We've Tested 300 Vacuums and These 9 Are the Best (2024)

I've personally been covering vacuums since 2020, helping to design and lead our tests and try out models from Shark, Dyson, Bissell, Hoover, Miele, Tineco, Kenmore, and more in the lab and my own home. From all the push-and-pulls on carpet and hardwood floors and messy afternoons of spilling popcorn kernels on purpose, I can absolutely tell you this: picking the right vacuum for your home will depend on your specific needs. Each type of vacuum helps you target a different kind of clean, and offers a different cleaning experience. We're here to help you find your match, whether that's a robot vacuum, upright vacuum, canister vacuum, stick vacuum, or budget vacuum.

The Spruce has tested over 300 household and commercial vacuums since 2021. We’re no strangers to what’s worth your money and what simply isn’t. We’ve weaved cleaning machines around coffee tables and under couches in The Lab, seen firsthand how they’ve cleared our apartment floors, and used them for months to see how they hold up over time.

Editor’s Note: This review was revised in April 2024 to include updated buying considerations for our favorite picks.

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Our Top Picks

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What We Like

  • HEPA filtration system

  • Comfortable to use on carpet

  • Lift-away pod

  • Spacious dust bin

What We Don't Like

  • Feels rough to use on hardwood

  • Heavy and bulky

Upright vacuums offer the most suction power of any vacuum, making them a great option for cleaning carpets and rugs of all piles. Before cordless stick vacuums came into the picture, the upright vacuum was the fan-favorite vacuum cleaner because of its effectiveness, even though its build was (and still is) bulky, heavy, and hard to navigate and store. Our favorite is the Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Vacuum.It's the perfect example of what an upright vacuum is: powerful, carpet-oriented but effective on multiple surfaces, and bulky yet spacious.

I’ve owned this vacuum for four years, in addition to testing it in the lab, and it’s a cleaning powerhouse. It has two cleaning modes (one for hard floors and one for rugs and carpets), and is most satisfying to use on carpets. When you’re pushing it around, you have a lot of control and flexibility thanks to its swivel steering, but the vacuum also works for you by gently pulling forward as if to say, “Look! There’s a mess over there!” The vacuum is quite noisy, though—I wouldn’t use it while my daughter is napping. However, the noise level matches the power of the vacuum, combining the machine’s typical hum with the crackling of crumbs being picked up.

Notably, it's just as good with the debris and dust that you can't see, too. This vacuum has a HEPA filter, the same kind of filters are also found in air purifiers. They're able to capture 99.97 percent of particles with diameters of 0.3 microns or less, including pollen, dust mites.

Meet the Tester: Marisa, a senior editor at The Spruce, lives in a split-level home with her husband and toddler. Her home has a mix of carpets, hardwood floors, and tile—plus, so many stairs—and her vacuums are regularly tasked with deep cleaning rugs and picking up cereal puffs, tiny pieces of spaghetti, and toast crumbs lovingly dropped around a high chair.

On hardwood floors, you can switch the vacuum’s mode to its slower, softer mode. It’s equally as effective, however operating it doesn’t feel as smooth. I tend to reach for my cordless stick vacuum when cleaning my hardwood floors and stairs instead. While the Shark NV360 has never left a scratch or dent in my flooring, my stick vacuum is just more comfortable in this scenario—especially since it’s cordless. I’m a little over 5 feet tall and workout a few times per week, and it’s a chore to lug the vacuum up and down the stairs. However, it works fast and is comfortable to use otherwise.

That being said, the Shark NV360 can handle multiple cleaning sessions within a house, and it still won’t need to be emptied. The dust bin is spacious and easy to detach. In our testing, hair did get wrapped in the beater bar, a part of the brush roll at the head of the vacuum that agitates carpet to better remove debris. However, it was easy to cut it off with a pair of scissors. Shark tried to remedy its bulky design with a lift-away pod, too. The pod is just the handle and dust bin detached from the rest of the vacuum, and does make stair cleaning easier. Standard crevice and upholstery tools are included, so you can pick up crumbs along baseboards and in between cushions.

Ultimately, Shark is a top vacuum and appliance brand that pairs quality with friendlier price points. You’ll frequently find this pick and others in their Navigator line on sale during the holidays and Prime Day, but it’s worth the original price tag, too.

Weight: 16.96 pounds | Cord Length: 25 feet | Attachments: Crevice tool, upholstery tool

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What We Like

  • LED display with digital read-out

  • Four-stage HEPA filtration system

  • Doubles as a handheld vacuum

  • Quiet and lightweight

Stick vacuums are the most nimble, lightweight, and easy-to-use vacuums out there. In recent years, this style has become extremely competitive with upright models, because they’ve begun to offer the same amount of suction power in addition to helpful features like a battery pack, wall mount, and digital read-out of what you’ve captured from your carpet. After years of testing, the Tineco Pure One S11 Tango stands out the most to us. It rivals any Dyson counterpart, and we really appreciate its mix of basic functionality and futuristic features.

Tineco’s original claim to fame was its Floor One S3 wet-dry vacuum, which expertly handles wet spills and dry crumbs on any hard flooring, and it remains a favorite among influencers and our editors after testing and real-world use. Our best stick vacuum pick, the Pure One S11 Tango, is purely for dry messes, but offers expert-level cleaning on hard and soft surfaces.

In our lab, this stick vacuum only struggled with larger debris like cereal, and otherwise glided around surfaces with ease. You don’t need to put in much elbow grease, even if you are transitioning from an area rug to a hardwood floor. You don't even have to bend over to see if the brush roll is tangled from your dog’s hair. The LED display at the top of the vacuum will read out the facts (battery level, suction power) and give you a heads up if something is malfunctioning. It may not feel necessary, but you can also connect the vacuum to a smartphone app via Wi-Fi for more details on your cleaning endeavors. Notably, these features don’t seem to add too much to the price tag, which can’t be said for other stick vacuums with smart features, such as Dyson's Gen5detect. While the Dyson is also a standout in our experience, it costs about $600 more than the Tineco, with many of the same features.

Meet the Tester: Cecily lives in a two-bedroom apartment with her husband, toddler, and a long-haired cat. This vacuum gets a workout daily, picking up stray Goldfish crackers, cat litter, kitchen detritus, and hair.

Intuitiveness aside, this vacuum covers all the basics and then some. For larger debris (like that cereal), you can use one of its four attachments, each more complex than the last: crevice tool, 2-in-1 dusting brush, mini power brush, and full-size LED multi-task power brush. You can also turn the vacuum into a handheld one by detaching the handle and using it with an attachment; this process was seamless for us.

Notably, the vacuum was quiet enough and light enough for us to use while holding a 20-pound baby, and didn’t die out over the course of our testing. (The 40-minute runtime is about average, and may diminish quicker if you use the max mode.) In the box, you will find a pre-filter cleaning tool and extra microfiber pre-filter for the four-stage HEPA filtration system, in addition to a hair cleaning tool to get tangles out of the brush roll. There’s a wall mount, too, for the vacuum and two of your favorite attachments.

Weight: 5.84 pounds | Battery Life: 40 minutes | Attachments: Crevice tool, 2-in-1 dusting brush, mini power brush, full-size LED multi-task power brush

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What We Like

  • Great object avoidance

  • Good suction power

  • Mapping and scheduling

What We Don’t Like

  • Large items can cause jams

Robot vacuums offer a more hands-free cleaning experience, arguably the most intriguing and necessary feature any vacuum could offer. Through testing, we've found there is a time and place for robot vacuums. We recommend the ECOVACS T9+ Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo, with a few caveats. This machine will work bestif your home has an open floor plan, if you’re not intimidated by smart features, if you’re looking for a vacuum that can maintain your floors in between larger cleans, and if moving obstacles and getting the vacuum unstuck occasionally doesn't bother you,

Setting up this vacuum isn’t as intimidating as it could be. To start, you have to add the dust bag to the self-emptying station, attach the side brush to the vacuum, and insert the air freshener. Once these physical components are complete, you can begin setting up the app connection, which is simple thanks to a QR code located under the top lid. The code quickly syncs your vacuum to the app. From there, you can begin the initial mapping process—your vacuum will clean while drawing a diagram of the space, so it knows exactly where to go in the future. In our experience, this process took two hours and the instruction manual was a very handy guide.

Meet the Tester: Daniela, a senior editor at The Spruce, lives in a one-story ranch with her fiancé and a dog. For a year, she relied on this vacuum to reliably pick up dog hair from her hardwood floors and prevent it from tracking onto her socks.

The ECOVACS T9+, once set up, leaves very little behind. We found it can (and will) vacuum up screws, zip ties, hair ties, bobby pins, and dog hair. You can schedule its cleaning so it can tidy up while you’re sleeping or at work, and it’s super quiet compared to others we’ve tried and owned. It’s not in the business of waking you (or your pup), especially thanks to its expert object avoidance skills. When it encounters a table, wall, or pet, we’ve seen it change course instead of going back to its base.

Like many other robot vacuums nowadays, this comes with a mop, too. While the mopping feature uses disposable pads instead of reusable ones, it’s also a convenient addition for those with hard floors. You can activate it whenever someone tracks in mud or spills a drink, or to keep your house clean for a little one who loves to crawl. Just keep an eye out for any larger debris getting stuck in the vacuum, since strong suction power can lead to jams and clogs.

After over a year of usage, we did notice that dust bag fills up more frequently and we need to replace the brush and filter since they’ve expired (something to add to the cost). It’s also gotten a bit noisier, but we’re otherwise pleased with it and appreciate the helping hand. You can trust this vacuum to get the job done with very little interference from you—and that can’t be said for every robot vacuum, even other ones at this price point.

Self-Emptying: Yes | Battery Life: 180 minutes | Smart Capabilities: Programmable schedule, object avoidance, flooring identification, 3D mapping, mobile fragrance

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What We Like

  • Self-clean function

  • Cord automatically rewinds

  • Great for pet hair

What We Don’t Like

  • Not a good option for those with allergies

When it comes to canister vacuums, we’ve historically been a fan of Miele products. After recent lab tests, we’re loving the Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog Bagless Canister Vacuum. Miele is a top brand we recommend given the quality and durability of its vacuums. They’re investment pieces, but you’re paying for what you get: a reliable workhorse.

There are essentially two parts to every canister vacuum: the canister and the handle. The canister is usually situated on wheels so you can roll it with you as you clean, and it houses the dust bin or bag. It may have a handle as well, so you can pick it up when you’re going up a flight of stairs or changing surfaces. The handle is attached to the floorhead, and connected to the vacuum via a hose, which transfers the debris from the floorhead to a bin or bag. Why are canister vacuums designed like this? To give you flexibility and portability when cleaning, and more space for dust, debris, and pet hair. This makes them a good choice for a household with pets, but also anyone who wants the navigation of a stick vacuum paired with the power of an upright vacuum—say, to clean up messes behind and under couches, or in a well-loved playroom.

The Miele CX1’s most notable feature is its self-clean function which cleans the canister of dust and keeps it in tip-top shape. The bagless design also means you won’t have to budget for replacement bags—a plus since this vacuum is what we’d call an investment.

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To start using it, you’ll need to pull the cord out from its storage spot. It doesn’t auto-pull as you vacuum farther away, so be sure to pull out how much cord you need for your cleaning session from the start. (It does automatically rewind later on.) There are several settings you can make use of and all will be effective at picking up messes on hard floors and carpeting. This vacuum has a HEPA filtration system in addition to five attachments, too: a crevice tool, upholstery tool, parquet twister floorhead, handheld mini turbo brush, and electro plus floorhead. So each time you clean, you have a toolbox of sorts at your disposal.

Our only complaint after six months of using it is that emptying it isn’t easy or necessarily clean—there’s really no great way to empty the bin without causing a ruckus at the trash can. For that reason, this pick is not the best for those with allergies.

There are several versions of the CX1, but we tested and loved the cat and dog version. In our experience, it’s been the best option for those with animals—and any vacuum that’s suitable for picking up pet hair and kibble is suitable for households without pets (my hot take). We found it easy to navigate, and appreciated that the handle section could be shortened if needed.

Weight: 19 pounds | Cord Length: 21 feet | Attachments: Crevice tool, upholstery tool, parquet twister floorhead, handheld mini turbo brush, electro plus floorhead

What We Like

  • Bends under furniture

  • Evenly distributes its weight

  • Pretty good at picking up pet hair

What We Don't Like

  • Battery seems to die quick

  • Assembly is easier with two people

  • Not good for deep cleaning

I’d define a lightweight vacuum as anything weighing less than 15 pounds, ideally 10 pounds. Most upright and canister vacuums don’t meet this requirement, but stick vacuums and smaller iterations (like dustbusters) absolutely can—and provide other elements that make them easier to navigate on carpet, hard floors, and more. After several rounds of testing, the Kenmore Elite Cordless Stick Vacuum is our favorite in this category, and not just because it weighs about the same as my two MacBook Pros (just six pounds!). This vacuum operates so quietly, and can actually bend in half to reach under furniture, so you don’t have to.

Setting up the Kenmore Elite is easier with a friend. While you could do it by yourself, putting all the pieces together is a bit challenging since the vacuum needs to be upright the entire time. In comparison to other stick vacuums we’ve tested though, this model evenly distributes its weight once you’re up and running, despite it having a top-heavy design courtesy of the dust bin. Since it's cordless, you’re also free to roam for up to 40 minutes—less if you use the vacuum on max mode versus its eco mode. It does sometimes feel like the battery dies quicker than we'd like, but we can accept the limitation as a tradeoff for the streamlined shape and size.

Meet the Tester: Jennifer lives in a one-story ranch with her husband and Corgi. She uses this vacuum for both quick pickups (lots of dog hair), and more in-depth cleaning of both hardwood floors on the main level of her home and carpet on her finished, lower level.

In our experience, it’s best for everyday cleaning, but not deep cleaning or sprucing up a couch cushion. There is only one attachment in the box: a combination crevice and dusting tool. You’ll also find a wall mount which makes the vacuum easy to store and reach for, but we’d love to see more tools included for tackling different tasks. Like other stick vacuums, Kenmore’s Elite Cordless Stick Vacuum can turn into a handheld version. We found that it picks up pet hair pretty well, too, which is a real, true signal of vacuum effectiveness.

What drives this pick into the top spot for best lightweight vacuum is what it offers at its price. The under-$200 price tag is incredibly fair for a vacuum that covers the basics and then some and is effective despite being lightweight. That’s a pretty tough combination to get right.

Weight: 6 pounds | Battery Life: 40 minutes | Attachments: Combination crevice and dusting tool

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What We Like

  • Pet grooming and stair tools

  • Detangles hair itself

  • Great suction power

What We Don't Like

  • Can spit larger debris out

  • Unclear instructions

  • Very heavy and bulky

Pet hair comes with its own cleaning challenges, and not every vacuum is up to the task. It tends to stick to fabrics, can be fine, and can easily tangle in your rugs—not to mention, your vacuum’s brush roll. The Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra is a corded upright vacuum that’s made for this sort of challenge, though. It gives you 35 feet of cord (longer than other picks we’ve tested and loved) to roam your house and four helpful attachments to tackle hair, kibble, or even non-pet-related messes.If you’re a pet-loving household that needs a machine that can find dirt you can’t see or don’t want to know is there, this is the vacuum for you. It’s a pro at deep cleaning rugs, hard floors, and more. Its effectiveness just happens to be wrapped up in a heavy package.

A turbine tool picks up hair, keeping it detangled so there’s no need to break out the scissors and get rid of suction-killing tangles yourself. A stair tool helps you navigate inclines, a thoughtful addition since this upright vacuum is bulky and not going to sit nicely on the stairs with you while you clean. The combination tool is a brush tool and crevice tool in one, and you can attach it to a long wand to clean tough-to-reach baseboards or corners. The pet groom tool is made for exactly that—grooming your pet—and Dyson claims it is best for medium to long-haired pets. This attachment is not a common one and certainly pushes this pick over the edge for this category.

Meet the Tester: Jenni lives in a 1.5-story farmhouse with her partner and three dogs. There are lots of hardwood floors. She's owned this vacuum for almost a year and a half.

Pets aside, the Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra lives up to Dyson’s stellar reputation and has great suction power. The vacuum has a slight tendency to spit out larger pieces of debris—you may occasionally find yourself chasing after an already-vacuumed popcorn kernel—but the dust bin is spacious (as we’d expect with an upright vacuum). You will want to take some time to learn how to use the vacuum since there are several pieces and the instructions aren’t straightforward. The downside of this pick is that it isn’t the easiest to lug out of your cleaning closet for everyday cleans.

Weight: 17.3 pounds | Cord Length: 35 feet | Attachments: Tangle-free turbine tool, stair tool, pet groom tool, combination tool

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What We Like

  • Tapered nozzle

  • Easy to remove filter

  • As powerful as a larger vacuum

What We Don't Like

  • Battery pack adds weight

  • Very loud

Most of the time, handheld vacuums are an addition to your cleaning closet, rather than the star of the show. That’s because they’re designed for picking up small, concentrated messes, sometimes tucked away in hard-to-reach, tight places. With a true handheld vacuum at your disposal (opposed to one that’s made from the components of a larger stick or upright pick), you’re able to focus your cleaning efforts and save time. For this category, we love the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner.

This vacuum brings the power of a much larger vacuum, and weighs just 3 pounds so you’re able to tidy up without feeling excess strain on your hand or wrist. The battery pack definitely adds to the bulk of the weight but also makes this pick extra portable and a good option for a heavy-duty car vacuum, too. The tapered nozzle (the opening where the debris enters it) is, notably, the perfect shape and size for sucking up crumbs in car cup holders or dust along a baseboard—so we’ve found. Plus, there’s a standard crevice tool located under the nozzle; you can attach it to the nozzle for even more concentrated cleaning.

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Emptying the vacuum is also a really easy process compared to other handheld vacuums or even full-sized vacuums. There’s a button to easily and quickly release the bin. In testing, it was also simple to remove and replace the filter whenever needed. Our one qualm? This vacuum is definitely loud.

Compared to most handheld vacuums and dustbusters we've tried, this vacuum also comes with a higher, over-$100 price tag. However, despite the battery pack weighing it down, Hoover’s ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner is more powerful and portable. You don’t need to worry about angling the nozzle just right or cereal spitting out immediately after picking it up, which can and does happen with other picks.

Weight: 3 pounds | Battery Life: 14 minutes | Attachments: On-board crevice tool

What We Like

  • Doesn’t leave behind residue

  • Steam clean function

  • Comes with trial formulas and extra filters

What We Don't Like

  • Comes with no attachments

  • Very noisy

Wet-dry vacuums (sometimes referred to as vacuum and mop combos) wrap two appliances into one convenient package, saving you storage space, time, and money. While wet-dry vacuums can cost more than stick vacuums and upright vacuums (they tend to start at $250 and go up from there), you have to remember that you’re paying for two cleaning tools at once. Our top pick is Bissell’s Crosswave HydroSteam Plus, because it operates so smoothly no matter which setting or floor type it’s on.

On hard floors, the mop feature doesn’t leave behind any sticky or overly wet residues. You can enjoy a (mostly) streak-free, dry finish in just a few minutes post-mopping. There are three settings in total: hard floors, rugs, and steam clean. The steam clean function is a rare find and does the job of a steam mop, loosening stuck-on spills in your kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere with hard floors.

Meet the Tester: Megan and her four cats live in a two-story home built in 1910, with original hardwood floors, area rugs throughout, and tile in the kitchen and bathrooms.

It may be surprising to hear the Bissell CrossWave comes with zero attachments. However, you will receive a few extras: three trial-size formulas, two washable filters, and an auto clean-out tray with spots for accessories like the extra filters. The cleaning formulas go into the water tank and mix with its contents to help mop your floors. Bissell has many different formulas available, such as ones for pet owners or sanitizing—and this wet-dry vacuum has two different tanks to keep your clean formula and water mix separate from the dirty contents it picks up. (Just keep in mind that cleaning formulas do add to the overall cost of this pick.)

In our experience, moving the wet-dry vacuum around is a breeze since the handle pivots in the direction you’d like it to go, making it easy to pick up crumbs next to table legs or heating vents. The Bissell CrossWave is corded so you have to be plugged in while you're cleaning, and you’re absolutely going to disrupt your household when turning this vacuum on—it's loud. If this all sounds like a bit more than you need, it's worth noting that the Bissell wet-dry vacuum comes from a reliable brand, and you've likely heard of its other viral and useful cleaning products like the Little Green upholstery cleaner that also really does work.

Weight: 12.5 pounds | Cord Length: 25 feet | Attachments: None

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What We Like

  • Works quickly on carpets and rugs

  • Gets into tight corners well

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like

  • Average battery life

Vacuuming carpets and rugs—whether they’re low, medium, or high-pile—can be a tough endeavor. Unlike hard floors, carpets and rugs can have debris and dust hidden in their fibers or ground into their intricate designs. Having a vacuum at your disposal that’s ready to agitate the fibers (massage them) and loosen the debris is essential. The Levoit Vortex IQ 40 Cordless Stick Vacuum is our go-to vacuum for everyday carpet cleaning. It can get into the tight corners and crevices under cabinets, and won’t spit out what it’s picked up. On carpets, it’s a menace for messes, working quickly and accurately.

We found this pick to be equally effective on hard floors, but simply quicker in its carpet and rug cleaning, which is why we’ve named it the best vacuum for carpets and rugs. We barely noticed its weight when lifting it around from one surface to another. The Levoit Vortex IQ has a handheld iteration like many other stick vacuums—plus two attachments (a crevice tool and a dusting brush tool). However, we didn’t find that you need the attachments to get the results you’re after.

Meet the Tester: Erin lives with four other people plus kids and a dog in a four-bedroom house. Her house has three levels and she's been using this vacuum to spot clean tracked-in dirt, mud, food crumbs (including kibble), fireplace ash, and dog hair throughout the house.

We didn’t mind the 40-minute runtime on this vacuum because the smaller battery pack seems to make the appliance lighter. We could carry it up and down stairs freely, especially since it doesn’t have a cord—a true win for those who, like me, live in a split-level home. The lightweight design does include a dust bin that can require frequent emptying, but just how often will depend on your home and vacuuming habits.

You can easily store this pick on its charging dock and reach for it for everyday cleans. If there’s one thing we know about carpet cleaning, it’s that vacuuming and spot-cleaning often help extend the life of your carpets and rugs. Having a vacuum that’s easy to reach for on a daily basis is where this maintenance mode begins, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Levoit Vortex IQ.

Weight: 6.66 pounds | Battery Life: 40 minutes | Attachments: Crevice tool, dusting brush tool

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Final Verdict

There’s a vacuum for everyone and every home—you just have to find the style and features that best match your needs. Our overall best vacuum is the Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Vacuum because, at a reasonable price, it offers standard attachments in addition to a lift-away pod, top-notch performance on carpet, and a spacious dust bin that’s perfect for weekly cleans. Our top pick for a stick vacuum is the Tineco Pure One S11 Tango. It’s a bit more technologically advanced compared to others—but, the LED display offers a truly helpful digital read-out, plus the vacuum is quiet and lightweight.

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How We Tested the Vacuums

We've tested 300 vacuums (so far) side-by-side in The Lab and at home. I have been a part of both designing and leading those tests since they began, and test new vacuums regularly in my home to compare their features, cleaning power, and ease of navigation, regularly putting them up against high chair legs, cereal puffs, and everyday dust and debris.

However, in the lab, our testing is much more methodical. We start with the unboxing and setup of each vacuum, timing how long assembly takes and noting if the instructions are clear or confusing. We click components together, unwrap attachments, and connect any robot vacuums to Wi-Fi and smartphone apps if they call for it. Then, we put each through its paces to test for the best (and weed out the rest).

We use each vacuum on hard flooring and high, medium, and low-pile carpet. We test the cleaning effectiveness by challenging each vacuum to clean up measured amounts of hair, popcorn kernels, and every parent's constant companion: Cheerios (among other messes and spills). While testing, we note whether attachments are more or less effective, how many passes are needed to clean up the debris, and whether hair gets tangled in the brush roll. (Hair tangling, in particular, helps us decide which vacuum is best for pet hair!)

Testing Stats
Products Tested300
Hours Spent Testing451
Tests Performed16
Unique Testers172

We also evaluate the vacuum's weight and portability, and how well it can transition from smooth floors to carpeting. Some vacuums are particularly lightweight, but top-heavy. Others are bulky, so they're hard to store. We want to know that, so we can relay it to you. During testing, we also take in the noise level and note whether we can comfortably talk over the vacuum. After testing for these attributes, we test maneuverability by running each model through a living room obstacle course, complete with a couch and coffee table, to see how it maneuvers tight areas and in 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 our experience from beginning to end. At the end, we send home the vacuums we tested to individual testers, so they can put the vacuums through real-world cleaning situations, and evaluate some of the same attributes, in addition to durability, longevity, and ease of storage. Every home is different, which means every household's vacuum needs are different; this also helps us figure out the details that may be the most important for one home, but not the next.

As a vacuum expert, I take all of the consistently applied testing data and boil down the insights to the vacuums I believe are the very best—the ones that will help make your floors truly clean.

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What to Look for in a Vacuum Cleaner

The Money and Maintenance Talk

The cost of vacuums really varies, and the deciding factor is really the type of vacuum you're looking at purchasing.

  • Stick vacuums have the widest price range, and some of the highest popularity due to their portability and effectiveness. They cost between $100 and $1,000, the latter consisting of Dyson’s high-tech, cordless series.
  • Upright vacuums—like Shark’s Navigator line that’s a value-packed, though bulky, option for almost anyone—generally cost anywhere between $100 and $800.
  • Wet-dry vacuums start at $250 and cost upwards of $800, especially if you’re considering a Tineco Internet-loved Floor One model.
  • Robot vacuums are typically the most expensive option, with most models costing $500 or more. However, you can find more affordable models with less smart features closer to $150.

When taking the price of your vacuum into consideration, repairs and maintenance should not be overlooked. Clogs, for example, are the most common cause of vacuum suction loss. 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.

On the Move with Your Machine

Vacuums can weigh as little as one pound if they’re a tiny dustbuster or handheld vac, or as much as 18 to 20 pounds if they’re a powerful and high-capacity upright vacuum or canister vacuum. The weight and portability of your vacuum matters because cleaning is not a light task for anyone—it will require pushing, pulling, lifting, and bending over in most cases. If you or someone in your household has mobility-related disabilities or trouble bending over, consider a vacuum that’s lighter, easy to lift overhead, and does not require you to hold onto a power button continuously while cleaning.

The lightest pick on our list is Hoover's ONEPWR Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner (best handheld vacuum) at 3 pounds—though it's not necessarily practical beyond spot cleaning. Our best lightweight vacuum, the Kenmore Elite Cordless Stick Vacuum, is quick to follow and has a flexible wand for reaching under furniture. (We qualify a lightweight vacuum as weighing less than 15 pounds, but ideally less than 10 pounds.) It weighs 6 pounds, which is the equivalent of two of my laptops. (I weighed them for good measure.)

A vacuum's cord, or lack of, can also affect its overall portability. A cordless vacuum can be easier to navigate and carry, but a corded pick will never run out of power since it’s not reliant on a battery, making it a great choice for longer cleaning sessions.

We've Tested 300 Vacuums and These 9 Are the Best (46)

Accessories Make the Vacuum

When you open your box, you may find a handful of attachments. Most vacuums will come with a crevice tool at the very least, which is narrow and meant for picking up a mess in a corner or tight area. Other attachments include an upholstery tool, pet hair tool, combination tool, stair tool, and extension wand, which can all add to your vacuum's effectiveness and portability. Our best vacuum for pet hair, the Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra, comes with a pet grooming tool, as well.

Filters (Not Just for Instagram)

Every vacuum you see also has a filter in it. If a filter isn’t washable, it needs to be replaced a couple times per year, depending on your vacuuming habits. If a filter gets clogged, you need to visit a repair shop that can unclog it for you and bring your vacuum back to life.

A true HEPA filter is the most ideal type of vacuum filter as its designed to capture 99.97 percent of particles, including pollen and dust mites. Additionally, true HEPA filters have a serial number to note that they perform at a very high and tested standard. There are HEPA-type filters on the market that don't perform as effectively, but are marketed just the same. Take the time to get to know your filter so it meets your expectations, and so you can stay on top of maintenance. “The biggest thing with bagless vacuums is not enough people know to wash the filters,” says Emily Rairdin of University Vacuum + Sewing. All of our recommendations are bagless, so Rairdin's point applies to any pick on this list.

Bagless vs. Bagged Designs

Most vacuums nowadays (including all of the ones on our list) have a bagless design, meaning debris collects in a reusable dust bin rather than a disposable bag. This is more cost-effective but often means that, when you empty your dust bin, you're exposed to the dirt and debris you vacuumed up. Bagged vacuums, however, don’t expose you to the debris, since it all stays contained.


  • 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, as noted by Rairdin. 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.

  • 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.

  • 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, retailers will often schedule sales around that time of year. They also tend to release new models during the summer, so older picks will usually get marked down. You can also find vacuums of all shapes and sizes on sale during Amazon's Prime Days.

We've Tested 300 Vacuums and These 9 Are the Best (47)

Why Trust The Spruce?

Marisa Viglione is the senior editor for all things appliances, cleaning, organization, and home tech for The Spruce and has personally developed and run vacuum tests at The Lab, evaluating cordless stick, upright, handheld, and canister models. She has additionally tested a half-dozen models right at home, and continually reaches for her Shark Vacmop, Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum, and WOWGO Cordless Vacuum Cleaner to clean everyday messes in her split level home.She's lived in two apartments, and a split-level house with a little one and so many stairs, and can confidently say that—if your budget and storage allows it—there is a good reason to own multiple vacuums.

For this roundup on the best vacuums, she consulted our firsthand testing insights—2021 to today—in addition to verified reviews on brand and retailer websites. She’s additionally researched features, design, functionality, and price since 2020, using all of her expert-level knowledge and new findings to create this list of the very best vacuums.

Our Experts:

  • Emily Rairdin, University Vacuum + Sewing
  • Dena Ogden, associate editor at The Spruce

The 7 Best Shark Vacuums of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Environmental Protection Agency.What is a HEPA filter?

  2. Environmental Protection Agency. What is a HEPA filter?

  3. How long do vacuum cleaners last? Consumer Reports.

We've Tested 300 Vacuums and These 9 Are the Best (2024)
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