If you live in an apartment, you're aware of some of the considerations you need to make when choosing a vacuum. Space is at a premium, so having an appliance that's maneuverable and easy to store is crucial. Cleaning performance is important since you may need to deal with various kinds of messes. Of course, those aren't the only criteria when selecting a vacuum for this environment. Affordability can also be a concern, but today's product landscape offers no shortage of budget-friendly options that sacrifice little in terms of features or capability.
We've tested over 95 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for small apartments. We selected these picks for their performance on different surfaces, their design, and their price. For more options, check out our lists of the best lightweight vacuums, the best handheld vacuums, and the best multi-surface vacuums.
The Shark Rocket Ultra-Light is the best vacuum we've tested for apartments with carpets. This corded stick vacuum delivers great performance on low-pile carpet and clears a good amount of debris on high-pile carpet, though it might take an extra pass to fully clear fine material like baking soda from this surface type. There's no suction power adjustment feature, but you can adjust the speed of the brushroll to better clean either bare floors or carpets.
This vacuum is also quite maneuverable, thanks to its lightweight plastic construction. You can reconfigure it into a handheld vacuum and attach any of the included tools and accessories, including a combination hard bristle brush/upholstery tool. Variants of this vacuum with the "Home & Car Detail Kit" also come with a set of smaller nozzles and brushes and a short extension hose, which is handy for detailing very tight spots. The vacuum's bagless design and washable filters result in a near-total lack of recurring costs, and the vacuum isn't hard to maintain.
Unfortunately, this vacuum feels cheaply built, with a somewhat fragile-feeling plastic build and wheels under the vacuum head that don't always roll smoothly. It also doesn't have a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean, and its assortment of tools and accessories doesn't include a turbo brush to dislodge debris from fabric-lined surfaces. Still, if you're looking for a maneuverable vacuum that can handle most messes on carpets, this is one of the best vacuum for apartments that we've tested.
If you're looking for something even more portable, consider the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. Unlike the Shark Rocket Ultra-Light, it isn't a great fit for cleaning larger areas due to its handheld-only form factor, short battery life, and smaller dirt compartment. However, its cordless design and compact body make it much easier to clean tight spots in your apartment that are far from any electrical outlets. It does a fantastic job clearing debris from low and high-pile carpets and is even more effective than the Rocket when dealing with fine debris like baking soda. It also feels better built and has fewer parts that require regular maintenance. However, it does incur slightly higher recurring costs since its dust cup filter needs periodic replacing. It only supplies a little over 10 minutes of runtime on a single charge, so you need to work fast when dealing with larger messes. Also, it lacks a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean, which could be an inconvenience if your pet sheds heavily. That said, it's still among the best vacuum cleaners for apartments.
Get the Rocket if you value the virtually indefinite runtime of a corded vacuum, but take a look at the UltraCyclone if you want something better-suited to spot-cleaning.
The best apartment vacuum for bare floors that we've tested is the Eureka Mighty Mite. This corded canister model isn't heavy and features an integrated carrying handle, so it's easy to carry from room to room. Its lightweight design also makes it easy to maneuver, even in tight spaces.
It delivers remarkable performance on bare floors. It easily cleans everything from pet hair to small and large debris, like rice and cereal. Better still, performance remains consistent as its dirtbag fills, which is great if you've got a big mess. It has a simple design that makes it easy to access the few parts that require cleaning. Also, its disposable dirtbag is the only component that requires regular replacement, so recurring costs are low.
Unfortunately, it feels plasticky. It also has a short power cable, so you may need to switch outlets if you have to navigate a cluttered apartment. Still, if you're looking for something that can handle messes on bare floors without breaking a sweat, this is a good option.
If you'd prefer a bagless vacuum, you may want to consider the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. Its lack of a dirtbag results in a higher chance of a plume of dust and debris releasing when emptying it and inferior air filtration performance compared to the Eureka Mighty Mite, though we don't currently test for the latter. However, it incurs virtually no recurring costs as long as you regularly clean its filters of any stuck-on debris. It delivers similarly outstanding performance on bare, even surfaces like linoleum or hardwood, easily cleaning pet hair as well as small and bulky debris like rice or cereal. Its lightweight plastic construction also makes it easy to pick up and carry. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a crevice tool to tackle messes in tight corners. Its power cord and hose are also short, so you might need to swap outlets when cleaning a larger apartment.
Get the Mighty Mite if you prioritize the superior air filtration performance of a bagged vacuum. Consider the Whirlwind if you don't want to worry about recurring costs.
The BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033 is the best budget vacuum for apartments that we've tested. This cheap, lightweight vacuum has a simple design that's very easy to maintain. It doesn't use a dirtbag and has a washable dust cup filter and pre-motor mesh filter, so recurring costs are practically nonexistent.
You can reconfigure it into a handheld vacuum to clean areas like shelves and furniture with ease, and it comes with a crevice tool to tackle messes in tight corners. Performance on bare floors is great, as it easily cleans pet hair and small debris like rice. However, while it also has no trouble sucking up bulky material like cereal with an empty dirt compartment, it can struggle to clear this kind of debris as it fills up.
Also, this vacuum has a very short power cord, so you might need to swap outlets when cleaning larger rooms. In addition, parts of its all-plastic construction are somewhat flimsy, especially its wheels, dustbin cover, and main handle, which feels like it could snap if too much pressure is applied. Still, the vacuum's portable design, impressive ease of maintenance, and affordable price help make it one of the best cheap vacuum cleaners we've tested.
Sep 07, 2021: Replaced Simplicity S65S with Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ due to current availability. Replaced HoLife HM036E with Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister due to current availability. Removed Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister and Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ from Notable Mentions.
Jul 09, 2021: Ensured that all main packs are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
May 11, 2021: Replaced the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister as the 'Canister Alternative' to the 'Best Apartment Vacuum For Carpets' with the Simplicity S65S Vacuum and changed the category to 'Cordless Alternative'. Added the Eureka to Notable Mentions.
Mar 12, 2021: Confirmed that all picks are in stock and still the best recommendations for our users.
Dec 18, 2020: Added the Black+Decker dustbuster CHV1410L to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best vacuums for apartments. We don't just base our results on overall performance, but also factors like availability, price, and reader feedback.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of vacuums at an affordable price, with considerations made for portability and storage capability. 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.