A vacuum that can contain the spread of dust and debris can be invaluable if you suffer from serious allergies. A HEPA filter is a good starting point, as they can help trap allergens as you clean. A dirtbag can also be a handy addition since it reduces the chances of having dust escape when emptying the appliance. Overall cleaning performance is important, especially when trying to pick up debris like pet hair or dust. While those aren't the only criteria for this list, they are the most important in determining whether or not a vacuum will be effective in reducing the spread of allergens.
We've tested more than 90 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for allergies. These recommendations are based not only on their cleaning performance on different types of surfaces and inclusion of a HEPA filter but also on their design and price. For more buying recommendations, take a look at our list of the best cordless vacuums for pet hair, the best robot vacuums for pet hair, and the best vacuums for carpets.
The Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine is the best vacuum for allergies on bare floors that we've tested. This canister-style model delivers an incredible performance on bare surfaces like hardwood and linoleum, where it easily clears pet hair and debris without losing suction as its dirtbag fills up. It's also equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter.
It's amazingly well-built and maneuverable, with smoothly rolling rubber wheels and a stainless steel wand you can use to reach awkward areas like under furniture. You can switch it into a semi-handheld mode, which is useful if you're cleaning stairs or shelves, and you can choose from seven different suction power settings. It also does an excellent job of cleaning low and high-pile carpets, which is great if you have a few rugs in your home.
Unfortunately, its power cord is a bit short, so you may need to swap outlets if you're cleaning a big room or staircase. It also incurs fairly high recurring costs since its dirtbag, HEPA filter, and pre-motor filter all need to be replaced regularly. That said, its design and versatile performance make it a great option if you're concerned about allergens. It's also one of the best vacuums we've tested.
If you prefer a robot vacuum to help keep your bare floors clean, consider the iRobot Roomba 981 instead. Although this model is much harder to maintain than the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine, it offers a hands-off cleaning experience. Like the Miele, it performs outstandingly well on bare floors, where it has no trouble picking up pet hair or debris like rice and cereal. It's equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter and does a good job of cleaning the whole area of a room. Also, its battery can last for up to two hours in its 'Eco-Mode' setting, while its 'Automatic' setting varies the suction power based on the cleaning conditions. Unfortunately, like many robot vacuums, this model has high recurring costs, and it's quite loud.
If you want a canister vacuum that you can use to clean stairs or furniture, go for the Miele. If you'd prefer a robot vacuum that offers a more relaxed cleaning experience, consider the iRobot instead.
The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright is the best vacuum for allergies for carpets that we've tested. This corded upright uses a bagless design, has washable reusable pre-motor, and includes allergen-trapping HEPA filters, so recurring costs shouldn't be an issue. Its primary head also features three levels of surface adjustment, which can be used for when you're vacuuming bare floors, low-pile carpet, or high-pile carpet.
This vacuum delivers outstanding performance on low-pile carpet, where it easily clears pet hair, fine debris like baking soda, and larger material like sand. It also delivers impressive performance on high-pile carpet, though you may need to make an extra pass to fully clear fine debris. Its 'Lift-Away' design allows you to detach the canister from the vacuum body and carry it around, making it easier to clean tight spots.
Unfortunately, this vacuum isn't very maneuverable. While the rotating vacuum head can help in this respect, the bulky top-mounted canister gets in the way when cleaning under tables and chairs, while some rugs can get caught in the head's brushroll. Also, many parts need to be cleaned regularly. Still, if you're looking for an upright vacuum with a HEPA filter that can clear most messes on carpets, this is a good option.
If you prefer the go-anywhere range of a cordless vacuum, consider the Dyson V15 Detect. It doesn't offer the virtually indefinite runtime of the corded Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright and has a smaller dirt compartment, but its range is effectively limited only by battery charge and space in its dirt compartment, so you don't need to worry about staying close to an electrical outlet. It's also significantly more maneuverable as a result of its smaller, lighter design, and can be easily reconfigured into a compact handheld vacuum to easily clean shelves, counters, and tables. Performance is similarly fantastic on low-pile carpet, and the Dyson actually does a better job than the Shark of clearing fine debris like baking soda from high-pile carpet. Unfortunately, this vacuum's strong suction force can cause it to drag around some lighter rugs. Also, its all-plastic construction doesn't feel particularly robust, and many parts need to be cleaned regularly.
Get the Shark if you want a corded vacuum that feels more solidly built, but consider the Dyson if you want the virtually unlimited range of a cordless vacuum.
The best vacuum for allergies that we've tested in the budget category is the HoLife HM036E. This cordless handheld model delivers outstanding performance on bare floors and still does a good job of picking up debris on low and high-pile carpet. It comes with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter as well as a liquid nozzle for cleaning wet messes, though we don't currently test this feature.
This well-built vacuum can last around 23 minutes on a single charge, which is fairly good for a handheld model. Also, it comes with quite a few tools, including a crevice tool for cleaning tight spaces, an upholstery tool for furniture, and an extension wand to give you a greater reach. Due to its small and simple design, it's amazingly portable and quite easy to maintain.
However, its dirt compartment is small, and debris can spill out of it easily. Also, as a handheld vacuum, it's more suitable for spot-cleaning than tackling larger areas. That said, if you have allergies and want a vacuum that comes at a more budget-friendly price, this is a suitable option.
Jul 23, 2021: Replaced Dyson Ball Animal 2 with Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright as 'Best Vacuum For Allergies On Carpet' pick. Added Dyson Ball Animal 2 to Notable Mentions.
May 25, 2021: Replaced Dyson V7 Animal with Dyson V15 Detect as 'Cordless Alternative' pick. Added Dyson V7 Animal to Notable Mentions.
Mar 26, 2021: Replaced the iRobot Roomba S9 with the iRobot Roomba 981 as the 'Robot Alternative' in the 'Best For Bare Floors' category. Moved the iRobot Roomba S9 to Notable Mentions. Replaced the Shark ION W1 WANDVAC with the HoLife HM036E in the 'Best Budget' category and moved the Shark to Notable Mentions. Confirmed the other picks are in stock and still the best recommendations for our users.
Jan 27, 2021: Verified that picks are still the best recommendations for our users and that the products are available.
Jan 13, 2021: Added the iRobot Roomba i7+ to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best vacuums for allergies for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of all our reviews of vacuums equipped with an allergen-trapping HEPA filter. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.