A Complete Guide to Selecting the Best Vacuum for Allergies (Updated for 2018!)
When you vacuum as often as I do you want the Best Vacuum for Allergies you can get your hands on!
A vacuum cleaner with a highly effective filtration system can make a world of difference for your Allergies, Asthma, or COPD.
As a Carpet Cleaning Technician with IICRC Certification the very first step of a professional carpet cleaning is to do a thorough vacuuming job.
A vacuum cleaner can fill the air in your home with almost every imaginable allergy-causing pollutant if it is not adequately designed to capture them.
My first priority of course is my customer’s health. But trust me when I tell ya I don’t want to have to breathe the nasty allergy-causing villains found in every carpet – pollen, mold, human and pet dander, dust mites that feed on it and their feces – yuck!
And if you are unfortunate to suffer with an allergic respiratory condition you definitely don’t want to trigger it by blowing these particulates into the air you breathe every time you vacuum.
Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter – Mother Nature is always throwing something at us that can activate your allergy.
Contents at a Glance
- A Complete Guide to Selecting the Best Vacuum for Allergies (Updated for 2018!)
- How a Vacuum Cleaner Works 101
- Does HEPA Filtration Determine the Best Vacuum for Allergies?
- Which is Best, a Bagged or Bagless Vacuum?
- What TYPE of Vacuum Should I Buy, UPRIGHT or CANISTER?
- How Important is Allergy-Friendly Certification?
- Best UPRIGHT Allergy-Friendly Vacuum Recommendations
- Best CANISTER Allergy-Friendly Vacuum Recommendations
How a Vacuum Cleaner Works 101
Ok, I know, you don’t want all the technical stuff – “just point me in the right direction.” OK, I shall, but an extra 30 seconds of reading can save you from making a bad decision.
A vacuum cleaner is a machine with a motor-powered fan that creates a negative atmosphere (Vacuum) within a system of chambers and tunnels for the purpose of lifting dirt, debris, and micro-sized particulates from a floor surface and transporting it to a repository such as a bag or canister. That’s Good!
The Negative air pressure end of the system is called a Nozzle or Vacuum Head. The Positive air pressure end is called the Exhaust Port. Between the two there is either a bag or a canister to capture the dirt. But without some type of filtration media such as a bag or filter, the finer lighter dirt particles (Allergens) that didn’t fall into the bag or canister just get blown out the exhaust port and into the air you breathe. Not So Good!
Does HEPA Filtration Determine the Best Vacuum for Allergies?
The answer is NO! A sufficiently designed and sized HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Absorption) Filter is extremely important. A good HEPA Filter or a HEPA Rated Bag can remove up to 99.9% of allergy-causing particulates from the air that “passes through it.” (Key Phrase here!)
The problem is, with most vacuums a significant percentage of the exhaust air leaks through openings along the vacuum exhaust system.
Your vacuum can be equipped with a HEPA Filter that is certified to trap 99.9% of allergy-causing particulates but it’s of little value if the dirty exhaust air is leaking around the filter or through cracks in the system.
If you want the Best Vacuum for Allergies it is absolutely necessary to select a vacuum with a Sealed Vacuum System.
What is a Sealed Vacuum System?
A Sealed Vacuum System is simply an air channel and filter compartment that has been designed so that it does not leak exhaust air. In other words, all of the exhaust air (Positive Pressure) must pass through the HEPA Filter before being blown into the room, removing all allergens.
The Best Vacuum Cleaners for Allergies will incorporate some type of gasketing between the Dirt Canister of a Bagless Vacuum and the HEPA Filter Compartment. Or in a Bagged Vacuum between the Bag and the HEPA Filter compartment. This will prevent leakage or contaminated emissions.
Which is Best, a Bagged or Bagless Vacuum?
A Bagless Vacuum is typically more Economical to operate because you don’t have to buy bags. It is also typically more Convenient because you simply detach the Canister (Dirt Bin) with the press of a button and with the press of another button you dump the contents, then return the Canister to the machine.
Some of the Best Bagless Vacuum Cleaners for Allergies do an incredible job of removing allergy-causing particulates. In fact, they are as effective as a high quality Bagged Vacuum. The only problem with a Bagless Vacuum is having to empty the dirt cup.
It is almost impossible to dump the contents of the dirt cup without causing at least a slight dust cloud.
Quick Tip – Inspect Filters! Always check the Filter before vacuuming. HEPA Filters should be replaced every 6 months for maximum performance (Check Operators Manual)
On the other hand a well-designed Bagged vacuum cleaner will also do an incredible job of removing the offending allergy-provoking particulates. The Best Bagged Vacuums for Allergies incorporates a flap at the bag opening to seal the bag when removing, thus eliminating all but the most minute puff of dust when removing the bag once it is full.
The best-rated Bagged Allergy Vacuum models utilize HEPA Rated Bags that will remove in excess of 99.9% of allergy-causing particulates. Plus a second stage HEPA Filter to catch any micro particulates that leak around the bag seal or through the bag material (media).
The main problem with Bagged vacuum cleaners is that once the bag becomes approximately half full the suction power begins to drop.
What TYPE of Vacuum Should I Buy, UPRIGHT or CANISTER?
Everyone’s flooring situation is different. Older homes may have mostly carpeted floors with a tile or Vinyl kitchen floor. Many newer homes have almost all hardwood floors with some area rugs here and there. To keep it simple, here are the Vacuum Types I recommend:
Type 1) If your home is mostly medium to heavy pile wall-to-wall carpet I recommend that you go with an UPRIGHT Vacuum.
Type 2) If your home has medium to light pile carpeting, area rugs, and/or hard floor surfaces I recommend a CANISTER Vacuum.
How Important is Allergy-Friendly Certification?
Allergy Support Groups such as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the British Allergy Foundation provide so many valuable resources for Allergy Suffers.
So many people owe a debt of gratitude for their improved quality of life because of what they are able to learn from them.
These foundations or organizations have limited resources so they are not able to test every vacuum model that comes on the market. They only test the ones submitted for certification testing by manufactures who believe their model will meet the criteria and are willing to pay the allergy certification testing fee.
Keep in mind, these foundations ONLY test a vacuum cleaner’s EMISSIONS! They DO NOT test the vacuum for power, convenience of use, effectiveness, or over-all quality. That is the purpose of this GUIDE!
So, just because a vacuum listing DOES NOT display an Allergy Friendly Sticker doesn’t mean it isn’t Allergy-Friendly.
Likewise, just because a vacuum DOES display an Allergy Friendly Sticker doesn’t mean it is the Best Vacuum for Allergies.
Quick Tip – Timing! Avoid vacuuming just before bed time. Even the best HEPA vacuums stir up some dust. Give it time to settle.
Best UPRIGHT Allergy-Friendly Vacuum Recommendations
If your home has a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting and perhaps Vinyl or tile flooring in the kitchen you need the power of an Upright vacuum equipped with a removable wand and extension hose for using special attachments. This will give you the versatility you need to be able to deep clean your carpet and the ability to clean smooth floors and above-floor surfaces.
Below I have listed both Bagless and Bagged Uprights that have the necessary features
NEW Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 Upright Vacuum, Iron/Yellow
Certified Asthma and Allergy Friendly and modestly priced, the new Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 Upright is a masterpiece of vacuum cleaner technology.
The slender design and ball steering gives you excellent maneuverability in tight places.
As the name implies, the Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 gives optimal performance on Carpet, Vinyl, Laminate, Tile and Hardwood flooring.
The vacuum head adjusts automatically to give maximum suction throughout the entire house. The powerful brushroll easily removes pet hair from carpet.
When it comes to cleaning above floors the Wand and Hose assembly release effortlessly and extends a whopping 15 feet. That’s long enough to reach and clean the highest ceiling fans, molding, and blinds or under and behind furniture.
- Self-adjusting Vacuum Head that maximizes suction across Hardwood, Vinyl, Tile and Carpet floors
- Unmatched Suction Power (*Suction tested to ASTM F558 at the cleaner head, dust-loaded against upright market)
- Ball Steering for unexcelled maneuverability
- Dyson’s Radial Root Cyclonic Tech traps more allergy-causing micro-particles than other brand
- Quick-Release Wand for easy cleaning high up or low down under furniture
- Hygienic One Hand EasyEmpty Dirt Bin
A feature that is so important for allergy suffers is the Hygienic Dirt Bin Emptying System making it unnecessary to touch the dirt.
Whole-Machine HEPA-level Filtration traps 99.9% of mold, pollen, dust mites, dust mite feces, bacteria and other allergens so they don’t get blown back into the air you breathe.
- Stair Tool
- Combination Tool
- Dyson’s 5 Year Warranty that covers parts & labor, plus free shipping there and back.
The NEW Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 Upright Vacuum is as good as it gets when it comes to Bagless Vacuums for Allergy Sufferers – and the price won’t scare you!
Quick Tip – Be Considerate! Wait till the kids are away to vacuum, they are closer to the floor where all the dirt is.
You don’t have to spend $500 and up to get one of the Best Vacuums for Allergies!
The Shark Navigator (NV356E) is one of the best Bagless Upright allergy-friendly vacuums available because it has an extremely effective Sealed Vacuum System plus excellent HEPA Filtration.
In fact it is so effective that when measured for leakage using a hand-held Laser Particle Scanner it only detected a few particles less than .3 microns which is very very small. Whereas the Dyson DC41 Animal which also had minimal leakage but larger particles at .5 microns.
I know it doesn’t seem like much but to an allergy sufferer it can make the difference in an allergic response and no or minimal response.
It is powerful, very versatile, a pleasure to operate, and very budget-friendly.
It is backed with a huge 5 Year Warranty!
I have probably recommended Shark Navigator Vacuums more than any other Bagless Upright.
I recommend this vacuum to my Sister a few years ago because she has some health issues and she just loves it!
The Shark Navigator Lift-Away vacuum models are some of the Best moderately priced Upright Vacuums for Allergies and certainly one of the Best Whole-House Vacuums available. You won’t be disappointed!
Quick Tip – Go Outdoors! Take your vacuum cleaner Outdoors to empty the canister or change bags to eliminate any dust from escaping back into your house.
Dyson engineers have figured out how to utilize Centrifugal Force to capture microscopic particles as minute as Pollen, Mold Spores, Dust Mites, and Dust Mite Feces WITHOUT the use of a HEPA Filter.
It sounds impossible doesn’t it! That’s what I thought too!
Basically, the way it works, is 35 rapidly Oscillating Cinetic Tips generate up to 313.000G’s that fling the particles into the dirt bin before the air is exhausted into the room eliminating the need for a filter.
This amazing technology results in 3 MAJOR BENEFITS: (1) almost -0- particulates get blown back into the air you breathe by the vacuum exhaust. (2) No Dirty Filters to clean or replace (3) No Loss of Suction since there are NO Filters to get clogged.
Speaking of Suction, this is one of the most powerful vacuums I have reviewed. The New Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Plus Allergy vacuum has a ravenous appetite for dirt and pet hair making it an outstanding choice if you are an allergy suffer with pets.
It works very well both on Carpeting and on Hard Floor Surfaces.
It comes with Dyson’s exclusive Tangle-Free Turbine Tool that uses rotating heads instead of a brush roll to gobble up dirt and pet hair from carpet, upholstery, and stairs.
The brilliantly designed Crevice Tool is flexible with bristles that allows you to vacuum in the most difficult to clean areas.
Dyson’s famous 5 Year Warranty on Parts and Labor is one of the best in the industry.
And, oh yea, did I mention… it is Certified Asthma and Allergy Friendly by the American Allergy Foundation.
As you might expect, a vacuum with this kind of technology and cleaning performance isn’t cheap! Personally, I believe the benefits are well worth the investment!
The reception of this revolutionary new vacuum has been extremely positive based on Customer Reviews.
New Prolux 7000 Upright Sealed HEPA vacuum on board tools 7 Year Warranty
The Prolux 7000 Bagged Upright Vacuum is highly recognized in health-related institutions for being able to stand up to everyday commercial use and is an excellent vacuum for allergy suffers.
The powerful Amtek motor is the best in the industry. It has the ability to deep clean your carpet and remove the offending allergens.
It has a steel brushroll and a steel vacuum head grate for long life.
The Prolux 7000 features a Sealed Vacuum System with a Hospital Grade HEPA Filter to trap the most minute allergy-causing particulates without leakage.
Prolux is made by Aerus, LLC of Bristol, Virginia, USA, the same company that makes the familiar line of Electrolux Vacuums.
You have to see and opperate this fine Upright Bagged Vacuum to appreciate the quality. That is why it is backed by a HUGE 7 Year Warranty!
My only criticisms are, its a bit heavy at 17 pounds and it doesn’t have swivel steering making it less handy at getting in to tight places.
The Prolux 7000 is a High-End Bagged Vacuum with a Low-End Price tag!
Similar quality Germany-Made vacuums cost more than twice the price but with no better performance!
This is one fine vacuum and deserves a close look! Be sure and take note of the High Customer Review Ratings!
When it comes to vacuum cleaners the name Miele has become synonymous with high quality and their Bagged Uprights are arguably the most Allergy-Friendly available!
Made in Germany, Miele upright vacuums feature a proprietary AirClean Sealed System that eliminates the possibility of allergy-causing dust from escaping back into the air you breathe. It consists of an AirClean FilterBag and Air Clean Filter that captures and retains 99.9% of offending particulates. (For an even higher level of protection you can easily upgrade to Optional HEPA Filters .)
Just as important, Miele designs their AirClean Filter Bags with a Quick Close Flap that virtually seals the bag the instant you remove it so the allergens you just vacuumed from your floor don’t escape back into the air.
Meile U1 Series vacuums feature Swivel Steering technology that makes maneuvering around the floor almost effortless. Automatic Height Adjustment allows you to transition from smooth to carpeted floors without stopping. Variable Suction Control located near the handle so you can select the optimal power for the surface you’re cleaning.
An extra-long 39 Foot Power Cord for large rooms minimizes changing receptacles.
Unlike most upright vacuums, Meile U1 Series vacuums utilize 2 motors instead of just one. One motor produces 1,200 Watts of suction power and the other motor powers the floor brush for deep cleaning heavily used carpets.
Backed by an industry-leading 7 Year Warranty, Miele vacuums are tested to last up to 20 years of average use.
Oh, and did I mention, this vacuum is very QUIET!
If you suffer with allergies and appreciate high quality and elegance of German engineering, you owe it to yourself to explore the Miele 41HAE032USA Dynamic U1 Maverick!
Best CANISTER Allergy-Friendly Vacuum Recommendations
A good quality Canister vacuum with HEPA Filtration is your best choice if your home is mostly smooth or hardwood floors, with some area rugs and, perhaps, some low to medium pile carpet.
Most canister vacuums don’t come equipped with a motor-powered brushroll in the vacuum head which is necessary to deep clean carpeting. A “Turbo-Powered” or “Turbine-Powered “brush will work OK on short pile carpet.
However, if you have med. to plush pile carpeting and prefer a Canister vacuum,, there are some excellent models with motorized brushrolls you can turn off or on for different types of flooring. This Option does add significantly to the price (SEE Recommendations Below)
Dyson DC39 Animal Canister Vacuum Cleaner with Tangle-free Turbine Tool
The Dyson DC39 Animal is probably the best Bagless Canister vacuum available and it features the Asthma and Allergy Friendly™ Certification Dyson has become famous for.
This Dyson utilizes a HEPA Filter as an added step in removing the last traces of micro particulates that are not captured in the cyclonic dirt canister.
The DC39 is Certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
It has a turbine powered brush roll which gobbles up pet hair from carpet. As with all Dyson Vacuums it is backed by a 5 Year Warranty!
Quick Tip – Read the Manual! Most negative customer reviews are a result of new owners not taking the time to familiarize themselves with their new vacuum. A few minutes spent reading the owner’s manual will help you get the maximum performance from your vacuum and possibly save you some headaches.
Miele Classic C1 Olympus Canister Vacuum Cleaner
The Miele Classic C1 Olympus Canister Vacuum Cleaner is an excellent choice IF your home has mostly short pile carpet or area rugs and hard floor surfaces (It is NOT suitable for medium to lush wall-to-wall carpeting.)
The famous German quality and excellent filtration system make it one of the Best Bagged Canister Vacuums for Allergies.
The Miele Classic C1 Olympus Canister Vacuum Cleaner utilizes AirClean FilterBags and 2 Filters, one to protect the motor and one to filter any exhaust particulates that may have passed through the AirClean Bags.
Miele vacuums are somewhat expensive but they are built to last. It is not unusual for one to last 20 years or more.
The bags DO HAVE a flap to seal it when full. This smart feature assures none of the nasty allergy-causing dirt gets blown back into the air you breathe.
I highly recommend Miele Vacuum Cleaners! The Value and Performance are just hard to beat!