The Best Vacuum Cleaners

We’ve done hundreds of hours of research and testing on vacuum cleaners over the past five years, searching for the best ones to fit all kinds of living situations and lifestyles. This guide will help you figure out the right kind of vacuum to suit your home, whether it’s a small apartment or a big Victorian, covered with shag carpets or left with bare wood floors, or filled with kids and pets.

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Our pick

          Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 An affordable, effective, reliable vacuum

This bagless upright has the flexibility and cleaning chops to make most people in most homes totally happy. It should last about five years, which is solid for the price.     $135* from Amazon   $146 from Bed Bath & Beyond   $160 from Jet

*At the time of publishing, the price was $146.Pros:Con:Great at grabbing most debris (including pet hair) from most kinds of floorsA plug-in vacuum—not as convenient as a cordlessFive-year warranty that Shark actually honorsSwiveling joint makes it easy to steer

Find the right vacuum for your needs

Affordable, effective, comfortable, reliable: Best bagless upright vacuum   Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

If you want a good vacuum cleaner—nothing fancy—and you don’t mind replacing it in five years, we recommend a bagless, plug-in upright vacuum. (We have a couple of recommendations in our guide to the .) A bagless upright vacuum that costs between $150 and $200 is a great fit for most American (and Canadian) homes, with any number of floors, any number of pets, and almost any kind of wood, tile, or carpeting. best upright and canister vacuums

The best bagless uprights are about 80 percent as effective as the very strongest plug-in vacuums, for about 40 percent of the price. They’ll last much longer than the total cheapo models. Compared with cordless vacuums, they cost half as much, clean better, and can last at least twice as long (about five to seven years). They tend to be better designed than similarly priced canister vacuums, and are much more convenient than bagged vacuums, which also have recurring costs and don’t offer much upside at this price.

Buy a bagless upright vacuum if:

 The good ones are reasonably priced, have no recurring costs, and should last for at least five years. You want quality on a budget:

Buy another type of vacuum if:

 A cordless vacuum will almost definitely be easier to use in a layout like this—no cords to get caught on corners. You have a small home with a cozy floor plan:  Cordless vacuums and robot vacuums are a whole lot more convenient to use. No shame! You’ll skip cleaning because you need to unravel the cord:

Our pick

          Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 An affordable, effective, reliable vacuum

This bagless upright has the flexibility and cleaning chops to make most people in most homes totally happy. It should last about five years, which is solid for the price.     $135* from Amazon   $146 from Bed Bath & Beyond   $160 from Jet

*At the time of publishing, the price was $146.

See our complete coverage and learn more in our full review

    The Best Upright and Canister Vacuums  

After our look at more than 525 vacuums over hundreds of hours, our favorite vacuum for most people is still the . Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 Deepest cleaning, longest lasting: Best canister vacuum  

If you like your floors to stay very clean, and you’re willing to pay big bucks for a vacuum that will last a decade or more, get . You won’t regret making the investment. a high-end canister vacuum

They’re excellent cleaners thanks to their powerful motors, tightly sealed ductwork, and cleverly engineered cleaning heads that can rise or fall depending on the length of the carpet. You can expect them to last for at least a decade, usually longer, with minimal maintenance apart from replacing the bags and filters and occasionally clearing tangles and clogs. And because they’re bagged vacuums with great filtration, they’re particularly appropriate for people in households where clean air is necessary to mitigate allergies and asthma.

Buy a high-end canister vacuum if:

 They don’t make most stuff like they used to, but great vacuums are an exception to that rule. You want something that will last for a long time:  The very best vacuums are the ones that suck the most dust out of all kinds of carpets, and that’s what these are designed to do. You want the very best performance:  Their bags and tightly sealed airways are excellent at removing allergens and irritants from your home. For bonus points, add a HEPA filter. You have allergies or asthma:

Buy another type of vacuum if:

 Some people just can’t get comfortable dragging a little pod behind them while they clean—especially with a cord attached to it. You don’t like the design:  You need to put in some work—remembering to buy bags and filters, cleaning tangles and clearing clogs, taking it to the shop every few years for maintenance—to get your money’s worth. You don’t want the responsibility:  Fur fills up the bags quickly. Go bagless if you’re worried about the cost of bags getting out of control. You have lots of hairy pets:

Our pick

          Miele Compact C2 Electro+ Expensive, but the absolute best

One option out of many excellent models in the lineup, this nimble, near-invincible canister vac is just about the best you can get in cleaning, filtration, and quiet operation.     $480 from Amazon Illustration: Sarah MacReading Cordless convenience, strong-enough cleaning: Best cordless vacuum  

A  can be a life-changer if you live in an apartment or smaller house with a cramped floor plan. That’s because there’s no cord to get caught on any corners, and they tend to be lighter and easier to steer than most plug-in vacuums. cordless vacuum

But even if you live in a bigger home, a cordless vacuum can be a fine choice. It’s easier to keep your floors clean when you don’t have to unravel a cord and find an outlet every time you see some crumbs or cat hair. Our favorite models have enough battery life to clean most homes in a single pass if you need to, but most people who own cordless vacuums don’t clean in big, whole-house sessions—they just tidy up as needed because it’s relatively effortless to grab the vacuum and go.

Most cordless vacuums also double as handheld vacuums now, so you can buy one vacuum to clean both your floors and your car.

Buy a cordless vacuum if:

It’s much easier to clean a cramped floor plan when there’s no cord getting caught. You live in a small apartment or house:   It takes just a few seconds to grab your cordless vacuum and start cleaning—no obstacles, no excuses! You don’t want to deal with a cord:

Buy another type of vacuum if:

 Even the strongest cordless vacuums can’t pick up fine, dusty debris (including most allergens) anywhere near as well as an affordable plug-in vacuum. You need great cleaning power: Good cordless vacuums cost twice as much and last half as long as a good bagless, plug-in upright. You want the most value for your money: 

Our pick

          Dyson V7 Motorhead The best cordless vacuum for most people

Strong enough to replace a good plug-in vacuum for most carpet cleaning, with enough battery life for most apartments and some small houses.      $247 from Amazon$300

You save $53 (18%)   $250 from Walmart   $250 from Macy’s

Or, if you’re interested in a cordless stick vacuum as a backup for quickly cleaning up small messes, get whatever is cheap.

Budget pick

          Hoover BH50020PC Linx Signature Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner Good performance, great price

For quick pickups or good-enough apartment cleaning, the Hoover Linx is the sturdiest cordless vac for the money.     $147* from Walmart

*At the time of publishing, the price was $175.

See our complete coverage and learn more in our full review

    The Best Cordless Stick Vacuum  

We’ve tested a couple dozen cordless vacuums over the past few years, and the  is easily the best one for most people. Dyson V7 Motorhead A low-effort robot for keeping tidy: Best robot vacuum  

If you’re interested in a robot vacuum, and willing to pay for it, then hell yeah, get one. They aren’t perfect (as we explain in our guide to ), but they will help to keep floors tidy with very little effort and oversight on your part. the best robot vacuums

People who have pets stand to gain the most from robot vacuums. Nothing else will keep up with hair, kibble, and litter as reliably as a machine that runs automatically and never gets lazy. Furry housemates or not, most people are surprised at how much junk these things collect. Some great models aren’t even that expensive compared with human-driven vacuums. And all you really have to do is hit start (or set a schedule), occasionally rescue the bot when it gets stuck somewhere, and empty the dust bin. You’ll need to change the filters and detangle the moving parts from time to time, but that’s the same with any kind of vacuum.

Robots are nowhere near as strong as any of the human-driven vacuums we recommend. They also can’t clean carpets with long fibers, or anything that’s not the floor (no stairs, no car, no couches). If your pet has loose bowels, the bot might smear its poop everywhere. And some people end up disappointed in their bots because they expect them to act smarter. Our advice is to try not to watch these things work.

Our pick

          Eufy RoboVac 11S A quiet, nimble, affordable robot

The easiest robot to own. It runs quieter and fits under more furniture than any other robot vac, and thanks to its nimble, persistent nav system, it will rarely need your attention. Great for keeping floors tidy in most homes.      $180 from Amazon$220

You save $40 (18%)

Upgrade pick

          iRobot Roomba 960 Bigger homes, better cleaning

The Roomba 960 has the best of what bots can offer: better carpet cleaning, smarter navigation for larger spaces, and smartphone control.     $550 from Walmart   $528 from Amazon           iRobot Roomba i7+ The best robot vac money can buy

A self-emptying dustbin and the ability to clean specific rooms on command make this the easiest, most satisfying Roomba to use—if you’re willing to pay for it.     $1,100* from Amazon   $1,100 from Walmart

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,110.

See our complete coverage and learn more in our full review

    The Best Robot Vacuums  

After testing 27 of the most popular robot vacuums of 2018, we think the quiet, nimble  is the best affordable bot to keep your house clean. Eufy RoboVac 11S A strong, versatile handheld vacuum: Best handheld vacuum   Photo: Michelle McSwain

If you don’t opt for a cordless vacuum, it’s handy to have a little handheld vacuum for small messes. As we cover in our guide to , a cheapish one is fine for occasionally tidying up. They can suck up small spills on floors and countertops easily. the best handheld vacuum  

Our pick

          Black+Decker Max Lithium Dustbuster Hand Vacuum CHV1410L A little handheld vac for quick cleanups

This has more suction and a more versatile intake than most low-cost, small-job handhelds.     $56* from Amazon   $55 from Walmart

free shipping on $35+

*At the time of publishing, the price was $58.

See our complete coverage and learn more in our full review

    The Best Handheld Vacuum  

After four years, we still think the  is best handheld vacuum for your car or home. Black+Decker Max Lithium Flex Vacuum BDH2020FL For pets: Best vacuum for pet hair  

Any vacuum can clean up pet hair—pet owners don’t need to buy a special model to do the job well. Anytime you see “animal” or “pet” in the name of a vacuum, it means only that the model comes with a tool that makes it easier to clean pet hair off upholstery.

One exception to consider: If you have a lot of hairy pets, like four golden retrievers or a half-dozen furry cats, you might want to avoid bagged vacuums entirely. Pet hair fills bags quickly, and the cost of replacing them so frequently can add up.

Although it’s true that any vacuum can clean up your pet’s hair, none can get the job done better than a robot vacuum. If you want to read more on why, check our post on . the best vacuum for cleaning up pet hair  

Our pick

          Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 A totally decent vacuum for pet owners

Any decent vacuum can clean up pet hair, so don’t fret about this. Our favorite vacuum is good whether you have pets or don’t.     $135* from Amazon   $146 from Bed Bath & Beyond   $160 from Jet

*At the time of publishing, the price was $146.           Eufy RoboVac 11S A quiet, nimble, affordable robot

The easiest robot to own. It runs quieter and fits under more furniture than any other robot vac, and thanks to its nimble, persistent nav system, it will rarely need your attention. Great for keeping floors tidy in most homes.      $180 from Amazon$220

You save $40 (18%)

See our complete coverage and learn more in our full review

    What’s the Best Vacuum for Pet Hair?  

Pets shed constantly, so the best vacuum for pet hair is one that can work constantly: a robot vacuum. We recommend the . Eufy RoboVac 11S For carpets: Best vacuum for long carpets  

If you have long, thick carpets, get a vacuum with a manual height-adjustment feature. High-pile carpets (like shag, frieze, saxony, cable, or long plush) pose a problem for some vacuums: The long fibers can tangle around the brush roller and/or block the intake, essentially choking the vacuum.

Should you get a special vacuum to accommodate this kind of flooring? That’s up to you. If you want to be safe, choose a vacuum that has a cleaning head with a manual height adjustment. Crank it up to the tallest setting, and it’ll have enough clearance for high-pile carpets. (You can dial it to the proper height for other surfaces as well.) Plenty of vacuums at plenty of prices have this kind of cleaning head. A cheap canister is usually the most affordable option, while high-end uprights and very high-end canisters can have an adjustable head, too.

Our pick

          Miele Compact C2 Electro+ Expensive, but the absolute best

One option out of many excellent models in the lineup, this nimble, near-invincible canister vac is just about the best you can get in cleaning, filtration, and quiet operation.     $480 from Amazon

See our complete coverage and learn more in our full review

    What’s the Best Vacuum for Carpets?  

The  is our top pick for most carpets. If you have shag rugs, though, consider the , which is designed for them. Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352Miele C2 Electro+ For allergies or asthma: Best vacuum for allergies  

If you have asthma or severe allergies, and indoor air quality is crucial to your health, a high-quality bagged vacuum is a safe bet.  do an excellent job of sucking up allergens and irritants—and keeping them contained during disposal. Our favorite high-end vacuums

If you start digging deep on this topic … well, it’s controversial. Experts disagree on the traits a “clean-air” vacuum needs to have. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says that some bagless vacuums are okay in this regard, but most boots-on-the-ground salespeople and technicians told us that they would not recommend bagless models for households where air quality was a major concern. HEPA filters are great—but they don’t mean anything if the rest of the system isn’t totally sealed with rubber gaskets. As such, HEPA-filter claims can be part of slippery marketing schemes. And most people without allergies will do fine without HEPA filters. Basically, you’ll get a slightly different answer about air quality depending on who you ask, but they’ll all pretty much agree that a bagged, sealed-system vacuum gets the job done for sure.

Our pick

          Miele Complete C3 Calima An excellent vacuum for allergies

It’s a bagged vacuum, which traps dust and dander better than bagless, and it’s one of the tightest-sealed machines out there. This model comes standard with a HEPA filter.     $650 from Amazon For bare floors: Best vacuum for hardwood floors  

Any vacuum can clean bare floors—this is the simplest possible task for a vacuum cleaner. You don’t need anything special to get dust, hair, crumbs, or anything else off your wood, tile, or laminate floors.

Just look for a model that lets you switch off the spinning brush roll to avoid scattering debris or possibly damaging sensitive flooring. The  (our favorite vacuum overall) is one of them—and so are hundreds of other models. Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352

If you’re sure you will never use your vacuum on any kind of rug, you can get a vacuum that’s purpose-built for cleaning bare floors. These are “suction-only” models, without a brush roll. Even the very cheapest of these, such as the , work fine. We’re also fond of the  if you want a quieter, longer-lasting model. Eureka Mighty MiteMiele Compact C1 Pure Suction

See our complete coverage and learn more in our full review

    What’s the Best Vacuum for Hardwood Floors?  

Our main pick for hardwood floors is the versatile . The basic  is our more powerful upgrade pick. Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352Miele C1 Pure Suction For your car: Best car vacuum cleaner  

If you like to , get a handheld vacuum. These vacs have powerful, long-lasting batteries and come with attachments for cleaning crevices and upholstery. Plus, this style is convenient for quick cleanup jobs around the house, unlike some car-specific handhelds that need to be plugged in. keep your car tidy

If you live in an apartment and want to clean your car, the best new  pull double duty as handheld vacuums, too. One machine for everything you own. Boom! cordless stick vacuums

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