One of my least favorite household appliances is also probably one of the most necessary – right after the big five (fridge, stove, washer, drier, and air conditioner) – a vacuum cleaner. Unless you have 100% hardwood, vinyl, or linoleum flooring, and even then, you’re almost definitely going to need one, whether you live in a tiny studio apartment or a ten bedroom mansion. Carpets get dirty, and there just isn’t much way around it. So, what are the best vacuums on the market, and what style should you choose for your needs?
1. Small space, short carpet, or not much storage?
Stick vacuums are essentially pared down versions of a full sized upright vacuum. they have most of the same features and functions, but come in a much slimmer package and are significantly lower weight. They also tend to collect dirt in canisters rather than bags, which makes them easy to empty. However, because of their smaller size, they tend to get full faster, and are slightly lower powered than full sized vacuums, which makes them perfectly suited to smaller spaces where you might not have room to store a larger machine. This Bissell Stick Vacuum, which clocks in at 7.5lbs, is a great, inexpensive model that works especially well on short carpet or hard floors.
Pet hair – the mortal enemy of vacuums and housekeepers alike – is probably one of the biggest challenges for a vacuum, because it can easily jam up almost any part of the vacuum, which means that in heavily soiled areas, you can get maybe a handful of passes before you’re just pushing hair around. Vacuums designed specifically to tackle pet hair are much better for the job, and this Dyson Animal Ball, is consistently the highest rated by consumers for its ability to do exactly what it advertises – pick up pet hair. And with a five year warranty, it’s worth every penny and then some, especially if it’s going to see some serious multi-pet wear and tear.
3. Lots of Stairs Or A Bad Back
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that would claim to enjoy vacuuming stairs. Of course, I don’t know a whole lot of people that like vacuuming in general, either, but stairs are a special bane, especially if you have a lot of them, or a really heavy vacuum. Sure, lots of uprights come with a plethora of attachments, but their reach is extremely limited. The solution? A portable canister like this Hoover PortaPower, which weighs just over 8lbs and slings over you shoulder, so you can carry it along with you while you work, rather than stopping and hauling a heavy upright up one stair at a time. As a bonus, it has lots of attachments (for higher hard to reach places) with a long reach and a super long cord.
Canister Vacuums like this one, or any under the Miele brand, are also great if you have back troubles; they turn on with an easy foot press, roll around behind you, and are lightweight enough that you can pick them up and tote them easily.
4. Needs More Power
If you’re fine with your traditional upright style vacuum cleaner, but you want something that’s going to give you the most suck for your buck, you can’t go wrong with this Hoover Upright. It comes as a standard upright vacuum, but converts into a canister style for extra portability. A powerful but inexpensive vacuum with a 6 year warranty, the only major drawback to this model is that it uses vacuum bags instead of an reusable plastic container – but, at the same time, that can be a bonus, because this style tends to be a little more powerful.
If you don’t really mind the bags, and you’re looking for an ultra-cheap vacuum that will do the job and go the distance, this Hoover Bagged Upright is definitely for you. For less than a hundred dollars, even with only a one year warranty, you can’t beat this model for power, though some users have noted a shortish lifespan.
If you really truly hate using vacuum bags, you probably want to invest in a bagless one. These models, like this Bissell Bagless Upright, come with a detachable clear plastic container on the front that you can watch filling and empty as often as you need to, without the muss or fuss of changing an overfilled bag. This Bissell comes with an especially large and easy to change canister, but the vacuum as a whole is a little on the heavy side, so it won’t be quite so good for stairs.
5. Never Want to Look at a Vacuum Again
If you’ve made it this far into the article without finding anything that piques your interest, you may be legitimately tapped out, sick of the idea of vacuuming, and ready to break with tradition and try something new – instead of your traditional upright or canister model, you might want to try a Roomba. Now, if you haven’t at least heard of one of these, I’d like to cordially congratulate you on emerging from beneath that rock you’ve been under. But, seriously, these things are great – basically, you let them charge, then set them on the floor and let them vacuum it for you in a criss cross pattern that finishes surprisingly quickly, depending on how much space it has to clean. It even comes with special invisible walls you can use to confine the roomba to only the space or room you want it to clean. When it’s done, you simply empty the canister and set it back to charge for next time.
Personally, I’ve spent a little too long with a vacuum that ate through its belts like candy, and a dinky stick vacuum in a house about eight times too big for it, and I think I might be ready to step into the Roomba-future. Then again, I can always just swiff the kitchen. What about you? Do you have a beloved (current or long lost) vacuum? Let me know in the comments!