While you want to enjoy a fresh home with fluffed and dust-free rugs and sparkly floors, dipping into your savings account to purchase a quality vacuum might not be feasible. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable options out there—and after putting them to the test, we can confirm they rival the cleaning power of pricier models.
We've tested over 230 vacuums in The Lab and at home, including upright, stick, handheld, robot, and wet-dry vacuums. In our tests, we typically rate vacuums on their effectiveness at picking up multiple types of debris on different surfaces, as well as their portability, maneuverability, and ease of emptying. We've combed through all of our vacuum testing data to find the best inexpensive options for any household and compiled them below.
There are plenty of vacuums under $200 with multi-surface cleaning ability, attachment storage, quiet operation, and convenient features that rival higher-end models. Our overall favorite inexpensive vacuum is the Dirt Devil Versa 3-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner because it's lightweight, can handle large debris, and easily maneuvers around furniture.
Dirt Devil Versa 3-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Easy to maneuver around furniture
Basic, simple-to-use design
Can pick up a variety of debris
Must be lifted when transitioning from hard flooring to carpet
No attachments provided
In our testing experience, 3-in-1 stick vacuums often disappoint with their lack of suction power and overall design misses, but the Dirt Devil Versa 3-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner took us by surprise. If you're looking for a basic vacuum model that can tackle everything from large debris like popcorn kernels to fine particles like coffee grounds, the Dirt Devil Versa is our recommendation. Although it certainly has a few quirks, it's well worth the under $100 price tag and easy-to-use features.
The lightweight design and smaller floor head on this model made it easy to maneuver around furniture and corners of our testing area. This vacuum's suction, while not adjustable, easily picked up the various debris we spread across our testing lab, and it did not dull throughout the total testing time. Two minor downfalls to this vacuum: It's surprisingly loud for such a compact unit—we noted it would be difficult to carry a conversation over it—and its floor head has too low of a clearance to easily transition from hard flooring to carpet, so it must be picked up when moving between surfaces. We don't think these design notes are major drawbacks, but they're worth pointing out in case you're looking for a vacuum with quiet operation and seamless transition abilities.
While it can transform to a handheld unit for smaller cleaning tasks, this cordless vacuum doesn't come with any attachments, so you'll be slightly limited when it comes to the surfaces you can clean. The lack of attachments also meant we could not complete half of our testing process for upholstery and stairs, which made the overall testing time very short (under four minutes of use). The manufacturer lists this model's run time as 12 minutes. While we cannot speak to this vacuum's full battery life, we still think it's a great basic option for everyday cleaning. Plus, we found that the lack of attachments, hoses, and cords made it even easier to handle and maneuver in our testing.
Price at time of publish: $90
Dimensions: 42.5 x 10 x 7 inches | Weight: Less than 5 pounds | Cord Length: Cordless | Battery Life: 12 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.42 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, tile, carpet, laminate, vinyl
Shark VacMop Pro Cordless Hard Floor Vacuum Mop
Cordless, lightweight design
Glides over surfaces
Not suitable for carpets
Need to purchase replacement pads
If your space only has hardwood, tile, laminate, or vinyl flooring, we recommend opting for a wet-dry vacuum that's equipped to tackle two cleaning tasks at once: suctioning up debris and mopping. Featuring a solution tank and disposable cleaning pads, the Shark VACMOP garnered perfect scores across the board in our testing.
It only took us two minutes to set up this cordless vacuum-mop, and we did not need to refer to the instructions because everything clicked into place. From there, we used it on hardwood flooring, noting that it was very lightweight and easy to use. When you want to release the cleaning solution onto a floor, you simply have to press the "spray" button. While it's not ideal that you need to continuously hold down the trigger, we found that the vacuum is comfortable and easily glides over hard surfaces.
We were thoroughly impressed by this vacuum, and we gave it a perfect rating for every single attribute, including noise level and ease of emptying. To switch out the pad, you just need to press an easy-release button while holding the product over your trash can. Because the product only weighs 5 pounds, this process is fairly simple. Just keep in mind that you'll need to purchase additional mop pads when you run out.
Price at time of publish: $99
Dimensions: 47.87 x 9.5 x 5.3 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 20 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.03 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, tile, laminate, vinyl
Hart Pro Bagless Upright Vacuum with HEPA Media Filter
Picks up debris on most floor types
Easy to empty
Transitions well from different floor types
Hair wraps on brush head
Only one power level
While it comes from a brand we didn't recognize, this corded model from HART impressed us in testing with its suction power and easy-to-detach nozzle for detail jobs. We appreciated the vacuum's swivel head, which offers optimum maneuverability around corners and under furniture, and we had no issue transitioning from different floor types. Plus, its HEPA filter ensures that 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns (including allergens) stay trapped, rather than being released back into the air while vacuuming.
Assembly was pretty straightforward with this model, which had a detailed instruction manual with pictures. We will note, however, that the manual indicated this vacuum has two suction levels (a low and high setting)—but if it indeed has a second setting, we could not figure out how to adjust it. Still, this vacuum still excelled at cleaning on all of our testing surfaces, despite the lack of adjustable suction power. We noticed this vacuum was most difficult to maneuver across high-pile carpet, which is typical for upright models with higher suction power. Although it did a great job of sucking up hair in just a few seconds, we did have to use a seam ripper to remove hair from the brush roller. Alternatively, you can remove the entire brush from the vacuum with a Phillips screwdriver.
We opted to use the detachable handheld nozzle to clean around the corners and joints on stairs. The handheld tool also came in handy for picking up debris that the vacuum didn't initially catch—although the floor head picked up at least 90 percent of debris across our different surface tests, so we can confirm it's certainly effective even without using the attachments
We had to empty this vacuum once before finishing our entire cleaning test, but the process is very simple. The canister releases with the push of a button, then you simply hold it over a trash can and push another button to empty the contents. We did not have to reach in to remove any stuck debris, which was a huge win in our book. For just $120, we think this upright model is a worthy investment compared to similar models made by bigger brands like Shark and Dyson.
Price at time of publish: $129
Dimensions: Not listed | Weight: 16 pounds | Cord Length: Not listed | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Hard floors, carpet, upholstery
Best Bagged Upright
Hoover Complete Performance Bagged Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Bag is easy to empty
Cordless stick and handheld vacuums can be great, but sometimes you want a traditional, reliable upright vacuum to clean your dirty floors. In our tests, this bagged, corded vacuum excelled at picking up debris and hair from carpet. In fact, it only took two passes to clean the floor completely. This stellar performance earned it a perfect rating for effectiveness. The vacuum performed just as well on upholstery, too. We were in awe of this vacuum's power, and its powerful suction and affordable price allowed us to look past the fact that it was noisy and heavy.
We found the vacuum's upholstery and crevice attachments were very helpful in our tests, and we appreciate that because this is a bagged vacuum, you don't have to come in contact with any of the debris when you're done vacuuming. Simply dispose of the bag, and go about your day.
If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, it can be satisfying to run an upright vacuum back and forth to create clean, freshly vacuumed lines. If this sounds like your dream cleaning day, we think the Hoover Complete Performance Bagged Upright Vacuum is a great choice for you.
Price at time of publish: $155
Dimensions: 47 x 15 x 15 inches | Weight: 9.28 pounds | Cord Length: 25 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: Not applicable | Cleaning Path Width: 15 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hard floors, carpet, upholstery
Kenmore DS4095 Elite Cordless Stick Vacuum with EasyReach Wand
Difficult to empty
Not great for vacuuming hair
Vacuuming for extended periods of time can result in arm fatigue—especially if the weight of the vacuum isn't distributed evenly. If you're searching for a well-balanced, lightweight vacuum, consider the Kenmore DS4095 Brushless Cordless Stick Vacuum. This easy-to-use vacuum weighs only 3 pounds, and we found that it outperformed some of the pricier cordless vacuums—and even some corded models—in our testing.
The swivel head made it easy to maneuver the vacuum around our testing lab obstacles, and we appreciated the clear instruction manual that was included in the box. Besides being a lightweight powerhouse, this vacuum was also one of the quietest ones we tested. While it sucked up most of the debris in our lab, this vacuum ended up dragging the hair behind it instead of vacuuming it up. It was also a little difficult to empty because we had to dig out the hair from the bin. With this in mind, it might not be ideal for homes where cleaning up pet or human hair is an ongoing challenge.
Price at time of publish: $180
Dimensions: 21.46 x 5.71 x 15.75 inches | Weight: 3 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 40 minutes | Bin Volume: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Hard floors, carpet
Best for Pet Hair
Hoover Onepwr Evolve Pet Cordless Vacuum
Picked up pet hair in one pass
Easy to empty
We love our pets, but if you have a dog or cat that's prone to shedding, selecting the right vacuum cleaner is key to maintaining a tidy living space. When we used the Hoover ONEPWR Evolve Pet Cordless Vacuum to suck up most of the pet hair we laid in its path in one single pass during testing, we knew we had found a great budget-friendly vacuum for pet owners. We found that it's particularly effective at suctioning debris from carpet.
On top of easily cleaning pet hair from our lab flooring, this vacuum was incredibly easy to use and empty. All parts of the vacuum are clearly labeled, and there is even a button labeled "trash" that you push for simple emptying. When the vacuum is not in use, it stands on its own, so you can walk away and give Fido some love before coming back to your task.
This vacuum can be pretty noisy on certain settings, but we were still able to have a conversation while using it. The only major downside to this powerful pet hair cleaner is that it doesn't come with any attachments, so you'll likely need another cleaning device (like a handheld vacuum) to get into the crevices and hard-to-reach places in your home.
Price at time of publish: $210
Dimensions: 44 x 11 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 8.6 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 35 minutes | Bin Volume: 1.05 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 11 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hard floors, carpet
Best for Carpet
BISSELL CleanView Swivel Pet Rewind Upright Vacuum 2256
Dust bin is easy to empty
Has a triple-action brush
Assembly process is complicated
Can't get under low-sitting furniture
Homeowners with lots of carpeted floors need a vac that's reliable and ready to face any pile height. The BISSELL CleanView Swivel Rewind Pet Vacuum Cleaner is just that, and it was effective at picking up all debris in just one or two passes on the hardwood, low-pile carpet, and high-pile carpet during our tests. We found that it needed a bit more elbow grease on the medium-pile carpet, but it was still able to suck everything up in about three passes. We docked its effectiveness and maneuverability ratings slightly because the dust bin also prevents this corded vacuum from easily reaching under low furniture.
Emptying this vacuum is a total breeze and can be done with one hand. This is ideal for pet owners who may make many trips to the trash can to dump fur and other bin contents. In addition, this vac operates quietly, so it won't be a major disruption in your household. One downside of the vac is that it's a pain to set up. It took us over ten minutes to assemble the vacuum because the manual was unclear and we needed a screwdriver that was not provided. However, once assembled, you'll also notice that it feels quite sturdy and well-made.
Price at time of publish: $155
Dimensions: 13 x 14 x 46 inches | Weight: 13.65 pounds | Cord Length: 27 feet | Battery Life: N/A | Bin Volume: 1 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 13.5 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hard floors, carpet
BLACK+DECKER Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum
Can handle larger debris
Easy to empty
No battery indicator light
Not great for carpet
The Black & Decker Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum previously held the best overall spot in our best handheld vacuums roundup because of its compact design and powerful suction in our testing. It has since been replaced by a pricier model in that category, we still think this model is a great affordable handheld vacuum that excels at picking up debris of all sizes.
This vacuum is surprisingly powerful, making quick work of cleaning up cat litter, cereal, and even sand in our tests. We love its lightweight design, which isn't tiring to hold for an extended period of time, such as while vacuuming a car or in hard-to-reach areas under furniture. This model excelled at cleaning hard flooring, but it could also handle low-pile carpet. Mid- and high-pile carpets were a bit too dense for this vacuum to effectively pick up debris. However, we found its two attachments—a brush and crevice tool—helpful when cleaning inside a car and along the edges of stairs. This vacuum also comes with a wall mount, so you can keep it within reach in a closet, pantry, or kitchen alcove.
There was very little assembly required when unboxing this BLACK+DECKER model—just be sure to charge it before your first use. The battery life is short with only about 15 minutes of power, but that should be enough for everyday cleanups. While we wish this model had a battery indicator light to let us know when it's low and done charging, the lack of this feature did not negatively impact our overall experience with the appliance. Overall, we think this vacuum's cordless and lightweight design make it a great cleaning tool for unexpected messes and quick clean-up jobs.
We recognize that at $50, this vacuum may still be a bit too expensive, especially as a handheld model. If you're looking for something even cheaper, we recommend also checking out the Tzumi Ion Vac Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, which is half the price and great for small cleanups.
Price at time of publish: $50
Dimensions: 7.5 x 13.5 x 5.5 inches | Weight: 2.11 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 12 to 15 minutes | Bin Volume: 31.8 ounces | Cleaning Path Width: Not applicable | Compatible Floor Type: Hard floors, low-pile carpet
ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Excellent object avoidance
Easy to use
Low profile design
Struggles on uneven surfaces
No smart features
If you're looking to try out the world of robot vacuums, but you aren't ready to drop a large sum of money, we recommend the ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner. We still enjoy using this robot vacuum, even after six months in a real-world setting. This model may not have all the smart features of more expensive options, such as room mapping, a compatible app, or self-emptying. However, it is a reliable option based on our experience. We were also impressed by its object avoidance. It avoided piles of pudding in our tests, while higher-end models just ran through the mess.
We also really enjoy the lower profile of this vacuum, allowing it to navigate under beds, dressers, and chairs. It has an impressive 90-minute battery life and it will automatically dock to recharge. While it wasn't great at cleaning out Cheerios from a corner and seems to struggle on uneven flooring in general, we appreciated this vacuum's ability to clean up dog hair from unnoticeable areas. This model even comes with a remote control, so you can set it on a schedule or turn it on whenever you need a quick cleaning. It may not be the most impressive model in terms of smart features, but we think the ILIFE V3s is a pretty solid choice, especially given how well it has performed in our long-term testing.
Price at time of publish: $160
Dimensions: 2.98 x 11.8 x 11.8 inches | Weight: 4.5 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 90 minutes | Bin Volume: 10.1 ounces | Cleaning Path Width: 11.8 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hard floors, carpet
|Overall Rating||Effectiveness||Maneuverability||Ease of Emptying||Portability||Noise Level|
Dirt Devil Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Shark VacMop Pro Vacuum Mop
Hart Pro Bagless Upright Vacuum
Best Bagged Upright:
Hoover Complete Performance Vacuum
Kenmore Stick Vacuum with EasyReach Wand
Best for Pet Hair:
Hoover Onepwr Evolve Pet Cordless Vacuum
Best for Carpet:
BISSELL CleanView Swivel Pet Rewind Upright Vacuum
Best Handheld :
BLACK+DECKER Cordless Lithium Hand Vacuum
Best Robot :
ILIFE V3s Pro Robot Vacuum Cleaner
It can be tricky to find an inexpensive vacuum that still delivers impressive suction power across all surfaces in a home. Our "best overall" pick, the Dirt Devil VERSA 3-in-1 Stick Vacuum Cleaner is easy to pull out for any quick cleaning task around your home. Plus, it's surprisingly powerful with enough suction to clean both hardwood floors and carpet. If you're looking for an upright model, we recommend the HART Pro Bagless Upright Vacuum HZUV01, which quickly picks up debris without being too noisy.
Other Options We Tested
We've tested hundreds of vacuums in The Lab and at home. While we can't include them all in this article, the following are some notable models that didn't make our best-of cut.
TINECO PWRHERO11 Snap Cordless Lightweight Stick Vacuum: Although one member of our testing team said they would consider buying this vacuum, they weren't as impressed by it as other models they tested. Its suction power was average at best, and it struggled to pick up debris if it was not centered in front of the head. The dust bin also felt clumsy to empty because the release button and empty button are located in two different places. It's certainly more affordable than other vacuums out there, but we think you could find a higher-performing model at a similar price.
BISSELL CleanView Compact Upright Vacuum: This vacuum may be one of the least expensive upright vacuums on the market, but that price also reflects its overall poor suction power, especially with larger debris on carpet. We found that it took about 50 passes to pick up the Cheerios and popcorn kernels we laid in its path on carpet, and this vacuum also had a tendency to spit out the debris. While it performed fairly well at picking up debris off of upholstery, the attachment hose is pretty short, so it's difficult to work the body of the vacuum around large pieces of furniture.
Dirt Devil Vibe 3-in-1 Corded Stick Vacuum with Removable Hand Held Vacuum: While we had no issue setting up this vacuum, it otherwise did not perform well during testing. It did not perform well on carpet and struggled to suck up hair, which eventually became so tangled on the brush bar that it stopped rotating. Larger debris also fell out of the nozzle after being sucked up. We were excited by this vacuum's lightweight and convertible design but overall were very disappointed in its suction power.
Fabuletta FSV001 6-in-1 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner: This vacuum is one of the lightest and quietest vacuums we tested; however, its suction power left us wishing for better performance. Although it performed well on both tile and carpet, we found that it picked up debris better when pushed forward and dragged the debris when pulled. This vacuum also could not handle long strands of hair, which quickly clogged its dust bin and required us to empty it several times throughout the 16-minute testing phase. We had high hopes for this vacuum, especially at its affordable price point, but it didn't compare to the other models that truly stood out during testing.
How We Tested the Cheap Vacuum Cleaners
We've tested over 230 vacuums in The Lab and at home over the course of multiple vacuum tests. During lab testing, we typically start with the unboxing and setup of each pick, noting how clear the instructions are. Next, we evaluate each vacuum's effectiveness on different hard flooring and carpeted surfaces. To do so, we spill measured amounts of hair, popcorn kernels, and Cheerios. (For some vacuum categories, such as handheld, wet/dry, or robot models, our testing process and attributes can differ slightly, based on what surfaces the models are designed to clean.) As we test, we note how well each vacuum moves, how many passes are needed to clean up the materials, and if hair is tangled in the beater bar. At this stage, we take the opportunity to use any vacuum attachments for additional cleanup. We then challenge the vacuums’ maneuverability by running them through a living room-inspired obstacle course to see how they perform in tight areas and around corners.
Additionally, we evaluate how well each pick transitions from hard floors to carpeting. We also change the bags and empty the bins, noting the ease of emptying, and take note of how long cordless models stay charged. Throughout all of the tests, we rate the noise level of each product. To wrap up, we consider our entire experience with the product to rate the overall value of it.
In real-world testing, we take the vacuums home and use them in our everyday cleaning routines, evaluating the same attributes we consider in lab testing. Our editors take all of this testing data and boil it down to the inexpensive vacuums we believe are the very best.
What to Look for in a Cheap Vacuum Cleaner
The best vacuum cleaner for you will depend on the type of cleaning you're trying to complete, and where. Upright vacuums are most suitable for whole-home cleaning, and typically offer a lot of suction power for picking up larger items, as well as dust. Stick vacuums are typically made for lighter cleans or smaller living spaces, since they often run on battery power or aren't quite as compatible with a range of surfaces. Handheld models help you get into the tight areas of your home, garage, or car, and pick up tiny spills, while wet-dry picks are only for hard floors but will complete two jobs at one time. (This makes them a particularly great option for someone with a smaller living space who doesn't want to store multiple cleaning tools.)
Before buying a vacuum, consider your living space, the types of surfaces you have, and all the types of messes you'd be cleaning up with your purchase. This will help you decide what type of vacuum is best for you.
Bagged vs. Bagless Design
You can keep recurring costs low by looking for a vacuum with a dust bin instead of bags, which will need to be replaced over time. While a majority of models are bagless, opting for a bin will also make the process of emptying your vacuum in between cleans a lot easier. If you do opt for a dust bin, be sure to clean and maintain it well so you can also help extend your vacuum's lifespan. Dump all the debris before the cup reaches maximum capacity to prevent a loss of power and performance. If you do opt for a bagged model, like the Hoover Complete Performance Bagged Upright Vacuum Cleaner—our "best bagged upright" pick—know that the major perk is that debris is trapped away after it's captured. You don't have to see or handle what you picked up, which can be a perk for those with allergies.
Along the same lines, look for a model with washable filters. This will not only reduce ongoing costs, since they can be rinsed clean and used over and over again, but could be considered a more eco-friendly approach to your cleaning routine, too.
Corded vs. Cordless Design
There are benefits to corded and cordless models. A corded vacuum, for example, allows you to clean nonstop, without any fear that you'll run out of power halfway through your task. However, you're more limited in terms of maneuverability and where you can use your vacuum. Cordless vacs are more expensive than corded ones, and limit how much you can clean at once, but typically offer better maneuverability. If you're looking to cut the cord, but also keep the price tag of your purchase in check, check the battery life of the vacuum and make sure it's adequate for your cleaning needs, or find one with interchangeable batteries.
How often should I replace a vacuum?
Generally, you can expect a vacuum to last for about eight years. Several factors can affect its lifespan, including how much you use it, what you do to maintain it, and what style of vacuum it is. (A sturdy upright vacuum may last longer than a robotic model.) If your vacuum is on the less expensive side, that may also come at the cost of a few additional years of functionality.
Katie Berry, The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board member, also notes that your vacuum's lifespan can be affected by the battery if you opt for a cordless pick. "With cordless vacuums, batteries often give out long before the vacuum does," she notes. "To get the longest life out of a cordless vacuum, look for models with replaceable batteries."
How do I clean a vacuum?
When it comes to cleaning a vacuum, your first step should always be to empty your vacuum, either by throwing away its dust bag or releasing the dust bin contents into the trash. Next, use a microfiber cloth to wipe any remaining fine debris from the vacuum's interior. Depending on your model, you may be able to wash out the inside with soap and water, and even rinse out the filter. However, some vacuums have replaceable filters or can't get wet at all, so make sure to refer to your vacuum's manual before starting to clean it. Your last step should be checking the wheels and cleaner head for tangled hair. If you do use water to clean your vacuum, be sure to let everything air-dry before reassembling.
What should I expect from a budget vacuum?
Vacuums that have a lower price tag may lack some of the bells and whistles you'd find on high-end models, like a wide array of attachments, powerful suction, and a spacious dust bin. There are plenty of vacuums that'll cover your cleaning needs at an affordable price, but if you're looking for a more specialized machine that'll recognize the layout of your home or do deeper cleaning, you may need to adjust your desired price point.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Emma Phelps is an updates writer for The Spruce. She researched and updated this roundup to note the latest inexpensive vacuums we tested and other models that didn't quite make our final list.
Marisa Casciano also worked on this story. She is the Senior Commerce Editor for Appliances, Cleaning, and Organization for The Spruce and has been in The Lab for our vacuum test. Casciano has firsthand knowledge of how tests were developed and performed, and personally loves her Shark VACMOP that's lightweight and a breeze to store and use.
What Is The Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.