The Best Vacuum Cleaners You Can Buy Now
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There’s only one household appliance with the power to totally suck and have us love it for it: the vacuum cleaner. People even tend to be pretty opinionated about them, especially since today’s sleek and powerful machines have set new industry standards. Suddenly, the household vacuum has become more than just a cleaning tool; it’s a status symbol — a point of pride worth talking about and showing off. Some are even more than just vacuums, with the ability to mop, self-navigate, and connect to our phones. It can be as challenging to separate fact from emotional attachment as it is to determine which bells and whistles are worth the investment. For these reasons, we’ve put the newest, most popular, and even the most underrated vacuums on the market to the test to determine which ones truly are the best. If you’re in the market for a vacuum cleaner, whether it’s handheld, hands-free, or the color pink (why not?), you’re bound to find your perfect match right here.
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What to Consider Before Buying a Vacuum
There are seemingly endless factors involved in choosing the best vacuum for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, which is why research is so important — and why recommendations should be taken with context. Here’s what to think about:
Upright: These are the vacuums you’re probably most familiar with. They’re usually larger and heavier than stick vacuums in order to hold themselves up but have a whole lot of power and are especially suited for deep carpet cleanings. This makes them ideal for larger households.
Stick: These vacuums are the most popular, especially for those in smaller spaces and apartments. Usually, they’re lightweight and easier to store than bigger upright models. They also have great maneuverability. The downside? They typically can’t stand on their own and aren’t as powerful as other vacuums, and they work better on hardwood and low-pile carpeting since all debris has to make a sharp right angle to reach the canister.
Canister: While these vacuums are an older style, they’re now made with today’s standards and are still a great option if you want something powerful for your hardwood flooring and low-pile carpet. The long hose makes them convenient for reaching out-of-the-way spots, and they tend to be lighter than uprights, although the fuller-sized models can be difficult to store if you lack closet space.
Handheld: If you have pets, kids, a vehicle, or just don’t want to deal with your regular vacuum’s attachments, a handheld vacuum is a good addition to your cleaning arsenal. They’re best for light cleaning (like pet hair on upholstery or dry spills), but obviously aren’t ideal for large area cleaning.
Mini: Yes, vacuums got even smaller. Mini vacuums are palm-sized picker-uppers that are great for those on the go or who like to keep their immediate space sparkling clean.
Robot: Another great option for households with pets, robot vacuums are designed to run on their own. They aren’t great for a deep clean but are a solid choice for regular maintenance.
Corded: Most vacuums are corded, meaning they must be plugged in to run. The con of a corded vacuum is that you have to keep finding new outlets if you have a large space, giving you less flexibility. But they make up for being limited by usually being more powerful than cordless models.
Cordless: Most stick vacuum models are now cordless, meaning they run on a battery charge. While cordless vacuums give you freedom to access every spot in your home with no trouble, they need to be charged regularly to avoid dwindling battery power, which reduces their effectiveness, possibly without you even knowing it.
Bagged: Most traditional vacuums come with a bag that has to be emptied out once it’s full. Bagged vacuums catch everything rather than use a filter to decrease what’s collected, so they fill up quicker. While emptying the bag more often can be annoying, bagged vacuums are recommended for those with allergies since there is less contact with dust and debris during and after use.
Bagless: Many people prefer bagless vacuums, which use a filter instead. Although bagless vacuums are more convenient, they do require maintenance — you should clear out your dust bin after every use and replace your filter every year, which can sometimes be more costly than replacing bags.
Wet Vac/Mop: Some vacuum models can switch back and forth between mopping and vacuuming (usually with a quick accessory change or some supervision). If you have mostly hard flooring or are able to clear your space for a day, you could even solicit a robot wet vac to work a room while you do something else.
Larger houses: If you’re cleaning a good deal of square footage, go with an upright or canister vacuum. Uprights are best at cleaning all types of flooring and have enough power to give your entire home a deep clean. If you have minimal carpeting or high ceilings, a canister vacuum is recommended, especially if you don’t want to deal with lugging a 20-pound vacuum up and down stairs.
Smaller homes and apartments: If you lack storage space and have a smaller area to clean, a stick vacuum is probably best. Stick vacuum technology is getting better every year, and some models can compete with uprights in terms of power, but you don’t necessarily need all that power if you live alone in a small studio. Plus, sticks are much easier to store — especially those that break down into easily connectable parts.
Pets: Dealing with a lot of pet hair? Really any vacuum can work, and you don’t necessarily need a vacuum that’s branded as “made for pets.” It more so depends on the surfaces your pets spend time on. Many pet owners like a bagged vacuum to keep fur and dander contained, while others might be annoyed at how quickly those bags will fill. Just make sure your vac has a strong, sealed filter, and consider buying a handheld or robot vacuum for easy maintenance.
Allergies: If you have serious allergies, you’ll likely benefit from a bagged vacuum. Emptying a dust bin can make allergens go back into the air, so keeping them contained in a sealed bag is healthier.
In previous years, if you were serious about buying a good vacuum, you had to be ready to spend. While budget vacuums have always existed, there are some on the market now that will stick around for a while — it’s more about maintaining your vacuum than spending the most you possibly can for one. That said, when we talked to Stu Davis, a vacuum repairman who’s been in business for 45 years, he said the best vacuum brands are indeed the most expensive ones. “I recommend Miele, Riccar, and Sebo,” says Stu. “They’re the most reliable and well-made.” The only problem? Their vacuums can cost over $1,000, and Riccar and Sebo, in particular, are only available in specialty stores.
But Stu makes a great point: “Are you more concerned with the best price or the best cost?” Although spending hundreds of dollars on a vacuum might seem a little outrageous, Stu reasons that you’ll save in the long run, since those professional-level high-end brands will last for years with minimal maintenance.
When it comes to vacuums, there are three major certifications:
What We Look for in a Vacuum Cleaner
We tested and researched a wide range of models to find the best household vacuums, judging them on the following criteria:
“I’ve had this vacuum since January,” commerce managing editor Tamara says of our overall winner, “and it’s one of the best items I’ve tested by far.” What makes the Shark Wandvac Self-Emptying System stand out enough to be the best? It’s lightweight, sleek, not outlandishly expensive compared to its competitors, has its own self-emptying charging dock, and it’s easy on the eyes. “One of the first things I noticed when I began using it is the strength of its suction,” says assistant shopping editor Britt. “While vacuuming, I would see dust, dirt, and more being pulled toward the device before I physically reached it. I also couldn’t believe how much dog hair it pulled out of the fibers of my carpet with the help of its PowerFins brushroll.”
Tamara has “two messy kitties,” she shares, “so I use the handheld vac multiple times a day for quick litter and dust cleanups. I love the cordless design and that there are multiple ways to store the rechargeable base depending on your home’s setup. It’s super easy to clean as well — you just push down one button to dispense the dust trappings.” Beyond being powerful and easy to take care of, Britt says, “Along with how effective and efficient the vacuum is, it’s also incredibly versatile. In its extended wand form, I’m able to reach high to clean my ceiling fans and get rid of dust, cobwebs, and more without awkwardly moving around furniture or having to use a step stool.”
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something powerful, lightweight, and cordless; those who don’t want to wait to recharge; those who don’t want to replace filters; those with hard floors and low-pile carpet.
*Honorable Mention: Our runner-up is another of Shark’s impressive vacuums: The Vertex Pro Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum with DuoClean PowerFins. AT news and culture director Tara raves about its “powerful suction that beats out my older cordless Dyson model and stays charged for much longer.” It has its own headlights, “so I can see under furniture or in dim corners. It maneuvers well over all of my floor types: hardwood, area rugs, and tile. It has a sizable canister as well, so you don’t have to stop and empty it while you’re cleaning.”
At under $35, the BISSEL Featherweight Stick Vacuum gave me no excuse not to buy it. Weighing less than three pounds — practically nothing compared to others I’ve tried — it also gives me no excuse not to use it often and everywhere in my apartment, from sofas to ceiling fans. Not only does the Featherweight break down into a handheld vacuum whenever I need something for quick or more targeted clean-ups, but its detachable parts make for easy storage. That said, even when it’s fully assembled, the vacuum is slim enough to fit in my tiny coat closet without taking up more room than my broom. Because it’s corded, it maintains a reliable power level every single time, which is more than I can say for cordless models four times the price.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something simple; those looking to spend as little as possible (without compromising efficacy); those who want multiple vacuums.
Good to Know: The Featherweight is a #1 best seller on Amazon among all other stick vacuums and electric brooms sold on the site… which is saying a lot.
The winner of our best luxury vacuum cleaner isn’t just a pretty face, nor is it just a high price tag. It’s both. But it also happens to be the quietest, smoothest, smartest, and most accessible stick vacuum I’ve personally ever handled. Seriously — it makes less noise while cleaning than the slimmest model on our list. It rests in its charging dock until I’m ready to use it, and, when I place it back after vacuuming, will empty itself into a bagged canister in the dock that’s almost too easy to remove and replace. Senior commerce editor Alicia is also a fan, and it all started the moment she unboxed the LG CordZero. “Although this vacuum looked intimidating with its charging stand,” she admits, “it only took me, a person who once built her IKEA dresser drawers inside out, a matter of minutes to assemble it.” She also says that, like me, she “was a little afraid it was going to take up too much room in my small-space apartment,” but ultimately she “was able to slide it right in next to my desk.” As for my CordZero, it stands proud beside my fridge, reeling in more compliments and taking up less room than I can even still believe. Because it gets emptied out each time it’s used (if you so choose), it lets you really enjoy the benefits of a stick vacuum — like its airy 5.5-pound weight — without any of the cons, like clogged pipes and messy canister clean-outs. To us, this is what makes a luxurious product. This LG CordZero is truly an all-in-one vacuum, from exceptional engineering to aesthetic prowess, making it well worth the investment.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something easy to use and set up; those who want to avoid any contact with dust and debris; those who want something sleek enough to display.
Good to Know: The only time this vacuum’s performance dwindles is when the dock’s canister is full and needs replacing, so it’s a good idea to have replacement bags on hand.
The canister may be one of the more old-school styles of vacuum, but it’s still one of the most beloved by professional cleaners — especially if it’s Miele. The Compact C1 model gives the power longevity and reliability of a corded upright vacuum while actually being lighter in weight than a stick vacuum while it’s in use. Miele’s patented 3-tiered filtration system actually cleans the air around you while you’re vacuuming surfaces, and because the canister has a self-sealing collar, nothing escapes the dust bag either. Not only can the power of the vacuum’s whopping 1,200-watt vortex motor can be felt, but using it truly results in unparalleled cleanliness. This is a vacuum for people who are (or, like me, aspire to be) very serious about their cleaning routines and air quality, but just as serious about the ergonomics of making it happen. The Miele Compact C1’s wheeled canister makes professional level, high-powered, and supremely detailed vacuuming more comfortable to pull off than I thought possible. I feel like a pro when I use it, especially when the result is the cleanest my space has ever been.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want to invest in one vacuum for life (or close to it); those who want the best of both cordless stick and corded upright vacuums; those who want something that offers maximum mobility, suction, and capacity.
Good to Know: The design of this canister vacuum makes the working height adjustable (without actually adjusting the machine). Anyone, tall or small, can get as much out of this Miele as everyone else.
“Walking on my hardwood floors after using this vacuum is a dream,” raves AT contributor and self-proclaimed vacuum snob Geraldine of the Tineco ONE S5 Smart Wet Dry Vacuum. And she’s not alone. “After trying a few wet and dry vacuums,” says Stella, another contributing writer, “I can confidentially say this one is the best I’ve ever used.” It’s propelled by a motor (rather than your brute strength pushing it around) and self-adjusts its power level depending on how dirty the area is. You can even catch a glimpse into its decision making via the LED screen display near the vacuum’s handle. “The included cleaning solution has left my floors sparkling,” Stella continues, “even though I use the smallest amount every time I whip out the machine.” She also shares some good advice for those who aren’t all that familiar with wet vac usage, saying, “I usually dry vacuum my carpeted floors before turning on the suction and wash function on the hardwood. Let me just say this: Spots I thought were permanent stains on my floor disappeared the first time I used this puppy. If that’s not a sign that this thing works, I don’t know what is.”
Who It’s Best For: Those who want an all-in-one floor-cleaning tool; those who clean wet, dry, and mysterious messes often; those who want 24/7 customer service (just in case).
Good to Know: Geraldine notes that after “learning the hard (stinky) way,… if you do not want your vacuum to start smelling, you will need to clean it each and every time you use it.” This wet vac has a self-cleaning function, but “you’ll also want to take the parts out, wash them with soap and warm water, and let them dry completely before putting them back.” Sometimes, benefits this great are worth the work. Though, Stella says that “both the dirty water and clean water canisters are extremely easy to clean.”
The Neato D8 wins best overall robot vacuum for its ergonomic shape and superior navigation intelligence. We’re also adding points for having a set-up process that isn’t the daunting, day-long activity it often is with other smart robot vacuums. It’s app-controlled, but can be turned on manually or via Alexa smart home devices as well. The best part, though, is that it uses LiDAR technology, “which means cool scanning and mapping abilities that self-driving cars use as opposed to cameras,” AT contributor Terri shares. “It does a much better job of both navigating and cleaning my home,” compared to other robot vacuums we’ve tested. “I don’t have to move stuff off the floor or worry about it bumping into my floor lamps and scratching my furniture. Also, my WFH setup includes a tempered glass chair mat, so that’s a major no-go zone this vacuum intelligently avoids.” What’s more, “The Neato D8 is also smart enough to notice when it’s approaching the stairs to avoid tumbling down.”
Who It’s Best For: Those who need a little extra help with daily maintenance; those who want a robot vacuum that can clean corners and angled spaces; those who appreciate the latest and greatest in navigation technology.
Good to Know: The Neato D8 is designed to work with even high-pile carpeting like shag rugs, rugs with fringe, and other fluffy, stringy, or otherwise inconsistent surfaces.
*Honorable Mention: For an even more budget-friendly model, the Eufy RoboVac 25C is another AT editor favorite. Controlled by remote vs. an app, it’s as easy as pointing and clicking — a great option for a robot vacuum newbie… or even a skeptic.
Handheld vacuums come in all shapes these days. Some seem earnestly ergonomically beneficial, but most are just the same ol’ machine in a new suit. Same goes for price — many models are $50 or under and some ring in at over $200. Once we cleared the clutter, as it were, we determined that the good, not-so-old-fashioned Dustbuster really is the best handheld vacuum. (One of our writers wrote a love letter to it back in 2017, and we’ve been raving ever since.) Unfussy, straightforward, and reliable, it’s a dream if you need something that’ll take care of light cleaning maintenance — particularly if you have a pet or are chasing after a messy little one. It has a rotating nozzle and can be taken apart quite easily for regular filter cleaning. Replacing handheld vacuums is one of my biggest pet peeves — it’s expensive, wasteful, and annoying that they typically live such short lives. Somehow, my Dustbuster perseveres, outlasting any other I’ve tested.
Who It’s Best For: Those who need something in addition to their regular vacuum that actually has power; those with pets; those who live in small spaces.
Good to Know: There’s a newer version that’s more expensive but has a few new features.
Say what you’re looking for isn’t quite as big as a traditional handheld but is still strong enough to keep your workspace dust-free. The FineInno Mini Vacuum is ideal to keep on your desk, your kitchen counter, or near your dining table — wherever you find yourself needing to spot-clean a dry spill without the use of paper towels, chemicals, or wipes. The vacuum is designed to fit neatly in your hand so you can comfortably glide over surfaces — even your laptop — allowing the device to vacuum everything up. “It’s powerful for its size, and was even strong enough to pick up the tiny instruction manual it came with,” says Britt. When it’s ready to be cleaned, simply empty from the bottom of the vacuum. It runs on two AA batteries that slide into the compartment just beneath the vacuum’s twist top.
Who It’s Best For: Those who don’t want to break out their full-sized vacuum for every tiny mess; those who want to keep a vacuum in their car or at their desk.
Good to Know: Prevent burnout by following the maximum recommended time of use, which is 10 minutes per cleaning session. Oh, and batteries are not included.
The Dyson Omni-Glide runs over hardwood floors like it’s icing a cake. It’s gentle, precise, satisfying, and leaves a flawless surface… making barely any noise while doing it. Often when you live in an apartment, especially if it’s an old building with wood flooring, you get intimate with your neighbors’ vacuuming schedules. And what was last year’s best pick for small spaces and apartment living has since become a hardwood cleaning hero. Using it is like manually swirling a microfiber cloth around every corner of your floor, just without the manual bit. When I first turned on the Omni-Glide, I was struck by the fact that there was no roaring motor, no clunking around every uneven surface, and no resulting complaints from neighbors. In fact, my downstairs neighbor worryingly asked if I was even vacuuming anymore.
The vacuum’s name comes from its omnidirectional soft roller cleaning head, which keeps it quiet, allows it to go forward, backward, and sideways, and gives it an effortless 180º swivel. and I do mean effortless. It’s designed especially to make hard floors shine, prevent scratching and scuffs, and soften existing ones, but it cleans just as well on low-pile carpeting and even delicate upholstery. And did I mention the seriously convenient size? The Omni-Glide is “so small,” contributor Riddley says, “I find that it’s easy to reach for, which means that I do… so my house is always shockingly clean.”
Who It’s Best For: Those who have downstairs neighbors and wood floors; those who want something lightweight and easy to navigate; those who vacuum frequently; those who live in a smaller space.
Good to Know: If attachments like crevice and spot-cleaning tools or multiple head sizes are your thing, go for the Omni-Glide+ which comes with it all (for not much more, cost-wise).
If you’re not already familiar with this deep-cleaning holy grail, allow us to introduce you to the best household deep-clean machine for rugs, carpets, and upholstery. The Little Green Machine from BISSELL lets you have your cake and drop it on the floor, too… worry-free. Britt first tried it when she “desperately needed it for a disgusting mess our dog left on the carpet. Was the cleaner so cute that it almost distracted me from the job at hand? Yes. Did I let that stop me? Absolutely not.” Good thing she didn’t, because “after 10 minutes, the carpet was good as new,” even post-puppy poo. “It also smelled good,” she says, which is thanks to the enzyme-enriched cleaning solution that’s powerfully sprayed before being immediately suctioned away with the mess.
Who It’s Best For: Those who clean spot stains and small messes often; those who want a vacuum that cleans as deeply as possible; those who want a wet vac that excels at targeting messes.
Good to Know: This powerful vacuum is uniquely suited for treating small to medium-sized messes and stains, wet or dry, so we recommend pairing it with a full-sized vacuum for more efficient daily or weekly cleaning.