Home > Home & Garden > Vacuum Cleaners > Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

By: Kelly Burgess on May 01, 2017

Editor's note:
I love to vacuum, and I own enough of them for each to have their own room. My favorites are all represented here: Shark, Dyson, Hoover, Kenmore -- bagged and bagless. No matter how you feel about vacuuming, we have the perfect recommendation at every price point and for every lifestyle.

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. See our full review »

Buy for $149.99
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Review
Runners Up
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. It's 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 is highly maneuverable.

Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind Bagless UH70120
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Cord length - 25 ft. Hose length - 8 ft. Weight - 16.5 lbs.

Best cheap bagless vacuum

A top performer in professional testing, the Hoover WindTunnel UH70120 is also praised by thousands of happy owners who say this Hoover is easy to use and does a great job on bot carpet and hardwood floors, thanks, in part, to its five-position cleaning head adjustment.. It's particularly beloved by pet owners, who are pleased with how well this vacuum picks up pet hair. Many are shocked at how well it works compared to previous vacuums they've owned. It also comes in three colors.

Buy for $98.99
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. See our full review »

Hoover T-Series UH30310 Review
Runners Up
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 to, 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 $127.99

Types of Vacuum Cleaners

Bagless Vacuums Cleaners

These operate on a two-step process -- larger particles are deposited into a removable canister, smaller particles go into the filter. When the canister is full, you just remove it, dump the debris, and replace. The filters also have to be cleaned occasionally. In some models they will wear out and need to be replaced; others are permanent. The most obvious advantage of a bagless vacuum cleaner is that you don't have to buy replacement bags, but some bagless vacuums are messy and awkward to dump. And, eventually, dirt and pet hair will accumulate in the nooks and crannies of the container so it will have to be cleaned -- a task most owners find unappealing. However, 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 and hand vacuums are often used for quicker, spot-cleaning tasks, like sweeping up small, dry spills and messes without having to haul out the bigger upright. Owning one is handier than hiring a cleaning service.

Finding The Best Vacuum Cleaners
Our Sources
"Vacuum Cleaners"
"Best vacuum cleaners of 2016"

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 ConsumerReports.org, Reviewed.com, TopTenReviews.com and Good Housekeeping. Others are hands on reviews by experienced reviewers at sites like CNET and TheSweethome.com.

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.com, BestBuy.com and Target.com, 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
Recently Updated
Vacuum Cleaners buying guide

What every best Vacuum Cleaners has:

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

Read More »

Learn More »