How to Choose the Best Vacuum Cleaner
By William | September 3, 2014
Common Sense Guide on How to Choose the Best Vacuum Cleaner for your Home!
With so many to choose from, how is a person to know how to choose the best vacuum cleaner for their home? Believe me, I totally understand just how frustrating it is to sort through pages and pages of information trying to decide which of the many many vacuum model to choose. Its easy to end up with “Information Overload!”
Hopefully, the information in this post will give you some bullet points or tips to keep in mind during the selection process.
You will find a large and diverse assortment of vacuum cleaner models on this site I have carefully reviewed that hopefully will provide you a very good starting place.
What's in This Guide?
Contents at a Glance
- Common Sense Guide on How to Choose the Best Vacuum Cleaner for your Home!
- Assess your Needs!
- Bagged VS Bagless
- Consider Storage
- Special Cleaning Issues in your Home
- Filtration – Allergies and other Respiratory Issues
- Above-Floor Cleaning
- Utilize Customer Reviews and Professional Reviews…Cautiously!
Assess your Needs!
Needless to say our budget plays a big role in selecting the best vacuum.
Price is not the best indicator of how well a vacuum cleaner will perform. There are some excellent moderately priced vacuums that will perform as well and last as long as some of the very high priced vacuums – when properly maintained.
I don’t recommend that anyone over-stretch their budget. A vacuum cleaner is an important purchase. It is a machine that is intended to make your life more tidy and easier. You want to choose a machine you are going to be happy with and look forward to using, rather than cause you to procrastinate.
I do recommend that you choose the best vacuum your budget will allow. Some of the top-rated high-end vacuum vacuums are known to last for decades instead of just a couple years.
Bagged VS Bagless
The age-old question, which one is best, a Bagged Vacuum or a Bagless Vacuum?
The main issue boils down to Air Contamination when disposing of the dirt.
A Bagless Vacuum requires that you hold the removable Dirt Cup or Canister above a trash can and open the lid, allowing the dirt to empty. This invariably will produce a dust cloud potentially loaded with allergens that can ruin the day of an allergy sufferer.
A Bagged Vacuum on the other hand requires that you remove the full bag from the vacuum and dispose of it. When the Bag is detached from the vacuum it can produce a small puff of yucky dust.
However, some Bagged Vacuums utilize bags with a molded plastic flapper that will seal the bag opening when you remove it, minimizing any puff of dust-filled air.
Of course you can take the Bagless Dirt Cup outdoors to dump which may not be practical. Or you could take a Bagged Vacuum outdoors to remove the bag.
It all depends on how you want to handle your dirt!
A Bagged Vacuum is probably more convenient. Although you do have to change out the bags. The bags can get expensive if you are a pet owner simply because of the volume of dirt and hair.
The main benefit of a Bagless Vacuum is they are very inexpensive to operate because you don’t have to buy bags.
If you live in an apartment or small house storage may be an issue for you. You may want to consider a canister model or an upright with a folding handle.
Another option when it comes to storability is a Stick Vacuum. There are a lot of really good stick vacuums that can take care of many of your cleaning needs.
SEE: Best Corded Stick Vacuums for Hardwood Floors
Best Cordless Vacuums for Hardwood Floors
I recommend that you decide where you want to store your new vacuum and then choose a vacuum that will fit. You may have to forgo an upright vacuum in favor of a canister vacuum or a stick.
You may live in a multi-level home where weight is an issue. Especially if you are physically challenged.
Some of the best upright vacuums can weigh as much as 23 pounds. This could present a real challenge lugging it up and down stairs, especially if you are an elderly person.
I recommend Canister Vacuums which are generally much lighter and some can perform just as well as a top rated upright.
SEE: Best Canister Vacuum for Pet Hair
Special Cleaning Issues in your Home
If your home has a lot of smooth floor surfaces or hardwood floors you need a vacuum that is specially designed and equipped to work well on these surfaces without damaging them.
If your home is multi-level check out my post Best Vacuum for Stairs
Also, check out my article entitled Best Vacuum for Hardwood Floors. If you have Berber Carpet in your home be sure and read Best Vacuum for Berber Carpet.
Filtration – Allergies and other Respiratory Issues
If you or someone in your household suffers with respiratory issues like Asthma or Allergies you need to make sure the vacuum you choose has filtration system that will remove the most allergens possible.
SEE: Best Vacuum for Allergies
Pollen finds its way into our homes thru open doors and windows and get tracked in on our shoes.
When we made the decision to have pets in our home other issues besides vacuuming up the pet hair are part of the arrangement.
Pets such as dogs and cats and even birds bring allergy-causing particulates such as pet dander which attracts dust mites.
SEE: Best Pet Hair Vacuum
Our carpet acts like a giant filter that traps the majority of allergens in the air which is Good! Not to mention all the other allergy-causing offenders such as pollen.
When we run the vacuum it is designed to agitate the carpet pile in order to loosen the dirt and pet hair to be sucked up by the vacuum. The Best Pet Hair Vacuums effectively remove the allergens from the carpet.
The problem is, is that unless your vacuum cleaner is equipped with a large HEPA Filter that is part of a Sealed Vacuum System, a large amount of those nasty allergens will get blown back into the air we breathe. Yuck!
That is why it is important if you are an allergy suffer to make sure the Pet Hair Vacuum you are shopping for is equipped with a Sealed Vacuum System and a Large HEPA Filter that will trap up to 99.5% of allergens.
Also, you need to be settled whether a bagged vacuum vs a bagless vacuum will work best for you. Be sure and read my post entitled Bagged vs Bagless Vacuum (Coming Soon)
Some top rated vacuums have 2 or 3 filters that must be replaced regularly for maximum performance. This can get a little expensive.
While there are also some that have washable or cleanable filters that will save you money over the life of the vacuum.
TIP: Always Check the Owner’s Guide for recommended maintenance.
Look for special features that make your new vacuum easier to perform regular maintenance like easy-access to brush roll belts or ports to remove clogs that will happen occasionally, especially if you have a long-haired pet…or person in the house.
If you plan on using your new vacuum for stairs, furniture, blinds or drapes be sure your new vacuum is equipped with the features and attachments to do a good job.
Canister vacuums are quite handy for above-floor cleaning tasks. Most uprights have detachable stretch hoses that when connected with a wand and attachment work well also.
I try and point this out in each of my vacuum cleaner reviews and listings you will find on the website.
Utilize Customer Reviews and Professional Reviews…Cautiously!
Customer Reviews – Did ya ever read a customer review and just think to yourself “this person should never ever try and use any type of machine, not even a wheel barrow?”
Unfortunately you will run across an occasional One Star pet hair vacuum review complaining about something as ridiculous as the product sucking up socks and getting tangled in the brush roll and breaking the belt…multiple times. Well Daaahh!
You may read what seems like an authoritative review by an “engineer” complaining of a particular design problem with a pet hair vacuum such as the motor overheating only to find out it was being caused by a piece of clear plastic that got sucked in and covered up the air intake of the motor (True Story.)
Or often times you will read a customer review with a low rating because their new vacuum cleaner they were excited about was late in arriving or it was damaged in shipping. That’s a shipping issue, not a vacuum cleaner issue…come on!
My point is, when you read “Customer Reviews” don’t just look at the overall average Rating, read and evaluate all the reviews like I do. Visit the manufacture’s Product Page and check their list of features and specifications. Quite often you will find variations compared to seller or dealer listings that could affect your decision.
Professional Reviews – Did you ever read what you believed was a professional vacuum cleaner Review that seemed to be more of an advertisement for the vacuum rather than a critical unbiased evaluation of the vacuum? I know I have!
I admit that sometimes, as I review a vacuum cleaner, I can lose objectivity in favor of personal preferences. I try to be as objective as possible which is why I always provide both PROS and CONS, an overall RATING, THOUGHTS and RECOMMENDATIONS so you can decide for yourself if its the right vacuum for you.
I understand that we all like to look good while vacuuming our floors. Ya just never know when a neighbor might pop in…right! Everyone wants to look while their sucking dirt out of their house!
Believe me, I am a sucker for a fancy high-tech looking vacuum with the latest trending color scheme too, although my experience and investigative nature override my sometimes poor taste.
Vacuum cleaner manufactures are smart. They understand that they can sell a lot more vacuums if it has eye appeal so they design their vacuums to look as attractive as possible. But, as they say, “beauty is only skin deep!”
But no matter how cool you think you look while vacuuming your floors and how fascinated you were with the latest glitz, gadgetry, color scheme, and advertising hype all of that is forgotten quickly if your new machine doesn’t measure up to your expectations.
William • Post Author •June 24, 2019 at 3:14 pm
Hello Brian, and thanks for your question.
I agree, some of the Hoover uprights are not great for cleaning hard floors. I own an old Hoover WindTunnel I have had for 11 years. Does a great job on carpet but I have the same problem you do if I use it on my hard floors.
My solution was to purchase a swivel floor brush with horse hair and use it on the end of the wand and expansion hose. Works great for any hard floor surface so you might want to consider this option if you still have your Hoover. SEE: Turn your Old Vacuum into a Great Hardwood Floor Vacuum
Bissell has been making some really great vacuums the last few years. The BISSELL Cleanview Swivel Rewind Pet 2254 is the one I recommend. It has the Auto Cord Rewind and Swivel Steering and Scatter Free brush roll. This vacuum will work well on your laminate and tile floors. Plus, its way under your price limit.
Check it out and see what you think.
Hope this helps,
BrianJune 21, 2019 at 4:41 pm
Hi William. I like your site…great job to help the public. I’m looking for an upright for laminate and tile floors (not hardwood that might be more easily damaged with brushes). I like a long detachable hose with attachments. Also like rewind but not essential. Swivel is a neat feature but might be another moving part at risk for breaking?
I tried the Hoover Whole House Elite Pet out of the box…it scattered more mess than it cleaned. The hose was nice and long 12′. Suction power was very low with brushes turned off. I tested it with bird seed, cracked corn, flour and sugar. With brushes turned off it really wouldn’t suck it all up. I used the two lowest setting and both scattered with the lowest being worse. The detachable hose with the brush attachment had poor suction and did a poor job. Overall I don’t think it is good for hard floors and suction is poor.
I really do not want to spend more than 170. I was wondering what you think of the Bissell cleanView Swivel Pet Rewind Upright for use on hard floors
Thanks in advance for your help.
William • Post Author •November 24, 2018 at 4:17 pm
Hi Nanblan, I understand your frustration and apologize for not providing that information as of this time. The Shark TruePet NV752 Rotator Lift-Away is an excellent choice with a Dust Cup Capacity of 1.4 dry quarts. Or the Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner, Ball Animal 2 at .55 gallons. Hope this helps, Will
nanblanNovember 19, 2018 at 4:21 am
I’m trying to find a pet vacuum with a very large canister. In reading all of your info, as well as on other sites, there is never a comparison of the canister size. I have 3 large, very hairy dogs, so the larger the canister the better, so I won’t have to constantly be emptying it or changing the bag. Perhaps you could provide this information in the future., as it would be quite helpful for many of us.