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 45 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 on 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 best apartment vacuum for carpeted floors that we've tested is the Shark Rocket Ultra-Light. This corded stick/handheld is portable and lightweight, with a simple design that makes reconfiguring it into a handheld quite easy. It has a bagless design and uses washable, reusable filters, so recurring costs shouldn't be a concern.
The head has a removable brushroll, so removing hair wraps and stuck debris is fairly simple. It easily clears various kinds of debris on low-pile carpet and performs well on shaggier surfaces, though it may take a couple of extra passes to fully clear some finer material, such as baking soda. Its 25-foot-long cord should be enough to help you reach most parts of your apartment without needing to switch outlets. It's also well-suited for a variety of other cleaning tasks, thanks to the wide selection of other tools and brushes it comes with.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a rack station or onboard tool storage to store said items, so you'll need to find another place to put the included accessories. Some users may also be put off by its all-plastic construction, though that does keep weight low. Overall, its lightweight design and broad range of tools make it one of the best vacuums for apartments that we've tested.
If you prefer the ergonomics of a canister vacuum, you may want to consider the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. This corded canister model takes up more room than the Shark Rocket Ultra-Light, but despite lacking a brushroll, it manages to deliver superior cleaning performance on all surface types. It struggles slightly more with finer debris, such as sand, but it does a very good job of sucking up pet hair and coarse material on carpeted floors. It's also quite easy to maintain and employs a bagless design with reusable filters, so you shouldn't have to worry about recurring costs. Unfortunately, it has a very short power cord, so you may need to swap outlets, even if you have a small apartment.
Get the Shark if you're looking for something easier to carry and store, but consider the Eureka if you prioritize better cleaning performance and don't the slightly bulkier design of a canister vacuum.
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, such as rice and pieces of cereal. Better still, performance remains consistent as its dirtbag fills up, 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 better-suited to spot-cleaning, take a look at the HoLife HM036E. This cordless handheld doesn't have the virtually unlimited runtime of the Eureka Mighty Mite and is harder to maintain, but it's much lighter and easier to carry around. It delivers similarly exceptional performance on surfaces like linoleum and hardwood and even comes with a liquid nozzle to clear wet messes, though it should be noted that we don't currently test this feature. It has a relatively spacious dirt compartment for a handheld and a relatively decent battery life of over 20 minutes. Its HEPA filter is its only disposable component, so recurring costs are quite low.
Get the Eureka if you find yourself cleaning larger spaces more often, but consider the HoLife if you want the go-anywhere convenience of a cordless handheld vacuum.
The best budget vacuum for apartments that we've tested is the BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033. This corded upright delivers great performance on surfaces like linoleum and hardwood, where it does a good job of cleaning pet hair as well as debris like rice. Its cleaning performance on low pile carpet is decent, too.
It has an unusual but simple design that makes it easy to take apart and reassemble for routine maintenance or reconfigure into a handheld to take care of messes on furniture and shelves. It comes with a crevice cleaner to help make it easier to suck up debris from tight corners. It doesn't have a dirtbag and uses washable, reusable filters, so recurring costs are practically nonexistent.
While it doesn't have too much trouble sucking up bulky debris with an empty dirt compartment, suction performance drops noticeably as the compartment fills up. Its short power cord also means that you may need to change outlets while cleaning larger areas. Otherwise, its impressive price-to-performance ratio also makes it one of the best cheap vacuum cleaners that we've tested.
11/13/2020: 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.