What the best vacuum cleaner has
- An allergen filter. Even
non-allergy-sufferers benefit from cleaner air, and allergen filters remove
particles and dust smaller in size than other filters are capable of capturing.
- Washable, reusable filters. Most
filters are replaceable and will eventually wear out, but, in between
replacements, it should be easy to rinse or wash them to maintain efficiency.
- A long power cord. Upright
vacuum cleaners with short power cords means users must frequently relocate the
plug, which can be inconvenient. Most upright vacuum cleaners have cords at
least 25 feet long, while some models boast long, 39-foot cords.
- A long hose. Even a
vacuum with otherwise good accessories can be hard to use if it has a too-short
hose. A short hose can also make it easy for a vacuum to tip over when it's
- Extension wands. Extension wands are useful for cleaning baseboards without stooping, dusting
ceiling fans, and removing ceiling/wall cobwebs.
- High-powered motor. A
vacuum's suction power is often directly related to the strength of its motor. Most
upright vacuum cleaners have high-power motors that are rated at 10 amps. The
most powerful vacuums feature 12-amp motors, but some vacuums are rated much
lower -- as little as 5.5 amps.
- Low weight. An upright vacuum cleaner
that weighs nearly 30 pounds can be tough to move about, especially when
cleaning stairs. Upright vacuum cleaners vary widely in weight, with some
weighing as little as 11.5 pounds, while others weigh 22 pounds or more.
- For robot vacuums, good battery life. Robotic
vacuums with rechargeable batteries should have at least enough juice to make
it once around the area you need cleaned. They should also charge quickly
enough that you can use them every day if you need to.
- Easy emptying. Bagless,
bagged and robotic vacuums should all be easy to empty, and you should be able
to do so without the bagged or contained debris flying everywhere.
Know before you go
Are there allergy sufferers in your home? HEPA filtration removes the most allergens from the air and can remove
smaller particles than other types of filters. Bagged models with sealed
filtration systems and sealing dust bags are also useful for allergy sufferers,
preventing the escape of any captured dust and debris back into the air.
Do you have stairs? If you'll
be cleaning stairs regularly, look for a vacuum cleaner that's lightweight or
converts to a canister vacuum, so you're not lugging a 22-pound machine up the
stairs with you. Also, some vacuum cleaners have special tools designed to make
Will you be cleaning pet hair? Pet hair
is one of the vacuum industry's biggest challenges. A few vacuum cleaners have
attachments designed specifically to clean up after your furry friends, such as
a rubberized upholstery tool with knobs that grab pet hair from fabric.
What types of surfaces will you be vacuuming? Not all vacuum cleaners are created equal when it comes to
carpet-cleaning performance, and some have more issues with bare floors than
carpets. You want a vacuum with a brushroll shut-off option if you have both
carpet and hard floors, for instance, and a manual pile-height adjustment is
useful for precise control if you have different carpet heights throughout your
home. Also, remember, robotic vacuums are just for touch-ups, they won't
perform as well as a full-size, upright vacuum when it comes to deep cleaning
Are you nimble and flexible? Some
manual pile-height adjustments and other controls require bending over and some
hand dexterity to operate. If you suffer from arthritis or mobility issues,
look for an upright vacuum cleaner with easy-to-use controls conveniently
located on the handle for easy access. Robotic vacuums are even better, just
push a button and let it go.
- Look for special deals. Upright
vacuum cleaners can be quite expensive, and even some of the highest-priced
models don't come standard with a HEPA filter. Some retailers, however, offer
special deals including a free HEPA filter with your purchase. If you're
considering one of these models, shop around to find the best package deal.
- Look for last year's model. Vacuum
cleaner manufacturers frequently change the name of their vacuum cleaners, but,
other than a few minor tweaks -- often cosmetic -- it's still the same vacuum
as the last "upgrade." You may be able to find last year's model at a
- Pay attention to model numbers. Many
manufacturers sell similar vacuums under different, but similar, model numbers.
The difference is often in the attachment package, or might not be much more
than a unique model number made to sell only at a specific retailer -- a tactic
designed to discourage comparison shopping. It can take some looking around to
figure out which model numbers are sold where and include what attachments, but
it's worth your time to get the most bang for your buck.
- Negotiate add-ons. Just
because an upright vacuum cleaner doesn't come with the attachments you were
looking for doesn't mean you can't get them. Negotiate with the retailer and
show comparative deals from other stores. Ask them to match the deal by
including a few more accessories with your purchase.
expectations: The dollars and cents of it
Whether you opt for a
bagged or bagless upright vacuum cleaner, there might be filters or dust bags
to purchase. If you vacuum daily, this ongoing expense can add up. There are a
few generic vacuum cleaner bag manufacturers offering bags to fit many
available models for a lower price. Be careful, however, because these cheaper
bags may be made from cheaper materials. If your standard bags have filtration
capabilities, opting for generics means you're giving up some of that cleaner
air. Buying in bulk online is another option that can result in a lower per-bag