Vacuuming your entire home can be a draining task, especially if you’re not using the right kind of machine. However, there are models that make it easier to achieve the crisp carpet lines and mess-free hard flooring you're after. Through rigorous testing of well over 50 different vacuums in The Lab and at home in real, everyday situations, we’ve found them.
In order to identify the best vacuums out there, we evaluate each vacuum's setup process, effectiveness on multiple types of flooring, and overall efficiency in cleaning. We take the vacuum through a living room-inspired obstacle course, and we rate noise level, portability, value, and the ease of emptying the dust bin or bag—all so you know what to expect from a particular vacuum when you use it at home and can choose the best option for you. The end result of our testing is a list of vetted vacuums that we’d recommend for a variety of floor types and living spaces.
Whether you’re looking for an upright, cordless stick, robot, canister, handheld, or wet-dry model, you’ll find a recommendation for you below.
Here, the best vacuums on the market, backed by our testing.
Shark Vertex Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum with DuoClean PowerFins
Powerful suction on both carpet and hard flooring
Vacuum basically moves itself
Long battery life is great for large and small spaces
Folds in half for easy storage
Collection canister could be bigger
After tons of testing, this lightweight (yet mighty) vacuum by Shark is our pick for the best vacuum overall. It sucked up everything we put in its path, including Cheerios and tough popcorn kernels, and mostly did so during its first pass. Upon lifting the floor head off the ground, the materials didn't sprinkle everywhere, and the vacuum basically pulled itself around the surfaces. It took very little effort on our part to get the cleaning job done—and overall, it was difficult to find flaws with this model.
The Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Cordless Stick Vacuum was able to slip easily under a coffee table and couch, which sits fairly low to the ground. We found that the vacuum remains fairly quiet when it's in operation, too. (This can be a perk if you have a pet who’s easily spooked by loud noise.) Its quietness is no reflection of its strength, though: Two brush heads give this pick power, and while the collection canister could be bigger, you'll find that it's easy and painless to empty into your trash can. When your chores are all done, you can easily store this cordless stick vacuum, too, because it actually folds in half. This thoughtful design feature—on top of a 60-minute battery life that's longer than most other cordless picks we've seen and tested—makes it suitable for both smaller apartments and larger households alike.
Now, there are newer versions of this particular vacuum out there. We tested the Shark Cordless Pro with Clean Sense IQ, the newest model in this line, but found that the older version achieved a much better clean. The new version dropped debris and wasn't effective at picking up pet hair on upholstery. While the older version comes with individually wrapped pieces (which we didn't love) and a heavy handheld component, we still believe it's a top-notch option that's worth every penny. Even with the wrapping, the setup took us about three minutes—it doesn't get much better than that. While it isn't the cheapest vacuum available, we've found that this model is frequently discounted by retailers, so you might be able to snag a good deal on it. If you have the budget for it, we think the Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Cordless Stick Vacuum is a solid bet for everyday cleaning tasks.
Price at time of publish: $430
Dimensions: 46.46 x 9.65 x 10.24 inches | Weight: 9.04 pounds | Cord Length: Cordless | Battery Life: 60 minutes | Bin Volume: 1.4 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10.63 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, multi-surface, hardwood
Dirt Devil Versa 3-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Performs well across floor types
Very lightweight and easy to maneuver
Easy-to-empty dust cup
Hair wraps around brush roll
If you're looking for a vacuum with a basic design that's still versatile enough to clean different surfaces in your home, consider the DirtDevil Versa 3-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum. This vacuum clocks in under $100, making it a great value find. In our testing, we were blown away by how lightweight and easy it is to maneuver on various surfaces. This vacuum not only scored well for its overall performance but also its dust bin design. The release mechanism is pretty intuitive, but depicted instructions are also included in the manual, in case you run into any challenges when emptying the dust bin.
Although this vacuum may lack the bells and whistles that other higher-end stick vacuums have, we appreciated that we could move its compact floor head around furniture and that it didn't spit out any debris—a common problem with many three-in-one stick designs. Hair does get caught on the floor brush, but we were able to pull most of it off or cut it off. We recommend cleaning out the brush roll after each use to avoid any clogs.
Unlike our top pick, the Shark IZ462H, we found this vacuum to be quite loud, which is surprising for its size. Don’t expect to be able to watch TV or hold a conversation over it when it’s running. We don't completely fault the model for its noise level, though, because its suction is so impressive—with that in mind, we think the noise level is justifiable. Overall, we were thoroughly impressed with this vacuum's lightweight, compact, and easy-to-use design, making it a great option for anyone looking for a simple yet reliable vacuum for everyday messes.
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: Carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, and vinyl
Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra
Great for busy, messy households
Top-of-the-line tool attachments
Roller brush height adjusts to floor type
Hair doesn’t clog brush roll
Heavy to lift
Tricky to assemble
Although the Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra is a pricey upright vacuum, we think its intuitive suction and roller brush height settings set it apart from other models we've tested. It's a worthy contender if you have more wiggle room in your budget.
This vacuum is heavier than average upright models because of its central ball joint, but this joint helps the vacuum swivel around furniture and corners, making it practically as versatile as a stick vacuum. The vacuum operates on three different settings, and each adjusts the roller brush position to clean everything from flat surfaces to high-pile carpets. We found these height settings essential for sucking up various debris sizes, and we determined that the high-pile setting was great for removing larger debris and hair from hard flooring You also won't have to worry about hair becoming wrapped on the floor head's roller because it's equipped with enough suction to prevent tangling.
One thing to keep in mind is that this isn't the most straightforward vacuum to assemble. We were confused by the photo-only instructions for connecting the pieces. The same applied for the attachments Dyson provides with this model—but we were able to intuit how to use them.
In our testing, the attachments were incredibly helpful for cleaning upholstery, stairs, and corners. Since the vacuum's floor head was too large to clean the corners of our testing labs, the combination tool was essential for cleaning all of the debris. While the stair tool combined with the 15-foot extension hose is helpful for cleaning stairs, we found this upright vacuum's weight to be challenging in this area of our testing lab. With its weight in mind, we also don't recommend this model for users with limited mobility. However, its multi-surface cleaning power and intuitive attachments make it a great option for a busy household with kids and pets that produce a variety of messes.
Price at time of publish: $500
Dimensions: 42.2 x 11.02 x 15.5 inches | Weight: 17.3 pounds | Cord Length: 35 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 1.8 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, vinyl
Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum
Lift-away pod design
Effective on all floor types tested
Good maneuverability for an upright vacuum
Significantly cheaper than our "best splurge" upright pick
Some hair wrap on beater bar
Upright vacuums are known for their suction power, which is why many people opt for this style for cleaning up their carpets or tough messes, even if it's not the most space-conscious. Since upright vacuums tend to be bulkier than other types of vacuums, we pay particular attention to efficiency and maneuverability in our testing. This Shark model passed our tests with flying colors, proving itself as an effective and versatile choice at a very reasonable price.
We were especially impressed with how well it handled against floor edges, and how consistently it performed on different types of flooring, earning high marks for its performance on tile, hardwood, and carpet. We did notice that more muscle was required to push it on the high pile rug in our Lab—but that’s not uncommon with vacuums, so we’re not holding it against the machine. Stairs proved a bit tricky, too, if you try to use the entire machine on them. However, the included attachments and lift-away pod design give you options for portability and more targeted use, so you thankfully have more practical options for stairs and upholstery. Another perk worth mentioning was the simple and easy process to empty the dustbin—just two hooks to detach it from the vacuum, and one more to release the debris. Unlike with our best splurge pick, the Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra, we did find some hair wrapped on the beater bar after testing, but we were able to use a tool to cut it off.
Overall, there’s not much we would change about this upright vacuum. If you prefer upright vacuums for their tried-and-true design and powerful suction capabilities but you don't want to splurge on a pricey model, the Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum is our top recommendation.
Price at time of publish: $220
Dimensions: 14.37 x 11.61 x 26.77 inches | Weight: 16.96 pounds | Cord Length: 25 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 1.2 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 9.5 inches | Compatible Floor Type: All floors
Best Bagged Upright
Hoover Complete Performance Bagged Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Powerful suction on all surfaces
Easy to release and dispose bag
Wide cleaning path
No stair attachment
After testing dozens of upright picks, the Hoover Complete Performance Bagged Upright Vacuum is our favorite bagged option. Its powerful suction on every single surface we tested it on, including upholstery, is hard to beat. It picked up all of our debris in just two passes, making its heavier, bulkier design feel like a total afterthought.
While you certainly would fight with this vacuum a bit on the stairs, since there's no stair attachment and it has a 10-pound build, we appreciated that it's easy to navigate on surfaces. The bag is also super easy to change—just press the release button to expose and dispose of the collection bag. Setup was a total breeze, we didn't even have to look at the instructions to understand where everything went, though did note that the vacuum's noise level matches its power level. You probably couldn't hold a conversation over this pick, and may want to warn your pets before turning it on.
All in all, this pick doesn't leave much to be desired, though. It has multiple settings for bare floors and carpet, which is a major plus for those who are worried about damaging their hardwood. With a 25-foot cord, 15-inch cleaning path, and more budget-friendly price tag, we feel more than happy recommending it for your home.
Price at time of publish: $155
Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 47 inches | Weight: 9.28 pounds | Cord Length: 25 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: 15 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, high-pile carpet, laminate, and tile
Best Cordless Stick
Tineco Pure One S15 Pro Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Easy to change out attachments
Included charging dock
Transitions well from hard floors to carpet
Great suction power
Tougher debris requires a second pass
More expensive than comparable PET model
Cordless stick vacuums have become increasingly popular over the years, because they're often easier to use and store than their upright counterparts. However, the caveat to cordless stick models is, by nature, they run on a battery that must be recharged and have a dust bin that's usually quite smaller in comparison. The Tineco PURE ONE S15 PRO addresses a lot of these concerns, though, with its battery that lasts up to 40 minutes and overall cleaning effectiveness that's competitive with our "best upright" pick. Our tester said that, in automatic mode, the vacuum adjusted itself to the debris it was picking up and was all-around useful at suctioning up all debris, from cereal to popcorn kernels.
Not to mention, changing out the attachments was easy and the entire model transitioned seamlessly from a hard floor to a carpet, so you won't need to worry about your cleaning session being interrupted by your living room's area rug. We could also easily pick the vacuum up with one hand—a perk for those with lots of stairs—and an included charging dock keeps everything you need in one spot when your Saturday cleaning session is complete.
Ultimately, we didn't have any major complaints about this model or the very similar Tineco PURE ONE S15 PET that we also tested. In comparison, the PET model is $100 cheaper and doesn't include the extra LED soft roller brush that the PRO has. This soft roller brush is great for hard flooring, which can be more prone to scratching or denting from your vacuum cleaner. However, if you don't have a lot of hardwood floors in your home, take the PET model into consideration in order to save a few bucks.
Price at time of publish: $599
Dimensions: 45 x 11 x 11.14 inches | Weight: 6.8 pounds | Cord Length: Cordless | Battery Life: Up to 40 minutes | Bin Volume: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, and vinyl
Kenmore DS4095 Elite Cordless Stick Vacuum with EasyReach Wand
Easy to maneuver around obstacles
Very quiet operation
May need several passes to pick up all hair and debris
Difficult to put on attachments
Doesn't stand up on its own
If you're looking for a lightweight vacuum with a balanced design that also achieves a satisfying clean, check out the Kenmore DS4095 Elite Cordless Stick Vacuum. In testing, we appreciated the balanced feel, and we found it super easy to push over bumps and onto a higher-pile rug. (This balanced feeling isn’t a guarantee with cordless stick models, because the dust bin is typically located near the top of the handle.) On top of this, the swivel head was easy to maneuver, and the vacuum had zero issues navigating around furniture or other obstacles.
Now, this Kenmore vacuum does have a few quirks. For one, you'll want to make sure you're centered over your messes so the vacuum can easily suction them up. In our experience, the vacuum pulls hair and debris behind it and along its sides a bit. You may have to go over areas a few times to pick up any leftovers. However, there are no other real issues with its cleaning effectiveness. We weren’t super impressed with the included brush attachment, but we found that the crevice tool provided great suction power, and the whole vacuum picked up small and large debris with ease in The Lab.
They were most impressed by its quiet operation—you could easily hold a conversation over it. One of our testers even noted that it was the quietest vacuum they’d ever used, and we found that it outperformed some of the more expensive, cord-free options we tested in every way. Just keep in mind that this pick doesn't stand by itself and the attachments are a bit tricky to put on. You'll need to lean it up against a couch or wall, and spend some time getting to know the cleaning machine before tackling messes on your surfaces.
Price at time of publish: $180
Dimensions: 21.46 x 5.71 x 15.75 inches | Weight: Not listed | Cord Length: Cordless | Battery Life: Up to 40 minutes | Bin Volume: 1.06 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, and vinyl
Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum
Easy to get into tight spaces
Doesn’t need to be emptied often
Great suction power
Requires replacement bags
Feels heavy to lift
Not a good fit for homes with pets
The Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team Bagged Canister Vacuum is worth splurging on if you're looking for a super effective vacuum that's also pretty standard in its design—and not, say, a robot vacuum that's typically highly priced. The Miele vacuum easily gobbles up debris on hard floors and carpeting, and ultimately impressed us. We noted that hair did clog up the otherwise-mighty canister vacuum, so this model might not be the best fit for households with pets. The instructions were a little unclear and the vacuum is a bit heavy, too, so it likely would not be ideal for carrying up and down stairs.
However, the canister vacuum—like all canister vacuums—is a great contender for homes with small nooks and crannies that need to be cleaned. The slim handle and floor head make it easy to reach under a couch or near a coffee table. The 21-foot cord of this model can be rewound automatically when you're finished as well. Plus, at 3.75 quarts, this little machine takes a while to fill up, which is convenient, since it's bagged instead of bagless. It's pricey, even before you purchase the replacement bags, but ultimately this vacuum's positives outweigh any of its negatives. Plus, we found it to be extremely quiet—so even if you disrupt your wallet with this investment vacuum, you won't likely disrupt the members of your household.
Price at time of publish: $580
Dimensions: 16.9 x 9.1 x 9.8 inches | Weight: 15 pounds | Cord Length: 21 feet | Battery Life: Not applicable | Bin Volume: 3.75 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet and hardwood
ECOVACS Deebot N8 Pro+
Easy to set up
Docked itself on the first try
Excellent smart mapping
Loud when emptying
Mop brushes need to be cleaned
Can only use water with mop
Robot vacuums add a level of convenience to your cleaning routines, and are the perfect option if vacuuming your floor doesn't sound even remotely satisfying or fun, or you have pets or children who frequently track all types of messes around your living space. While they are more expensive, robot vacuums (as well as vacuum-mop hybrids, like this pick) tend to be worth the splurge once they're set up the way you want them to be. We have tested dozens of robotic vacuums in The Lab, and our favorite remains the ECOVACS DEEBOT N8+ Robot Vacuum and Mop.
That's right. It will also mop your floors. When we tested this model in a home setting, we found that the dual-functionality was a huge time-saver in our day-to-day routine. We love that the model senses when it's on carpet or hard flooring—and adjusts accordingly. This model's packed with smart features, too. It maps out your home, and then you can choose to clean the entire layout or a specific room. It has laser technology to avoid large items, such as furniture or door frames, that it may come across along the way, and smaller items, like socks or jeans left on the floor. (Even so, we suggest picking up a bit before running this device or any other robot vacuum, just in case.)
You can program the ECOVACS DEEBOT N8+ with a cleaning schedule or order it to start from your smartphone if you're expecting last-minute guests. If this hands-off cleaning experience isn't enough, it also self-empties—once it's completed its run, all you have to do is change the dust bag every so often. In our lab testing, we were impressed by how quiet this vacuum was when operating, as well, although you might brace yourself for a loud roar when it self empties.
Now, while robot vacuums may not be able to target specific messes or do a deep clean, if you have pets—and, therefore, a lot of visible and invisible pet hair—this ECOVACS robot vacuum and mop will suck up more pet hair than you ever thought possible as it makes its daily run around your living room. We found not only that it is an effective vacuum and mop, but also that it smartly navigates obstacles and can transition from floors to rugs with ease. We only had one complaint: According to the manufacturer, the mopping reservoir can only hold water (as opposed to a mix of water and floor cleaner). We got around this annoyance by soaking the mopping pad in a floor cleaner, before attaching it to the device.
Price at time of publish: $700
Dimensions: 16.6 x 16.16 x 11.9 inches | Weight: 26.4 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: 110 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.48 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 14.5 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet and hardwood
Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Ideal for quick spot-cleaning
Tapered nozzle fits into most spaces
Powerful suction handles all kinds of debris
Large dust bin is easy to empty
Pricey for a handheld model
Battery pack adds weight
When you have a small mess on your hands that you need to quickly zap up, reach for a handheld vacuum. A handheld vacuum is excellent for rapidly sucking up snack spills in your kitchen, or pet hair from your couch in an efficient manner. Of course, its smaller profile doesn't make it a great option for whole-home cleaning, so it should absolutely be a supplement to your cordless stick, robot, canister, or upright vacuum that tackles most of the larger or weekly messes in your household. Nonetheless, having a handheld vacuum on hand, especially the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, is beyond helpful for spot cleaning, car cleaning, and much more.
The Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner excelled at our tests in The Lab. Its powerful suction impressed us, as it sucked up cereal, pet hair, popcorn kernels, and other debris in its path. We gave it high marks on maneuverability since we were able to clean hard-to-reach areas including under a couch, in a car's cup holder, and along a baseboard with ease, thanks to its tapered nozzle. Setup also took less than two minutes, and when it came to the dust bin, emptying it was a total breeze.
The battery pack detaches from the vacuum for easy charging, but we noted that the pack adds some weight when inserted into the vacuum, bringing this model up to 3 pounds. It may not be the best option for a deeper clean, or someone who wants something lightweight and easy to maneuver. It's also quite expensive in comparison to other handheld vacuums, but since it's such a strong, reliable cleaner, we believe it's well worth the price.
Price at time of publication: $99
Dimensions: 16.5 x 5 x 6.5 inches | Weight: 3 pounds | Cord Length: Cordless | Battery Life: 15 minutes | Bin Volume: Not listed | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, laminate, hardwood, tile, and vinyl
Best for Pet Hair
Dyson V15 Detect Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Light on floor head reveals dust and fur particles
Adapts to different floor types
Lightweight and easy to maneuver
Charging stand included
Bin emptying process could be easier
The Dyson V15 Detect Cordless Vacuum Cleaner impressed us with its lightweight design, overall portability, and ease of operation. While some of these traits are common features of cordless stick vacuums, this Dyson pick takes it to the next level with added technology that streamlines the cleaning process for pet owners.
The vacuum is equipped with a laser light that illuminates dust (and fur!) particles, an LCD screen that gives you a real-time update of your cleaning progress, and a cleaner head that automatically adjusts and adapts to different floor types. None of this translates to a complicated user experience for you though; it’s still quite intuitive and easy to use, which we appreciate. If you frequently find yourself following your pets around your home and vacuuming their favorite spots, this machine will make that process easier for you.
Aside from this vacuum's impressive suction power, we also appreciated its convenient charging station, which makes it super easy to just grab it from its designated spot, turn it on with a press of the trigger, and start cleaning in seconds. In fact, once we tested it in a home setting, we found that it easily became part of a daily cleaning routine (although, the trigger button does take some getting used to, if you’re not accustomed to using a machine with this feature). Long-term testing has also revealed that this machine’s built-in intelligence also seems to evolve over time. One member of our testing team noted that the vacuum used to struggle on their area rugs, but over time they’ve been able to vacuum the rugs without fighting against the vacuum’s suction power.
However, no machine is perfect, and it’s worth noting that the bin-emptying process was a bit clunky at first. It took a few minutes to figure out, then some debris was still stuck inside (so you may need a finger or a tool to help clear it). This Dyson is also very pricey compared to many other vacuum models, so it’s no small investment. Still, for its effective cleaning power and range of features that make cleaning up after pets a cinch, we think it’s a worthy choice for pet owners.
Price at time of publishing: $750
Dimensions: 49.6 x 9.84 x 10.47 inches | Weight: 6.8 pounds | Cord Length: Not applicable | Battery Life: Up to 60 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.8 quarts (0.2 gallons) | Cleaning Path Width: Not listed | Compatible Floor Type: Carpet, hardwood/wood laminate, marble, multisurface, tile, upholstery
Shark VacMop Pro Cordless Hard Floor Vacuum Mop
Budget-friendly price tag
Has a light on the floor head
Included replacement pads are easy to use
Only compatible with hardwood
Not ideal for large spaces
Wet-dry vacuums allow you to tackle two cleaning jobs at one time, and store just one appliance in your home. When it comes to this newer style of appliance, you can't beat the Shark VacMop. It takes a total of two minutes to set up, including pouring in the cleaning solution and attaching a cleaning pad. While this stick model has a limited battery life, it's super easy to glide on hardwood, and it has a button on the handle for spraying the detergent on the floor. A light on the floor head also allows you to easily see what you're cleaning, even if a mess is hidden under your kitchen cart or couch.
In our testing, we noted that the slim profile is very lightweight, and the cleaning solution has a fresh scent that's very mild. The disposable cleaning pad makes clean-up simple—especially because it's paired with an easy-release button on the floor head that ensures you don't need to touch what you just cleaned up. Notably, the VacMop comes with four ready-to-use replacement pads as well, so you don't have to venture to the store after using it one time. The only real downsides to this model are that the dust bin isn't very large and you have to hold down the power button consistently while using it. This could be tiring, especially after cleaning a larger home.
The entire model operates very quietly, though, and will be very suitable for your kitchen, bathroom, or any spot with hard floors. It also runs at a budget-friendly price, meaning you can achieve satisfying cleans for less.
Price at time of publication: $100
Dimensions: 47.87 x 9.5 x 5.3 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Cord Length: Cordless | Battery Life: 20 minutes | Bin Volume: 0.03 quarts | Cleaning Path Width: 10 inches | Compatible Floor Type: Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl
|Overall Rating||Ease of Setup||Effectiveness||Maneuverability||Ease of Emptying||Noise Level|
Shark Vertex Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum
Dirt Devil Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra
Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Vacuum
Best Bagged Upright:
Hoover Complete Performance Vacuum
Best Cordless Stick:
Tineco Pure One S15 Pro Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Kenmore Stick Vacuum with EasyReach Wand
Miele C1 Turbo Canister Vacuum
ECOVACS Deebot N8 Pro+
Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Best for Pet Hair:
Dyson V15 Detect
Shark VacMop Pro Vacuum Mop
After thoroughly testing dozens of vacuums in The Lab and in real-world situations, the Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Cordless Stick Vacuum is our best overall pick for a vacuum cleaner. It is very effective at cleaning all surfaces, has a long battery life, and folds in half for easy storage. If you're looking for a budget-friendly model, the Dirt Devil Versa 3-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner is a great option. It pairs a relatively basic design with effective suction to clean different floor types—and it’s under $100.
Other Options We Tested
Shark HydroVac Cordless Pro XL 3-in-1 Vacuum, Mop & Self-Cleaning System: Although this vacuum is incredibly lightweight, we had multiple issues with it from the start that made it impossible to complete our testing process. This vacuum's instruction booklet does not clearly state that the clean water tank has to be filled in order to properly operate the vacuum, and then when the tank was installed, the vacuum leaked excessively. This compromised our ability to thoroughly evaluate the machine.
Samsung Bespoke Jet Cordless Stick Vacuum: Despite this vacuum's forward-thinking design and easy-to-assemble parts, it left us feeling frustrated. It required several passes on all flooring types, and we had a difficult time discerning the most effective tool on each type of flooring, especially on stairs.
Shark WS642AE Wandvac Cordless Stick Vacuum with Self-Empty Charging Base: This vacuum was potentially the most confusing model we tested. We had to re-test it because it would not pick up any of the debris we laid out during the first test. After retesting it, the vacuum was suddenly able to handle all of the hair, dirt, and popcorn we placed in front of it. We had no explanation for why the performance was vastly different. It's a lightweight and very maneuverable model, but the initial performance failure left us slightly puzzled at its long-term potential.
How We Tested the Vacuums
We've purchased and tested over 50 vacuums side-by-side in The Lab and at home. In The Lab, we start with the unboxing and setup of each vacuum, timing how long each assembly process takes and noting whether the instructions are clear or confusing. Then, we put the models through their paces to test for the best and weed out the rest. We use each vacuum on hard flooring and high-, medium-, and low-pile carpets. We test effectiveness by challenging each vacuum to clean up measured amounts of hair, popcorn kernels, and every parent's constant companion: Cheerios. While testing, we note how many passes are needed to clean up the debris, and whether hair gets tangled in the beater bar.
We also evaluate the vacuum's weight and portability, and how well it can transition from smooth floors to carpeting. We rate the noise level and note whether we can comfortably talk over it. After testing for these attributes, we test maneuverability by running each model through a living room obstacle course, complete with a low-sitting couch and coffee table, to see how they maneuver in tight areas and around corners.
To wrap up our tests, we change the bag or pour out the dust bin to evaluate each vacuum’s ease of emptying, and we rate each one's overall value based on their experience from beginning to end. At home, our testers put vacuums through the ropes of real-world situations, and we evaluate the same attributes, in addition to durability, longevity, and ease of storage. We take all of the consistently applied testing data and boil down the insights to the vacuums we believe are the very best—the ones that will help you achieve that gratifying clean.
What to Look for in a Vacuum Cleaner
The first thing you need to consider when shopping for a vacuum is the type of vacuum you're in the market for. There are several types of vacuums and each can help you achieve a different clean.
- Upright: This is the most traditional type of vacuum cleaner. Upright vacuums usually feature a large dust bin or bag near the floor head, and have a bulkier design that makes them a bit harder to move and store. However, they're great for whole-home cleaning and often can capture more debris at once, especially if they have a corded design. You can expect most upright vacuums to be champions at picking up messes on carpet and offer great suction power.
- Cordless stick: Cordless stick vacuums have become popular in recent years, because of their smaller profile and maneuverable design. They usually feature a smaller dust bin near the top of their handle, meaning you can't necessarily pick up as much debris at one time. Not to mention, the battery life of your chosen model may limit you. However, continuous advances have made these models more intuitive, so they do often provide the same suction power as an upright vac. You can ultimately expect them to be lightweight, versatile, and easy to store. Our "best overall" pick, the Shark Vertex DuoClean PowerFins Cordless Stick Vacuum, is a cordless stick option.
- Wet-dry: Models like the Shark VacMop, our "best wet-dry" pick, tackle two cleaning jobs at once. They can be used to vacuum up loose debris and mop your hard floors. The perk of these models is that you don't need to purchase or store more than one appliance. However, they only work on hard, sealed surfaces, so you'll need another vacuum to tackle messes on carpet. Some come in a stick design, while others look like an upright vacuum or function like a robot vacuum.
- Canister: Another very traditional style of vacuum is the canister vacuum. It marries the handle and floor head of a cordless stick vacuum with a (sometimes rolling) canister that collects debris and holds it in a dust bin or bag. This pick can be a great option for those with a lot of stairs. The canister vacuum is also known for being pretty powerful and maneuverable. However, you'll want to find a pick that ideally has a set of wheels or a handle on the canister, otherwise it won't be as portable as it could be.
- Handheld: Handheld vacuums—which are sometimes categorized as dustbusters—are great for all the spot-cleaning and smaller tasks throughout your home, car, or even garage. You can aim them at a particular mess, and use their smaller profile or included attachments to target those messes in tight areas like car cup holders. We recommend shopping for a handheld vacuum as a supplement to your larger vacuum, since these models aren't meant for any weekly and whole-house cleans.
- Robot: Typically outfitted with lots of smart features including smart mapping, robot vacuums offer a hands-free experience to cleaning. With the touch of a button, they intuitively roam the surfaces of your home and pick up debris along the way. These models take time to set up, and you may need to prep your house before they run their cycle to remove obstacles they can get stuck on. Otherwise, they can be a great solution for those with kids and pets, and lots of high-traffic areas. Just note: they will be significantly more expensive than other vacuums out there. We love the ECOVACS DEEBOT N8+ Robot Vacuum and Mop, which acts as a mop, too.
Weight and Portability
If you’ve ever pushed around a vacuum cleaner for an extended cleaning session, or even lugged it up and down a flight of stairs, you know the weight of your vacuum matters. It can be a real pain to maneuver a heavy product. Fortunately, many vacuum cleaners are designed to weigh less and be more nimble than the unwieldy machines that first entered home cleaning closets decades ago.
Upright vacuums tend to weigh the most. However, their wider floor heads, more powerful motors, and larger dust bins account for the added weight and often make them more effective. If you opt for this type of vacuum, assume it'll weigh between 12 and 18 pounds, with some models weighing less or more. Canister vacuums vary widely in terms of weight. Some lightweight models barely tip the scale at 8 pounds, while others that offer enhanced performance and features (to rival upright vacuums) can weigh as much as 18 or 20 pounds. Cordless stick vacuum cleaners are generally the most lightweight vacuums available. They typically weigh between 3 and 7 pounds.
Compatible Floor Type
It's important to consider where you want to use your vacuum before purchasing it. Some picks are solely meant to be used with hardwood—like the Shark VacMop—while others are powerful on vinyl, tile, hardwood, and low to high-pile carpets.
Typically, the presence or absence of a brush roll on a vacuum can determine what type of flooring the product is best suited for. Vacuums with no brush roll are good for hardwood floors or tile, since the stiff fibers of a brush roll might scratch the finish on your floors or send dirt in all directions. But, notably, some vacuums with a brush roll offer the ability to turn the rotation of the brush off, making it safe for use on hardwood and effective on any type of hard surface flooring.
If you have a mix of flooring and carpeting in your home, you will want to look for a pick with multiple settings for different surfaces.
Filter Type and Ease of Emptying
Many vacuum cleaners are equipped with a filtration system intended to trap fine particles of dust and dander that might otherwise be released with the exhaust of the vacuum cleaner. Some filters are washable, making them an affordable, easy-to-maintain choice. These filters are typically made of a sponge-like material that rinses easily and air dries quickly. Other filters are much more paper-like in appearance and must be replaced on a schedule (usually every 6 months or so) to maintain effectiveness.
Notably, HEPA filters are a great option for those who suffer from allergies, as they effectively trap the dust, dander, and particles that may be triggers. These ultra-fine filters trap the tiniest of dust and dander particles, as small as 0.3 microns in the case of true HEPA filters. HEPA filters usually need to be replaced on a schedule to maintain their filtration capabilities, but some newer versions do offer the advantage of being washable, as well. If your household has pets, or you or someone in your household has allergies, consider a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a bagged design. That way, it won't be easy to come in contact with the debris you're collecting.
While replacement bags can be a bit more expensive in the long run, they do seal away your debris. Dust bins are often emptied out in the trash can and may require that you use your hands to loosen up any stuck debris. The ECOVACS DEEBOT N8+ Robot Vacuum and Mop self empties, so you don't have to worry about emptying your vacuum or disposing of the debris for quite some time.
Once you pick your perfect vacuum cleaner, make sure it’s equipped with the correct accessories to complete your cleaning tasks. Sometimes accessories are included with the purchase of your brand new vacuum, but other times, you may need to purchase them separately. Some common tools that may be included with your vacuum are crevice tools, extension wands, and upholstery brushes that will all come in handy when you are trying to deep clean your home.
Some other popular accessories for vacuums are pet-related cleaning tools. These include nozzle attachments with grippy surfaces, fine-tooth combs, or stiff brushes to extract pet hair from your furniture upholstery, drapes, and more. If you're a pet owner, you'll certainly want to look into a pet-friendly attachment, as it can double the result of your cleaning efforts.
How long should vacuum cleaners last?
Most vacuums last an average of eight years. However, one important factor to consider when preserving the lifespan of your appliance is the type of model it is. If your vacuum is a cordless stick pick, for example, it'll have a shorter lifespan due to the use of a battery instead of a cord.
There are many things you can do to ensure that your vacuum lasts as long as it possibly can. Emptying the bag and cleaning the filter regularly are both ways to make sure your vacuum doesn't overfill or get clogged. Cleaning the attachments of any debris is also key toward helping your vacuum last, as any type of hair or tangled fibers in attachments can still cause other damage to the unit as a whole.
Why do vacuum cleaners lose suction?
The most common cause of vacuum suction loss is clogging. If something is blocking the filters in your appliance, it restricts the flow of air. By regularly cleaning your vacuum of dirt and debris, you'll extend its lifespan and ensure that it won't lose power. It's also important to check the operating belts of the vacuum to make sure there isn't a problem with the base unit. You can check the belts by following the instructions in your appliance's operating manual.
How do you know what type of vacuum cleaner to buy?
Your vacuum cleaner needs will be determined by your household priorities. The most important factors to consider are the size of your home, what kind of floors you have, and whether you have pets. For smaller households, a cordless stick or even handheld vacuum may work, but for a larger family home, you may want to consider a more powerful canister or upright vacuum.
Homes with hardwood floors should consider a vacuum that's specifically designed for that type of surface, including a wet-dry vacuum that mops and vacuums. If you have pets, there are also plenty of options on the market to help eliminate dander and fur.
How often should you clean a vacuum?
Generally, you should deep clean your vacuum and its parts at least every 12 to 18 months. However, this also depends on how often you vacuum. If you use your appliance weekly or daily, then cleaning it more often will be beneficial.
As an example, bagless vacuums with washable filters should be cleaned at least once a month if they are used once or twice a week. Refer to your owner's manual for a breakdown of cleaning information, as that will give you the best instructions on model maintenance.
How do vacuum cleaners work?
A vacuum has several different parts that come together to suck up dust and retain it. Its motor is powered by a fan, which runs at high speeds to create suction and release clean air through the exhaust port. The brush, housed in the bottom of the vacuum, helps to loosen and collect dust, dirt, and debris off of your floors. Then, a vacuum has either a bag, a single cyclone, or a multi-cyclone system that holds the debris it has collected. Finally, there is the exhaust filter, which helps to filter out particles and prevents your vacuum from blowing out of the exhaust port the dust and dander you've just collected.
When are vacuum cleaners on sale?
Aside from Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season, spring is the best time to buy a vacuum cleaner on sale. Since people like to get their spring cleaning done then, retailers will often schedule sales around that time of year. They also tend to release new models during the summer, so older models will usually get marked down.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Marisa Casciano is the senior commerce editor for all things appliances, cleaning, and organization for The Spruce and has personally developed and run vacuum tests at The Lab, evaluating cordless stick, upright, handheld, and canister vacuums. For this piece, she not only consulted our firsthand testing insights, but also scoured brand and retailer websites and considered cost, verified reviews, features, and design when selecting our top vacuums. She did thorough research on the latest and greatest technology, and she considered real-life cleaning situations with the help of insights from real-world testers.
Emma Phelps, updates writer for The Spruce, and Dena Ogden, commerce writer for The Spruce, also added new testing insight to this roundup. They considered the performance of the latest models we tested in our lab and compared them to previous models selected for this roundup. They reviewed each tester's experience—both good and bad—with the vacuums before making their final selections.
Casciano and Phelps both own the Shark VacMop, which effectively cleans hard surfaces in their homes. They reach for it almost daily to pick up crumbs in the kitchen and to make their home feel new again.
What Is 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.