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Find the Best Vacuum Cleaner Brands

by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Use our guide to research the best vacuum cleaner brand for you. We explain what to look for in accessories and features, including extension wands, blind attachments and hard floor brushes, that make cleaning easier than ever. Contemporary vacuum cleaner models, available in a variety of configurations, are designed for general or specialty cleaning in residential and commercial settings.

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What features matter most?


Most vacuums use filters to capture dirt, dust and other types of debris. There are several types of filters that vacuum manufacturers can use, and each offers its own benefits.

  • HEPA: People concerned about reducing allergens in their homes may want to consider buying vacuum cleaners that use HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. HEPA filters must remove at least 99.7 percent of particles measuring 0.3 microns in size.
  • Paper: Some vacuums use paper filters to remove debris over three microns in size. Paper bag filters with polypropylene liners are often more efficient at removing small particles. Paper filters are disposable.
  • Cartridge: Cartridge filters catch large particles, but may miss extremely small particles that cause some allergies. Owners can clean the cartridges to extend life, but they are ultimately disposable. They are commonly found in handheld vacuums.
  • ULPA: ULPA (Ultra-low Particulate Air) filters are similar to HEPA designs. They are designed to capture extremely small particles. Most ULPA filters, however, have shorter lifespans than HEPA filters.
  • Filterless: A small selection of vacuums have filterless systems that do not require replacement. These tend to have higher prices, but they may fit the needs of people who want highly efficient vacuums.


Attachments can add to the versatility of a vacuum cleaner. Some companies include attachments with their vacuums, while others sell them independently.

  • Brush attachment: This attachment is also called a dusting brush. It has soft bristles that can remove dust without harming delicate surfaces.
  • Stair attachment: A stair attachment is a handheld tool that makes it possible for upright vacuums to clean narrow stairs.
  • Crevice tool: Vacuuming crevices is often difficult, even for cleaners that have detachable hoses. The crevice tool provides a smaller head that can reach narrow spaces.
  • Extension wand: An extension wand is a useful tool for cleaning hard-to-reach places like ceiling corners. They can also reach behind appliances to remove accumulated dust.
  • Upholstery brush: Not to be outdone by the vacuum brush, the upholstery brush is specifically designed to help you get stains and spills out of your upholstery. This should be your go-to attachment when you need to rub soap or cleaner into your upholstery or carpet.
  • Hard floor brush: The hard floor brush will be wider and flatter than the vacuum or upholstery brush, making it perfect for vacuuming up crumbs and dust on hard surfaces like tile or hardwood.
  • Blind attachments: There are two types of blind attachments: mini and vertical. They basically look and function the same way, by vacuuming your blinds thanks to their slotted function, but the slots on the mini blind attachment are smaller than those on the vertical blind attachment.
  • Ceiling fan attachment: You don’t need to take your ladder out every time you dust anymore with the handy ceiling fan attachment. This one is pretty easy to spot with its long tube that has bristles at the end.


Engineers have built several designs that make vacuum cleaners useful in specific circumstances. Each design has its own pros and cons, so it is important for consumers to weigh their options when choosing a vacuum that matches all their needs.

  • Upright designs: The most common types of vacuums are upright. Upright vacuums have self-contained designs, and usually offer the most suction.
  • Canister designs: Canister vacuums have two main pieces. The canister contains a motor that provides suction, while the head offers a convenient way to clean surfaces.
  • Handheld designs: This small, portable design is an efficient option for cleaning small messes.
  • Stick designs: Stick vacuums are similar to upright designs, but typically weigh less and offer less suction.


Vacuum cleaners can make a lot of noise while doing their jobs. Most of the noise comes from the motor and strong suction. There are other features, however, that may increase or decrease the amount of noise created by a vacuum cleaner.

  • Grinding: Grinding noises are often caused by poorly constructed motors. The noise may also come from worn bearings or poor lubrication.
  • Whistling: Most whistling noises are caused by small gaps in the vacuum hose. Manufacturers can usually prevent these noises by making hoses that fit tightly.
  • Rattling: Rattling noises are not usually present in new vacuum cleaners, as they are typically caused by hard objects (like pebbles) that have gotten sucked into the machine.


There is a lot of diversity in vacuum cleaner prices. While some vacuums cost less than 50 dollars, others can cost thousands of dollars. There are several factors that can affect a vacuum's price.

  • Technology: New technologies, such as laser navigation and filterless systems, often cost more than designs that have been used for several years.
  • Materials: High-quality materials can quickly raise the cost of a vacuum cleaner. Those with the highest prices are often made from strong plastics and metals.
  • Accessories: Many companies include basic accessories with their vacuums. The range of accessories sold with the vacuum can potentially raise the price of the machine.


A small number of companies build robotic vacuums that clean without much oversight from owners. Various technologies make them more effective.

  • Self-charging: Robotic vacuums that do not have cords. This design lets them roam free. Self-charging vacuums will return to their docking stations when their power starts to run low.
  • Navigation: Navigation features instruct robotic vacuums so they can traverse entire floors without missing areas. Some navigation technologies, however, work better than others.
  • Scheduling: Robotic vacuums typically have small computers in them. Several companies give owners access to their vacuum computers so they can set cleaning schedules. This helps ensure that floors get cleaned regularly, even when owners aren't home.
  • Fall prevention: Robots without fall prevention sensors may unintentionally fall down stairs. This feature helps them recognize changes in height to prevent damage.

What are different types of vacuums?

Upright vacuum cleaner

Upright vacuums are some of the most popular options for cleaning residential spaces. They usually have self-contained designs that make it convenient for owners to clean large areas. Many also come with attachments that make them useful for cleaning other types of surfaces. They tend to have the strongest motors and provide the strongest suction.

Canister vacuum cleaner

A canister vacuum has a wand attached to a separate canister that contains the motor. They are usually lighter than upright models, but some owners may find them more difficult to move from room to room. However, the design can make them more useful for cleaning stairs and some hard-to-reach areas.

Handheld vacuum cleaner

Handheld vacuum cleaners have small, portable designs that make them useful for cleaning awkward surfaces such as stairs and vehicle interiors. Most handheld cleaners use filters that cannot capture the smallest particles. While they do not offer as much suction or filtration as upright and canister vacuums, they are good options for cleaning small messes.

Stick vacuum cleaner

Stick vacuum cleaners combine the benefits of upright and portable designs. They are extremely lightweight, making them easy for people to clean entire houses without tiring. Most models, however, have smaller motors that cannot offer as much suction as upright vacuums. Still, they are convenient options for cleaning small apartments and light messes without much fuss.

Who's it for?


Owning a quality vacuum can help homeowners keep their floors in good condition. Cleaning regularly can improve a carpet's longevity, thus reducing lifelong costs. Regular cleaning can also remove allergens from homes, making the air healthier and less likely to cause breathing problems.


People who rent residential spaces need to keep floors clean to avoid the cost of professional cleaning or replacement. Regular cleaning should also help them get their deposits back when their leases expire and they decide to move.


Cleaning rental properties can make them more appealing to potential tenants. Landlords should look for vacuums that offer enough power and versatility to clean a wide range of surfaces.


This group of consumers can use vacuums to keep their vehicles clean. People who own vehicles often look for vacuums that include hoses and attachments specifically designed for cleaning small crevices and upholstery. Vacuums designed for cleaning vehicles can extend the interior's life and provide a healthier environment.

Vacuum cleaners FAQ

Which is better, an upright or canister vacuum cleaner?
The best type of vacuum for you depends on your needs.
  • Canister vacuums are lighter and often have more power capacity. However, they’re also more expensive and require a lot of bending and moving around to use.
  • Upright vacuums are heavier to push around, but they are more self-contained than canister units and can quickly transition between types of floors.
Are expensive vacuums worth it?
Generally, you do not need to spend $1,000 or more to be happy with the style, handling and performance of your vacuum. Companies typically base a vacuum's price on the build and the accessories it possesses.

For most consumers, a midrange vacuum delivers enough power and comes with a reasonable price tag. If you need to do specialty cleaning on large areas or if you run a cleaning service, an expensive vacuum with more capabilities may be worth the investment.

How much does a good vacuum cost?
A good vacuum costs between $150 and $600. Upright vacuums are cheaper than canister vacuums, and there are several highly rated vacuums available for under $300.
What is the highest amp for a vacuum?
The maximum allowable amps for a vacuum is 12 amps. Most vacuums run on 10 to 12 amps.
Should you vacuum or dust first?
Though there is some debate on this, most agree that dusting first and then vacuuming is the best way to get your home clean. By dusting first, you give airborne particles time to settle before you vacuum them. Some vacuums may kick up some dust, though newer styles are much better at controlling residual dust and dander.
Are water vacuums better?
If air quality is important to you, then a water vacuum is better than standard options. Water vacuums filter dirt and debris with water instead of a paper filter or bag. A water vacuum tends to remove more particles from the debris you vacuum, and it releases cleaner air than a standard vacuum. You can also use it in situations where the floor is wet or moist, something you can't do with a standard vacuum.
How long do commercial vacuums last?
Commercial vacuums have a short life span — generally about three years — because they are used more frequently. They handle high-traffic areas and encounter more debris, including paper clips, gravel, road salt and push pins.

Not sure how to choose?

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    • Mobile connectivity: Owners can use smartphone apps to control Neato Robotics vacuums.
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    • Daily cleaning: Owners can program Neato Robotics vacuums to clean their homes on daily schedules.
    • Automatic charging: The robotic vacuum returns to its docking station to recharge after cleaning.
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    by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.