Best Vacuum Cleaners 2023: Updated List Published

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How to choose a Vacuum Cleaner

If you have mostly bare floors:

A house full of hardwoods and tile still needs a vacuum, and a versatile canister vac might be your best bet. With its many attachments (it usually comes with a bare-floor brush), you can get into corners and other tight spaces more easily. If you prefer an upright, choose one that allows you to turn the brush roll off; it tends to scatter debris on a bare floor and could even scratch some surfaces.

If you have a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting:

A canister with a motorized power head attachment is great for carpet, but if you have a lot of space to cover, you’ll probably prefer the ease of an upright. Look for an adjustable-height brush roll to improve cleaning and pushing across various carpet-pile heights. Some models even have dirt sensors, good for making sure you’ve gotten the last of the grime without lots of extra back-and-forth.

If you have stairs:

A canister with a long hose and attachments for getting in and around railings is a smart pick. However, if you only want one vacuum for the entire house, a cumbersome canister that you’ll need to drag between floors may not be your cup of tea. Opt for a lightweight upright as your solo machine, or buy a second, less expensive model for upstairs cleaning.

If you want to vacuum more than the floors:

A vacuum is a super versatile cleaning tool, so make sure you consider the attachments. In addition to the standard crevice tool, dusting brush, and upholstery brush, many models have specially designed extras for cleaning mattresses, removing pet hair, and even dusting ceiling fans and the tops of bookcases.

Variable suction is also helpful for cleaning delicate items like drapery sheers and small area rugs without damaging them. Look for models with extra long cords (up to 35 feet) to extend your reach even more.

If your family suffers from allergies:

A vacuum works by drawing air (and dust and debris) in and sending exhaust air out. One with poor filtration or a lot of crevices in the body can scatter irritants that make you sneezy and wheezy. To be safe, choose a vac that’s both sealed and has a HEPA filter, which traps 99.97% of dust, dander, pollen, and mold spores in the machine.

If you prefer quick cleanups:

Newer cordless models claim to suck just as well as traditional corded uprights and aren’t tethered to an outlet. Their shortcoming is the battery life — they run for minutes, not hours (or even half hours), before needing a recharge. So if you like to clean the whole house in one swoop, skip them.

Stick vacs and handhelds (both corded and cordless) are also great for quick pick-ups, but they lack the power and versatility to be your primary vacuum.

If you really hate vacuuming:

Go full-on hands off with a robotic vac (the latest are even better at area mapping so as not to miss a spot). Some both vacuum and wet-clean, but all told, robotic vacs are pricey and aren’t super-powerful, so they won’t replace your regular vac.

If you’re weighing bagged vs. bagless:

There’s no difference in cleaning ability, so it comes down to preference. Bags less messy, but you need to have replacements on hand. Bagless vacs are more convenient, but can be irritating if you have allergies.

Source: Carolyn Forte, director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products lab at the Good Houskeeping Research Institute