Find the perfect vacuum for you + your home.

We know there’s a lot to consider when buying a new vacuum, like different floor surfaces, the size of your home and so much more. And with so many types of vacuums, choosing the right one can be tough. That’s why we’ve put together a buying guide to make it a little easier for you to find the perfect vacuum cleaner.

Types of vacuum cleaners.

Explore the different types of vacuums to find the one that works for you.

  • Canister vacuum.

    Canister vacuums work best on hard surfaces or smaller, carpeted areas like a car or the stairs. They come equipped with a suction hose and a retractable cord for easy maneuvering. Canister models have a separate unit for the motor and receptacle for easy maneuverability, flexibility and versatility. That makes these vacuums best for furniture and multi-surface use.

  • Deep cleaner or carpet cleaner.

    Deep cleaners or carpet cleaners use warm water for spot removal and carpet treatment. Also called carpet extractors or carpet shampooers, these devices spray the carpet with soapy water, then use vacuum technology to brush the fibers and suck up the water, dirt and stains from the carpeting. These speciality vacuums are not designed for everyday use and are not meant for hardwood floors.

  • Upright vacuum.

    Upright vacuum cleaners are ideal for large, carpeted areas of the house. They use a motor-driven beater brush that loosens and removes dirt through suction. Most upright vacuums come with onboard attachments for versatile use. Some designs are bagless while others have bags to capture dust and debris. Features can include height adjustments for easy transition from dense carpet cleaning to hardwood floors with the flip of a switch. Upright vacuums tend to be best for hardwood floors and carpet.

  • Handheld vacuum.

    Handheld vacuums can clean areas that are too large for your upright. Portable and cordless designs make them ideal for cleaning small areas. These are perfect for cleaning up after children and pets. Handheld vacuums are lightweight, quiet and easy to use. They are typically battery powered, making them portable and handy for cleaning up small spills.

  • Sweeper or stick vacuum.

    Stick or sweeper vacuums are the middle ground between an upright and a handheld vacuum. Lightweight and battery powered, they offer the convenience of a handheld but feature the upright construction of a traditional vacuum, making them better for cleaning up spills on hardwood floors. They are most commonly used for quick cleanup areas, such as kitchen and bathroom floors. Most stick vacuums have a dirt cup, as opposed to bags, to collect debris.

  • Pet vacuum.

    Pet hair vacuums are designed to collect pet hair and minimize pet odors in your home. What separates them from traditional vacuums is the ability to easily detach and clean the "beater brush" (the rotating brush under the vacuum that cleans the carpet) that commonly gets clogged when faced with large amounts of pet hair. Pet-friendly vacuums also commonly include upholstery cleaners to help collect pet hair on furniture.

  • Robotic vacuum.

    Robotic vacuums represent the latest in vacuum technology. Simply set up the sensor boundaries, choose your settings and let your robotic vacuum clean the floors for you. Cordless and compact, these vacuums clean with precision while saving you time. While not as powerful or versatile as traditional vacuums, the constant cleaning action offers ease and convenience.

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Bag vs. Bagless.

Perhaps the most pertinent question when deciding on a new vacuum is whether to buy a bagged or bagless vacuum cleaner. There are advantages and disadvantages to both:

Bagged vacuums.

  • Vacuums with bags can often hold more dirt before needing to be replaced.
  • Emptying these vacuums also releases less dust into the air.
  • There is often an indicator light telling you when it’s time for a new bag.

Bagless vacuums.

  • Save money on replacement bags.
  • Often feature filters (like HEPA) that will eventually need to be cleaned and/or replaced.
  • Emptying dirt bins can release more allergens into the air.
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Vacuum comparison chart.

To help you visualize and compare the different types of vacuums and their intended uses, we put together this handy chart:

Vacuum Type Surface Type Pros Cons
Canister vacuum
  • Hard surfaces
  • Small carpeted areas
  • Stairs
  • Shape creates a strong suction and cleaning power
  • Bag and bagless options
  • Flexible hoses reach stairs, upholstery and other difficult areas of the home
  • Not ideal for large floor surfaces
  • Two-piece design can be difficult to maneuver simultaneously
Deep cleaner Carpeted surfaces
  • Warm water provides more than a surface cleaning
  • Some feature microbial treatments to prevent bacterial growth
  • Heavy and bulky
Upright vacuum
  • Large carpeted areas
  • Hard surfaces
  • Rugs
  • Powerful with a wide cleaning path to clean large areas of your home quickly
  • Bag and bagless options
  • Difficult to clean under beds, furniture, etc
  • Usually bulkier and heavier than other vacuums
Handheld vacuum

Small carpeted or hard-surfaced areas

  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver Ideal for cleaning small messes or car interiors
  • Not as powerful as full-sized models
Sweeper or stick vacuum

Small floor surface areas

  • Lightweight with long handles for comfortable use
  • Some are battery-powered
  • Excellent surface cleaners
  • Not ideal for deep cleaning
  • Do not perform as well on carpeted areas as other vacuums
  • Small dirt bin capacities
Pet vacuum
  • Carpeted areas
  • Hard surfaces
  • Powerful
  • Collects pet hair and dander
  • Minimizes pet odors
  • Can be heavy and difficult to maneuver
Robotic vacuum

Medium-sized floor surfaces

  • Hands-free vacuuming
  • Cordless
  • Programmable
  • Navigates from room to room on it’s own
  • Sensors detect dirt for efficient cleaning, even when you’re not home
  • Moves around obstacles
  • Not as powerful on carpeted surfaces as an upright or canister
  • Must be plugged in prior to use
  • Not ideal for shag carpeting or area rugs
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Vacuum cleaner prices.

How much does a vacuum cleaner cost? Most mid-range vacuums are between $100 and $250. Handheld vacuums are often cheaper (under $100) but are best used as a supplement to a traditional upright vacuum. Vacuums between $250 and $500 are typically heavy duty and professional canister vacuums best suited for larger homes and businesses.

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Vacuum parts.

A modern vacuum cleaner contains dozens of parts working together. Find out what each part is called, and what they do below.

Bag change indicator:

A light that comes on automatically when it is time to change the bag and helps the vacuum operate with maximum efficiency.

Bagless:

Bagless models reduce the cost of purchasing new bags and are easier to empty by simply removing the dust cup.

Belt:

The vacuum belt connects the motor to the brush system. This causes the brushes to rotate rapidly and process debris. It’s important to know the belt type of the model you choose in the case of a replacement.

Brush system:

This is the heart of a deep cleaner. Each model features one or more rotating brushes that scrub water and soap onto the carpet.

Built-in heater:

Many deep cleaners offer heat switches that automatically warm the water. This helps to create more efficient surface cleaning.

Carpet-height adjustment:

This feature changes the height of the vacuum brush roll to the carpet height for easy maneuvering.

Cleaning path:

The width of a vacuum and ability to capture dirt and dust; vacuums with a larger cleaning path capture a great amount of dirt and at a faster rate.

Cordless:

These vacuums are typically lightweight and give you a wide range of mobility when cleaning your floors. Included docking stations provide a quick charge.

Crevice tool:

A long, angled attachment that cleans detailed, hard-to-reach places, like corners.

Dusting brush:

A bristled brush attachment for dusting hard surfaces.

Edge cleaner:

This feature can pick up dirt under the entire area of the cleaning head for wall-to-wall carpeting.

Filtration:

Filtration systems help remove dust mites from floors and furniture. This is ideal for reducing household allergens.

Headlight:

Vacuums with a headlight allow you to see objects obstructing the cleaning path in dark spaces (closets or under the bed).

Motor:

The more suction power in your vacuum, the less time and effort it will take to clean your floors. Vacuum power is measured in amps, watts and volts.

Motor protection system:

This protects a vacuum motor from overheating, especially when there is a jam or blockage.

Onboard tools:

Crevice tools, upholstery brushes and deluxe hoses are just a few that can make a big difference when cleaning! Many vacuums and deep cleaners include one or more tools to reach corners, stairs and other small places.

Pet brush:

A bristled brush attachment used to remove pet hair and dander from furniture, stairs or other small spaces.

Retractable cord:

This is a common feature in canister vacuums where the cord winds into the machine for easy maneuvering and storage.

Self-propelled motor:

A feature that propels the vacuum on its own for easy maneuvering.

Tank capacity:

The bigger the tank, the longer your deep cleaner runs without needing a water refill. Like the models themselves, capacities vary, but the standard is around one gallon.

Upholstery tool:

A bristled brush attachment used for cleaning furniture, curtains or other fabric surfaces.

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Vacuum care + tips.

Once you’ve decided on a new vacuum for your home, you should learn how to properly clean and maintain your new device. The two main things to consider are replacing the bag (or filter for a bagless vacuum) and the belt.

When should I change the bag?

It's recommended that you change your vacuum bag an average of once per month. Remember to check it regularly, especially if you have large floor surfaces, heavy trafficked areas, pets or children.

When should I replace the belt?

Every six to 12 months. This will prevent excess motor strain and keep your vacuum running efficiently. Check the belt regularly and look for any indications of wear or tear that can result from normal use over time. Refer to your owner's manual for detailed instructions on how to replace the belt.

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Vacuum term glossary.

There are a lot of terms and jargon associated with vacuum cleaners. Read on to find out what all the important parts of the machine you’re shopping for are called.

Agitator:

The brush at the base of a vacuum that pushes dirt and debris toward the suction.

Canister vacuum:

Works best on hard surfaces or smaller carpeted areas, such as stairs. A suction hose picks up dirt, and their lightweight structure and retractable cord make this vacuum convenient and ideal for easy storage.

Deep cleaner:

Used for heavy-duty jobs on nearly any surface. Perfect for indoor or outdoor use.

Dirt container:

A bagless design that makes it easy to empty and replace the dirt catcher.

Handheld vacuum:

Smaller size vacuum that can clean hard-to-reach areas.

HEPA air filter:

High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are extended-surface filters that capture up to 99% of all dust particles known to cause common allergies.

High traffic:

A setting that automatically mixes the right amount of water and cleaning formula to dissolve tough grime and heavy soil typically found on high-traffic areas, like entryways.

Normal:

A setting that automatically provides the best mix of water and cleaning formula for most cleaning jobs.

Quick-release cord wrap:

With this handy feature, you can release the full length of the vacuum power cord in one quick movement.

Strain reliever handle:

Ergonomically designed to reduce hand and wrist stress.

Sweeper/stick vacuum:

Commonly used for quick, cleanup areas, such as kitchen and bathroom floors. Most stick vacuums have a dirt cup instead of a bag to collect debris.

Upright vacuum:

Perfect for large, carpeted areas of the house. Uprights use a motor-driven beater brush that loosens and removes dirt through suction. Most come with onboard attachments which make cleaning hard-to-reach areas easy. There are designs with bags to capture dust and debris and others that are bagless. Some uprights feature height adjustments, allowing you to clean dense carpet or hardwood floors with the flip of a switch.

Vacuum bag:

The bag attached to the vacuum to collect dirt particles.

Water rinse/carpet protector:

The best option for a clean water rinse. It should also be used when applying the carpet protection through the applicator.

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