Good suction performance is arguably one of the most important aspects of a vacuum and is important for finding the best suction vacuum. If you want to effectively pick up debris like sand from shaggy carpet or rice from tile flooring, knowing a vacuum's suction power, airflow, and wattage can be beneficial. However, aside from its wattage, the manufacturer doesn't always advertise these numbers. To approximate a vacuum's suction power, we consider 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 various debris without too much of a problem.
We've tested over 140 vacuum cleaners, and below are our recommendations for the best suction vacuum cleaners to buy. These picks were selected based on their performance on different types of surfaces and their feature set, battery life, and price. For more recommendations, look at our list of the best multi-surface vacuum cleaners, the best Shark vacuums, the best bagged vacuums, and the best vacuums for carpet.
The best suction vacuum cleaner we've tested is the Miele Complete C3. This premium canister vacuum has a powerful 1200W motor and consequently has little trouble dealing with stubborn messes and debris stuck in cracks or within carpet fibers. It has seven levels of suction power adjustment, so you can clean everything from window curtains to high-pile carpet with a few presses of a button. There are quite a few C3 variants; all are equipped with the same powerful motor, but they come bundled with different attachments, and which one you buy ultimately depends on what types of surfaces you have to clean in your home. The entry-level C3 Calima variant comes with an air-driven turbo brush for cleaning low to medium-pile carpeting. However, if you have a lot of thicker carpeting, you'll want to purchase a powered floorhead separately or simply spring for a pricier model that comes bundled with one, like the C3 Cat & Dog, C3 Kona, or flagship C3 Brilliant.
Unfortunately, this vacuum's hose is somewhat short, making it hard to clear debris from some hard-to-reach areas. If you want a canister vacuum with a similar level of raw performance but a longer operating range, look at the SEBO Airbelt D4. It has a considerably longer power cord and a slightly longer hose. The SEBO also incurs lower operating costs, using larger dirtbags and longer-lasting filters. However, it's bulkier and heavier than the C3, and its rigid hose can make it a nuisance to maneuver.
The best upper mid-range vacuum with good suction we've tested is the Dyson Ball Animal 3. This bagless vacuum isn't as sturdily built as the Miele Complete C3, with a mainly plastic body that creaks and flexes while in use, which is pretty disappointing for something this expensive. However, if that doesn't bug you, it's worth a look, especially if your top priority is raw suction performance. It can easily clear away debris from a wide range of surface types, ranging from bare floors to low and high-pile carpet. Its floorhead features three levels of surface adjustment, letting you quickly adapt from hardwood floors to dense, high-pile rugs. The floorhead also features a set of built-in plastic vanes that are remarkably effective in reducing hair wraps.
The Dyson incurs minimal recurring costs and is easy to maintain since you don't have to worry about replacing dirtbags or filters as long as you clean them according to the manufacturer's recommendations. However, shaking out its dustbin is less hygienic than removing the Miele vacuum's self-sealing dirtbags since it can release a cloud of fine grit and dust. It's on the bulky side, even for an upright vacuum, and can be a hassle to take out of your closet and use for quick clean-ups. Its strong suction power can still make it a little hard to push and pull around on shag carpeting, too, though thankfully, it's still much better in this respect than its predecessor, the Dyson Ball Animal 2, which formed so tight a seal with the ground, it could tear up carpet fibers.
The Miele Classic C1 is a great option for a mid-priced vacuum with strong suction power. There are a few downsides when comparing it to the pricier Miele Complete C3; it doesn't feel as robust, lacks an onboard tool storage compartment, and has a shorter range, so you'll need to swap outlets when vacuuming larger rooms or faraway areas. That said, it uses the same 1200W suction motor, resulting in a similarly great overall debris pickup. You can use the dial at the back of the canister body to toggle through six levels of power adjustment, enabling you to adapt to a wide variety of surface types. Unfortunately, the entry-level Pure Suction variant lacks a power socket at the base of its hose, so it's completely incompatible with powered floorheads.
If you have a lot of thick carpeting and need a C1 variant compatible with powerheads, you'll want to spend more on a pricier variant like the C1 Cat & Dog or C1 Home Care. That said, if your home mainly has bare floors and low-pile rugs, the Pure Suction is a great choice; its floorhead has retractable bristles to increase surface contact on low to medium-pile carpeting. Unfortunately, it uses fairly small 2.5L dirtbags, and you'll have to swap in a new one fairly regularly if you clean often, along with its pre and post-motor filters. Thankfully, that's very easy to do.
The best vacuum with good suction we've tested in the budget category is the Eureka Mighty Mite. This compact canister vacuum feels cheaply built and lacks many quality-of-life features on pricier models like the Miele Classic C1, like a self-winding power cord and allergen-sealed body. However, it's hard to beat if you're looking for good suction performance for a bargain price. Its relatively potent 12-amp motor lets it easily clear away messes on bare floors and carpet, even with a basic straight-suction floorhead, and it has enough power to do a decent job of sucking up debris in cracks and crevices. Its compact, lightweight construction also allows you to pick it up and carry it wherever you need it, though its power cord is short, so you'll probably need to swap outlets when vacuuming far-away rooms.
The simple design makes it easy to swap in a new filter and replace its dirtbag whenever it gets full. Still, if you want to avoid swapping out dirtbags, the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister could be worth a look, as it delivers an overall cleaning and suction performance similar to the Mighty Mite. However, its bagless design means emptying its dustbin is a slightly more complicated, less hygienic process, as you'll need to worry about the bin expelling a cloud of dirt and debris.
The best cordless vacuum with good suction that we've tested is the Dyson V15 Detect. With 230AW of suction power, this vacuum is one of the most potent household-oriented cordless models on the market. However, it falls slightly short of higher-end corded models like the Miele Complete C3 and Dyson Ball Animal 3 in this regard. That said, its main advantage over more powerful machines is its comparatively lightweight, compact design, which makes it much easier to grab for quick clean-ups around the house.
The V15 Detect delivers exceptional debris-pickup performance on various surface types. Its surface detection system lets it automatically adjust its suction power to match surfaces, increasing power on carpets and lowering it on hard floors. It also has an onboard particle sensor that counts and measures the size of debris being sucked into the vacuum, which is handy for keeping track of allergens in your home.
Unfortunately, no matter your power setting, it tends to seal itself to carpeted surfaces, causing it to drag around some lighter rugs and get bogged down in shag-pile carpeting. If you're looking for a stick vacuum that costs significantly less and still exerts a fairly strong suction force, the Samsung Jet 75 is worth considering. It doesn't have the Dyson vacuum's automatic power adjustment capability, an onboard dirt sensor, or various attachments. However, with a potent 200AW motor, it isn't too far off of the much pricier V15 regarding debris pickup performance.
Our recommendations are based on what we think are currently the best vacuums with good suction. We don't just base our results on overall performance but also on 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 ranked by their suction performance. 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.