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 such as 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 over 50 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations of 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 best vacuum for allergies on bare floors that we've tested is the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine. This corded canister model is equipped with a HEPA filter and a dirtbag, so you shouldn't have to worry about the spread of allergens as you clean. It's amazingly well-built and remarkably easy to maintain, with a design that makes it easy to access parts for routine maintenance or replacement.
It does an outstanding job of dealing with various kinds of debris on surfaces like linoleum and hardwood, ranging from pet hair to chunks of cereal, and you can fine-tune its suction level to suit more delicate surfaces on-the-fly. Performance remains consistent as its spacious dirtbag fills up, which is great if you've got several large messes to clean up. Thanks to its smooth-rolling wheels and extendable wand, maneuverability is excellent, even in small or cluttered spaces.
Unfortunately, it has a fairly short power cord, so you may need to switch outlets while cleaning large rooms. Its main body is also a little heavy, which can make carrying it up and down flights of stairs a bit of a nuisance. Since its dirtbag and HEPA filter are disposable, recurring costs can add up. Still, thanks to its excellent build quality and versatile performance, it's also among the best multi-surface vacuum cleaners that we've tested.
If you prefer the effortless convenience of a robot vacuum, you may want to consider the iRobot Roomba S9. It doesn't perform quite as well on bare floors as the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine, but it also requires very little human intervention to do its job. It comes with a HEPA filter and if you want to further reduce the spread of allergens while emptying its dirt compartment, you can purchase it with an external dirtbag mounted to its charging station. It can then empty its collected debris into this external dirtbag after every cleaning job or when it needs to be recharged. It automatically adjusts to different surface types and can easily cope with messes on the occasional carpet or rug, though rug tassels can get stuck in its brushroll. It also has quite a few recurring costs and can be somewhat tricky to maintain.
Get the Miele if you want something easier to maintain that delivers superior cleaning performance, but consider the iRobot if you value the hassle-free cleaning that comes with a robot vacuum.
The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is the best vacuum for allergies on carpet that we've tested. This upright model comes with a reusable and washable HEPA filter, which doesn't need to be replaced as long as you regularly maintain it. Although its bagless dirt compartment doesn't trap allergens as effectively as a disposable dirtbag, it's also reusable, which keeps recurring costs to a minimum.
It does an outstanding job on both low and high-pile carpet as it can pick up differently-sized debris and pet hair without too much of a problem. The head also automatically adjusts itself to the surface type you're cleaning. You can use it in a semi-handheld configuration if you need to get into hard-to-reach places, too. It even comes with a variety of tools and brushes like a dedicated pet grooming tool to help you clean different kinds of debris and surfaces.
Unfortunately, it has a plasticky design that feels a bit cheap and flimsy. It's also a bit heavy, and it can be a little tricky to move from one room to the next. Still, this is one of the best upright vacuums we've tested and is one of the best vacuums for allergies if you have carpets thanks to its fantastic performance on this surface type.
If you're looking for something considerably easier to carry around, you may want to take a look at the Dyson V7 Animal. This stick/handheld doesn't clear as much debris on carpeted floors as the Dyson Ball Animal 2, but it does have a cordless design that gives you a theoretically indefinite range. It's compact and lightweight, so you can get to hard-to-reach areas like the inside of your car. It has a bagless design and is equipped with a washable HEPA filter that traps allergens, so recurring costs shouldn't be a problem. It comes with a couple of tools and brushes, including a crevice cleaner, an upholstery tool, and a turbo brush. Unfortunately, it has a relatively short battery life, as you can expect a maximum of roughly 30 minutes of runtime. Used continuously in its highest power mode, you can drain its battery in under 8 minutes.
Get the Ball Animal 2 if you want a more versatile vacuum with a practically unlimited runtime, but consider the V7 if you prioritize go-anywhere range and portability.
The Shark ION W1 WANDVAC is the best budget vacuum for allergies that we've tested. This cordless model has a reusable HEPA filter and as long as it's properly maintained, doesn't need to be replaced. Although it has a small dirt compartment, it's very portable and lightweight, making it a suitable choice for tackling small messes around the home.
Thanks to its small design, it can get into hard-to-reach places without too much of a problem. It comes with a combination extension wand, crevice tool, and soft bristle brush as well as an upholstery tool that can help you clean different areas or surfaces. Pet hair isn't a challenge for this vacuum, as it can pick up pet hair from most surface types without an issue. If you need to clean other debris, it also offers good overall performance on bare floors as well as low-pile carpet.
Unfortunately, it's not meant to tackle larger messes as its battery lasts less than 10 minutes before it needs to be recharged, making it a little frustrating if you have a lot of debris to clean. While its performance on high-pile carpet is alright, you may also need to make several passes to ensure you've picked up everything. Still, if you mostly spot clean around the home, this is a budget-friendly choice for tackling allergens.
11/17/2020: Replaced the Shark Navigator Lift-Away with the Shark ION W1 WANDVAC in the 'Best Budget Vacuum For Allergies' category.
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.