If you're looking for a cheap vacuum, you may be surprised by how good of a performance you can get from budget-friendly options. The current product landscape has yielded many choices that should have little trouble cleaning different kinds of debris, though you might have to make sacrifices in terms of premium features or build quality.
We've tested over 50 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best value vacuums. These recommendations are based not only on their price but also their design and performance. For more buying recommendations, take a look at our list of the best vacuums under $100, the best handheld vacuums, and the best lightweight vacuums.
The best cheap cordless vacuum we've tested is the HoLife HM036E. This handheld is versatile enough to tackle a wide variety of messes on different surfaces, ranging from chunks of cereal on bare floors to coarse sand on carpet. It even comes with a liquid nozzle to clear wet messes, though we don't currently test this feature, and the vacuum needs to be cleaned immediately after this kind of use.
It has a simple design that makes routine maintenance easy. Its allergen-trapping HEPA filter is the only component that should require regular replacement, so recurring costs are decently low. Its charging rack is quite compact, allowing you to store the appliance in a cupboard or closet without too much difficulty. Its battery life is good for a cordless model, and you can expect over 20 minutes of continuous runtime.
Unfortunately, it has a small dirt compartment that needs to be emptied often. It also struggles slightly with lifting fine debris, like baking soda, from carpeted surfaces. Minor issues aside, its portability, versatility, and budget-friendly price also make it one of the best car vacuums we've tested.
If you're looking for a handheld vacuum that's even lighter and easier to carry around, you may want to take a look at the BISSELL AeroSlim. It has a shorter battery life than the HoLife HM036E and struggles a lot more with bulky debris, which can get stuck at the narrow entry to its dirt compartment. That said, it's much lighter and incurs practically no recurring costs thanks to its washable filter. Thanks to its compact, lightweight design and included crevice cleaner, it's well-suited for dealing with messes in tight, closed-off areas, such as the inside of your car. Unfortunately, it lacks a HEPA filter, and its tiny dirt compartment and short battery life of under 15 minutes make it hard to clean large spaces.
Get the HoLife if you want better cleaning performance and longer battery life, but consider the BISSELL if having a smaller handheld vacuum is a priority.
The best cheap vacuum with a corded design that we've tested is the BISSELL Featherweight Stick 2033. This unusual upright model has relatively few parts, making it easy to disassemble for maintenance or reconfigure into a handheld to access tight spots. Its bagless design and use of washable, reusable filters result in virtually no recurring costs to worry about, either.
It offers great performance on bare floors, where it easily clears pet hair as well as debris like rice or cereal, as long as its dirt compartment remains mostly empty. It does a decent job on low-pile carpet, where it clears most pet hair and coarse material, such as sand. Thanks to its lightweight design, it can be maneuvered even in tight or closed-off spaces.
Unfortunately, its suction performance drops significantly as its dirt compartment fills up, especially when trying to suck up bulky debris. It also struggles quite a bit with clearing fine debris like baking soda from low and high-pile carpet. Still, if you prefer the indefinite runtime of a corded connection to clean larger spaces, this is a good choice.
The best cheap robot vacuum that we've tested is the iRobot Roomba E5. This very well-built robot vacuum has a sturdy design and can be used with the iRobot companion app for added convenience. While it offers adequate overall performance, it can climb up onto shaggy, high-pile textiles and clean carpet, which is notable as quite a few robot vacuums struggle on this surface type.
It has a fantastic battery performance, lasting over an hour when used continuously. Depending on the surface type or the amount of debris it senses, it can automatically adjust its power and head height level to better improve its cleaning ability. While its performance drops as its dirt compartment fills, it has an overall okay performance on bare floors as it's able to pick up a lot of small debris like rice. It also does an unremarkable job on carpet, but it's able to clear more pet hair from this surface type than on bare floors. Its maneuverability is decent too, and it can easily get underneath tables and couches.
Unfortunately, pet hair can get stuck in the tunnel when cleaning bare floors, which can be a little annoying. Like most robot vacuums, it also requires a lot of regular maintenance. Some parts, such as its HEPA filter, need to be replaced frequently too, which can add up over time. However, if you're looking for an affordable robot vacuum that can help automate some of the cleaning process, it's a suitable choice.
If you have a lot of hardwood, linoleum, or tile flooring at home, consider the eufy RoboVac 11S. While it doesn't outperform the iRobot Roomba E5 on low and high-pile carpet, it has decent performance on bare floors as it's able to pick up more debris and pet hair. Thanks to its slightly larger dirt compartment, it can hold more debris before it needs to be emptied, which means its performance doesn't decline as drastically as the iRobot. It also comes with a remote control, so you don't need to have an internet connection to control the vacuum. Although it lasts over an hour on its most powerful cleaning mode, you can get a longer clean time by using its less powerful mode, which gives you around 109 minutes of continuous use. Unfortunately, it's not as well-built as the Roomba, and it's harder to maintain too. It also has quite a few recurring costs, which can add up over time.
Try the iRobot if you're looking for an easier robot vacuum to maintain and you have a lot of carpet or rugs at home. However, if you're looking to primarily clean bare floors and you're on a slightly tighter budget, check out the eufy.
The best vacuum cleaner budget-wise that we've tested is the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. If you're willing to spend a little more than you would for a lot of other options on this list, it offers a substantial increase in overall versatility. It does an outstanding job of clearing all kinds of debris on bare floors and delivers great overall performance on carpeted surfaces.
Thanks to its simple bagless design and washable, reusable filters, routine maintenance is easy, and recurring costs shouldn't be a concern. It also has a lightweight body and wand that makes it easy to maneuver in tight spaces. You can reconfigure it into a semi-handheld with a soft-bristle brush to clean countertops and shelves or use its extension wand to get into crevices too.
Unfortunately, its short power cord and hose length make it a little difficult to clean larger rooms without changing outlets. If you keep its wand attached to its main body, it also takes up quite a bit of vertical space. Still, thanks to its budget-friendly price and impressive overall performance, it's among the best hardwood vacuums that we've tested.
11/20/2020: Replaced the eufy RoboVac 11S with the iRobot Roomba E5 for 'Best Cheap Robot Vacuum' and added the eufy RoboVac 11S as the 'Bare Floor Alternative'. Added the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ to 'Notable Mentions'.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best value vacuums to buy. We factor in a fairly wide range of other factors, including availability, performance, and reader feedback.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for vacuums priced under $100. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While there is no single best vacuum for cheap that's 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.