The Ultimate Vacuum Cleaner Buyer’s Guide
With a wide price range of $40 to $1200, dozens of extra features to choose from and new cleaning technology emerging all the time, cleaners for carpet and hard floors come in so many variations that choosing the right one for you can be as much work as vacuuming itself!
Everyone wants a powerful machine that’s easy to use and affordable.
We also want nice extras that promise to make vacuuming effortless…and of course we want durability so the cleaner lasts through years and years of use.
Since a cone vacuum cleaner might very well be the most expensive housecleaning purchase you’ll ever make, it’s important to get the right one.
But with hundreds of options and increasingly complex machines entering the market every year, where do you start?
Getting Started: 7 Things You Should Know Before Buying A New Vacuum Cleaner
So many options might be overwhelming, but the good news is your perfect vacuum cleaner is out there, somewhere.
It has the right combination of features and value, and it exists just for you. All you have to do is find it!
That’s where I come in. I know the business inside out after my hours of research so I can not only narrow the field for you when it comes to choosing your new vacuum cleaner, I can also explain things like:
- HEPA filtration
- Dust separation technologies
- Bagless vs. Bagged Vacuum Cleaners
- How Power and Suction Work
- Cyclonic Systems
- The pros & cons of canister vacuum cleaners vs upright cleaners
- What are electric brooms for?
- How choosing the wrong vacuum cleaner can damage your hardwood floors
- Vacuum cleaners for allergies
- What are the most useful and essential attachments?
- Edge-to-edge cleaning
- Vacuum cleaners for pet hair
- The scoop on handheld vacuum cleaners
- Robot Vacuum Cleaners
- How to vacuum a shag rug
I’ve also got tips on deciding what extra features are worth paying more for, as well as expert reviews of the top selling vacuum cleaners on the market today, at every price point.
With prices starting around forty dollars for a Black & Decker hand-held and going well into the high hundreds for a Dyson, Shark or Miele, just about everyone could use a little help in narrowing the choices.
That’s why I encourage anyone who’s shopping for a new vacuum cleaner to read my Complete Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide. You’ll be glad you did some research before taking the plunge. I even tell you the best corded stick vacuum on the market this year!
So, whether you’re in the market for a bargain vacuum cleaner, the best vacuum for pet hairs or one of those fancy robot cleaners you’ve seen…let me help you first. You’ll make a better choice and who knows, you may find yourself loving to vacuum!
So, what are you really looking for in your new vac? Do you want to clean hard floors or carpet with your machine?
Is pet hair a problem in your home? Do you have kids running around all the time? Do you need to discover which is the top rated commercial grade vacuum cleaner?
Are you sensitive to noise, or do you suffer from allergies? There’s a machine to cover each and every one of these issues, plus a few more.
1) Upright Vs Canister Vacuum Cleaners
You should choose the best type of vacuum cleaner for the area you’re going to be using it on. Generally an upright such as the Dyson DC33 performs better on carpet and a canister performs better on hard floors such as wood, tile, vinyl and stone.
With modern technology, an upright model such as the Dyson DC65 and a canister model such as the Miele S8590, will clean your home top to bottom as well as the other.
There are other types of machines (robotic vacuum cleaners, stick brooms and hand held vacuums) but they are usually purchased as auxiliary cleaning tools and rarely used as the sole means of keeping floors and carpets clean. We’ll cover those later, though.
Choosing The Best Upright For Overall Cleaning
Upright vacuum cleaners, such as the 9595a from Bissell or the UH70210 from Hoover, are usually more powerful than canisters. This can also make them much bigger and heavier, making it harder to push them around.
Because of their size, you could be restricted when using them in certain areas. They don’t fit well under beds or around tight furniture.
People with large homes typically use an upright because they have more room for storage and not only do they deliver more suction, they also cover a larger area with each “swipe” of the machine.
One of the best uprights and a current Dyson powerhouse is the ‘Big Ball’. Checkout my Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal and Allergy reviews. It has absolutely ‘no-loss’ suction.
They also typically perform better on carpeted areas, have bigger dust containers or bags, and make light work of pet hairs.
A disadvantage of an upright model is that the revolving beater bar can scratch or damage hard flooring, especially soft wood.
As I mentioned before, I recently bought the Dyson DC65 Animal Complete which is the best upright vacuum cleaner on the market in 2015.
It has exceptional suction on carpeted areas and is kind to hard floors. Not a scratch in sight! It also makes short work of pet hairs over any surface and is guaranteed for 5 years.
Click here to read more about this top of the range Dyson…
Choosing The Best Canister For Flexibility
Canisters such as the Miele Marin are compact and have the advantage of being more flexible when it comes to storage making them a great choice for use in smaller properties.
Vacuuming hard to reach areas such as your stairs, drapes, and upholstery is a breeze – that’s what canisters were made for.
They can also get in to tighter spaces such as under beds and some people love them because they are lighter to maneuver and quieter.
The total weight may be the same or even more than an upright, but the actual part that gets pushed over the surface is light as a feather.
You see, with a canister vacuum cleaner, the motor sits still while you push only the head over your carpet or floor.
If you’re looking for a powerful, lightweight and quiet machine that will work really well on hard floors and area rugs, then I recommend the Miele S8590 Alize or the Miele Classic C1 range.
It is the best rated canister vacuum on the market and perfect for any allergy or asthma sufferer.
2) Other Types Of Vacuum Cleaner To Choose From
Hand held vacuums come in cordless or corded varieties. If you know anything about power tools, you’ll know that cordless tools are less powerful.
However, hand-helds are designed to clean in hard-to-reach areas, so cordless makes a lot of sense. Have you tried the Shark Rocket Deluxe Pro or the Hoover Linx Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, BH50010? For example, is your car always near an electrical outlet? Chances are if you envision cleaning your car, a cordless hand held vacuum such as the powerful DC59 Dyson animal vs Motorhead or the newer Dyson V6 Absolute is your best bet.
Things to consider:
- how long to charge it completely
- how long it keeps a charge – look for lithium-ion battery technology
- bagged or bagless
Usually kept in the kitchen, wet/dry vacuum cleaners are usually hand held but not always. They have a larger tank for holding liquids but can also pick up dry debris.
Since Robotic vacuum cleaners are the newest thing, they’re also the most expensive type of cleaning machine right now.
They have actually come down in price so keep you eye on the market if you’re interested in having a small disc-shaped machine with a computer inside it clean your floors for you.
They are quiet and you don’t have to do a thing.
Newer robotic vacuum cleaners such as the iRobot Roomba 770 come with a docking station to which the cleaners automatically returns when its battery runs low. Read my full Roomba 770 review.
The first generation of robotic cleaners simply stopped dead in their tracks when the battery ran out and the user often had to search for it.
Downside: they’re not powerful enough yet to completely replace your traditional vacuum cleaner. Rather, they keep your floors and carpets clean in between your large vacuuming sessions.
3) Bagless vs. Bagged – Which Is Best?
Next, you’ll want to decide whether you want to go bagged or bagless. Bagless machines are the newer type, and just like the name implies, there are no bags to buy. The shark navigator lift-away professional upright (nv356e) is a really great bagless machine for the price tag and is also the best shark vacuum.
The dust simply goes into a plastic bin, which can be removed after vacuuming for easy emptying into a garbage can.
The act of dumping the dust into the garbage is precisely the main drawback of bagless vacuum cleaners. Many people simply do not want to be exposed to the dust that can fly around during this process.
With bagged cleaners, there is less of a chance you’ll be exposed to dust or have some sort of spillage while emptying the bin.
Dust Separation Technologies in Bagless Vacuum Cleaners
The way your bagless vacuum cleaner deals with dust once it’s been sucked inside the machine is called dust separation technology. Basically the idea is to get the dust away from the filter so it doesn’t get clogged. Once clogging begins, your suction power begins to drop off dramatically.
Therefore, dust separation has a huge impact on suction so you want to pay attention to this when choosing a vacuum cleaner.
There are two types of bagless vacuums when it comes to dust separation:
- Bagless Vacuums With Filters. These are more economical because you will have to change the filter quite often in order to have powerful suction.
- Bagless Vacuums With Cyclonic Action. These have a miniature cyclone action inside the machine every time you vacuum. This swirling action keeps the dust away from the filter and forces it into the dust canister. The filter stays cleaner longer so you don’t have to clean it so often. There are also multi-cylconic vacuums which take the cyclonic action and multiply it. The more cyclones the better.
In vacuums with bags, the dust is not separated: it simply gets blown into the bag. However, once the bag begins to get full, you will begin to lose suction.
4) How Much Suction Power Do You Need?
You want maximum suction, that’s a given. The way to tell how much suction a vacuum will give is to look at air wattage. It’s not the same as wattage or of course AMPs. You’ll see watts and AMPs everywhere on vacuum cleaner ads but that only tells you how much power the machine is drawing from the outlet you have it plugged into. It doesn’t tell you what the cleaner’s motor is actually doing with all those watts. If it’s not an efficient machine, it can draw all the watts it wants but it won’t give enough suction.
A truly superior machine will have reasonably low wattage but really impressive air wattage. That means it’s super efficient and will provide the added benefit of saving you money on your electricity bill.
5) HEPA Filtration For Allergies & Asthma Suffers
Let’s get HEPA out of the way first. Surely you’ve seen the term if you’ve even but glanced at vacuum cleaner ads in the last few years. But what exactly is HEPA filtration? Simply put: it’s a super filtration system that renders the outgoing air from your vacuum virtually particle free.
In other words, allergy sufferers usually choose cleaners with a HEPA filtration system. In fact, if you have allergies this may be the priority feature of your new vacuum. That’s because unlike conventional filters, HEPA filters catch not only dust but also:
- dust mite feces
- micro particles
- in fact: 99.97% of airborne particles
Look for a vacuum that has a totally sealed system …some may have a HEPA filter but if the system isn’t sealed then it’s not as effective at trapping all those particles, and guess what: they get recirculated into the air!
6) A Machine That Cleans Floors Too
Hopefully you know that running an upright vacuum cleaner made for cleaning carpets over your floors is not only ineffective, it’s also bad for your floors. You see, vacuum cleaners don’t work on suction alone: they also involve spinning brush heads that lift the dirt from your rugs and carpets so it can be sucked out.
Ever noticed that when you try and vacuum your floor, the dirt just gets blown around a lot? That’s because of that spinning brush head. They render the vacuum useless for cleaning floors.
But that’s not all they do: they can actually scratch your floors! It’s actually something called a beater bar that’s doing the damage. It’s named after the old method of beating a carpet to get it clean. Therefore, if you want to vacuum your floors you’ll need an on/off switch for the spinning brush.
The other option is to purchase a second machine just for floors. This is where electric brooms and stick vacuums come in. They’re much lighter of course, but many are made specifically for cleaning floors. On a side note, they are less powerful so the user will have to vacuum every day to stay ahead of the dirt if they’re used on carpets.
7) Headlight, Dirt Sensor? – What Extras Should You Think About Trying?
Here we have the second-tier range of decisions about your new vacuum cleaner. For most consumers, these are non-essentials but can tip the choice to one machine or the other. Take a look:
- Headlight. These come on most cleaners, so if it’s missing from a particular model it’s worth noting. Read Navigator Vs Rotator reviews.
- Full Bag Indicator. It’s nice to know the bag or canister is almost full.
- Retractable Cord.
- Low Noise. As vacuum technology progresses, motors get quieter. However, not all machines make use of newest technology that reduces noise. This is a feature that comes with the more expensive machines.
- Carpet Height Adjustment. From low pile to shag, your vacuum will adjust the roller brush to pick up dirt more efficiently.
- Dirt Sensor. This is another high-end feature: the machine produces more suction when the carpet is dirtier.
- Edge to Edge Cleaning. This means your cleaner gives suction right up to the edge of the head- so debris against the wall cannot escape your efforts.
- Attachments for Pet Hair. The easy way to tell whether a vacuum is good for pet hair is to look at the name: if you see the word pet then you’re good to go.
Now It’s Time To Find Your Perfect Cleaning Machine
So there you are, your complete guide to choosing a new vacuum cleaner that’s perfect for you. You’re now a step closer to choosing the right one. Remember, we all have our own preferences and cleaning needs – only you know which machine will make the perfect match for your home. Good luck!