick clean up, pulling out a corded vacuum and finding an outlet to plug in can be terribly inconvenient. A cordless cleaner let you address the issue quickly and efficiently without any fuss or disruption. They are also much quieter than a traditional vacuum and take very less space as compared to the heavier variants.
Most stick vacuums have a dirt cup, as opposed to bags/ filters, to collect debris. The dust container needs to be emptied regularly so as not to let the dust settle.
Given all the benefits, it is clear that a stick vacuum is your everyday vacuum cleaner. While you may keep a heavier, canister vacuum for deep cleaning, you should definitely keep the other one around for lighter tasks. It’s easy to move and manoeuvre, makes less noise, and even your kids can vacuum with this lightweight contraption.
Carpet cleaners – this type of vacuum uses warm water for spot removal and carpet treatment. Also called carpet extractors or carpet shampooers, these devices spray the carpet with soapy water, then use vacuum technology to brush the fibres and suck up the water, dirt and stains from the carpeting. They work by having both a clean and dirty tank. The clean tank is where the water and cleaning solution is stored. After you pull the trigger, this solution is sprayed onto the carpet and then sucked up into the dirty water tank. They’re also a versatile piece of kit, with many of the models featuring hard-floor, upholstery and even stair cleaning capabilities. However, while these are great for day to day spills or dirt, you should consider hiring a carpet cleaning company once per year for a deep cleaning.
These vacuums are not design for everyday use.
Handheld vacuums – portable and cordless design make this type of hoover ideal for small areas. Lightweight, quiet and easy to use, are perfect for cleaning up after kids or pets. Their compact size not only makes them easy to carry around, but also easy to store on a shelf or corner of a closet.
If you buy a handheld vacuum cleaner with plenty of attachments and you’ll be able to clean virtually every space in your house. A narrow-ended crevice tool can go between couch cushions, blinds and the seats of your car. It can also fit in small spaces between walls and furniture and quickly suck up unseen dust and pet hair from corners and under cabinets.
A soft-tip brush tool with an extension tube or telescoping handle can dust baseboards, blinds and those pesky cobwebs in the ceiling corners. Use it to clean ceiling and floor vents, hardwood floors and knickknacks on shelves. Other attachments can clean couches, stairs and ceiling fans. Again, the possibilities are endless.
Another important aspect to take into account, handheld vacuums are very easy to maintain. Many models are bagless, so you don’t have to buy extra equipment or stockpile bags. Simply dump the contents in the trash and you’re ready to clean the next mess. Most filters can be changed easily, and the parts seldom need cleaning or repair.
You might think that due to their small size and light-weight nature, handheld vacuums aren’t very powerful. But, really this couldn’t be less true. The overall power will vary from unit to unit and brand to brand, but there is a wide variety of handheld vacuums available that pack a powerful punch.
Pet hair vacuums – these vacuums are designed to collect pet hair and minimize pet odours in your home. They are tough and powerful, and deliver stronger suction to suck up fur wherever it’s hiding, whether you’re cleaning corners or carpet fibres.
Most pet hair vacuums are very versatile, which means they can tackle all kinds of different floors and surfaces, including carpeting, hardwood, tile, upholstery, and more. The specialized attachments, tools and bristles they will help you eliminate fur from every corner of your house. The main difference between them and the traditional cleaners, is the ability to easily detach and clean the “beater brush” that commonly gets clogged when faced with large amounts of pet hair. Pet hair vacuum usually feature more effective filters and large dust cups, so they can trap and collect dust as well as all kinds of allergens.
Robotic vacuums – are an autonomous device that is designed to clean carpet, tiles and hardwood floors of all dirt and debris, much like other types of vacuum cleaners, with the difference that they minimize the amount of work a homeowner needs to do.
Robotic vacuum has become very popular in recent years, partly because they are more affordable now, but also because they are more efficient than they used to be. The greatest benefits of owning this type of cleaner are that they are extremely easy to use and real time savers. Once the machine is programmed for a given space and the timer is set for a predetermined start time, the product virtually runs itself. In addition, many models have been refined over the years to be self-regulating and nearly fool proof, that means you don’t have to worry about your vacuum malfunctioning or becoming stuck on a surface.
Small, compact and easy to store, robotic vacuums provide multiple tasks. They not only clean, they remember the layout of your space, are able to dump the dirt they collect, and then find their way back to the charging station. Some higher-end models have advanced sensors and are also able to transition between bare floors and carpeted areas without manually switching settings. Other allow you to control them through a smartphone app.
With its ease of use and hands-free operation, a robot vacuum cleaner can be a liberating product for elderly or physically impaired people.
Most vacuum cleaners come with three or four basic attachments meant to be used for specific tasks. However, very often you just skip them and use the same one all the time. Either you are in a hurry and you don’t have enough time/energy to switch different brushes, or you are not sure how they work, you might not use your vacuum cleaner at his full potential.
Vacuum cleaner attachments serve to concentrate the air flow as it enters the vacuum. Since suction depends on the size and shape of the passage, different attachments are better suited to different cleaning jobs.
The common four:
- Crevice tool – with its skinny shape and angled tip, this attachment will save lots of time and work in cleaning tight spots. From corners, window ledges, air vents, dryer lint trap to baseboards, bookshelves and between sofa cushions, this tool got you covered.
- Dust brush – circular or rectangular, with long bristles, this accessory is designed for dusting. Its long, soft hairs are gentle and wont scratch surfaces. You could use it on furniture, blinds, lampshades, framed art or even on the dashboard of your car. Dirt and dust will cling to the bristles and get sucked into the open centre of the brush.
- Upholstery tool – with super strong suction, this flat attachment is perfect for removing the dust from between fabric fibres. Use it on furniture, curtains and even on your mattress.
- Extension wand – as the name suggests, this accessory extends the length of the vacuum hose and can be paired with another vacuum attachment, which fastens to the end of the wand. This gives you more reach, and nabs dust dangling from high ceilings and corners or buried deep behind appliances.
Canister vac-only tools:
- Motorized brush head – sometimes called the “power nozzle,” this large attachment has a rotating brush to clean carpets more like an upright. Some allow you to turn off the rotation, so you can use it on bare floors, too.
- Bare floor brush – this wide narrow tool has short, stiff bristles for removing fine dust and grit from hardwoods and tile. Typically featuring wheels or a swivel head, the design and shape of this attachment make it easy to manoeuvre around a room and clean under furniture and appliances.
- Turbo brush – this tool is very similar to the canister’s motorized brush head but smaller. With a swivel head, rotating bristles, and compact size it provides a deep clean for stairs without the need to lug the vacuum up every step. Some allow you to turn off the rotation, so you can use it on bare floors, too.
- Mattress attachment – this tool is designed to remove the dust and allergens from your mattresses. Some have textured pads, extra width, or a unique shape for the job.
- Ceiling Fan and Blind Attachments – these tools will help you get to the top of fan blades and between blinds.
- Pet groomer – this comb helps you handle shedding at home… if your pet doesn’t freak out at the sound of the vacuum.
A good, properly maintained vacuum cleaner can last for up to 10/15 years. When not properly maintained, not only will your vacuum pick up less and take more time to finish the job, but in time you could damage the motor, brush roll filters and even your carpeting.
- Clean the attachments – using a damp cloth and mild detergent, wipe off any dirt from the casing, hoses and tools. You should do it every month, or depending on how often you use your vacuum and how dirty it gets, every second week. You could also use the crevice tool to vacuum the rug/floor attachment. Make sure the unit is unplugged before proceeding with the cleaning.
- Clean the brush roll – needs to be maintained and hair cleaned off regularly. If you do not take the time to do so it will wind up on the roll and can cut through the brush roll bushings on the power head. You can use a scissor to cut the threads and clogged fibres.
- Know where to look for blockages – when blockages occur, unplug the unit and inspect the wand, hose, and beater bar, as well as the intake and exhaust ports to ensure that they are free of obstructions.
- Clean/change the bag – when suction seems to be less effective it is a good sign to change your bag and filters. Check the bag and if it is three quarters full it is time for a new bag. To minimize the spread of dust, change and empty cloth bags outdoors, or inside a large garbage bag if you must do it indoors.
- Clean the dirt container – if your vacuum has a bin, empty it and then rinse it with plain water only (never add detergent) and dry it thoroughly before replacing it. The inner cyclone, shroud, and cone should never get damp or wet. To remove lint build-up on the shroud, clean it with a dry cloth or brush.
- Change/clean filters – if your vacuum uses a replaceable paper filter, check it every week when you check the bag. Many filters can be rinsed clean, dried, and reused. A filter that is torn or very dirty should be replaced. A blocked filter will also prevent the free flow of air through the vacuum. Never use the vacuum without the filter. For HEPA filters, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Replace the motor belt – without a functioning belt, the brush won’t rotate to maintain cleaning effectiveness. Belts will stretch over time and should be inspected every six to eight months. When you notice that you need to go over the same area two or three times, it may be because the motor’s belt has stretched. With most models, you can replace it yourself by buying a new belt from your vacuum’s manufacturer and following the instructions on the package.
- See a professional – if you vacuum between 30 to 60 minutes each week, your vacuum should be serviced every 12 months. Take your vacuum to a dealership or reliable repair shop for a professional cleaning and to have damaged parts replaced. Proper servicing should include belt and filter inspections and a check for any clogs.
Best vacuum cleaners 2021
Canister vacuum cleaner:
- Complete C3 Vacuum for Soft Carpet from Miele – powerful suction, excellent filtration and high versatility are just a few of their advantages. The C3 Series features a 12-stage sealed air system so that no dust escapes. Allergy sufferers will love the high filtration bag and HEPA Air Clean filter. It is lightweight, the canister weighing only 12 lbs. Miele vacuums are extremely quiet compared to other canisters (they are sound insulated) and are German engineered to last. It’s equipped with a telescoping wand, dusting brush, upholstery tool and a crevice tool to tackle any type of flooring.
- Solid construction;
- Excellent filtration;
- Works on all carpet heights and densities;
Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G Corded Canister Vacuum – this is the best canister cleaner in the budget category. This basic vacuum delivers exceptional cleaning performance on bare floors, where it easily clears pet hair as well as bulky and small debris, like cereal or rice, without too much difficulty. It clears an impressive amount of debris on low-pile carpet and does a good job of sucking up material on high-pile carpet.
Is also very lightweight, which makes it easy to pick and carry to another room or manoeuvre in cluttered areas. Its dirt bag is fairly spacious, so you shouldn’t need to empty it too often. It’s also fantastically easy to maintain, as the few parts that need to be cleaned periodically are simple to access.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel especially premium, and while the assembly isn’t too complicated, the wand could fall apart if it isn’t properly put together. It also doesn’t come with very many tools, with only a combination upholstery and crevice tool with a sliding hard bristle brush at one end. Otherwise, this is a good choice if you’re looking for a basic canister vacuum that delivers good overall performance on a variety of surface types.
Stick vacuum cleaner:
- Cyclone V10 Absolute Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum from Dyson – this model is super lightweight and with the wands removed, it converts to a handheld vacuum for even more versatility. It has three power modes and includes a crevice tool and a combination dusting/upholstery tool, a mini soft dusting brush and a mini motorized tool with a rotating brush for cleaning fabric and carpeted stairs. The Dyson stick vac is super easy to use and it comes with two heads — one for carpets and one for bare floors.
- Hoover H-FREE 500 Pet HF522UPT Cordless Vacuum Cleaner – this is a more budget friendly option than Dyson. It stands up on its own, reaching just 69cm high when parked, but also comes with a wall mount for easy storage. The crevice nozzle is on the short side and a full recharge takes a hefty six hours, but this solid all-rounder is a steal for its price. The rotating brush in its floor head efficiently nips out pet hairs, as does its handheld turbo brush, making it a savvy buy for pet owners.
Upright vacuum cleaner
- Shark APEX Upright Vacuum Cleaner – if you prefer bagless vacuums, but still want a model that filters out tiny particles, the Shark APEX is a great option. The entire vacuum is sealed for better dust retention and the HEPA filter, unlike others that need replacing, is washable. Pet owners will appreciate the brush roll that’s designed to minimize messy hair tangles. Because it converts from an upright to a canister with the press of a button, tackling stairs and reaching corners is easy enough.
- Pet Hair Eraser Turbo Plus Upright Vacuum Cleaner – this vacuum addresses all the vacuum cleaner issues that pet owners face, and it comes fully loaded with features that’ll suck up every last bit of pet hair. A tangle-free brush roll keeps pet hair from clogging the bristles, and a hair spooling system inside the canister contains the mess so emptying is easier and cleaner. Its sealed allergen system traps fine particles and the filter uses Febreze technology to eliminate those stale odours that vacuuming up pet hair can generate.
Handheld vacuum cleaner
- 20V Cordless Cube Compact Vacuum Cleaner – has a unique compact, boxy shape, removable battery that fits into other WORX tools and a top handle. Its crevice and brush tools store right on it, and a built-in flexible hose reaches four feet. The hose makes it easy to reach into tight spaces, and it runs for approximately 23 minutes at standard power on one charge.
Robotic vacuum cleaner
- Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum – it can map and remember multiple rooms and floor plans. Does a great job in quickly and effectively spot cleaning a small area. It detects carpet automatically to ramp up suction only when needed, and its double rubber roller brushes won’t clog with pet hair like bristles have a tendency to do. When it’s finished cleaning, the vacuum returns to its charging base and dirt is automatically transferred into a large-capacity bag for mess-free disposal: it seals completely before you toss to keep dust and dirt contained.
- Vax Platinum Power Max Carpet Cleaner – powerful and ergonomic, this cleaner is able to remove up to 93% of bacteria, along with other fungi and allergens, leaving your carpets fresh and dry within an hour. Thanks to a hand wash tool and stretch hose, you can easily clean above the floor, stairs, car seats or any stubborn spot stains and spills. As well as washing your carpets, the Platinum Power Max also rinses them for a perfect finish. The rinse function will remove any shampoo residue left in your carpets after washing, leaving them looking, feeling and smelling like new. Equipped with 7 SpinScrub and rotating brush bars, this carpet cleaner is able to clean deep within the carpet fibres, removing the embedded dirt that vacuuming alone can’t reach.
- Bissell ProHeat 2x Revolution Pet Pro – this large carpet cleaner is designed for use on carpets, rugs, stairs and upholstery, and is equipped with a wealth of useful attachments. Lightweight and manoeuvrable, it helps you to reach those awkward spots around your home. Deep Clean mode delivers powerful, professional cleaning results, while Express Clean Mode can have your carpets dry in about an hour. The upholstery head cleans sofas and seat cushions well, applying the cleaning solution evenly and easily reaching corners and crevices. It is loud when in use though, and upholstery will be left damp and needs a few hours to completely dry.