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, 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, 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 a variety of debris without too much of a problem.
We've tested over 100 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 multi-surface vacuum cleaners, the best Shark vacuums, the best bagged vacuums, 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 small or bulky debris. 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, some for carpets and rugs, and even a low-suction setting for curtains. It's very maneuverable, and you can use it in a semi-handheld configuration, which is helpful 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 recurring costs since its dirtbag and filters need regular replacing. 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.
The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright is the best vacuum cleaner with good suction for carpet that we've tested. This corded upright does a fantastic job clearing debris like pet hair or large material from low and high-pile carpet. It also clears a good amount of fine debris from this surface type, though you still might need to make an extra pass to clean it all.
This vacuum features a three-level surface type adjustment feature that changes the height of its head and the speed of the brushroll. This vacuum's lack of a dirtbag and washable, reusable pre-motor and allergen-trapping HEPA filters mean that you shouldn't have to worry about recurring costs either. Its 'Lift-Away' design allows you to pick up and carry the canister while maneuvering its wand with your other hand, which helps clean hard-to-reach areas. However, its hose is short, which can be a bit of a nuisance.
Unfortunately, this is a bulky, somewhat heavy vacuum. Despite its pivoting vacuum head and more maneuverable alternative configuration, its large top-mounted dirt compartment can get in the way when trying to clean under tables and chairs. Its brushroll can also sometimes get caught on rug tassels. Still, this vacuum's strong performance on carpets also makes it one of the best upright vacuums we've tested.
The best cordless vacuum with good suction that we've tested is the Dyson V15 Detect. This cordless stick vacuum delivers outstanding performance on a wide variety of surface types, easily cleaning pet hair and various kinds of solid debris on bare floors as well as low-pile and high-pile carpets. Using it in its 'Auto' mode allows it to adjust its suction power to different surfaces automatically. However, you can still rotate the gate on its primary vacuum head if you're having trouble pushing it around on different surfaces.
You can reconfigure it into a handheld vacuum for cleaning tight spots, and it comes with a wide variety of tools and attachments. These include a cone-shaped turbo brush, a combination hard-bristle brush/upholstery tool, and a secondary floorhead with a soft brushroll and a laser light to help see small, fine debris. Depending on your settings and attachments, it has a runtime of roughly 10 to 70 minutes. You can configure the LED screen at the back of the vacuum to display its remaining battery life or an estimate of the size and number of particles that it's sucked up.
Unfortunately, parts of its lightweight construction feel a little flimsy, especially its clear plastic dustbin, which is somewhat disappointing for a vacuum at this price point. Its strong suction force can cause it to drag around some lighter rugs. Still, if you need a cordless vacuum that offers strong performance on several surfaces, this is a good option.
If you're looking for a cordless stick vacuum that has a more premium build quality, take a look at the Miele Triflex HX1. This vacuum doesn't come with nearly as many tools and attachments as the Dyson V15 Detect and has a smaller dustbin, but it does feel better built and has fewer parts requiring regular maintenance. Its unique three-in-one design allows you to configure it as a stick, upright, or handheld vacuum depending on your needs, and it has a HEPA filter to trap allergens. It also delivers a similarly fantastic performance on bare floors and cleans an impressive amount of debris on low and high-pile carpet, though it struggles more when dealing with especially fine material. Its surface detection feature lets it adjust its brush power automatically depending on the floor type it's on or even stop the brushroll if it snags on something, like rug tassels. However, its maximum battery life of a little over half an hour is substantially shorter.
Get the Dyson if you want a cordless stick vacuum with more attachments and longer battery life, but consider the Miele if you prioritize superior build quality.
The best handheld vacuum cleaner with good suction that we've tested is the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+. This compact vacuum delivers remarkable performance on bare floors and does an excellent job of cleaning pet hair as well as fine and large debris from both low and high-pile carpets. Suction performance remains consistent as its fairly large dustbin fills up unless you're trying to clear very bulky debris with a nearly-filled dirt compartment.
This vacuum's dense plastic construction feels fairly sturdy. It's also easy to maintain and incurs low recurring costs since the only part that needs regular replacing is its dust cup filter. It comes with a turbo brush for easier cleaning of upholstered surfaces, which features a brushroll advertised to be self-cleaning. It also comes with a crevice tool and a hard bristle brush for dislodging stuck-on dirt from different surfaces.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean. Since its battery runs out of charge in a little over 10 minutes, it isn't well-suited to cleaning large spaces either. It lacks any suction power adjustment feature, which could be annoying if you want to deal with stubborn debris or, conversely, want to conserve battery life. Still, its strong suction performance, affordable price point, and portable design make it one of the best vacuums under $100 that we've tested.
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 pet hair and various solid debris without too much difficulty. It does a great job when dealing with messes on both low and high-pile carpets, where it cleans both fine and large material 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 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 make it a solid choice.
Nov 26, 2021: Re-categorized Dyson V15 Detect from 'More Maneuverable Alternative' pick to new 'Best Cordless Vacuum With Good Suction' pick. Moved Miele Triflex HX1 from 'Notable Mentions' to new 'Better-Built Alternative' category pick. Moved Shark Rocket Pet Pro with MultiFlex IZ63H from 'Cordless Alternative' category pick to Notable Mentions. Re-categorized Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ from 'Handheld Alternative' pick to new 'Best Handheld Vacuum Cleaner With Good Suction' pick. Added Wyze Cordless Vacuum to Notable Mentions.
Sep 28, 2021: Added Dyson V15 Detect as 'More Maneuverable Alternative'. Removed Dyson V15 Detect from Notable Mentions. Removed Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine from Notable Mentions due to current availability.
Jul 30, 2021: Replaced Dyson Ball Animal 2 with Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Upright as 'Best Vacuum Cleaner With Good Suction For Carpet' pick. Added Dyson Ball Animal 2 to Notable Mentions.
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.
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 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.