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Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

By: Kelly Burgess on March 16, 2018

Editor's note:
Our research shows that Shark, Dyson and Bissell make the best bagless upright vacuum cleaners, with a good array of included accessories and superior performance on carpet and hard floors. If you prefer a bagging vacuum, which is a great choice for allergy sufferers, look to Kenmore and Hoover for the best filtration performance.

Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Cord length - 25 ft. Hose length - 5 ft. Weight - 12.5 lbs.

Best bagless vacuum

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 is one of the most versatile vacuums you can buy, converting from an upright vacuum to a canister vacuum -- and reviewers say it works equally well either way. Its range of accessories, all of which store onboard, give this Shark model an extra-long reach for cleaning hard-to-access areas. Quiet-yet-powerful, this vacuum cleaner is a strong contender against far more expensive models, but at a price that owners say is a great value. Like all Shark vacuums, the Navigator gets raves for its maneuverability.

Buy for $148.90
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Cord length - 35 ft. Hose reach - 15 ft. Weight - 17.35 lbs.

Upright vacuum for hardwood floors

Yes, it's a pricey vacuum, but if you have primarily hardwood floors, especially if you have pets, you'll more than appreciate the Dyson Ball Animal 2. Its unique technology creates a seal on any type of floor, sucking up everything it it's path. In testing, the Animal 2 make short work of even chunky messes like cereal chunks and cat litter -- both areas where other vacuums struggle. However, this Dyson isn't just a one-trick pony, it performed equally well on carpet and is highly maneuverable.

Bissell 9595A CleanView OnePass
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Cord length - 25 ft. Hose length - 6 ft. Weight - 15 lbs.

Best cheap bagless vacuum

If your vacuuming needs are pretty basic, you can't go wrong with the Bissell 9595A CleanView OnePass. At 15 pounds it's fairly lightweight, and has a generous, 13.5 inch cleaning path that can save you some time in your clean up chores. It also includes enough accessories to handle just about any job. Professional testing shows the Bissell CleanView to be a great vacuum for general-purpose use. For the price, it's also impressively durable, with some owners saying it's still going strong after several years.

Buy for $79.99
Kenmore Elite 31150 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Cord length - 35 ft. Hose length - 6 ft. Weight - 21 lbs.

Best bagged vacuum cleaner

The Kenmore Elite 31150 lands at the top of just about every professional roundup we saw, with all agreeing that it's an exceptional value. In testing, it outperforms vacuums costing two or three times more, and does well on both carpet and hardwood. It excels at picking up pet hair as well as debris of all sizes. It also keeps its dust to itself, with an excellent filtration system. Best of all, the built-in LED-lit dirt sensor tells you when you're done.

Hoover T-Series UH30310 Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Cord length - 30 ft. Hose length - 12 ft. Weight - 15 lbs.

Cheap bagged vacuum cleaner

If you're looking for a top-performing vacuum cleaner that's also a great value, look no further than the Hoover T-Series UH30310. Hoover is a well-respected name in vacuums and, in expert testing, the UH30310 earns top marks. Owners love it too, saying this Hoover excels at pet hair pickup and is equally effective on carpet or hardwood. It's pretty light at 15 pounds, and the 30 foot power cord coupled with a long, 12-foot hose gives it an impressive reach. It folds back nearly flat to reach under furniture.

Buy for $147.36

Types of Vacuum Cleaners

Bagless Vacuums Cleaners

These use a two-step process -- larger particles are deposited into a removable canister, while smaller particles are trapped by a filter. When the canister is full, you just remove it, dump the debris, and replace. Some models have filters that will wear out and need to be replaced; others use permanent filters -- just rinse them now and again. The most obvious advantage of a bagless vacuum cleaner is that you don't have to buy replacement bags, and not having to dispose of the bag is more environmentally friendly as it eliminates an added layer of trash. One other advantage to bagless: If you accidentally vacuum up a small item, you don't have to tear open the bag and dig through the contents to find it.

Bagged Vacuum Cleaners

Bagging vacuum cleaners have a removable bag that you discard and replace when full. Most vacuum cleaner bags are constructed of filter media, adding an extra filtration step to the overall system. Many owners prefer this no-muss, no-fuss approach to getting rid of their vacuuming debris, although some bags are trickier to put in place than others. Some bagging upright vacuum cleaners use self-sealing bags, which prevent any particles from escaping back into the air during the bag-disposal process. The major downside to bagging upright vacuum cleaners is that bags must be purchased throughout the life of the vacuum cleaner. Bags typically range in price from $2 to $7 per bag, although generic bags are an option in some cases and bags can often be ordered in bulk for a lower per-bag cost. As with bagless vacuums, the air filters will have to occasionally be cleaned or replaced as well.

A great vacuum takes the work out of housework

It's probably safe to say that very few dwellings, no matter how small, lack a vacuum cleaner. Bigger homes with multiple levels and a variety of floor types may even have more than one, while smaller homes and apartments will probably do just fine with one good all-purpose model.

In this report we cover upright vacuums. They tend to be very simple and straightforward to operate -- just push a button and move it over the carpet. The best vacuums will clean both carpet and bare floors efficiently, filter the air to keep particles from flying about, and include attachments for cleaning upholstery, stairs, baseboards, and for reaching into nooks and crannies.

In addition to, or instead of, an upright vacuum, some people need a smaller vacuum for a smaller space, or a secondary vacuum for other living areas or for picking up spot messes in between cleaning days. If that's the case, take a look at our other vacuum reports: canister vacuums use slender wands that can reach farther into tight spaces, like under beds or up stairways, than the attachments on most uprights. Stick vacuums used to be used just for spot cleaning, but they're becoming more powerful and effective -- and one of these lightweight models might be able to replace your upright. If you do need a vacuum for spot cleaning, a hand vacuum is a good choice. Don't like to vacuum at all? Take a look at our report on robotic vacuums. Last, but not least, once you have that hard floor swept clean, have someone else do the rest -- yes, a mopping robot will keep things sparkling with no elbow grease.

Finding The Best Vacuum Cleaners
Our Sources
"Vacuum Cleaners"
"The Best Vacuums"

There are a lot of vacuum cleaner reviews out there. Some are roundups that include testing and rank the vacuum cleaners' scores against each other, like those we found at Consumer Reports, Reviewed, Top Ten Reviews and Good Housekeeping. Others are hands-on reports by experienced reviewers at sites like CNET and Wirecutter.

Just as helpful, if not more so, were the thousands (tens of thousands, really) of owner reviews we analyzed at retail sites such as Amazon, Best Buy and Target, to name just a few. These user reviews give the best overview for how each vacuum operates in real-world, long-term use. In evaluating these reviews, we consider performance on different flooring surfaces, pet-hair removal, features and attachments, ease of use and lifestyle features to help you find the perfect vacuum cleaner for your cleaning needs.

Elsewhere In This Report
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Vacuum Cleaners buying guide

What every best Vacuum Cleaners has:

  • An allergen filter.
  • Washable, reusable filters.
  • A long power cord.

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