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The vacuum cleaner is one of the most useful home appliances to own. Pet hair, dirt, debris: no one wants grime littering their home. The market in 2019 is flooded with hundreds of different models of vacuums to meet increasing consumer demands. This is especially true in the last few years with the introduction of robot vacuum cleaners, which provide a new alternative to traditional cleaning methods. Between all the types, designs, features, and prices, it might seem tricky to discover the best fit for your unique needs.

Product Reviews

Our Top 3 Vacuums 

Best Cordless Vacuum Best Upright Vacuum Best Budget Vacuum
Tineco A11 Cordless Stick Vacuum Shark Apex Upright Vacuum - AZ1002 Moosoo Corded Stick Vacuum - D600

Best Vacuum Cleaners Buying Guide

 

To determine which vacuum is best for you, it's a good idea to have a better understanding of a few basic types of vacuum cleaners and their functions. Let's break it down together.

 

What are the Basic Types of Vacuum Cleaners?

 

Corded

Red Carpet Upright Vacuum Cleaner Against White Background.
Flashon Studio/Shutterstock.com
Vacuum cleaner isolated on white background. 3d illustration.
Maxx-Studio/Shutterstock.com

 

When someone thinks vacuum cleaner, a traditional corded upright model probably comes to mind (see above, left). There are two main types of corded cleaners: upright and canister vacuums. Today, these corded varieties are much more advanced than in years past and often less bulky, too. The most obvious benefits to this variety are that they boast powerful suction and build quality without the constant need to keep them charged. A less obvious benefit is that these vacuums are incredibly common, so a wide selection of them exists. Some are quite simple and stripped down, while others are loaded up with extra features. This selection means that most people can find something to work for their particular cleaning needs.

 

While having a cord means that you won't have to worry about charging your vacuum, you will have to put up with some of the inconveniences these cords pose. Wrapping and unwrapping cords can be annoying, as can constantly having to plug in to an outlet, especially if said cords are shorter. It's extremely important to keep vacuum cords in good condition and to check for any breaks or tears in the insulation. After all, faulty cords can pose serious hazards. Another drawback is that some (but not all) models can be heavy. Those with lots of stairs or back problems can therefore find bulkier cleaners harder to manage.

 

Pros
Cons
  • Powerful suction
  • Great variety
  • No charging required
  • Power outlet required
  • Tend to be heavier
  • Hassle of dealing with cords

 

Cordless

A woman in a white dress uses a cordless vacuum cleaner on multiple surfaces

 

Cordless designs are a little newer than corded ones. However, there are still plenty of models on the market, so you won't be facing any shortage of options. Many are lightweight, making them incredibly convenient for older individuals and those who have lots of stairs. Another upside is the lack of a cord, which means you will not be tethered to an outlet. The cordless stick vacuum cleaner works best in places with fewer outlets, such as older apartments and homes.

 

While the cord-free design in and of itself is convenient, it does pose a slight limitation: run time. The power source is a rechargeable battery that will require careful charging between uses. If you don't clean everything before the battery runs out, you have to place this chore on hold while your appliance recharges. Depending on the type of battery, it is also possible to leave the unit plugged in for too long. If these batteries are full and you let them continue to charge, you can actually harm them. So, try to avoid overcharging to optimize these models.

 

Because of the rechargeable battery, this type also tends to be slightly less durable than a corded model. This is because cord-free designs can be more mechanically complex. Therefore, more problems can potentially arise. A good cordless stick vacuum cleaner should still last you for years as long as you buy a high-quality model and take care of it.

 

Interested in learning more?

 

See the Best Cordless Stick Vacuums

 

Pros
Cons
  • Lightweight
  • No outlet required
  • Diverse selection
  • Requires charging
  • Slightly less durable

 

Handheld

A woman in a white dress uses a handheld vacuum cleaner to clean up a countertop

 

The handheld vacuum cleaner is probably not a direct competitor for the full-sized corded and cordless models in most cases. In terms of suction power and bag capacity, it falls short to them in comparison. It is really more of a supplement for special cleaning cases, like stairs or getting underneath or on top of furniture and other hard-to-reach places. You might want to consider a handheld if you already own a full-sized model and want something that can get into the tricky areas without using a tube attachment. Another good reason to own one is if you live in a house or apartment that is mostly hardwood flooring but you have some rugs and carpets that could benefit from vacuuming.

 

A handheld will do what you need at a much lower price than a full-sized model. Handhelds can be corded or cordless. You should see plenty of different models and brands, so you can get something that meets your specific needs.

 

Interested in learning more?

 

See the Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

 

Pros
Cons
  • Usually cheaper than larger sizes
  • Lightweight
  • Great for hard-to-reach places
  • Less suction power
  • Smaller bag/dust bin capacity

 

Robot

 

Robots like the Roomba are the newest and flashiest type of vacuum cleaner. They roam around on their own, suck up debris, and then return to their port when their bag is full or they need to charge. These robots are great because they minimize most of the work involved with vacuuming. Setting them up and periodically cleaning out their dust bins is about all of the maintenance these machines require. Better yet, some models even come with self-emptying bins! This makes robot vacuum cleaners great options for those who have little time to devote to household chores. They're also great for senior citizens who wish to live on their own but may have a harder time vacuuming their own space. Since they can work on both hardwood and carpet, they are great for a variety of homes, condos, and apartments.

 

A baby with a robotic vacuum cleaner on the floor
esp2k/Shutterstock.com

 

There are, however, noticeable drawbacks to these machines. They have a smaller dust bin capacity and less suction power than full-sized models, for one. Depending on the brand, some have a hard time with multiple rooms, complex furniture arrangements, and other obstacles. To remedy this drawback, look for models that can remember a map of your rooms.

 

Interested in learning more?

 

See the Best Robot Vacuums See the Best iRobot Roombas

 

 

Pros
Cons
  • Low maintenance
  • Incredibly convenient
  • Most self-charge
  • Smaller dust bin/bag capacity
  • Less suction power

 

Which Vacuums are Best for Different Surfaces?

 

Multi-Surface Cleaning

 

Many people who buy vacuums will use them on both hardwood flooring and carpeting. There are unique challenges associated with these surfaces, so a good vacuum cleaner that can handle both has to offer powerful suction and well-designed wheels. That will 1) ensure a minimal risk of the carpet getting stuck in the wheels, 2) provide enough power to lift anything embedded in the fibers, and 3) have enough reach to manage the corners of a hardwood floor. It will cost more to get two vacuums compared to one good one, so do some research into the more powerful models to save yourself some money in the long run.

 

Hardwood Floors

 

Hardwood floors are nice because there's no need to get deep into twisty fibers or knots to access dirt and dust. So, vacuums with less suction power can typically do a fine job of cleaning these surfaces.

 

Carpet

 

Carpet is generally harder to clean because dirt and debris can get pushed down and wrap around the carpet's fibers. If you want to really clean your carpet, opt for a vacuum with lots of suction powergood bristles, and large wheels. High suctioning power means you won't have to repeatedly go over the same spot to make sure all the dirt is removed. High-quality bristles can push around the carpet fibers and free up anything that has gotten stuck. Finally, the wheels need to be large so that carpet fibers don't get wrapped up in them.

 

What Special Features Should I Look For?

 

Vacuum cleaners often have extra features that expand their functionality and help them clean better. You can use them to help narrow down your list of potential purchases.

 

Pet Hair Attachment

 

An attachment or filter for pet hair can be a real life-saver for pet parents. For some kinds of pets, hair and fur can spread all over the house. It can also be hard to pick up without suction power, so things like brooms won't do as good of a job. Having an efficient way to deal with that easily can save you a lot of time. 

 

Woman using vacuum cleaner remove cat hair from a sofa.
Cat Box/Shutterstock.com

 

Battery Life

 

For cordless models, battery life is a major concern. You want enough battery to last through your entire cleaning session. Battery power is less important for robot models because they can take themselves back to their charging station.

 

Cord Length

 

You want as long of a cord as possible if you have a corded model. A long cord means you don't have to switch outlets as often. You'll have to avoid running over the cord, though. Fortunately, many corded models have a way to wrap extra lengths of cord around special hooks on the body of the appliance. This is also useful for storage so that the cord doesn't get tangled when in storage.

 

Filter and Dust Bin

 

The size of the filter or bag also affects the usability of the vacuum cleaner. The bigger it is, the less often you have to empty it. A well-designed bag won't let anything get caught in folds or at the bottom, so everything slides right out.

 

Suction Power

 

Suction power is probably the single most important characteristic to look for in a new vacuum cleaner. It doesn't need to be overwhelming, but more power means less work for you, and matters more if you have carpet. Keep in mind that more suction power usually means a louder noise. Also, while rare, powerful suction might actually damage weak or poorly installed carpeting. Be sure to check that the model you're interested in specifically says it is safe to use on carpets.

 

Which Vacuum Cleaner is Right for Me?

Full length portrait of cheerful young woman 20s listening to music via wireless headphones and having fun with vacuum cleaner isolated over blue background.
Dean Drobot/Shutterstock.com

 

The bottom line is that buying the best vacuum cleaner requires some research. There are many different brands and models for on the market in 2019, so it pays in the long run to review your options carefully. Before you buy anything, take a look at some customer reviews to make sure there are no problems with durability or breakdowns. Think about the layout of where you live and what kind of flooring you have, and that will steer you toward the right choice for you. When you are looking over your options, it pays to remember that suction power and durability matter most.

 

Disclaimers/Image Credit*