Kristen Hicks on September 11, 2015 5 Comments Table of Contents Types of Vacuum Cleaners Factors to Consider While Shopping Popular Brands to Consider Any home, especially those with carpet throughout, should be equipped with a good vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming doesn’t just help with basic cleanliness (important enough in its own right), it can help minimize the symptoms of allergy sufferers and simplify cleaning tasks that would be more of a pain otherwise. Every time you empty out your vacuum’s bag or bin and see everything your carpet’s been collecting, you’ll be reminded of just how important your vacuum is to maintaining a clean home. The tricky part about buying a vacuum cleaner, is that you have so many options, brands and features available to you. Different homes will be best served by different types of vacuum cleaners. And if vacuuming is a chore you always avoid, finding the right vacuum could make the dreaded task seem like less of a pain. To find the best vacuum for you and your home, you should consider some of the main differences between the models available and your particular needs. Our buying guide will help give you a better idea of how you can select the best vacuum cleaner for you and your situation. 5 Types of Vacuum Cleaners The vast majority of vacuum cleaners you’ll encounter in your search will fall under the following five categories. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of vacuum cleaners, and the pros and cons of each. 1. Upright Vacuum Cleaners Upright vacuum cleaners are probably the type you’re most familiar with. They are easily the most popular type of vacuum cleaner on the market, especially within homes, largely because they’re one of the more affordable and easy options for cleaning large carpeted spaces. Known for being extremely efficient at deep cleaning carpets, upright vacuum cleaners also have a reputation for being rather large and bulky. While the over all shape, size and sleekness of upright vacuum cleaners will vary, they do offer a wide range of features that are appealing to many consumers. However, because of their shape, whether bulky or light-weight, this type of vacuum cleaner may not be the best option for cleaning hard-to-reach spots, such as under large pieces of furniture. Types of Upright Vacuum Cleaners: Furthermore, this type of vacuum can also be separated into two different types of units — Bagged and Bagless. Bagged Vacuum Cleaners: As the name suggests, this type of upright vacuum cleaner will have a bag that you will need to remove and replace once it becomes full. This will make clean-up easier, but you’ll have to stock up on replacement bags. Bagless Vacuum Cleaners: The other type does not have a bag, instead, a simple container that will need to be emptied out when it is full. Clean-up will still be easy, but without a bag, there is a slight possibility you will get your hands dirty. Benefits: This type of vacuum provides a deep clean for carpets. Pretty easy and straightforward to use. There are a wide variety of affordable models available. Ergonomically-correct for frequent use. To Keep in Mind: Not the best for hard-to-reach spots. They tend to be large, bulky and heavy, although that’s not always the case.. Decibel levels will range, but this type of vacuum cleaner may be noisy. 2. Canister Vacuum Cleaners Canister vacuum cleaners won’t provide the same level of deep-cleaning to carpets as upright vacuums are known for, but what they lack in deep-cleaning, they make up for in versatility. Just as upright vacuums are known for cleaning carpet, canister vacuums have a fantastic reputation for cleaning “hard” floors, such as wood, tile and indoor concrete. They are also easier to work with when cleaning stairs, curtains, upholstery, and all those hard-to-reach spots that upright vacuum cleaners often struggle with. Depending on the model you buy, canister vacuum cleaners typically have a wide variety of attachments and accessories available. Unfortunately, this type of vacuum cleaner tends to be a little more expensive than upright models. They can also be fairly bulky, which may make them more difficult to store use and store. Benefits: Multi-purpose: Canister vacuums can be used for surfaces and items other than just carpeted floors. Great for hard-to-reach or otherwise difficult spots, including stairs, curtains and underneath heavy furniture. Typically are quieter than other types of vacuums. Lots of attachments and accessories available. To Keep in Mind: Tend to be more expensive than upright models. May be a little harder to use. Bulky base may be harder to store when not in use. 3. Robotic Vacuum Cleaners Robotic vacuum cleaners definitely win cool points for being the first type of functional robot widely available to homeowners (although they’re unfortunately not quite as cool as the robots sci-fi stories have been envisioning for years). Robotic vacuum cleaners require almost no manual labor on your part. Essentially, they do all the work for you. They’re cordless and programmable, so you can just set them and let them go. They won’t provide as deep a clean as upright or canister vacuum cleaners, but they will save you lots of time and keep your carpet a little cleaner than it would be otherwise. We’ve found that this type of vacuum cleaner is often best for homes that already have an upright or canister vacuum. This is because the robotic vacuum will serve as an extra measure to help clean your carpets more often, which helps cut down the frequency of which more-thorough vacuuming needs to get done. Benefits: Less work required from you. Saves you a ton of time. Useful for people with mobility issues. Extremely quiet. To Keep in Mind: Won’t clean as well as other types of vacuum cleaners. Not as useful for homes with lots of furniture or otherwise cluttered rooms. 4. Stick Vacuum Cleaners Stick vacuum cleaners are some of the cheapest models on the market. They’re lightweight and thus easy to use. Because of their shape and size, they can be stored almost anywhere. They work great for quick cleanups around the home. Unfortunately, this type of vacuum cleaner lacks the power, functionality and cleaning-ability that other vacuum cleaners are known for. That’s not to say they don’t have their uses, however. While they may not clean as deep or efficiently as other types of vacuums, they are usually pretty good at cleaning hard-to-reach spots on the ground, as well as cleaning up small messes very quick. As with robotic vacuum cleaners, stick vacuum cleaners often make the most sense to own if you also intend to have a canister or upright vacuum cleaner. This will give you an option to quickly clean up small messes on the floor or help loosen up dirt and debris in the carpet, but still have a vacuum cleaner that can do the thorough cleaning you really need to maintain a healthy home. Benefits: Lightweight & easy to use. Can be stored without taking up too much space. Many affordable options available. Great for quickly cleaning up small messes quickly. To Keep in Mind: Doesn’t provide a very thorough cleaning. Lacks the power and functionality that other types of vacuum cleaners have. 5. Handheld Vacuum Cleaners Handheld vacuum cleaners get points for convenience. Because they’re small and you don’t usually have to drag a cord around behind them, they can be used for otherwise difficult to clean places like car interiors and furniture surfaces. The portability factor is the main benefit of this type of vacuum. But other benefits include that they are small, light and extremely easy to use. For pet owners, a handheld vacuum cleaner is a must-have. They work great at removing pet hair from upholstery. Obviously, this type of vacuum cleaner isn’t the best choice for cleaning large surfaces, such as your floors. We would still recommend an upright or canister model for that task. However, they are a great supplemental vacuum to have around. You can quickly clean car interiors, furniture, curtains, stairs and other hard-to-reach spots. Benefits: Very affordable. Lightweight and portable. Extremely easy to use. Great for cleaning cars, furniture, curtains and other hard-to-reach spots. A great choice for pet owners. To Keep in Mind: Not useful for large vacuuming jobs. Don’t provide a deep and thorough cleaning. 11 Factors to Consider When Buying a Vacuum Cleaner As our list of types clearly shows, vacuums come in many shapes and sizes, all of which have their own set of pros and cons. Figuring out which vacuum cleaner model makes the most sense for your needs goes far beyond just the type you want, you also need to consider how you plan on using it and the features that you may or may not need. Here are nine factors that you should consider when you are buying a vacuum cleaner. 1. Cost For many consumers, cost is one of their main concerns. Vacuum cleaners are a necessary appliance for every home, but not necessarily one that every shopper is prepared to spend a lot of money on. Vacuum cleaner prices can range anywhere from about $20 for a low budget handheld or stick vacuum, to over $800 for a high-end canister or upright vacuum that has all the bells and whistles. Most consumers will want to go with something that falls somewhere in the middle. But you will want to make sure that whatever model you end up buying will serve the purposes you need. At the end of the day, saving money won’t pay off if you end up with a vacuum that doesn’t accomplish what you need it too. If you buy a cheaper model that can’t handle picking up your pet’s hair or providing your carpet with a deep clean, then was it worth buying at all? 2. Types of Uses Every home will have slightly different vacuuming needs. Is your home flooring entirely carpet, or is it all hardwood and you’re mostly concerned with rugs and furniture? Do you have stairs or lots of furniture that makes for tricky spots to reach? Do you have pets that shed a lot or kids that drop crumbs everywhere? These are just a few of the questions you will likely think about during the buying process. The layout of your house, what you have in it and how many people live there will all play a role in how (and how often) you’ll be using your vacuum cleaner. Consider what your particular needs are before settling in on any one model. Think about how you will be using the device, as well as how often you think you will need to use it. Once you have this figured out, you will be able to shop around, read reviews and get a better idea of the brand, type and model that will be best for you. 3. Aesthetics Aesthetics won’t matter much for the majority of vacuum buyers, but if you have a stylish home and want all your appliances to fit in with the look you’ve cultivated, a vacuum with the right color and style may play a role in your buying decision. With so many brands out there, all of which feature multiple models with different looks, finding a vacuum cleaner that will look good in your home should be easy to do. It’ll take a little bit of work, but with a little bit of browsing, you should get a pretty good sense of your visual options. With that in mind, it would still be wise to figure out the type of vacuum you need, as well as the features you want in it before thinking about how its look will fit into your home. 4. Bags or Bin For upright and canister vacuums, you’ll find two common options: bagless vacuums that have a reusable bin you empty, and vacuums with bags that need to be replaced after each time you fill them and throw them out. A bin can save you money long-term and most models make the bin transparent so it’s easy to see when it’s time to be replaced. Bags mean more waste and more money, but they usually hold more dust and debris so you don’t have to deal with replacing them that often. Bags also manage to hang onto more of the dust you’ve picked up when you’re throwing them out, whereas bins let more of it escape into the air, which is unpleasant for everyone but more of a problem for those with sensitive allergies. If you choose to go with a bin, we would recommend emptying it into a trash can outside your home. This will help prevent any dust from escaping and settling back into the areas that you just cleaned up, as well as not defile your indoor air quality. 5. Noise Level Let’s just be honest, vacuums are loud. Some worse than others. No one likes the noise, but with the exception of stick or robotic vacuums, it’s something you’ll likely have to deal with in most models. Some do manage to produce less noise than others though. So, if you’re especially sensitive to noise, you can look for models that market themselves as being quieter than normal, or better yet, check the reviews to see what other consumers say about their vacuum’s noise levels. When shopping around, look to see if each model has the decibel level listed. This will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect in regard to noise. 6. Add-ons Available Many vacuum cleaner manufacturers make a number of accessories available for helping you with tough cleaning situations. These can include cleaning supplies, replacement bags, filters, and different brushes or power heads that can help in cleaning different types of surfaces or messes. The right accessory or attachment could not only make your life easier, but it could also encourage you to use the vacuum cleaner more frequently and clean areas that you likely didn’t know you could. Consider what’s available and which items might apply to your cleaning needs. 7. Reach Stick and canister vacuums are useful for having greater reach than upright models. For homes with lots of furniture, drapes, or other items that may be hard to get to with an upright vacuum, considering a model that will make it easy for you to clean all those different spots without too much trouble can be well worth it. If you are planning on buying an upright vacuum, look for units that have attachments available to help increase your reach. There are many brands that offer extensions to help you clean those hard-to-reach areas of your home. 8. HEPA Filter Do you suffer from allergies? Many people do and a vacuum with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter is a useful tool for minimizing the allergens in your home. To carry the HEPA labels, filters must capture 99.97% of particles that may be potentially harmful to your health. All of that mold, dust, smoke, and pet hair that settles into your carpet and furniture are all potential triggers that lead to a whole host of negative health symptoms. If you live in a home that has any of these potential allergens, we’d highly recommend buying a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. Not only will it help minimize the allergens that have the potential to lead to health issues, but they will help improve your overall indoor air quality. It’s also wise for us to mention at this point that a HEPA air purifier is the most effective tool at improving your indoor air quality. 9. Weight and Size Some vacuums — especially canister and upright models — can get heavy. If you hate lugging around heavy appliances or really don’t want to deal with carrying a heavy vacuum cleaner up the stairs, you should pay attention to the weight of each model you consider. The weight of each unit should be listed within the product details or listed on the side of the box if you are buying a vacuum in a store. This will help you determine if you can comfortably handle the vacuum or if its heaviness will become a deterrent to wanting to use it. Weight often relates to size as well. Many homes have limited storage space and a big, bulky vacuum cleaner may end up always feeling in the way — a complaint that’s made even worse if it’s too heavy for you to want to use. Make sure the size will work with the space you have available and that the vacuum is a manageable weight before making your final purchase. 10. Power Many of the different types of vacuum cleaners we discussed differ in the amount of power they offer. You’ll never get the same kind of deep clean with a stick or robotic vacuum that you will with a canister or upright one. For many consumers, especially for those that tend to regularly have heavy duty vacuuming jobs, such as pet owners, determining whether your vacuum has enough power or suction is an important consideration. Unfortunately, researching the amount of power a vacuum has can get complicated. You will quickly notice that different brands advertise the vacuum’s power levels in watts, amps, horsepower, and air flow… just to name a few. Unfortunately, a lot of these measurements have more to do with marketing than how well the vacuum actually performs. So while these measurements can be useful in helping you decide how powerful a unit is, it’s not easy to compare various units on an even plain. For the average consumer, you may be better off paying close attention to customer reviews than going off of a hard-to-understand (and potentially arbitrary) power measurement. 11. Cord This may seem like a small thing, but once you’re in the midst of vacuuming the cord has a tendency to always seem to be in the way and make the job harder. Or it’s not long enough and you have to constantly unplug and plug it into a different outlet. Some vacuum models are entirely cordless, doing away with the problem entirely. Others have retractable cords, which make it easier to move around without worrying about a bulky length of cord always tripping you up. If the added convenience of a retractable cord, or not cord at all, sounds nice, then you should look for models that offers these features. 9 Popular Vacuum Cleaner Brands As you review your options for vacuum cleaners, you’ll notice a few main brands tend to dominate the space. To get a feel for what consumers can expect from each, we looked at the consumer reviews for different models offered by each of the top brands to see how past customers have liked their vacuums. 1. Bissell One of the first vacuum cleaner brands that may come to mind, Bissell is one of the largest manufacturer’s of floor care products in the United States. From vacuums to steam mops to pet hair tools, Bissell features a wide range of floor cleaning products all designed to make it easy for the average homeowner to clean their home in an easy, yet efficient manner. Overall, the reviews for Bissell floor-care products are pretty good. For vacuum cleaners, specifically, the reviews can be hit-or-miss, but still overwhelmingly positive. 2. Cleanmate Cleanmate makes robotic vacuum cleaners that fall on the more affordable end of the price spectrum for robotic vacuums. The reviews are mixed, but largely positive with many customers praising the value for the price. Some do complain that their Cleanmate has a tendency to get stuck and doesn’t provide an especially deep clean, but as we mentioned above, robotic vacuums aren’t known to provide a deep clean when compared to upright vacuums. If affordability is a priority in your search for a robotic vacuum cleaner than Cleanmate is a fantastic brand to consider. 3. Dirt Devil Another popular name for vacuum cleaners, Dirt Devil offers many affordable products to help keep your floor clean. Unfortunately, unlike most of the brands listed here, the reviews lean more towards the negative side. From cheap parts to terrible suction, the reviews from customers are all over the board. While this vacuum cleaner brand is one that may immediately come to mind, we would strongly recommend reading reviews for specific models you are considering. The old saying, “you get what you pay for,” seems particularly relevant here. 4. Dyson Dyson’s one of the biggest names in the world of vacuum cleaners. They make a number of different types and models of vacuum cleaners, most of which fall into the stick, upright, or canister categories (although they do have a few handheld models as well). Their vacuum cleaners mostly fall in the mid to high range for price, with some more expensive models that have special features or designs. Because of their reputation for designing superb vacuum cleaners, it may surprise you to learn that Dyson also has a wide array of other household products, including cooling fans, humidifiers, and heaters. With such a wide range of products, it’s no surprise that the reviews we found were mixed and often varied based on the particular model or type being reviewed. On the whole, the reputation of the company with customers is positive. A lot of the complaints we found were particular to specific models, and some customers that hate one Dyson model like another. With this brand, it’s best to check out the reviews of any particular vacuum model you may be considering to see if it lives up to your expectations. 5. Hoover Hoover’s another familiar name to anyone who’s ever shopped for a vacuum. Like Dyson or Bissell, they offer a wide range of models, mostly in the upright and stick vacuum categories, at a pretty wide range of prices. Besides vacuums, Hoover also has a wide collection of carpet cleaners, steam cleaners and hardwood floor cleaning appliances. Hoover has a very strong reputation within the vacuum industry. Most of the reviews we found were positive, with some complaints mixed in, often about durability and broken parts. Since they are a brand that focuses on vacuums and therefore have a huge line of vacuum cleaner products, we would recommend reading over some of the reviews of whatever particular model you may be considering. 6. Infinuvo (Hovo) Infinuvo is another brand that offers affordable robotic vacuum cleaners. This brand has a couple of different “series” of robotic vacuums — Hovo and QQ — which has various models within each series. While it may seem confusing on the surface, it’s still important to note that this brand has done a great job at advancing this type of vacuuming technology. Many of the models they offer include HEPA filters, making them an especially appealing affordable choice for allergy sufferers. Overall, reviewers are largely happy with their Hovo robotic vacuums, with some complaints about it getting stuck (which seems to be a common issue with robotic models). 7. Miele Miele is another popular name in vacuum cleaners that specializes primarily in canister vacuums. Their prices fall closer to the high end of the spectrum, but reviewers seem pretty consistently happy with their investments. The reviews we looked at all point toward a strong brand reputation for developing solid products that last for many years. If you’re specifically on the market for a canister vacuum, then this brand is absolutely worth considering. 8. Sebo Sebo sells a wide assortment of high-end upright and canister vacuums that have a very strong reputation. The reviews we found were almost uniformly positive, with customers praising how easy they are to use, how good they are at cleaning dirty carpets (pet owners especially seem thrilled with how much they help with picking up hair), and how long they last. If an investment into a cleaning appliance is what you are looking for, Sebo is a brand you’re likely to be very happy with. 9. Shark Shark offers a range of vacuum cleaners that run the gamut of types – handheld, stick, upright, and canister. Most of their models fall in about the middle of the typical price range for vacuums and reviews are predominantly positive. Customers talk about how powerful their vacuums are and how easy they are to use. As with any brand that provides a wide range, it’s worth checking out some of the reviews for the particular model you have in mind. Based on our research though, Shark vacuum cleaners have a strong reputation throughout. Takeaways Before Buying Whatever your particular needs, you should be able to find a reliable vacuum cleaner that helps meets them. Once you figure out which type of vacuum cleaner works best for you, finding the most reliable and well-built model should be much easier. Although, there’s not much we can do to help you make cleaning fun, we do hope our guide has helped you find vacuum cleaners that make the process easier and more convenient.