Vacuum cleaner FAQs
What is the best type of vacuum cleaner?
Generally, upright vacuums are cost-effective and perform well. Handheld vacs are compact and can get into tight spots. Stick vacuums are versatile and convenient. Canister vacuums are pricey yet powerful. And robot vacuums automate cleaning.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of each vacuum type:
Upright vacuum: In the US, the upright vacuum is what most people envision when you mention a “vacuum.” The dust bin, head, and motor are all contained in one unit. The upright vacuum stands on its own, and when you need to vacuum, the body tilts back. They offer versatility and power but are cumbersome to use at times. Most models have a removable hose to get into hard-to-reach spots.
Handheld vacuum: Often referred to as “Dustbusters” after the famous Black & Decker vacuum, handheld vacuums are small and designed for small messes, such as dust after sweeping, stray cat litter, and spilled cereal. They’re great for quickly cleaning messes, but you don’t want to rely on one to clean your whole house.
Cordless stick vacuum: Stick vacuums have exploded in popularity thanks to their portability and convenience. Yet, these cordless vacuums lack the power of upright and canister vacuums, and they need to be recharged frequently. The dust bins are also smaller. On the plus side, the low-profile design makes these lightweight vacuums great for cleaning under furniture.
Canister vacuum: The head and handle of a canister vacuum are connected to the canister by a long hose. The dust bin and motor are located within the canister, which is usually on wheels to follow you around as you clean. This configuration makes the canister vacuum annoying to move around the house. Still, they are perhaps the most powerful vacuum type.
Robot vacuum: Robot vacuums automate your floor cleaning. You set a schedule, and the vacuum cleans on its own and returns to its charging dock when done. However, you still need to empty the tiny dust bin after each cleaning, and the vacs often get stuck on cords or in tight spots. They’re also expensive and not as powerful as the other vacuum types.
How do I choose a vacuum cleaner?
Your primary considerations when choosing a vacuum are the type of vacuum cleaner you want (see above), mess-free debris disposal, a strong warranty, a long battery life (if cordless), a well-designed brush head, and ease of use.
Here are some other important features:
Strong warranty: If problems arise, you want your vacuum’s warranty to cover them. Look for a solid money-back guarantee to ensure you can return your vac if you’re unhappy with its performance.
Well-designed brush head: Your vacuum needs a well-designed brush head to collect the dust and dirt on your floors. Our guides to the best cordless vacuums and robot vacuums feature excellent examples of how we test for this.
Lightweight: When cleaning your whole house, you want a machine that is light enough to carry from room to room and up and down stairs, about 10 to 15 pounds. For smaller jobs, you want a handheld vacuum that isn’t a strain to hold for several minutes, under 5 pounds.
Bagless: Most of the vacuums we recommend are bagless. They are designed to allow clean air to pass through the motor without impeding suction or clogging. On the other hand, traditional vacuum bags have tiny holes that act as a filter by trapping dust and dirt while allowing air to pass through.
Brushless motor: A vacuum depends on its motor for suction. Motors are either brushed or brushless. Brushless motors generally have a longer runtime, more suction power, and better efficiency.
How much should you spend on a vacuum cleaner?
Our guides feature vacuums ranging in price from under $40 for a handheld to $800 for a self-emptying robot vacuum. Expect to spend at least $100 on a new vacuum. If you’re looking for a good stick, canister, or robot vacuum, expect to pay $300 or more.
How long does a vacuum last?
According to a survey from Consumer Reports, the median life of a vacuum is 8 years.
Leslie Tam, a co-founder of the cleaning service UrbanMop, said it might be time to replace your vacuum once it shows a drastic reduction in suction. He recommended prolonging your vacuum’s life by performing regular maintenance, including cleaning the filter often, removing hairs and other debris from the brush roll, and emptying the dust bin before it gets too full.