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 30 vacuums, and below are our recommendations for the best vacuums you can buy.
The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is one of the best vacuum cleaners in an upright configuration that we've tested. Despite its somewhat bulky size, it can maneuver most areas without too much of a problem. It can also be used in a semi-handheld configuration, which can be useful if you want to clean your car or get to a hard-to-reach place.
Like most Dyson vacuums, it comes with a variety of tools and brushes like a dedicated pet grooming tool to help with cleaning. As it has a long cord, you should have no problem using it from one room to another without changing electrical plugs too often. It also has an amazing performance on bare floors and is able to pick up all pet hair and small debris. While larger debris can get stuck in its head, it still has a consistent performance, even as the dirt compartment fills up. It has a pretty remarkable performance on low and high-pile carpet, although it does struggle a bit more with small debris on these surfaces.
However, it's fairly heavy, and it has a mostly-plastic build that doesn't feel very sturdy overall. It also needs a bit of assembly to get it up and running. It doesn't have an easy-clip mechanism either, which can make it a little more difficult to add or remove parts. Luckily, it's decently easy to maintain, and as long as its parts are well-maintained, there aren't any parts that need to be replaced, making it one of the best vacuum cleaners with an upright design that we've tested.
If you're looking for an upright vacuum with a cordless design, check out the Shark ION P50 Upright. While the Dyson Ball Animal 2 has a better performance on all surface types, the Shark is still able to do a consistently great job on bare floors as well as low and high-pile carpet. It has a decent build quality and has a farther range since it's cordless, which some users may prefer. Its battery life is quite great, so you don't need to worry as much about recharging it in the middle of cleaning a big mess. You can even use it as a handheld vacuum if you need better mobility and maneuverability.
Go for the Dyson if you're looking for a powerful clean on any surface type and don't want to have to worry about recharging a battery. However, if you prefer having an infinite range or you simply don't like the hassle of a corded design, get the Shark.
The Shark Rocket Pet Pro is the best stick/handheld vacuum that we've tested. Although this well-built vacuum 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.
If you need a more portable vacuum for cleaning more specialized objects other than floors around your house like blinds, consider the Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute. Although the Shark Rocket Pet Pro has a better overall performance cleaning bare floors, the Dyson comes a lot more unique tools to help you get the best clean. One tool is the 180-degree pivot extender which allows you to clean the top of high shelving. It also comes with a soft bristle brush so that you can clean more delicate objects like blinds. Its performance on low and high-pile carpet is also quite similar to the Shark. There are no recurring costs either, so as long as you take care of the vacuum when necessary. Unfortunately, it's less maneuverable and you may have a harder time getting underneath couches or table as the filter can get in the way. It also doesn't have any on-board storage to hold its tools or brushes.
Check out the Shark if you're focused on cleaning your floors and you don't need extra tools or brushes. However, go for the Dyson if you want to clean a variety of different objects and surface types like lampshades.
The best canister vacuum that we've tested is the Miele Complete C3 Alize PowerLine. It's sleek and has an excellent build quality and is easy to assemble, with most parts simply clipping together. It also comes in several additional variants that include different tools, floorheads, and features if you want even more from your canister vacuum. However, note that some models have different price-points than the Alize model.
It performs incredibly on bare floors as it has no problem picking up pet hair as well as small and large debris. Its performance on low and high-pile is also great, and even though it slightly struggles to pick up small debris like baking soda, its performance remains consistent, even as its dirt compartment fills up. Even though it's quite heavy, it has excellent maneuverability too. You can even use it in a handheld mode to access hard-to-reach places, and its LED handle light can help shine some light if you're cleaning more shadowy areas.
Unfortunately, it has quite a few recurring costs as it has three parts that need replacement over time, including its dirtbag. All in all, it offers a versatile and powerful clean, making it one of the best vacuum cleaners with a canister design that we've tested.
The Neato Botvac D7 is the best robot vacuum that we've tested. This uniquely D-shaped robot has decent maneuverability, and unlike many other robot models, it can climb on carpet. It also has a superbly long battery life, even on its max 'Turbo' mode, and it automatically heads back to its docking station when it's running low.
It has outstanding performance on bare floors as it's able to pick up almost all pet hair, as well as small and large debris. While it has a harder time picking up large debris when its dirt compartment is half-full and can push this debris around, it's easy to remove the dirt compartment to get right back to vacuuming. It also uses smart-pathing technology to optimize its cleaning patterns, and you can even create boundary lines using its companion app if you find the included boundary strips to be too short. If you need to, you can control it remotely as it's operating.
Unfortunately, it struggles on high-pile carpet. However, it has no problem getting onto this surface type, and it manages to pick up quite a bit of large debris. It can pull electrical cords and tassels, though, which may require you to step in and restart or reposition the vacuum. That said, it stands out from its robotic counterparts for its performance on carpet and is a suitable addition to most homes.
The Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister is the best budget vacuum that we've tested. This affordable model is fantastic for bare floors like hardwood or linoleum as it can easily clean pet hair and debris without a problem. While it struggles a bit with picking up smaller debris like baking soda from low and high-pile carpet, it still has an overall very good performance on these surface types.
Thanks to its intuitive design, it's easy to maintain, and there are virtually no recurring costs as long as you take care of the filters as needed. You can also reconfigure it to better fit into hard-to-reach crevices, which is handy if you need to clean inside your car. Although it comes with a limited amount of tools and brushes, it comes with a soft bristle brush that's already attached to its plastic wand, so you don't have to worry about misplacing it.
Unfortunately, it has a short cord length, which may force you to change electrical outlets more often. It also has a plasticky build quality that feels a little cheap. The dirt compartment particularly feels like it could crack if dropped. It's pretty easy to assemble the vacuum, as its parts clip together. That said, it offers a very good overall performance for its price, which is great if you're trying to keep your expenses low.
09/18/2020: Article overhaul; structural changes to help you find better vacuums for your needs.
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.