Choosing a vacuum cleaner can feel as complicated as buying a new car. There are many reliable trusted brands that all make many different models. There are bells and whistles and features you didn’t even know you needed. With so much to choose from in this market, take a thorough inventory of where and how you’ll be using a vacuum before you begin shopping. First of all, think about your own needs- Do you have allergies or a sensitivity to dust? Will you need a vacuum that is lightweight or would you prefer a canister style that can be dragged along behind you? Is having everything at your fingertips on an upright vacuum better? The new stick vacuums cleaners on the market are lighter than ever and many are cordless too.
Think about your budget. Some vacuum cleaners will need ongoing purchases of filters and bags, while others are more low maintenance with no bags and reusable filters.
Next, consider your home environment- do you have hardwood floors, tile, laminate, carpet or a combination? Do you have a lot of stairs you’ll need to vacuum? If you have a lot of bare floors, it’s good to choose a vacuum meant for bare floors or that comes with attachments such as a bare-floor brush or separate roller head. Carpeting requires a powerful vacuum with enough suction to pull dirt, hair, and dander from the fibers and weave. Some vacuums require changing attachments to go from a bare floor to carpet, others can be adjusted with the flip of a switch.
Are there high ceilings, ceiling fans, ledges or other hard to reach places in your home? Many vacuums come with great tools and attachments for dusting and reaching those areas. A vacuum cleaner is an effective alternative to using a cloth or other duster that may stir up and encourage more dust to settle back down you’re done cleaning.
Cleaning and vacuuming stir up a lot of dust so most vacuum cleaners have filters built in to help remove allergens such as mites, pollen, fur, dust, and other contaminants from the air. Most vacuum cleaners today have reusable filters that can be cleaned and others will need to be replaced. Many vacuums have HEPA filters but others are equipped only with standard filters that won’t pull as much out of the air. You may breathe better with a stronger filter to keep the bad stuff out of the air but the filter will need to be changed or cleaned regularly to be effective.
Bagless vacuum cleaners are increasingly popular, but if anyone in your home is sensitive to dust, allergens or has respiratory health concerns, you may want to consider a vacuum cleaner that uses bags. These are easily discarded without releasing dust back into the air and most vacuum cleaners with bags have great guarantees about how much dust they pick up. However, the trade-off is that bags can be expensive and your vacuum cleaner will be useless without them on hand.
Bagless vacuum cleaners typically have a clear canister that sits in front of or below the filter that is emptied with a hinged door at the bottom. These are usually easy to clean with a visual indicator of how full the canister is getting. It’s highly gratifying to observe how much your vacuum cleaner is picking up close and personal through a clear canister.
Next, consider your pets. Do they have long or short hair? Some vacuums have brush rolls meant specifically for pet hair and others may not fare so well with longer pet hair or big clumps of it.
We’ve got a list of some of our favorite vacuums for removing pet hair sorted into the categories below:
Upright Vacuum: Typically a vacuum cleaner designed around a vertical shaft with a handle on the top and the motor, rotating brush and intake at the bottom with a canister or vacuum cleaner bag in between.
- Most common variety of vacuum
- Some models can convert to a canister mode
- Typically the most inexpensive
Canister Vacuum: A separate canister containing the motor and canister/bag attached to a long wand by a hose.
- Typically made by luxury or higher end brands
- Ideal for both bare or carpeted floors
- Depending on its size and weight may make stairs harder to clean
- Takes up more space for storage
Stick Vacuum: Lightweight with a long stick-like handle, the canister typically just below the handle.
- Often available in cordless models
- May sacrifice power for size
- Best for smaller areas and light cleanings such as a kitchen or workroom
- Smaller canister size
Robot Vacuum: Smaller automatic vacuum cleaners (usually flat cylinder shaped) that function using a computer to move around rooms, map out your home and find their way back to a charger
- Higher price point
- Time-saving and convenient
- Can be programmed to vacuum when you are at work
- Not as convenient for multi-level homes
Making a decision can be overwhelming but once you’ve sat down to evaluate your needs versus the features out there you’ll be well on your way to making a purchase that should make your life easier and your home cleaner.