There are a few dozen vacuum cleaner buying guides available online. But to be honest, we think we have just written the absolute best! Not to toot our own horn too much! Buying any new home appliance can be so confusing, whether it be a fridge, microwave, dryer, oven, blender, or something as small as an electric toothbrush.
Buying a vacuum cleaner is no exception.
There are different types of vacuum cleaners. They come in upright form, canister form, handheld, and even robotic ones these days.
Some have bags to collect the dust and dirt, while others are bagless.
There are dozens of brands all trying to convince you that what they are selling is the best vacuum cleaner available.
So the good team at VacuumTutor have pulled their collective heads together and written down all the best advice they could think of into this one thorough vacuum cleaner buying guide. Have a good read through this, it’s a little over five thousand words and can be completed in under 30 minutes. Once you hit the bottom you should have a much clearer idea of what vacuum cleaner is the best for your own personal home. If I could write one line and tell you the best vacuum cleaner right now I would, but the fact is the different people have different lifestyles in different homes. What is best for one person is not going to be good for someone else.
As with all our guides, if we leave you with any questions, you cans scroll right to the bottom and leave us a comment. We promise to answer them all as quick as we can, so you can get on with purchasing the best vacuum cleaner for you.
Things to Consider when buying a Vacuum Cleaner
Automatic Vacuum Cleaners
This is a word that wouldn’t have featured in any vacuum cleaner buying guide 15 years ago, but now it is something you have to seriously consider! You need to ask yourself, will you settle for a slightly unclean house, in return for having an automatic vacuum cleaner giving your house a quick once over while you are out at work, or even in the same room on the sofa? I’m personally happy with a house that isn’t perfectly spotless at all times, so owning a robotic vacuum cleaner is a good choice for me. It does my lounge and dining room on a scheduled daily clean, while I am on my bus ride home from work. All robot vacuum cleaners will sometimes get stuck on rugs, or in cords, which is the reason I set it to clean just before I get home, so if it does get stuck, I’m only 30 minutes away to give it a helping hand (as opposed to scheduling it at 9am, where I will be 8 hours away from helping it). Keep in mind when considered an automatic vacuum cleaner that it doesn’t always get into tight spots so you will generally need another vacuum cleaner to supplement it for those bigger jobs. The same goes for homes with stairs, of course the robot won’t vacuum these, so you could opt to buy a cheap handheld vacuum cleaner to get your staircase.
Customer Reviews & Testimonials
There are literally thousands of websites online that review all the best vacuum cleaners. We like to consider ourselves as one of the best vacuum cleaner review sites available, but there are numerous other amazing sites too. If you cant find the review you are looking for on our website, head on over to Amazon.com and search for the model of vacuum cleaner you are looking for. You will most likely find hundreds of others have already given it a star rating, or submitted a written review of the vacuum cleaner. You can sort by star ratings on Amazon, so typically I’ll read a few 5 stars, and then a few 1 star ratings to discover the products weak points. It’s also good to read the 3 star reviews to get an understanding of the average Joe’s experience with the product.
Similar to reviews on Amazon are the Frequently Asked Questions submitted by other potential buyers of the vacuum cleaner. These are sometimes answered by the company, but more often than not will be answered by other purchasers of the vacuum cleaner. These unbiased comments are a great way to give you confidence before purchasing.
Once you have decided on the type of vacuum cleaner you want to buy (eg: Upright, canister, robot etc) you can head to this particular sub category on Amazon, and sort by highest rated. Do however keep in mind that highest rated doesn’t always mean the best vacuum cleaners appear first. You will notice it is often the cheap vacuum cleaners (under $100) that have over 5,000 reviews that appear first. Some of the best vacuum cleaners in terms of performance are a bit more expensive, and only have a few hundred reviews, and will therefore appear further down the page.
Manufacture Warranty & Retailer Returns Policy
No vacuum cleaner buying guide will be complete without considering your options of what can be done when things don’t quite go as expected. As with all home appliances, vacuum cleaners are not perfect, and manufacturing faults do occasionally happen. To mitigate the changes of this happening to you it’s important to buy from a known brand, and a model that has positive reviews from (ideally) hundreds of customers).
Luckily however, most brands of vacuum cleaners come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which is typically about two years. When buying online the vacuum cleaners warranty is typically listed on the Amazon product page. If you are buying from your local retailer the warranty duration and returns process should be one of the questions you ask the shop assistant.
As with all warranties there is the fine print, and vacuum cleaners are no exception. If you are using your vacuum clean outside of normal behaviour, you have no right to return it to the manufacture. This includes obvious misuse such as water damage, or a robot vacuum cleaner falling down a flight of stairs. Warranties only cover malfunction that occurs due to a manufacturing fault that occurred during normal use of the product. Please note that this is just a general guide, and warranties vary from manufacture to manufacture, and between different countries. If you want to be certain what you are covered for, contact your retail or manufacture directly.
Think about where you are going to store your vacuum cleaner. Depending on your home size and layout, you may find some vacuum cleaners are better for you than others. If you have a small apartment, perhaps you could purchase a robot vacuum cleaner (that ‘lives’ at a small dock which sits next to a power point somewhere in your apartment), and a small handheld vacuum cleaner that you can hang in a closet, or sneak away on a shelf or under your bed.
If you live in a larger house, but still don’t have a large amount or storage room, I’d consider buying a canister vacuum cleaner. These little guys can live at the bottom of a wardrobe or closet and don’t take up too much space.I’m trying to this of a size reference. Hmmmm like a fully grown turtle? That’ll do! I personally have a canister vacuum cleaner and I keep it in the hot water closet, and it takes up minimal room (although the attached tubing can be a bit tedious to fit into some tight locations).
We always advice our readers to buy the best vacuum cleaner they can within their price range. Anyone can go and buy a cheap vacuum cleaner for $70, but it’s performance isn’t going to be as good as a $300 vacuum cleaner. The $300 model will have better suction, be built to a higher quality, come with more attachments, have better filters, and last a lot longer. So essentially if you have $400 to spend on a vacuum cleaner, the best one in this price range might be sitting in the $300 to $400 price bracket. Don’t immediately drop to the $70 model because it’s cheap. As with all purchases, you get what you pay for!
There are two easy ways to find the best vacuum cleaner within your price range. The first is to go to Amazon.com, head to the vacuum cleaner category you are interested, then filter the results into the price range you are looking for. It will be quite clear which vacuum cleaner has the most positive reviews once this filter is applied.
Alternatively, you can continue to browse this website, and use the quick links below to jump to the best vacuum cleaner for the prices mentioned:
- Best vacuum cleaner under $100:
- Best vacuum cleaner under $250:
- Best vacuum cleaner under $500:
- Best vacuum cleaner under $750:
Your house layout should also play a factor in what vacuum cleaner you should buy. This doesn’t just mean size of the house. If you have multiple levels in your house, don’t expect to be able to use a robot vacuum cleaner unless you want to carry it up and down the stairs all the time, or plan on buying one automatic vacuum cleaner for each level in your house.
If your driveway is a long way from your house, and you plan to vacuum your car, you may need to buy a cordless vacuum cleaner, or a small handheld vacuum cleaner for this purpose. I personally can park reasonably close to my garage, so a 10 foot extension cord attached to my canister vacuum cleaner means I can vacuum my vehicle while it sits in my driveway.
If you house has lots of furniture, and is what you may consider cluttered, a robot vacuum clean is simply not going to be smart enough to do a thorough job. You may also find it gets stuck often if your house has lots of cords running along the ground or close to the walls. I know my home as charger cables, and my audio system cords sitting loosely on the ground, which is a perfect trap for a robot vacuum to get caught in.
Stair can be frustrating to vacuum. If your house has one or more flights of stairs, you are going to want to own a vacuum cleaner that makes it easy to vacuum each individual stair. If your house is anything like mine, stairs seem to accumulate quite a bit of dust and fluff.
There are a few ways to approach vacuum stairs. No, using a robot vacuum is not one of them!
I personally own a canister vacuum cleaner which is light enough for me to carry up and down the stairs without getting tired (I say this as a middle aged male of reasonable fitness). I typically move it up the stairs and put it down a few stairs beneath where I am standing. Yes, sometimes it tumbles down accidentally and I scuff the wall. But nine times out of ten it is just fine doing things this way.
Alternatively, if you have a little bit of spare cash, consider buying a quality handheld vacuum cleaner for your stairs. They make like a lot easier if you don’t have the fitness or patience to be carrying around a full sized vacuum. Handhelds have many applications, so if you buy one to do your stairs, you will also find it great for vacuuming your car, couches, and other off the ground surfaces such as bench tops.
If you have any pets you need to read this section! Actually, if you have any pets that have fluff and walk on the ground you need to read this section. Owning a goldfish doesn’t count! Vacuum cleaners typically do a pretty poor job at getting pet hair off your carpet and furniture. I spent years frustrated at my old vacuum cleaner. I’d end up on my hands and knees, with the vacuum tube in one hand, and literally picking the car fur off the carpet with my other hand. Buy one cat literally doubled the time it took me to vacuum the house, which frustrated me, and made me vacuum less, which off course meant my house just got messier. Not a good cycle to get into!
When pet owners buy a vacuum cleaner the main thing they need to look for is the rotating brush attachment. I’ve written extensively about pet hair vacuum attachments, and emphasised how these can be bought individually. So if you already have a vacuum cleaner that you are happy with, perhaps spend $20 to $50 and get a quality pet hair attachment and see if this makes your vacuuming life easier. If you go to the pet hair vacuum attachment buying guide, you will see that these fall into two main categories:
- Rotating brush attachments that are great for getting pet hair off carpet
- Brush attachments that you can use directly on your dog, to vacuum the hair while brushing him or her
Alternatively, if you are planning to buy a new vacuum, read all our reviews and look at what attachments come prepackaged with each vacuum cleaner. You will find that most quality vacuums, which aren’t the cheapest you can possibly find, come with a range of attachments. Typically this includes a rotating brush attachment which is purfect (see what I did there?!) for scooping stubborn dog and cat hairs off your carpet and furniture.
Children can be messy! They can also play a big part in helping you decide what type of vacuum cleaner is best for your home. Lets look at a few of the main points to consider:
- If your child leaves small toys around the house, like Lego pieces, I’d recommend not getting a robot vacuum cleaner as they are not smart enough to avoid little bits and bobs which are inadvertently left on the ground. If it is on the floor, it will try to suck it up! For this reason, you may spend a bit more time than you would like retrieving your kids building blocks out of the guts of the vacuum! Also, in contrary to what many people imagine, automatic vacuum cleaners are not silent.They make just as much noise as a standard vacuum cleaner in some cases, so if your child has naps during the day, the robot may wake him/her up if it decides to do one of its automatic cleaning routines just as the nap begins. Not ideal!
The best vacuum for hardwood floors is not always going to be the best vacuum for carpet, and vice versa. The good news is that most vacuum cleaners will do a good job on both hardwood flooring, and soft carpets. However, it is still something to consider when buying a new vacuum cleaner. Some people might disagree with me, but in my opinion, the average household simply needs to be aware of how the different attachments work on different surfaces. We have a full buying guide dedicated to vacuum cleaner accessories which talks thoroughly about floor surface, but these are the top five things you need to know about how different accessories work on different flooring types:
Vacuum cleaner accessories deserve their own buying guide. As mentioned above, I have already written one. But for the purposes of this guide on vacuum cleaners in general, accessories and attachments deserves a mention. So when buying a new vacuum cleaner what do you need to consider? Firstly, take a look at the box, online description, or any of our reviews and you will see a list of what comes in the package. Now think about whether these attachments tick all the boxes for what you are planning to vacuum.
Here are the key things to consider:
- Do you have pets? If so, you will want a rotating brush attachment. These attachments are pretty standard in most vacuum cleaners these days. They are an absolute must if your pet leaves hair on the carpet of your furniture.
- Do you plan to vacuum your car? Then you will be wanting a crevice attachments. As with the rotating brush attachment, the crevice tool is pretty standard in all modern vacuum cleaners. They are great for along the bottom of walls, beside the fridge, and within all the tight spots of your car.
- Do you have hard floors you want to mop? Many vacuum cleaners have a soft mop that you can attach to give the floor a more thorough cleaning while you are vacuuming it. Two birds with one stone! To be honest, I’ve haven’t used mine since I got it two months ago. My hardwood floors in the kitchen however stay reasonable clean and a vacuum to get all the hard debris is more than suffice for my personal situation.
- Do you want to vacuum furniture? Then buy a vacuum that comes with an upholstery attachment. I use mine quite frequently, but that’s because I like my car to be spotless, and my fluffy cat sits and sleeps on my favourite chair.
Found an otherwise perfect vacuum cleaner, but it doesn’t come with that one attachment that you really won’t? Don’t despair, most attachments can be bought online individually. Have a look at our vacuum cleaner attachment section to see what attachments and brands we recommend. You may find they are all surprisingly cheap!
Most people will also be wanting to use their vacuum cleaner to give their car a quick tidy up every so often, so when choosing a vacuum cleaner it’s performance on the interior of your car is therefore quite an important consideration.
When buying a vacuum cleaner for your car, there are a few important things to look out for. The first is looking to see what accessories come with the vacuum cleaner. Your standard floor attachments that you use within your home will be annoyingly difficult to use in the confined spaces in your vehicle. One of the key attachments you will want is what’s called a crevice attachment. This is a thin, long tube that gets into all the tight areas of your vehicles where crumbs and dirt can accumulate. I have a terrible habit of eating toast on my morning drive (don’t worry traffic goes at about 2mph during peak hour) and the crumbs get down the crevice beside the driver’s seat and the centre console. Of course, to clean this crevice, my crevice cleaner is perfect! The good news is that most new vacuum cleaners come with a crevice cleaner as a standard attachment. If it doesn’t, they are ridiculously cheap and can be picked up online for under $20.
The second tool you will want is an upholstery attachment. These are great for getting all the seats, and the flooring of your vehicle, without having to use the standard indoor flooring attachment. As with the crevice tool, most good vacuum cleaner brands will come with one of these as standard, however they can also be purchased at a very reasonably price online.
If you plan to frequently vacuum your car, you may also like to consider a vacuum cleaner designed specifically for use within vehicles. There are a number of these available from leading brands, and will make vacuuming your car a much easier experience.
Capacity of the dust bin or bag
The rule is generally the smaller the vacuum cleaner, the smaller its capacity to hold dust and dirt. Why should you care about your vacuum cleaners capacity? Because low capacity vacuum cleaners need to be emptied frequently, and to some people this becomes quite annoying! There is an entire guide on buying a bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaner (hint: I generally prefer bagged), but capacity plays more or a deciding factor when choosing a bagless vacuum cleaner. The reason for this is that when emptying a bagless vacuum cleaner you will be exposed to all the dust as it falls into your rubbish bag, ready for disposal. Because small capacity vacuum cleaners need to be emptied more often, if you have a bagless vacuum cleaner you may find the frequently emptying somewhat annoying and irritating.
No discussion about vacuum cleaner capacity will be complete without mentioning the fact the robot vacuum cleaners need to be emptied more than the larger alternative types of vacuum cleaners. This simply cannot be avoided, because our robotic friends are so small and sleek that they cannot be expected to hold as much dust and dirt as a full sized upright vacuum cleaner. For this reason, if emptying vacuum cleaners bothers you (perhaps if you have allergies and don’t want to be exposed to dust frequently), perhaps don’t purchase a robot vacuum cleaner. In fact, I’d recommend choosing a bagged vacuum cleaner to prevent any exposure to dust when emptying the vacuum.
The volume of noise the vacuum cleaner makes
Vacuum cleaners can be noisy! It’s not something many people think of when buying vacuum cleaner, and most vacuum cleaner buying guides seem to forget just how much noise some of these little machines can create! There are two topics regarding noise that require particular mention. The first is rotating head attachments. This easily doubles the noise of your vacuum cleaner, preventing you from using it at night if your family or flatmates are asleep. It also means if you have young children that sleep during the day, that you can’t use this time to vacuum with the rotating head. The good news is, most vacuum cleaners come with multiple attachments so if your goal is to be quite, simply don’t use this noisy attachment. For those that are wondering, rotating head attachments are typically used for carpet that has pet hair that needs to be picked up with the rotating brushes, because suction alone won’t get them off the carpet with ease.
The second noise-related point worth making is that robot vacuum cleaners are not silent, which is a common misconception. In our minds we often imagine these automatic vacuum cleaners to be beautifully designed, silent personal house maids. In reality, they actually make a fair bit of noise. This means two things: you can’t use it in the room next door during the night, and you can’t use it in the room you are watching television in. The great news however is that most robot vacuum cleaners come with scheduling features, which means you can have your home automatically vacuumed while you are at work or out for dinner.
Best Brands of Vacuum Cleaner
No vacuum cleaner buying guide is complete without a mention of all the brands the manufacture vacuum cleaners. There are literally over one hundred different brands competing to sell you their brand of vacuum cleaner. Some of the big names are active in this space, such as Panasonic and LG, but there are also lots of brands that are synonymous with the vacuum cleaner industry, such as Kirby and iRobot. Lets take looks at some of the leading vacuum cleaner brands, discover what they are best known for, and what model is their highest rated vacuum cleaner.
- Panasonic are known for:
- Our highest rated Panasonic Vacuum cleaner is:
- Bissell are known for:
- Our highest rated Bissell Vacuum cleaner is: Bissell 9595A Vacuum with OnePass
- Dyson are known for:
- Our highest rated Dyson Vacuum cleaner is: Dyson DC50 Ball Compact Animal Upright
- Dirt Devil are known for:
- Our highest rated Dirt Devil Vacuum cleaner is:
- Eureka are known for:
- Our highest rated Eureka Vacuum cleaner is:
- Hover are known for:
- Our highest rated Hoover Vacuum cleaner is:
- LG are known for:
- Our highest rated LG Vacuum cleaner is:
- Electrolux are known for:
- Our highest rated Electrolux Vacuum cleaner is:
- Shark are known for:
- Our highest rated Shark Vacuum cleaner is: Shark Navigator Lift Away Professional
- iRobot are known for: Being leaders in the robot vacuum cleaner industry.
- Our highest rated iRobot Vacuum cleaner is: iRobot Roomba 870
- Miele are known for: Making really good canister vacuum cleaners.
- Our highest rated Miele Vacuum cleaner is: Miele Classic C1
- Kirby are known for: Annoying door to door salespeople.
- Our highest rated Kirby Vacuum cleaner is: TBC
Types of Vacuum Cleaners
Upright Vacuum Cleaners
Canister Vacuum Cleaners
Robot Vacuum Cleaners
I personally love robot vacuum cleaners. I remember being much younger, and seeing my first Roomba as if it was yesterday. But I am writing this as a technology nerd, so of course I would be impressed by them, and want to own one. iRobot have led the way over the past 10 years in robot vacuum cleaner development. However, these days, you can buy robot vacuum cleaners from many leading brands such as LG, Samsung, iLIFE, Neato, BISSELL and Haier. As with all technology, things can get pretty confusing pretty fast. My advice is to by the highest rated robot vacuum cleaner within your budget. There is a bit different in how smart the cheaper robots are, compared to the slightly more expensive ones. Look for features such as auto scheduling, battery life, automatic docking, dust canister size, virtual wall technology, and how the brushes on the vacuum will perform on the surfaces of your house.
Read our full guide and top reviews on robot vacuum cleaners
Stick Vacuum Cleaners
Read our full guide and top reviews on stick vacuum cleaners
Handheld Vacuum Cleaners
Handheld vacuum cleaners are in my opinion a must for every household. As with robot vacuum cleaners, I remember when these first came out, and they were a great tool to keep tucked away in the kitchen or closet for those small spills that needed a quick fix. A handheld vacuum cleaner simply saves you the hassle of getting our your full size upright or canister vacuum, plugging it in, and wheeling it over to the area you need to vacuum. Handhelds are also super convenient if you have young children that frequently make a mess or leave crumbs and food behind after lunch. Simply get out the handheld, vacuum the area they were sitting, and within 2 minutes the place is back to how you found it.
Read our full guide and top reviews on handheld vacuum cleaners
Specialty Vacuum Cleaners
Asthma & Allergy Sufferers
If you have asthma or allergies there are a few features of vacuum cleaners that you should pay a little more attention too than your average consumer. I’ve got both asthma and allergies, and exposure to dust leaves me sneezing, wheezy, and with watery eyes. My asthma may be slightly worse than most (require an inhaler twice a day) so I err on the side of caution a little more more than most when choosing which vacuum cleaner to purchase.
I could do an in depth description of bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaners again, but that is both covered in it’s own dedicated guide, and I also touched on the topic above. If you have read this far down the page you will know that bagged vacuum cleaners keep the dust away from your respiratory system. Changing the bag in a bagged vacuum cleaner is a simple tidy process, and best of all, the bags are quite cheap. The alternative option is buying a bagless vacuum cleaner, but these expose the dust collected to the open air, and no doubt expose you to it at the same time (unless you are a smooth operator and can bag the dust collected without any escaping!).
- Our highest rated vacuum cleaner for pet hair is:
- Our highest rated handheld vacuum cleaner for pet hair is: Shark Pet Perfect II