Upright or canister vacuum?
Upright vacuums are
generally best for those with a lot of carpeted floors. However, many reviewers
say it's hard to clean under low furniture, such as beds and sofas, with an upright
because the head (which houses the brush) is too tall.
vacuums, which some people feel are awkward to maneuver, are more convenient
for cleaning stairs and upholstery. Depending on your needs, another type of vacuum may be a better choice. See the
ConsumerSearch report on canister vacuums for information on these.
Handhelds are convenient
for picking up small spills and cleaning car interiors. Those with revolving
brushes work well on pet hair. Stick and handheld vacs come in a variety of corded and cordless (rechargeable) models. We cover stick vacuums and handheld vacuums in separate reports.
Reviewers say to consider
the following when buying an upright vacuum:
- Look for a filter. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters have excellent
filtration properties, but other types of filters can be equally effective.
Reviews say that most vacuums control emissions fairly well; unless you have
severe allergies, most filters will be adequate.
- Choose between bagging and bagless. Bagless models eliminate the ongoing expense of buying new
bags, but emptying the dirt cup can be messy. Bagging vacuums generally hold
more dirt and may be preferable if you have allergies, because emptying a dirt
bin can expose you to a cloud of dust. Either type will do a decent job of
- Look for a brushroll shut-off feature if
you plan to vacuum bare floors. Uprights generally have a tougher time cleaning bare
floors because the revolving brush, which digs dirt out of carpets, often spits
dirt from hard surfaces back out of the machine before it can be sucked up. Many vacuums have this feature, but some less expensive models do
- Skip the dirt-sensor
feature. Sometimes you'll see vacuum
manufacturers advertising this feature, which is supposed to sense when dirt
pickup slows, presumably meaning that the area is clean. However, reviewers say
dirt sensors have nothing to do with performance.
- Check the cord and hose
length. A longer hose (7 feet or more) makes it easier to
clean high places with an attachment, and it's less likely that the unit will
tip over when doing so. A longer cord (30
feet or more) allows you to clean a bigger area without having to plug
the machine into a different outlet. Retractable cords, which don't need to be
wound up by hand after use, are also handy.
- Think about the weight. Most
upright vacuums weigh between 9 and 22 pounds. If you'll need to carry the
vacuum up and down stairs, you might be happier with a lighter vacuum. These
usually have fewer accessories but might be worth the trade-off. In user
reviews, weight is a big complaint.
- Consider the size. Generally, uprights are more cumbersome for cleaning under chairs and tables,
although some smaller uprights have a low profile that's more conducive to