Depending on what kind of floors you have and the kind of debris you encounter, having the right vacuum for the job is crucial to keeping your space clean. If you have staircases or bare floors, you may want to consider canister vacuums for their portability and range. Conversely, if you live in a carpeted home, an upright vacuum can help pick up a large amount of debris and hair on high-pile textiles. Lightweight stick/handheld vacuums are also a suitable choice if you need your vacuum to be highly maneuverable. If you're looking for as hands-off of an experience as you can get, robot vacuums can easily clean a room without little interaction on your part.
We've tested over 50 vacuums, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums you can buy. If you're looking for more vacuums, check out our recommendations for the best lightweight vacuums, the best cordless vacuums, and the best bagless vacuums.
The best vacuum cleaner in an upright configuration that we've tested is the Dyson Ball Animal 2. Although it has a bulky design, it can easily maneuver around most areas, and it can even be used in a semi-handheld configuration to get into hard-to-reach spaces. It also offers outstanding and versatile performance on bare floors as well as carpet, which makes it one of the best upright vacuums we've tested.
Since the head automatically adjusts itself to fit your floor type, it can easily pick up pet hair or debris like cereal and rice from bare floors, although large debris can get stuck underneath its head. It does a fantastic job of cleaning shaggy high-pile rugs too, and while it struggles a bit more with finer debris like baking soda, it can maintain a consistent performance as its dirt compartment fills. To further increase its versatility, it comes with several tools and brushes, including a dedicated pet grooming tool to clean different kinds of debris.
Unfortunately, it requires a bit of assembling out-of-the-box before it can be used. Unlike other Dysons, it doesn't have easy-clip mechanisms, which makes it a little difficult to add or remove parts. Even though it's mostly made of plastic, it's fairly heavy too, and it doesn't feel very sturdy. That said, it's decently easy to maintain. It also doesn't have any recurring costs as long as you perform regular upkeep on it, making it one of the best vacuum cleaners with an upright design that we've tested.
If you need to clean large areas, but you prefer the wider range of a cordless vacuum, consider the Shark ION P50 Upright. Although the Dyson Ball Animal 2 offers better overall performance on all surface types, the Shark still has a great performance on bare floors as well as carpet, and its range isn't limited by a power cable. Its handheld configuration can give you even better mobility and maneuverability if you want to clean tighter spaces like inside your car. For a cordless upright, it also has a great battery life, so you can tackle big messes without worrying too much about having to pause to recharge the vacuum.
Check out the Dyson if you don't want to think about battery life and you're looking for a powerful clean on any surface type. However, go for the Shark if you don't want a power cable to limit your range or mobility.
The Shark Rocket Pet Pro is the best stick vacuum that we've tested. Although this well-built model is geared towards pets and cleaning up pet hair, it has an overall excellent performance across all surface types. Its lightweight and cordless design also makes it easy to take with you to other floors.
It has a handheld configuration that you can use to clean the inside of your car or other hard-to-reach places. It also has excellent maneuverability as its flexible wand can lock and unlock if you need to get beneath a table or couch. It also comes with two floor settings and a trigger to increase its power, which is useful for more difficult-to-clean messes. Although it's fairly easy to maintain, several of its parts need ongoing maintenance. Luckily, there are no recurring costs as long as it's properly taken care of. It also has a self-cleaning brushroll that removes hair as you clean.
Unfortunately, while it has satisfactory battery performance overall, when used on its "MAX (BOOST)" mode, its battery only lasts around 12 minutes, so you need to be quick with cleaning up messes. It also has a small dirt compartment, which means you may have to empty it more frequently. That said, it's a worthwhile tool for any home or business that's looking for a lightweight but easily maneuverable vacuum.
The best canister vacuum that we've tested is the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine. This corded canister model is amazingly well-built, with a high-grade plastic body, smoothly-rotating wheels, and an aluminum head. User maintenance is remarkably intuitive, with the few parts that do need to be serviced regularly being very easy to access.
It delivers outstanding cleaning performance on bare floors, where it clears pet hair as well as debris like rice and cereal. It does an amazing job on carpets too, and it should be able to clear coarse and fine material such as sand or baking soda in relatively few passes. It's equipped with a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean, and the handle comes with a built-in LED light to help you see what you're cleaning in dark areas.
Unfortunately, its dirtbag and filters need to be replaced regularly, so recurring costs can add up over time. It also has a somewhat short hose, which can be a bit of a nuisance when you're using it in its semi-handheld configuration to clear debris from high-placed shelves. Otherwise, this vacuum's versatile performance, remarkable ease of maintenance, and amazing build quality also make it one of the best multi-surface vacuum cleaners we've tested.
The Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ is the best handheld vacuum that we've tested. This cordless handheld has a compact, lightweight body that can be easily carried to spot-clean far-off areas, such as the inside of your car. It has a sturdy-feeling plastic body and is quite easy to maintain, with few parts that need routine maintenance. Its dust cup filter is its only disposable part, so recurring costs are also decently low.
It delivers remarkable overall performance on everything from bare, even surfaces like hardwood floors to densely woven high-pile carpet. It clears pet hair without an issue, not to mention debris like rice or cereal. It doesn't struggle with coarse material like sand or fine debris like baking soda on carpeted surfaces. It comes with a turbo brush to help you clean messes on upholstered furniture, as well as a hard bristle brush to dislodge stuck-on debris and a crevice cleaner to tackle messes in tight corners.
Unfortunately, it can run out of charge in a little over 10 minutes, so you need to work quickly if you're trying to deal with a particularly stubborn or large mess. It also doesn't have a HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean. Still, its mix of versatility and portability help make it one of the best vacuum cleaners we've tested.
The iRobot Roomba S9 is the best robot vacuum that we've tested. It can be paired with its companion app to schedule cleaning times, set up virtual boundary markets, and even see your cleaning history. You can also upgrade it down the line by purchasing a separate charging station/dirt bin, which allows it to automatically empty its dirt compartment when full or if it returns to the dock to charge.
It has an excellent performance on bare floors as it's able to pick up pet hair as well as debris like cereal and rice without too much of a problem. Unlike many other robot vacuums, it doesn't have a problem maneuvering on carpet either, and it does an overall great job clearing debris on low-pile as well as shaggy, thick-pile carpet. It has an outstanding battery life as well, and even in its most powerful mode, it can last over 45 minutes on a single charge.
Unfortunately, it's not as versatile as other models on this list as it can't clean stairs or narrow, hard-to-reach areas. It also has quite a few parts that need regular maintenance as well as some recurring costs too, which can add up over time. That said, if you're looking for a more hands-off cleaning experience, it can free up some of your time. It's also one of the best robot vacuums we've tested.
The best budget vacuum that we've tested is the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister. This corded canister model offers a high price-to-performance ratio, as it does an exceptional job of clearing various kinds of debris on bare floors while offering excellent performance on low-pile carpet. It doesn't do quite as well a job on high-pile, shaggy carpets, as it struggles slightly more with fine material like baking soda, but it still clears a good amount of debris on this kind of surface.
It has a relatively lightweight plastic construction, which makes it easy to maneuver even in tight, cramped spaces. Its bagless design and washable pre-motor and post-motor filters mean that you won't have to worry too much about recurring costs, as long as the vacuum is properly maintained. The few parts that do need routine servicing are easily accessed.
Unfortunately, this appliance has a short power cord, which means you may need to switch outlets when cleaning larger areas. Its hose also has a fairly limited range, which can make it difficult to use it in its semi-handheld configuration to clean high-placed shelves. Overall, however, its combination of affordability and bare floor performance help make it one of the best laminate floor vacuums that we've tested.
11/20/2020: Slight changes to the text for accuracy and clarity; no change in product recommendations.
10/30/2020: Replaced the Neato Botvac D7 with the iRobot Roomba S9. Also replaced the HoLife HM036E with the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+.
10/09/2020: Added the 'Best Handheld Vacuum' category, and moved the Dyson V10 Cyclone Absolute to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best vacuums for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you would like to do the work of choosing yourself, here is the list of all our vacuum reviews. 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.