Two important questions to ask when buying a vacuum cleaner are: Is it easy to handle and maneuver and can it really remove dust and dirt from all areas of my home? Choosing the best vacuum cleaner for you and your home means thinking about more than just that. Consider what surfaces you’ll be vacuuming, how your home is laid out and how much time you have for cleaning up. Below are our picks for the best vacuums in key categories.
Best Upright Vacuum Cleaner
This Miele model is ideal for allergy and asthma sufferers, since this Good Housekeeping Seal star with its HEPA filter did the best job in our tests of picking up dirt and keeping it trapped inside the vacuum. Its self-sealing bag also keeps dust out of the air when it’s time to remove and replace it. This powerhouse cleans everything from delicate curtains to deep carpets and though some consumers testers said it was heavy, the swivel neck makes in maneuverable. It was also the quietest model in our tests.
Best Value Vacuum Cleaner
This Hoover can go from carpet to bare floors without missing a beat. Its special FloorSense Technology automatically adjusts the brush speed to prevent scattering and damage as you move from one floor surface to the next, so you don’t even have to flip a switch or turn a dial. It has a removable canister to better reach underneath low furniture and make above-the-floor cleaning easier, too. The four included attachments are a crevice tool, motorized brush roll tool, stationery dusting brush and a soft bendable dusting brush to clean the tops of bookcases and ceiling fans.
Best Vacuum Cleaner for Pet Hair
This Good Housekeeping Seal star address all the vacuum cleaner issues that pet owner face and it comes fully loaded with features that'll suck up every last bit of pet hair. The detachable canister means that now even tight spaces, like under and behind furniture, between stair rails and the car, are no longer out of reach. A tangle-free brush roll keeps pet hair from clogging the bristles and a hair spooling system inside the canister contains the mess so emptying is easier and cleaner. Its sealed allergen system traps fine particles and the filter uses Febreze technology to eliminate those stale odors that vacuuming up pet hair can generate.
Best Cordless Vacuum Cleaner for Large Homes
While this new Dyson V11 Outsize bears a striking family resemblance to its V10 Absolute cousin below, it has some significant updates that are worth considering if you have a large home with expansive floor surfaces to clean. Most obvious are its extra wide cleaning head and extra large dust bin. This means you'll be able to cover more floor with fewer passes and have to empty the dust bin less often. Three power levels — eco, medium or auto, and boost — allow you to adjust the suction up or down to grab heavy dirt or protect delicate rugs you come across in your path. In auto mode, the vacuum senses whether it's on bare floor or carpet and adjusts the power and runtime accordingly. In our GH Cleaning Lab review, we found the suction impressive and the head easily maneuvered around furniture legs and into tight spaces. Between it being cordless and its back-up battery pack for up to two hours of runtime, the only reason you'll need to stop cleaning is because the job is done!
Best Canister Vacuum Cleaner
This Miele earned our Good Housekeeping Seal for its ability to effectively clean every type of flooring. It's equipped with a telescoping wand, dusting brush, upholstery tool, and a crevice tool to tackle any type of flooring. Even hard-to-clean plush carpets are no match for the power nozzle and brush roll that adjust to five different levels to make easy work of powering through dense pile to lift up dirt, dust, and pet hair. Allergy sufferers will love the high filtration bag and HEPA AirClean filter prevents dust from being released back into the air.
Best Bagless HEPA Vacuum Cleaner
If you prefer bagless vacuums, but still want a model that filters out tiny particles, the Shark APEX is a great option. In our last Cleaning Lab test, it exhibited very good cleaning performance on both carpeting and bare floors and was one of the quietest models we tested. Because it converts from an upright to a canister with the press of a button, tackling stairs and nabbing pesky dust bunnies lurking in corners or hiding behind furniture is easy to do without missing a step. We like that the entire vacuum is sealed for better dust retention and that the HEPA filter, unlike others that need replacing, is washable. Pet owners will appreciate the brush roll that's designed to minimize messy hair tangles.
Best Basic Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
This GH Seal-holding cordless stick vacuum ran for an impressive 37 minutes in our lab tests and was among the quietest we tried. We also like that the handle lays flat on the ground (by rotating it at the base), which makes it easier to vacuum under furniture and other tough-to-reach places and the dust cup is well-placed and easy to empty. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t come with any attachments or convert to a handheld vacuum, but for simplicity and performance, it's a winner.
Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner
In our Cleaning Lab tests, the 9+ picked up 99% of the uncooked oatmeal, sand, baking soda and small nuts and screws we spread on hard floors. It can map and remember multiple rooms and floor plans and it beat all other robot vacuums for quickly and effectively spot cleaning a small area. It detects carpet automatically to ramp up suction only when needed, and its double rubber roller brushes won't clog with pet hair like bristles have a tendency to do. When it's finished cleaning, the vacuum returns to its charging base and dirt is automatically transferred into a large-capacity bag for mess-free disposal: it seals completely before you toss to keep dust and dirt contained.
Best Combination Vacuum Cleaner
Despite its slim look, this 2-in-1 cordless machine rivaled the full-size upright vacuums in our test when it came to pulling embedded dirt out of carpets. The Dyson stick vac is super easy to use and it comes with two heads — one for carpets and one for bare floors. This model is super lightweight and with the wands removed, it converts to a handheld vacuum for even more versatility. It has three power modes and includes a crevice tool and a combination dusting/upholstery tool, a mini soft dusting brush and a mini motorized tool with a rotating brush for cleaning fabric and carpeted stairs.
Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Cordless vacuums with lithium batteries exhibit good performance and run time in our tests and Dirt Devil Vacs are no exception. The powered nozzle on this handheld vacuum makes deep cleaning carpeted stairs and furniture easy and like with all Gator vacs, simply press a button to flip open (like an alligator) the dust cup for easy, mess-free emptying. An on-board crevice tool is also part of the package.
Best Lightweight Vacuum Cleaner
Many of the visitors to our GH Cleaning Lab complain that upright vacuum cleaners are just too heavy to push and carry. Our recommendation to them is the Oreck Magnesium. This vacuum was tops in our test of lightweight cleaners and weighs in at just under 8 pounds. Fortunately, what it lacks in heft doesn’t compromise its cleaning performance. It did a great job deep cleaning our test carpets and bare floors. The Oreck does use a self-sealing bag to contain allergens but doesn’t come with any attachments on-board. The speed of the brush roll is adjustable — fast for carpets, slow for bare floors — via a switch on the handle. We like its low profile and that it lays flat to more easily clean under furniture and the bed.
Carolyn Forte, a consumer products expert, is the director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Family and Consumer Science from Queens College, CUNY, Carolyn began her career almost 40 years ago as a textiles analyst for the Montgomery Ward Company. Today she oversees all GH Institute testing, research, and editorial production involving cleaning appliances and products, like vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, detergents, and more. She writes Good Housekeeping's monthly cleaning advice column, "Ask the GH Cleaning Lab", is the author of several Good Housekeeping books and special interest publications, including Simple Cleaning Wisdom and Get Organized in 30 Days or Less!, and is the stain-removal guru behind the genius advice on Good Housekeeping’s Amazon Alexa skill. Even in her personal life, Carolyn makes cleaning a priority: She hates dirty windows so much that she’s been known to take a vacation day to stay home and clean hers.
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