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Allergies can affect people of all ages throughout the year. Luckily, most household allergens—pollen, dust, and pet dander—can be lessened or eliminated with regular cleaning and the right tools, namely a vacuum that can remove these particles from upholstery, curtains, carpets, rugs, and other floor surfaces.
When it comes to finding the right vacuum for the job, you'll want to look for a HEPA (which stands for high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum or a model with a HEPA bag or filter. Vacuums that meet the HEPA standard can remove at least 99.97 percent of even the smallest particles of allergens—a level of efficiency that should help to alleviate some of your allergy symptoms.
Here, we’ve listed our picks for the best vacuums allergy sufferers can buy.
Best Overall: Shark Navigator Lift-Away ADV Upright Vacuum
Weight: 12.3 pounds | Bin Volume: 28.48 ounces | Cord Length: 25 feet | Included Accessories: Pet brush tool, dusting brush tool, crevice tool
Anti-allergy sealed system
Effective at removing pet hair
Limited reach under furniture
Our top pick is the Shark Navigator Upright Vacuum, which is one of the best vacuums for allergies and a surprisingly affordable option. It boasts a number of features that will help remove allergens from your home, including a HEPA filter and anti-allergy seal. The filter successfully traps 99.99 percent of dust and allergens, and the anti-allergen seal ensures that the sucked-up particles don’t escape the hoses or dirt canister.
A multi-surface workhorse, you can use it on both carpets and hard floors, and it even has a button that allows you to lift off the canister for increased portability and easy cleaning of hard-to-reach places. This bagless, upright vacuum also has swivel steering for better control, and it comes with an upholstery tool and pet brush to help you get hair and dirt off your furniture, making it a great option for allergy sufferers who share a home with the family dog.
Best Overall, Runner Up: Dyson Ball Animal 2 Upright Vacuum
Weight: 17.4 pounds | Bin Volume: 70.4 ounces | Cord Length: 30 feet | Included Accessories: Turbine tool, combination tool, stair tool
Extremely powerful suction
This model is a runner-up just by a hair: If price point and weight (this vacuum is five pounds heavier than our overall pick) aren’t deterrents for you, the Dyson boasts many of the same features as the Shark. It has a HEPA filtration system, as well as its radial root cyclone technology, which makes it superior for capturing microscopic particles.
This bagless vacuum has a self-adjusting cleaning head that automatically optimizes suction depending on what type of surface you’re cleaning. Its ball technology makes it easy to steer, and it has an impressive 13.4-inch cleaning path so you can make quick work of even the largest rooms. Plus, you’ll get a stair tool, motorized brush, combination accessory tool, extension wand, flexible hose, and tangle-free turbine attachment, which has a counter-rotating, clog-preventing design made specifically with pet hair in mind. With these attachments at your disposal, you’ll be able to remove allergens from every nook and cranny of your home.
"There’s no denying the Dyson Ball Animal 2 is a total powerhouse when it comes to picking up dirt, dust, and pet hair. We tested it in a variety of ways and were continually impressed at how much hair it managed to remove from various surfaces—even seemingly clean carpets yielded huge amounts of debris!"—Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best Budget: Hoover UH71250 WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind
Weight: 16.1 pounds | Bin Volume: 43.9 ounces | Cord Length: 25 feet | Included Accessories: Pet tool, dusting tool, telescoping wand, crevice tool
Long cleaning hose
On the heavier side
This bagless model from Hoover proves that you can clear your home of allergens at any price point. It deftly sucks up dust, pollen, and pet dander thanks to its HEPA filter, and its suction system is specifically designed to dredge up and remove dirt, even if it’s embedded deep into carpet fibers. The WindTunnel 2 adjusts to accommodate and clean different floor surfaces, with a brush roll that can be raised while cleaning hardwood floors to prevent debris from scattering.
The accompanying tools and attachments make sure your whole house gets the same thorough cleaning as your floors: The Hoover’s crevice tool tackles corners and nooks while its Pet Turbo Tool applies additional suction to extract tangled pet hair from carpets and upholstery. And the 16-foot hose reaches inaccessible dust hotspots, like the tops of cabinets, doorways, and shelves.
Best Handheld: Bissell Cleanview Deluxe Corded Handheld Vacuum
Weight: 4.65 pounds | Bin Volume: 67.63 ounces | Cord Length: 18 feet | Included Accessories: Wide mouth tool, flexible hose, crevice tool
Extremely effective at removing pet hair
Not as portable as cordless alternatives
Many of the best vacuums for allergies are quite expensive, but you can pick up a lot of the offending allergens with a product like the Bissell Cleanview Deluxe Corded Handheld Vacuum. This handheld model is compact and light, but it still does a great job of capturing tiny particles thanks to its HEPA filter.
This small vacuum has an 18-foot power cord, and it comes with a wide-mouth tool, crevice tool, hose, and hose adapter. Its multi-level filtration system reduces household allergens, and its small size makes it ideal for quick clean-ups and minor spills, plus it makes cleaning upholstery, stairs, and other hard-to-reach areas a breeze.
Best High-End: Miele Dynamic U1 Cat and Dog Upright Vacuum
Weight: 20.9 pounds | Bin Volume: 202.88 ounces | Cord Length: 39 feet | Included Accessories: Turbo brush tool, dusting brush tool, upholstery tool, crevice tool
Sophisticated filtration system
Automatically adjustable brushroll
For those willing to splurge on a vacuum for the sake of their allergies, the German-made Miele Dynamic U1 Cat and Dog Upright Vacuum is a solid investment. Its unique AirClean filtration system consists of an AirClean filter bag and an active air clean filter (which is made with absorbent active charcoal layers), enabling it to retain 99.99 percent of allergens while neutralizing and reducing pet odors.
The accompanying dusting brush, upholstery tool, and crevice nozzle help you clean hard-to-reach parts of your home, and it provides consistent, powerful suction, even when moving between carpet and hardwood floors. The additional mini turbo brush is particularly useful when it comes to sucking up every last bit of pet hair from carpets or furniture.
Best Robot Vacuum: iRobot Roomba e5
Battery Life: 90 minutes | Cleaning Path Width: 13.39 inches | Mapping: No | Filter Type: Replaceable | Brush Type: Rubber brushes | Smart Capabilities: Yes
Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
Random cleaning pattern
With a robot vacuum, you can work less and relax more. The iRobot Roomba E5 Robot Vacuum is one of the few robotic vacuums with a high-efficiency filter, and its ability to pick up dirt, dust, and other particles makes it a great tool for ridding your home of allergens.
This Wi-Fi connected robot vacuum can be controlled from your smartphone—you can create a custom cleaning schedule, start the tool remotely, and view cleaning maps. The three-stage cleaning system provides five times more suction than other robot vacuums, and the high-efficiency filter captures 99 percent of allergens, dust, and pollen.
Additionally, the Roomba E5 boasts an edge-sweeping brush, automatic height adjustment for carpets and floors, and rubber brushes to capture more debris. While its compact design is a definite plus for cleaning smaller homes and areas that upright vacuums can’t reach, the Roomba’s container tends to fill up quickly, which could become tiresome in a household with multiple shedding pets. It should also be noted that emptying a Roomba requires coming into closer contact with all the dirt and allergens it sucks up than you would with an upright vacuum.
Best Bagged: Kenmore Elite 31150 Pet Friendly Bagged Upright Beltless Vacuum
Weight: 20 pounds | Bin Volume: 111.59 ounces | Cord Length: 30 feet | Included Accessories: Brush tool, telescoping wand, crevice tool
Infrared dirt sensor
Five height settings
Replacement bags add up
Many modern vacuum cleaners are bagless, but if you prefer a bagged vacuum, which actually keeps dust and allergens trapped even when you empty it, one of your best options is the Kenmore Elite Pet & Allergy Friendly Upright Vacuum. This model is actually certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, so you know it’s a good choice for allergy season.
This upright vacuum’s 3D Inducer motor system has more power than the average upright, and the vacuum has five height adjustments so you can efficiently clean both hard floors and thick carpets. It features a HEPA filter to capture all those microscopic particles, as well as an infrared dirt sensor that detects dust and dirt you might not be able to see. The Kenmore Elite comes with three attachments and a telescoping wand. However, this model is on the heavier side, weighing in at 20 pounds.
Best Cordless: Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Weight: 5.75 pounds | Battery Life: 40 minutes | Bin Volume: 18.26 ounces | Included Accessories: Motorized tool, brush tool, combination tool, crevice tool
Extremely powerful suction
Long battery life
Converts to handheld vacuum
Trigger must be held down continuously
Save yourself from having to find a nearby outlet with a cordless vacuum like the Dyson V8 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner. This top-rated stick vacuum delivers an impressive amount of power for a battery model, and it even has a whole-machine HEPA filtration system that captures the allergens that are making you stuffy.
This cordless vacuum delivers up to 40 minutes of run time with a regular attachment and 25 minutes with the motorized floor tool. There’s even a max mode for when you need more suction. This lightweight stick vacuum comes with a variety of attachments, including a soft roller cleaner for hard floors, and it easily converts into a more compact handheld model.
"The Dyson V8 Absolute is a sleek and modern vacuum, and it’s clear that careful thought was put into its design. The machine is weighted nicely so it was easy to push around the floor and dust up high. We found that you can also easily transform it into a handheld model by removing the neck."—Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best Wet/Dry: Vacmaster Pro 8 gallon Certified Hepa Filtration Wet/Dry Vac
Weight: 17 pounds | Bin Volume: 1024 ounces | Cord Length: 30 feet | Included Accessories: Brush tool, crevice tool
Designed for heavy-duty messes
On the heavier side
If you need to tackle larger messes or clean your garage or workshop, you might want a wet/dry vac, which can suck up liquids in addition to the usual dirt and dust. The Vacmaster 8-Gallon HEPA Vac is by far the superior choice in this case, as it has a certified HEPA system, including a microfiber pre-filter, high-efficiency fine dust filter bag, and exhaust filter.
This industrial-style vacuum has an 8-gallon, crush-proof tank, as well as a two-stage motor that’s surprisingly quiet, given the Vacmaster’s size. The hose is crush-proof as well, and there’s a foam filter sleeve for when you need to clean up wet materials.
The Shark Navigator Lift-Away ADV Upright Vacuum (view at Amazon) is our overall pick for vacuums that thwart allergies for its HEPA filter and anti-allergy seal. It effectively traps allergens and comes at a relatively affordable price. The Dyson Ball Animal 2 Upright Vacuum (view at Bed Bath & Beyond) is also highly recommended, though it comes with a heftier price tag. In return, you get a powerhouse of a vacuum that can capture allergens on a microscopic scale, thanks to its radial root cyclone technology.
What to Look for in a Vacuum for Allergies
When in doubt, check to see if your vacuum of choice comes equipped with a HEPA bag or filter. This means that it can remove at least 99.97 percent of allergens found in your home, including mold, dander, and dust. If it comes with a certification from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, all the better. Some models don't feature HEPA filters exactly, but nonetheless have sophisticated filtration systems that are designed for a similar degree of efficiency.
Bagged vs. bagless
Bagless vacuums are generally the less expensive option over time, because they don't require new replacement bags on a regular basis. Though they come with this additional expense, bagged vacuums may offer a level of security for allergy sufferers that bagless models cannot. "Bagged vacuums are extremely hygienic and securely trap dirt and debris," Melissa Witulski, brand standards manager at Merry Maids, explains. All that dust and dander stays safely sealed away, even when the time comes to throw away and replace the bag. If you're concerned about cleaning out your new vacuum and potentially rereleasing allergens into your home, a bagged vacuum will give you some much-needed peace of mind.
Dirt and dust tend to get embedded into furniture fibers and carpets, to the point that you need a powerful vacuum with the right attachments and features to extract them properly. If your home is carpeted or you have area rugs in many rooms, look for a vacuum with adjustable height settings to accommodate varying piles. Witulski adds that you should use a vacuum without a beater bar when cleaning carpeting made of natural or looped fibers. Carpet owners should also look for a model that comes with an upholstery brush. If your home primarily has hard or bare floors, look instead for a vacuum with a gentle cleaning head that will prevent debris scatter.
How do I take care of a vacuum for allergies?
Maintaining your vacuum's suction power and cleaning performance should be your top priority if you want it to effectively remove allergens from you home. That means emptying its dust cup or replacing its dust bag, cleaning or replacing its filters, and cleaning out its interior on a regular basis. Check your vacuum's manual to confirm best cleaning practices (for example, some models shouldn't be washed with water). You should also be prepared to replace your vacuum roughly every eight years, depending on how heavily and frequently you use it.
How often should I vacuum if I have allergies?
Depending on the severity of your allergies, you should aim to vacuum once or twice a week. If you have pets or carpeted floors, or live in a high-pollen area, you may need to vacuum even more frequently.
Is vacuuming or sweeping better for allergies?
While sweeping is a great way to clean your floors of larger debris, it will fall short when it comes to removing fine, perhaps microscopic, dust particles. If you want to rid your home of as much allergy-causing dust, dirt, and dander as possible, a vacuum is the better option.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sara Coughlin, a freelance writer and The Spruce’s small appliances expert. From canister models to dustbusters, she’s researched what it takes for a vacuum to stand out in a vast and broad market—and what to look for in up-and-coming models.