Good suction performance is arguably one of the most important aspects of a vacuum. If you're looking to effectively pick up debris like sand from shaggy carpet or rice from tile flooring, then it can be beneficial to know a vacuum's suction power, airflow, and wattage. However, aside from its wattage, these numbers aren't always advertised by the manufacturer. To approximate a vacuum's suction power, this article considers vacuums with a good overall performance or better across all surface types. Vacuum cleaners with better and more consistent performances tend to have good suction as they can pick up a variety of debris without too much of a problem.
We've tested over 70 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuum cleaners with good suction to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their performance on different types of surfaces but also their feature set, battery life, and price. For more recommendations, take a look at our list of the best vacuums, the best multi-surface vacuum cleaners, and the best vacuums for carpet.
The best vacuum with good suction that we've tested is the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine. This canister vacuum is exceptionally good at cleaning bare floors, where it easily sucks up pet hair and debris like rice and cereal. Its performance stays consistent even as its dirtbag fills up, which is convenient for long cleaning sessions.
There are seven different surface type settings to allow you to adjust its suction power depending on what you're cleaning. This includes a "Bare Floor" setting as well as settings for carpets and rugs, and even a low-suction setting for curtains. It's very maneuverable and can be used in a semi-handheld configuration, which is useful when you're cleaning areas like staircases. The dirtbag is a good size, meaning it should last a while before you need to dispose of it, and it's a very easy vacuum to assemble and maintain.
Unfortunately, it has quite a few recurring costs since its dirtbag and filters need to be replaced regularly. Also, while it has a fairly long power cord, its hose is on the short side, which you may find limits your reach when you use it in its semi-handheld configuration. That said, it's a very versatile option with exceptional performance on bare floors and is one of the best vacuums we've tested.
If you don't want to worry about where to plug in your vacuum or just want something more portable in general, consider the Shark Rocket Pet Pro. While it's not as well-built or easy to maintain as the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine, this cordless stick/handheld model delivers similarly outstanding performance on bare floors. Since it's cordless and lightweight, you can bring it with you wherever you need it, and using it in its handheld configuration makes it easier to tackle awkward areas like kitchen counters or shelves. The battery performance is decent, as it will last for roughly 40 minutes if you use its least powerful mode. Several parts need to be removed and serviced regularly, but it incurs virtually no recurring costs, thanks to its bagless design and washable filters.
Go for the Miele if you don't want to worry about running out of battery or prefer a very well-built vacuum. Consider the Shark if you prefer a cordless option or want something easier to carry around.
The best vacuum cleaner with good suction for carpet that we've tested is the Dyson Ball Animal 2. This upright model rolls on one large, ball-like wheel, which makes it easy to maneuver in tight spaces despite its somewhat bulky design. It has a good-sized dirt compartment and a very long power cord, so you can clean a big area without emptying it or swapping outlets very often.
It's fantastic at cleaning low and high-pile carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and most debris without losing suction as its dustbin fills up. You can detach the wand from the head to use the vacuum in a semi-handheld configuration, which is useful for cleaning stairs and other awkward areas. It also comes with a lot of tools and brushes to help with different cleaning jobs, including a turbo brush to dislodge dirt from fabric-covered furniture and a pet grooming tool.
Unfortunately, it lacks the easy-clip mechanisms that some Dyson models have, so it can be a bit tricky to assemble and attach tools. It also has a plasticky build quality that doesn't feel extremely sturdy. Otherwise, it's an exceptionally versatile vacuum and also one of the best vacuums for carpets that we've tested.
If you want something better-suited for spot-cleaning small messes, you may prefer the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This handheld vacuum has a limited battery life, unlike the corded Dyson Ball Animal 2, but it's much more portable, so you can easily carry it out to your car, or anywhere else you may need it. It's amazing on low and high-pile carpets, where it easily clears pet hair and debris like sand and baking powder. There are some tools and brushes included, like a turbo brush for dislodging dirt from fabric-covered furniture and a crevice tool for getting into tight corners. It feels well-built and is easy to assemble and maintain. Unfortunately, the battery only lasts for roughly 10 minutes of continuous use, so you need to work quickly if you have a big mess on your hands.
Go for the Dyson if you have large carpeted areas to clean or prefer an upright model. Go for the Shark instead if you want a more portable vacuum and mostly need it for quick clean-ups.
The best vacuum with good suction that we've tested in the budget category is the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. This canister model delivers outstanding performance on bare floors, and it's good on low and high-pile carpets as well. Its suction stays consistent even as its dirt compartment fills, so you don't need to worry about its performance getting worse during a long cleaning session.
It feels lightweight and has good maneuverability. You can adjust the suction power and raise or lower the bristles on the main head, depending on what surface you're cleaning. If you're cleaning stairs or furniture, it's easy to switch it into a semi-handheld mode by detaching the wand. There's also a built-in soft bristle brush you can use on delicate objects like curtains or lampshades. Also, because it uses a bagless design and washable filters, it incurs practically no recurring costs.
Unfortunately, it has a short power cord, so you may need to swap outlets fairly often, especially if you're cleaning a big room. The hose is also on the short side, which can be annoying when you're trying to clean out-of-reach spots. Still, thanks to its versatile performance and affordable price, it's also one of the best multi-surface vacuums we've tested.
Feb 03, 2021: Checked that picks are still the best recommendations and that the products are available.
Jan 13, 2021: Added the Miele Triflex HX1 to Notable Mentions.
Dec 22, 2020: Added the Miele Classic C1 to Notable Mentions.
Dec 02, 2020: Replaced Eureka Mighty Mite with Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. Added Eureka Mighty Mite to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best vacuums for suction. 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 our vacuum reviews that score above 7.5 on each floor type. 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.