If there’s one appliance that’s truly a status buy, it has to be a vacuum. Think about it: Do people take such pride in any other household product? Vacuums aren’t just a cleaning tool anymore—they’re also something to talk about and even show off. People genuinely love their vacuums. That’s partly why we’ve never sat down and made a list of the best vacuums out there… until now. Most people have very strong opinions about vacuum cleaners, and it’s challenging to separate fact from emotional attachment.
That’s why, for this Best List, we did something a little bit different. While we tested many vacuums ourselves, it’s impossible for us to test durability over a long period of time. To remedy this, we crowdsourced opinions, researched reviews and Reddit boards, and, to top it off, spoke directly with a vacuum repairman for an unbiased assessment. So, while not all of the vacuums on our list were tested by us, they’re backed with lots of personal testimony and research.
- Best Overall: Dyson V8 Absolute
- Best Budget-Friendly: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe
- Best Upright Corded: Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2
- Best Stick: Shark APEX UpLight Lift-Away DuoClean
- Best Canister: Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team Canister
- Best for Pets: Bissell ICONpet Pro
- Best for Allergies: Sebo Automatic X7 Premium Upright
- Best Handheld: Black + Decker Dustbuster Handheld
What to Consider Before Buying a Vacuum
There are seemingly endless factors involved in choosing the best vacuum for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, which is why research is so important—and why recommendations need to be taken with a grain of salt. Here’s what to think about:
Types of Vacuums
Upright: These are the vacuums you’re probably most familiar with. They’re larger and heavier than stick vacuums but have a whole lot of power and are especially suited for deep cleaning carpet. This makes them ideal for larger households, although they’re definitely irksome if you’re dealing with stairs.
Stick: These vacuums are gaining in popularity, especially for those in smaller spaces and apartments. Lightweight and easy to store, they’re probably the easiest vacuum to use and maneuver. The downside? They typically aren’t as powerful as other vacuums and work better on hardwood and low-pile carpeting.
Canister: These vacuums are less popular nowadays, although they’re still a great option if you want something powerful for your hardwood flooring and low-pile carpet. The long hose means they’re convenient for reaching out-of-the-way spots, and they tend to be lighter than uprights—although they can be difficult to store if you lack closet space.
Handheld: If you have pets or just don’t want to deal with your regular vacuum’s attachments, a handheld vacuum is a good addition to your cleaning arsenal. They’re best for light cleaning (like pet hair on upholstery) and aren’t as powerful or as long-lasting as their full-size counterparts.
Robot: Another great option for households with pets, robot vacuums are designed to run on their own. They aren’t great for a deep clean but are a solid choice for regular maintenance. (You’ll notice we didn’t include any robot vacuums on this list—that guide is coming!)
Corded: Most vacuums are corded, meaning they must be plugged in to run. The con of a corded vacuum is that you have to keep finding new outlets if you have a large space, giving you less flexibility.
Cordless: Most stick vacuum models are now cordless, meaning they run on a battery charge. While cordless vacuums give you freedom to access every spot in your home with no trouble, there is the possibility of them running out of power while cleaning.
Bagged: Most traditional vacuums come with a bag that has to be emptied out once it’s full. While this can be annoying, bagged vacuums are recommended for those with allergies, as bagless vacuums can spew allergens when the canister is emptied.
Bagless: Many people prefer bagless vacuums, which use a filter instead. Although bagless vacuums are more convenient, they do require maintenance—you should clear out your dust bin after every run, especially if you have allergies, and replace your filter every year, which can be more costly than replacing bags.
Type of Household
Larger houses: If you’re cleaning a good deal of square footage, go with an upright or canister vacuum. Uprights are best at cleaning all types of flooring and have enough power to give your entire home a deep clean. If you have minimal carpeting, a canister vacuum is recommended, especially if you don’t want to deal with lugging a 20-lb. vacuum up and down stairs.
Smaller homes and apartments: On the other hand, if you lack storage space and have a smaller area to clean, a stick vacuum is probably best. Stick vacuum technology is getting better every year, and some models can compete with uprights in terms of power, but you don’t necessarily need all that power if you live alone in a small studio. Plus, sticks are much easier to store.
Pets: Dealing with a lot of pet hair? Really any vacuum can work, and you don’t necessarily need a vacuum that’s branded as “made for pets.” It all depends on your preference. Many pet owners like a bagged vacuum to keep fur and dander contained, while others might be annoyed at how quickly those bags will fill. Just make sure your vac has a strong, sealed filter, and consider buying a handheld or robot vacuum for easy maintenance.
Allergies: If you have serious allergies, you’ll probably be better off with a bagged vacuum. Emptying a dust bin can make allergens go back into the air, so keeping them contain in a sealed bag is healthier. Otherwise, it’s up to you on the vacuum type.
If you’re serious about buying a good vacuum, be ready to spend. While budget vacuums exist, they’re more likely to break down after a year or two, or require constant upkeep. In fact, when we talked to Stu Davis, a vacuum repairman who’s been in business for 45 years, he said the best vacuum brands are indeed the most expensive ones. “I recommend Miele, Riccar, and Sebo,” says Stu. “They’re the most reliable and well-made.” The only problem? Their vacuums can cost over $1,000, and Riccar and Sebo, in particular, are only available in specialty stores.
But Stu makes a great point: “Are you more concerned with the best price or the best cost?” Although spending hundreds of dollars on a vacuum might seem a little outrageous, Stu reasons that you’ll save in the long run, since those high-end brands will last for years with minimal maintenance.
When it comes to vacuums, there are two major certifications:
The Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval: The CRI measures how well vacuums clean carpets, testing for things like soil removal efficacy, residual moisture, and surface appearance change.
Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certified: To meet this certification, vacuums have to pass a certain set of standards proving that they remove surface allergens.
What We Look for in a Vacuum Cleaner
We tested and researched a wide range of models to find the best vacuums, judging them on the following criteria:
- Functionality: How well does the vacuum clean dirt and debris? Does it work on a range of surfaces? Does it require multiple runs in order to pick everything up?
- Durability: How long does the vacuum last? Does it require a lot of maintenance? Does it have a warranty?
- Price: How much does the vacuum cost? Does it go on sale?
- Ease of purchasing: Is it easily ordered online, or does it have to be purchased in a store?
Best Overall Vacuum: Dyson V8 Absolute
Picking the “best overall” vacuum was, to put it mildly, not easy. Choosing a vacuum is very personal and dependent upon tons of different factors, so we chose the product that checked the most boxes. What makes Dyson’s V8 Absolute stand out? It’s powerful, lightweight, easy to use and store, not outlandishly expensive, and can be purchased online. It cleans remarkably well, and unlike other stick vacs, it’s actually suited for carpet cleaning, thanks to a powerful cleaner head. Like other Dyson models, it easily converts to a handheld, basically giving you two vacuums in one.
This model is popular in the AT office, with several members of our team owning it. While some might question Dyson’s durability over time, we have some huge Dyson fans in our office, with several staffers vouching for its longterm reliability. If you want the latest in Dyson technology, the Dyson V11 Torque Drive is certainly a powerful advanced model, but the V8 has similar technology and is much cheaper, making it our overall top pick.
- Washable lifetime filter
- 115AW power
- 5.75 lbs.
- 5-hour charge time with up to 40-min run time
- 2-year warranty
- 7 tools and accessories included
- Certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something powerful, lightweight, and cordless; pet owners and allergy sufferers.
Good to Know: There’s also a V8 Animal vacuum made specifically with pet owners in mind.
Best Budget-Friendly Vacuum: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe
This choice, on the other hand, was a no-brainer. Shark’s Navigator line is popular and highly recommended, even without price as a consideration. The Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe was the first vacuum I bought for myself, and it’s served me reliably for two years. It’s not as heavy as other upright models and has a roomy dust bin that I found filled up very quickly. Although the results are kind of horrifying, it means the power is there. Plus, there are two modes for cleaning on both hardwood and carpet.
While Shark vacuums are considered to be the best budget brand out there, they do have some limitations and most likely won’t last as long as more expensive brands. Still, if budget is what you’re prioritizing, you can’t do better than a Navigator.
- Corded (25-ft. cord)
- Sealed HEPA filter
- 1200W power
- 13 lbs.
- 1.2-qt. dust bin capacity
- 5-year limited warranty
Who It’s Best For: Those looking for the most bang for their buck; those who want something straightforward without any bells and whistles; those who want the flexibility of a detachable canister.
Good to Know: Other vacuums in the line include the slightly lighter Navigator Lift-Away and the even less expensive Navigator DLX.
Best Upright Vacuum: Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2
The “best upright” category was another tough one, with the highest number of options out there. We selected the Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 for its versatility across all floor types, easy navigation (rare for an upright), and incredibly powerful suction. Our Lifestyle Director Taryn Williford confirms its durability over time—she’s had a Dyson upright for 10 years, although her model is no longer made. Our only complaint is the bulky size and heavy weight, but that’s not unexpected when it comes to uprights.
- Corded (31-ft. cord)
- HEPA filter
- 1400W power
- 15.6 lbs.
- 0.42-gallon dust bin capacity
- Comes with 2 attachments
- 5-year limited warranty
- Certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly
Who It’s Best For: Those looking for some serious power; those with larger homes.
Good to Know: Shopping directly on Dyson’s site gives you a number of benefits, including free tools with auto-registration, access to exclusive colors, and free 2-day shipping.
*Honorable Mention: The Riccar R25 Deluxe ($599.99), which is practically unparalleled in quality but only sold in specialty stores.
Best Stick Vacuum: Shark APEX UpLight Lift-Away DuoClean
This Shark model has everything we look for in a stick vacuum: a light feel, fair price, and, the ability to stand on its own. Maybe it seems trivial, but a vacuum that doesn’t stand on its own can lead to some annoying headaches, especially if you’re lacking storage space. The APEX UpLight also benefits from having a lift-away canister that makes reaching tight corners easier—honestly, this vacuum combines some of the best qualities of all three major vacuum types. As for performance, this model is a workhorse, although, like other sticks, it has a lower power compared to uprights. The only other downside is that it’s corded, which might be a dealbreaker for some. (Read our full review of this model.)
- Corded (30-ft. cord)
- Sealed HEPA filter
- 700W power
- 10.7 lbs.
- 0.68-qt. dust bin capacity
- 5-year limited warranty
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something lightweight and easy to navigate; those who vacuum frequently; those who want something versatile; those who live in a smaller space.
Good to Know: For something cheaper, the APEX DuoClean has fewer bells and whistles but costs slightly less.
Best Canister Vacuum: Miele Compact C1 Turbo Team
Miele, a German brand that’s been around for over 100 years, is well known for top-notch appliances and vacuums. They excel at producing highly dependable and powerful canister vacuums, and really any of their canister models come recommended. What we love about the Compact C1 is its smaller size, relatively lower price point, and strong filtration system. A few AT staffers own this vacuum, with a few claiming it’s changed their lives. It’s great for pet owners, those in both apartments and large homes, and those who need a lighter vacuum. Like most canister vacuums, it’s best for hardwood and low-to-medium-pile carpeting.
- Canister bagged vacuum (21-ft. cord)
- Sealed filter system
- 1200W suction power
- 3.75-qt. dust cup capacity
- 15 lbs.
- Comes with 5 attachments
- 5-year warranty
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something that will last for many, many years; those who want a canister but have limited storage space.
Good to Know: Miele vacuums aren’t readily available through most online retailers, although that seems to be changing.
Best Vacuum for Pets: BISSELL ICONpet Pro
We’re more familiar with Shark and Dyson’s stick vacuums, but BISSELL’s latest stick model seriously impressed us. It’s lightweight, with a handy light at the cleaning head, runs smoothly and quietly, and picks up everything with ease. BISSELL is a nice budget brand in line with Shark, but this more expensive model proves they can compete with luxury brands. It doesn’t have a wall charger like the Dyson but is just as compact.
When it comes to pet vacuums, there are two camps. We chose a stick because they’re light and easy to use (an important consideration if you’re vacuuming more than once a day), and convert to a handheld for lighter cleanings. If, however, you prefer a more powerful upright, we recommend the Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog vacuum—it’s more expensive but packs some serious power. In fact, it’s the vacuum we use to clean AT’s offices, which is home to many furry visitors during the day.
- Sealed filter
- 25V power
- 7 lbs.
- 0.5-qt. dust cup capacity
- 4 hour charge time with up to 50 minutes of run time
- 3-year limited warranty
- Comes with 4 attachments
Who It’s Best For: Those who vacuum more than once a day; those who want both a standard vacuum and a handheld; those who prefer a filter over a bag.
Good to Know: BISSELL is particularly well known for their pet-friendly vacuums—in fact, a portion of every sale goes to the Bissell Pet Foundation, which helps homeless animals.
*Honorable Mention: The Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog vacuum ($699.95), if you prefer something more heavy duty.
Best Vacuum for Allergies: Sebo Automatic X7 Premium Upright
Sebo is a high-end vacuum brand you might not have heard of. The German brand is almost exclusively sold in speciality stores and has some of the most expensive vacuums on the market, but they’re worth it if you have health problems or more than one shedding pet in your household. It’s hard to choose just one Sebo vacuum to highlight, but we selected the Automatic X7 Premium for its sleek build and heavy-duty functionality. This vacuum is made specifically with allergy sufferers in mind, and it shows in the incredibly powerful motor, hospital-grade filtration system, and roomy bag capacity.
- Corded with bag (40-ft. cord)
- Hospital-grade S-class filter
- 1300W power
- 16.9 lbs.
- 1.4-gallon bag capacity
- Comes with 3 attachments
- 7-year warranty
Who It’s Best For: Those who need a heavy-duty filtration system; those who want a vacuum that will last for many years.
Good to Know: The Sebo Automatic X7 (non-premium) is $100 less but does not have a headlight or brush button.
Best Handheld Vacuum: Black + Decker Dustbuster Handheld
It might seem obvious, but we believe the good old-fashioned Dustbuster really is the best handheld vacuum. (One of our writers even wrote a love letter to it back in 2017). Unfussy, straightforward, and reliable, it’s a dream if you need something that’ll take care of light cleaning maintenance—particularly if you have a pet. It even has a rotating nozzle, and can be taken apart quite easily for regular cleaning. While handheld vacuums aren’t built to last forever, with proper care you might just have the Dustbuster for way longer than expected.
- 15.2AW power
- 20.6-oz. dust bin capacity
- 4 hour charge time with up to 18 month run time
- 2-year limited warranty
Who It’s Best For: Those who need something in addition to their regular vacuum that actually has power; those with pets; those who live in small spaces.
Good to Know: There’s a newer version that’s more expensive but has a few new features.
*Honorable Mention: The BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser ($36.99), which is less expensive and comes highly reviewed from several pet owners on AT’s staff.