Things to Think About Before You Buy a Vacuum

Adult woman vacuuming her contemporary living room.

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There are many different types of vacuums out there, so you need to consider a few things to make sure that your purchase meets your needs. For instance, if your home has pets, buying a pet vacuum specially designed to pick up pet hair and dander may be a better choice.

What Areas Will You Be Cleaning?

Will your vacuum be used to clean the car, the whole house, or the shop? This will dictate whether you need a small light-weight or larger model that will be sufficient for those areas. If you are looking for a vacuum for the shop, you should consider a shop vac that can better handle those tough jobs.

Take a look at different types of household vacuums that meet a different set of needs depending on your space.

Upright or Canister

If you are deciding between buying an upright or canister vacuum, you should consider the following factors. Upright vacuums are great if you intend to leave it on one level of the house. They will also make vacuuming easier if you have problems with bending and lifting. However, canister vacuums will give you a little more freedom and ease of handling for those tight spots. If you have a long staircase to consider, the canister type may be more suited, as the upright hose will have its limitations, and balancing an upright on stairs is no easy feat.

Bag or Bagless

Many upright models are available with the bagless feature. Going bagless is definitely a plus, and it will save you money since there are no bags to buy. It also makes it easier to retrieve earrings or prized Legos that were sucked up accidentally. The reason consumers continue to get vacuums that use bags is that these models tend to hold more dirt and emptying them releases less dust into the air. If you do get a bagged model, pick up a supply of bags along with your vacuum purchase.

HEPA and Air Quality Features

HEPA filters remove particles from the air before it is exhausted back into your home. This is a great feature, but the filters need to be replaced regularly as recommended by the manufacturer, and they are a little pricey. Some canister vacuums have this feature, but check how the filter is attached to the vacuum to ensure trouble-free operation.


Your vacuum's power is defined by vacuum makers by amps or watts. Amps are the amount of electric current flowing through the vacuum. Watts are amps multiplied by the power voltage drawn. Most upright cleaners are seven to 12 amps. Many canister models are 12 amps. The maximum allowable amps that can be plugged into a household outlet is 12 amps. So even if your vacuum has the highest possible amps, it does not mean that is is necessarily the better the vacuum. There are many other factors that affect efficiency and performance.


The performance of your vacuum depends on airflow, filters, suction, motor, whether or not it has a powerhead, hoses, and nozzles. Your vacuum will operate best if you take care of it, regularly change bags, clean filters, and clean it and the revolving brushes. Learn a little more about each of these factors:

  • Airflow: Airflow is determined by how well the air passes through the system and how well the vacuum works with the filters and dust bag or dustbin.
  • Filters: Filters should be cleaned if washable or replaced as per manufacturer recommendations to ensure optimum airflow.
  • Suction and motor: Many vacuums have two or three (multi) fans working in series, as opposed to only one fan. This improves suction power.
  • Power bar, powerhead, or brushes: Revolving brushes pick up deep down particles and improve operation.
  • Hose quality and nozzle design: These features can also affect suction.

Other Handy Features

An upright brush covers a larger cleaning area compared to a power nozzle or floor attachment. A "bag full" indicator light is a must-have feature, and a built-in headlight is also very nice. And last but not least, take the time to check out the warranty. If your vacuum comes with a good warranty, that could be your decision maker.

Related Resources

A CRI Green Label means that the vacuum has been certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute, and it has met stringent performance standards. This certification means the vacuum has low emissions and will help to maintain clean air quality in your home. This is certainly worth considering when shopping for a vacuum.