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While you want to enjoy a fresh home with fluffed and dust-free rugs, dipping into your savings account to purchase a quality vacuum might not be feasible, practical, or ideal. We tested 28 vacuums in The Lab and rated them on ease of use, effectiveness, portability, and features such as multi-surface cleaning options and attachment storage. We found that there are upright, cordless stick, handheld, and wet-dry vacuums on the market that come at a low, budget-friendly price tag.
Our favorite is the Black+Decker Powerseries Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner & Hand Vacuum because it's lightweight, has a light on the floor head, and quickly snaps into a powerful dustbuster when needed.
Here, the best inexpensive vacuums on the market, according to our testing.
Our Top Picks
BLACK+DECKER POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick VacuumBuy at Amazon
With a detachable dustbuster and hidden attachment storage, this cordless stick vac is both versatile and a great value.
Eureka Flash Stick Vacuum CleanerBuy at Amazon
You will enjoy the fact that this vacuum has a light on its floor head and is easy to navigate in tight areas around your home.
Shark Navigator Swivel Pro Complete Upright VacuumBuy at Amazon
This upright-style vacuum has incredible suction power, a lengthy cord, and multiple surface settings for efficient cleaning.
Best Overall: BLACK+DECKER HSVB420J POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum
Included attachment storage
Floor head light
Handheld model clicks in
Could use more settings
Not effective on all surfaces
What do buyers say? 81% of Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
It can be hard to come by a cordless stick vacuum that's both budget-friendly and effective at cleaning, but the BLACK+DECKER POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum has it all. If you're looking for an affordable stick vacuum for weekly cleans and a dustbuster for quick messes, this is the vacuum for you.
The dustbuster acts as the dust bin when connected to the handle and is incredibly easy to empty. When it's removed, the handle reveals a hidden spot for attachments that makes this pick very easy to store and use. You're not only saving money with this 2-in-1 model, but you're also saving space. During our testing, we gave this vacuum a 5-star rating for its setup and emptying processes, and noted that it was most effective on medium and high-pile carpets.
On low-pile carpet and hardwood flooring, it pushed the cereal around a bit and didn't effectively pick it up after several passes. However, it did pick up the hair and kernels. Ultimately, it received a 4-star rating for effectiveness for this reason. In addition, our tester enjoyed that this vacuum stood up on its own and included a light on the floor head for easy visibility. While its settings are limited, its design is certainly not, making it an excellent pick for a variety of households and our top choice overall.
Dimensions: 22 x 8.3 x 6.5 inches | Weight: 5.84 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 30 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.52 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 9 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, and vinyl
Best Budget: Eureka NES510 Flash Lightweight Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Floor head has a light
Easy to navigate in tight areas
Quick and easy assembly
No storage for attachments
Struggles on high-pile carpet
Another top-notch, budget-friendly option is the Eureka Flash Lightweight Stick Vacuum Cleaner. We put together this vac in just one and a half minutes. It's that easy. Our tester only docked its assembly process because it doesn't include any storage for attachments. Once we moved it onto the surfaces, the 7.4-pound vacuum was able to effectively pick up all materials on hardwood, low-pile carpet, and medium-pile carpet in just one or two passes. On the high-pile carpet, it was difficult to move around and we noticed the product getting a bit warm. For that reason, it earned a (still solid) 4.5 stars for its effectiveness.
Notably, the Eureka Flash Lightweight Stick Vacuum Cleaner also features a light on its floor head, so it is easy to spot messes that are hiding under your couch or in shaded corners. It was able to slip under a low-sitting couch and coffee table with total ease and didn't produce a ton of noise throughout the test. Ultimately, you'll find this vacuum to be a reliable companion throughout your chores. Just be aware: it does have a multi-step emptying process that involves detaching the canister. Otherwise, it's simple to use and understand.
Dimensions: 45 x 11.1 x 7.9 inches | Weight: 7.4 pounds | Cord Length: 30 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 1.05 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 11 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet and hardwood
Best Upright: Shark NV151 Navigator Swivel Pro Complete Upright Vacuum
Multiple surface settings
Easy to assemble
Long cord for great reach
Doesn't transfer surfaces well
The Shark Navigator Swivel Pro Complete Upright Vacuum is just one member of Shark's Navigator series that's known for its upright style, daintier price tag, long list of attachments, and great suction power on multiple surface types. However, it topped the others in our lab testing, receiving a 5-star rating for effectiveness and emptying. It performed the very best on hardwood and low-pile carpets, but was still effective at picking up debris on medium and high-pile carpets, too. Our tester noted that it needed an extra pass on these surfaces to pick up everything, but that they could use one hand to navigate it, which was very comfortable and rewarding.
While the bulkier design of the vacuum did make it more difficult to slip under a low-sitting couch, giving it a 3-star rating for maneuverability, the multiple settings for hardwood and carpet were welcomed. The setup process for this vac was also simple and only took our tester three minutes to complete. Overall, it is a straightforward model with impressive power and a generous amount of features for its price tag. It will be a hefty model to carry up the stairs and to store, but you'll find the cord is plenty long enough, at 25 feet, and the bin is plenty large enough, at 0.4 quarts.
Dimensions: 45.66 x 12 x 9.64 inches | Weight: 15 pounds | Cord Length: 25 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 0.4 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 12 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, laminate, and hardwood
Best Handheld: Sun Joe AJV1000 Cordless 8.4-Volt Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Easy to empty bin
Easy to set up
Handheld vacuums are ideal for picking up small messes around your house, and the Sun Joe Cordless Handheld Vacuum makes the chore super easy. This handheld vacuum has a cordless design, so it's even easier to pick up messes that are tucked away in your home. It also comes with a 2-in-1 crevice and brush tool that'll help you clean couch cushions, car upholstery, and kitchen floors alike. On top of that, you can charge it in any USB port, making this a great option for your car or home office area.
In our Lab testing, we gave this vacuum a 5-star rating for portability, as it's super lightweight. Weighing only approximately 1.5 pounds, this pick is comfortable to carry from one spot to another. While it's a bit louder than expected, it's so easy to use and you'll enjoy how emptying the dustbin is a total breeze. The only thing we'd change is the fan placement. At some angles, the fan blows out air and can scatter the debris. However, it also quickly sucked it right back up.
Dimensions: 13 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches | Weight: 1.52 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: Not listed | Bin Volume: 3.5 ounces | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, upholstery
"This handheld vacuum is easy to carry and intuitive to empty. The suction is so strong that it even got stuck on the carpet a little bit. This is a solid dustbuster for a low price."—Madison Yauger, Product Tester
Best Compact: NEQUARE S180 Corded Lightweight Vacuum with Self-Standing
Has an adjustable handle
Floor head has a light
Need to empty dust bin often
Struggled on high-pile carpet
Whether you're hoping to tackle smaller cleaning tasks around your home or live in a smaller living space like a condo or apartment, a compact and inexpensive model may be on your mind. Look no further than NEQUARE's S180 Corded Lightweight Vacuum that has impressive suction power and a lightweight build that makes it easy to maneuver on a multitude of surfaces. At 2.42 pounds, this vacuum is just as heavy as some handheld models, which are—of course—much smaller and designed for even tinier tasks.
During our lab test, our testing team was particularly impressed with this model's setup process, as well as its noise level. Our tester gave it 5 stars for both attributes, noting that assembly took just two, short minutes to complete. The vacuum easily slipped under a low-sitting couch and table, and only struggled to navigate thicker, high-pile carpet. It was very easy to control on the hardwood and low and medium-pile carpets, and sucked up all the materials in just a few passes. For that reason, our tester gave it a 4-star rating for effectiveness and maneuverability. You will need to empty the not-so spacious dust bin a little more regularly, but will ultimately be impressed with this compact pick, that also features a handle that can be adjusted to your height and a light.
Dimensions: 17.48 x 13.54 x 7.32 inches | Weight: 2.42 pounds | Cord Length: Not listed | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet and hardwood
Best Wet-Dry: Shark VacMop Pro Cordless Wet/Dry Stick Vacuum
Glides over surfaces
Not suitable for carpets
Need to purchase replacement pads
If your space mainly has hard floors made of hardwood, tile, laminate, or vinyl, you'll want to opt for the Shark VACMOP. This product tackles two cleaning tasks at once, thanks to its disposable cleaning pads and solution tank. Our tester took only two minutes to set up this vacuum, noting that they did not need to refer to the instructions because everything clicked into place. From there, they used it on hardwood flooring, noting that it was very lightweight and easy to use. When you want to release detergent onto a floor, you simply have to press the "spray" button. Otherwise, the cordless design of this vacuum allows you to just hold down the power trigger whenever you'd like to clean up a mess.
While it's not ideal that you need to continuously hold down the trigger, our tester noted that the vac is comfortable and easily glides over the surface. They gave it 5 stars 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. Since the product only weighs 5 pounds, this process is fairly simple.
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, and vinyl
Best for Pet Hair: 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
Pet owners need a vac that's reliable and ready to face hair, dust, and dander. The BISSELL CleanView Swivel Rewind Pet Vacuum Cleaner is just that, and was effective at picking up all materials in just one or two passes on the hardwood, low-pile carpet, and high-pile carpet during our test. Our tester noted that it needed a bit more elbow grease on the medium-pile carpet, but was still able to suck everything up in about three passes. They rated it 4 stars for effectiveness and maneuverability, since the dust bin also prevents this vacuum from easily reaching under low-sitting 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. Our tester noted that it took them over 10 minutes to assemble the vacuum because the manual was unclear and they needed a screwdriver that was not provided. However, once assembled, you'll also notice that it feels quite sturdy and well-made.
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: Carpet, hardwood, tile, laminate, vinyl
Our top pick for a cheap vacuum cleaner is the BLACK+DECKER POWERSERIES 2-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum that has a built-in dustbuster, attachment storage, and a light on the floor head. Another great option is the Eureka Flash Stick Vacuum Cleaner that's not as effective on high-pile carpet, but is easy to assemble and swivel around any obstacle in your home. It also features a light on its floor head.
How We Tested the Cheap Vacuum Cleaners
We tested 28 vacuums side-by-side in The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn during our 16-hour vacuum test. We started with the unboxing and setup of each pick, noting how clear the instructions were. Next, we evaluated each vacuum's effectiveness on hardwood and three types of carpeted surfaces. To do so, we spilled measured amounts of hair, popcorn kernels, and Cheerios. We noted how well each vacuum moved, how many passes were needed to clean up the materials, and if hair was tangled in the beater bar. We then challenged the vacuums’ maneuverability by running them through a living room-inspired obstacle course to see how they performed in tight areas and around corners. Additionally, we evaluated how well each pick transitioned from smooth floors to carpeting.
Our testers changed the bags and emptied the bins, noting the ease of emptying, and took note of how long cordless models stayed charged. Throughout all of the tests, we rated the noise level of each product. Aside from this test, product testers rated other models on the same attributes while testing them at home. Our editors took all of this consistently applied testing data and boiled it down to the inexpensive vacuums we believe are the very best.
What to Look for in a Cheap Vacuum Cleaner
What type of vacuum you buy depends on what 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.
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
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 that 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.
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
There are benefits of both a corded and cordless model. A corded vacuum, for example, allows you to clean non-stop 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?
Your first step should always be to empty your vacuum, either by throwing away its dust bag or releasing the dust cup 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 cup. 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?
Marisa Casciano is a senior commerce editor for The Spruce, and was in The Lab for the entirety of our vacuum test. She has researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, cooktops, wine fridges, and more in the home space. She has first-hand knowledge of how our vacuum tests were developed and performed.
Before conducting testing, she scoured brand and retailer websites, and considered price, verified customer reviews, features, and design when selecting the vacuums to test. She also did thorough research on the latest technology, considering practicality and real-life cleaning situations such as picking up dog hair and collecting the dust under a bed during a deep spring clean. At the moment, she loves her upright-style Shark vacuum that's both cost effective and reliable at cleaning all the surfaces in her home. She also loves her inexpensive wet-dry vacuum for easy, in-between cleans.