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 90 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 with MultiFlex IZ163H. 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 Dyson Ball Animal 2 is the best vacuum cleaner with good suction for carpet that we've tested. This upright model has an outstanding performance on low and high-pile carpet, where it easily picks up pet hair and most debris. Its dirt compartment is fairly large, and its cleaning performance doesn't decrease as it fills up.
It has a unique design with a large, ball-like wheel, making it easier to maneuver in tight spaces, though it can be hard to maneuver on carpets due to its high suction power. It can also be used in a semi-handheld configuration by detaching the wand, which is useful for cleaning stairs. Its power cord is very long, so you can clean a large area without switching outlets too often. Quite a few tools are included to help clean different surfaces, like an upholstery tool for furniture and a soft-bristle brush for cleaning delicate surfaces.
However, the vacuum has a mediocre build quality and doesn't feel very sturdy. It's also quite bulky and heavy, so it may be difficult to transport between rooms. Overall, this versatile vacuum has a remarkable performance on carpeted surfaces, making it one of the best vacuums for carpets that we've tested.
If you're looking for a vacuum that can easily deal with messes on carpets but don't want to deal with the bulk of a full-size vacuum, consider the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This handheld vacuum isn't nearly as well-suited to cleaning large spaces as the Dyson Ball Animal 2, but its cordless design allows you to easily clean areas far away from an outlet, while its compact design makes it easy to carry around. It does a similarly superb job of clearing debris like pet hair, baking soda, and sand from both low and high-pile carpets, and it exhibits no significant loss in suction power as its dirt compartment fills up with debris. It comes with a crevice cleaner for tackling messes in tight spots, a hard bristle brush for dislodging stuck-on dirt, and a turbo brush for dealing with debris on upholstered surfaces. Unfortunately, depending on your usage habits, it provides a little over 10 minutes of runtime on a single charge, so you need to work quickly when dealing with bigger messes.
Get the Dyson if you need a versatile corded vacuum for dealing with messes on large carpeted areas, but take a look at the Shark if you want a vacuum better-suited for spot cleaning.
The best vacuum with good suction that we've tested in the budget category is the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. This canister model is impressively lightweight and highly maneuverable, making it easy to pick up and carry or navigate through a cluttered room. You can detach its extension wand to use it in a semi-handheld configuration to clean on top of furniture or shelves.
This vacuum offers exceptional performance on bare floors, as it clears debris like pet hair, rice, or cereal without too much difficulty. It also does a great job overall when it comes to dealing with messes on both low and high-pile carpets, where it clears both fine and large debris, like baking soda or sand, quite effectively. Its suction performance remains consistent as its dirt compartment fills up too, which is good for dealing with bigger messes.
Unfortunately, it doesn't feel especially sturdily built. Its power cord and vacuum hose are both also quite short, which means that you may need to swap outlets when cleaning a larger space. Still, this vacuum's mix of affordability and versatile performance help make it one of the best vacuums under $100 that we've tested.
Jun 01, 2021: Verified that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category. Added Dyson V15 Detect to Notable Mentions.
Apr 02, 2021: Confirmed all picks are in stock and still the best recommendations for our users.
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.
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.