If you live in an apartment, you're no doubt 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. Overall cleaning performance is important since you may need to deal with various kinds of messes. Of course, those aren't the only important 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 75 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums for small apartments. These picks were selected not only based on their performance on different types of surfaces but also their design and price. For more buying recommendations, take a look at our list for 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/handheld model is quite portable and can be easily converted into its handheld mode if you're cleaning counters or tight corners. It only has a few parts that need regular maintenance and has virtually no recurring costs because of its bagless design and washable filters.
It delivers impressive performance on low-pile carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and most debris like sand and baking soda. It also does a good job of cleaning high-pile carpets, and its performance stays quite consistent even when the dirt compartment is partially full. It comes with several tools and brushes that can help with different cleaning jobs around your apartment, including a hard bristle brush for scrubbing away stubborn dirt, and an upholstery tool for cleaning fabric-covered furniture. Also, it's easy to maneuver under low furniture, like coffee tables or couches.
However, it doesn't come with a rack or any onboard storage for accessories, and the vacuum itself takes up quite a bit of space. It also has a mediocre build quality, and some parts feel like they might break if dropped, which could be a bit worrisome because it's prone to falling over. However, if you have a carpeted apartment to keep clean, its performance and versatility make it a great option.
If you need something to clean your carpeted apartment but prefer a canister-style vacuum, try the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. This corded model is bigger than the Shark Rocket Ultra-Light and doesn't come with as many accessories, but it performs much better on low-pile carpets and is slightly more effective at cleaning high-pile carpets. While you can't pick it up and use it in a handheld mode, it has a semi-handheld configuration useful for cleaning stairs or shelves. Its build quality is better, and it has a bigger dirt compartment, so you won't need to empty it too frequently. However, the power cord is quite a bit shorter, so you may need to swap outlets more often.
Go for the Shark if you want a more compact option that comes with lots of different tools and brushes. If performance on carpets is your main priority and you don't mind something bulkier, the Eureka is also among the best vacuums for apartments that we've tested.
The best apartment vacuum for bare floors that we've tested is the Eureka Mighty Mite. This corded canister model isn't especially 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 clears everything from pet hair to small and large debris, like rice and pieces of cereal. Better still, performance remains consistent as its dirtbag fills, which is great if you've got a larger mess to deal with. It has a very 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 fairly low.
Unfortunately, it feels quite 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 want a vacuum for spot-cleaning smaller messes on your furniture or countertops, consider the HoLife MH036E. While this handheld model isn't as suitable for cleaning large areas as the Eureka Mighty Mite, it's much lighter and more portable, while still delivering a remarkable performance on bare floors. It easily picks up pet hair and debris like rice and cereal from bare surfaces like tile. It also comes with a liquid nozzle attachment for cleaning spills, though we don't currently test this feature. Its battery lasts a little over 20 minutes, which is good for a handheld. It comes with a reusable HEPA filter that traps allergens, which is useful if you have a pet that sheds and helps keep the recurring costs fairly low. However, the dirt compartment is very small, and some debris can even spill out of it while vacuuming.
If you have a larger area to clean or don't want to worry about your vacuum running out of battery, go for the Eureka. If you'd prefer a smaller handheld model for quick clean-ups, consider the HoLife instead.
The BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033 is the best budget vacuum for apartments that we've tested. This corded stick model can be used in its handheld configuration, which is useful when cleaning stairs, furniture, or other hard-to-reach areas. It also has virtually no recurring costs, thanks to its bagless design and reusable filter.
It has an impressive performance on bare floors, where it has no problem clearing pet hair and debris like rice and cereal. On low and high-pile carpet, it picks up pet hair and sand quite easily, but it struggles with smaller debris like baking soda. It has a slim design and feels light in your hand, making it very portable. There's also a crevice tool that you can attach to clean tight spaces. It's very easy to maintain since the few parts that require maintenance are simple to access.
However, it's not very maneuverable, since it lacks a rotating head. The power cord is also quite short, so you may have to switch outlets if you're cleaning your entire apartment. That said, if you're looking for an affordable vacuum that still has a good cleaning performance, it's a solid choice.
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.
Dec 04, 2020: Added eufy RoboVac 11S to Notable Mentions.
Nov 13, 2020: Added Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ 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.