The ability to simply vacuum may have been adequate for the “dedusting pumps” of the early 19th century, but today’s modern home demands an array of enhanced features and settings. These preferred accessories vary from person to person, based on personal tastes and circumstances. Individuals with allergies may need a more extensive filtration system, for instance, while those with busy lifestyles may leave the chore entirely to the latest fleet of robotic vacuums — AKA, the modern utopian custodians.
With so many options to choose from, selecting the right vacuum isn’t as easy as it once was. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up some of our current favorites, so you can choose a device that fits your needs and budget.
Why you should buy this: Hardwood floors? Carpet? Multiple sets of stairs? Between couch cushions? This vacuum can handle it all.
Who’s it for: Homeowners who appreciate value and versatility
How much will it cost: $200
Why we picked the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro:
Who says innovation can’t be found in the vacuum sector? The lightweight Shark Navigator Lift-Away is a feature-packed vacuum that can handle just about any job that you throw at it. It comes with a number of attachments, including a crevice tool to clean hard-to-reach places, and a pet brush to cut down on dander and allergens. This device also features a detachable body, which allows you to operate the vacuum as a handheld device.
It also works pretty well as a stand-up vacuum. With swivel steering and a lightweight build, this 14-pound vacuum is a breeze to maneuver. Its anti-allergen technology allows the vacuum to capture nearly as much dust in its 2-liter bin as some of the more expensive vacuums on our list.
The SharkNinja Navigator Lift-Away Pro proves that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a powerful vacuum with lots of features.
The best robotic vacuum
Why you should buy this: This vacuum requires virtually no manual effort but still leaves you with clean floors.
Who’s it for: Anyone who’s too busy for daily sweepings
How much will it cost: $500
Why we picked the Neato Botvac D80:
If you prefer the hands-off approach, the Neato Botvac D80 is happy to take care of the cleaning for you. With a graciously sized dustbin, great navigational efficiency, and powerful suction, you’ll only have to set it up once before you forget about it entirely.
The squared edges are also fantastic for reaching into corners, a vast improvement over the rounded vacuums of old, and one that makes a noticeable difference when things get dirty.
The Neato Botvac D80 lacks the smartphone connectivity featured in more expensive models, but we’re not convinced that the ability to program this vacuum from your smartphone is worth an extra $200. (If you do, check out the $700 Botvac D5.) Despite its lack of smartphone connectivity, the Botvac can still be set for an automatic cleaning schedule, will go from room-to-room without aide, and will return to its charging station when your floors are spotless.
The best cordless vacuum
Why should you buy this: This vacuum delivers surprisingly good performance without tying you down.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a simple but powerful cordless
How much will it cost: $109
Why we picked the Hoover Air Cordless 2-in-1:
The Hoover Air Cordless 2-in-1 doesn’t come with a ton of attachments, but what the bagless stick lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for in sheer performance. The push of a button switches it from a carpet cleaner to a hard floor machine, and its dust cup holds 0.7 liters of debris.
The Air also features a removable handvac, so you can use it like a dust buster on the couch or in the car. It does come with a crevice tool as well, for another cleaning option. While its 15-minute runtime and 9-hour charge time may give you pause, it’s enough juice to clean an apartment or work as a lightweight (it’s 7 pounds) option for cleaning stairs in larger homes.
This vacuum’s lack of features does come with one amazing benefit: The price. If you can live without brushes, hoses, and oddly shaped nozzles, the Hoover Air delivers a superb cleaning experience for just over $100.
The best vacuum for pet fur
Why should buy this: You’ll never have to clean another filter with this vacuum.
Who’s it for: Pet owners with allergic children
How much will it cost: $599
Why we picked the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball + Animal Allergy:
Dyson already makes some of the prettiest, most well equipped vacuums around, but the company’s filterless technology surprised even us. The big-ball movement takes the rails off your traditional vacuum experience, allowing greater maneuverability when navigating around corners and furniture, with the added ability to turn on a dime.
You never have to buy replacement filters with the Cinetic feature, either, and the vacuum, which as a 2.15-liter-capacity bin, retains great suction performance after years of use. The additional attachments, such as the mattress tool and the instant-release suction wand, only render it more appealing if you’re looking for a versatile vacuum. Its specially designed head works really well on pet hair, as do attachments like the turbine tool, which picks up fur from furniture.
The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball + Animal Allergy Vacuum is an expensive appliance, but with the included attachments, filterless cleaning feature, and ease-of-use, it adds up to a great vacuum.
The best cheap vacuum
Why you should buy this: This vacuum will clean out your closet, but not your wallet.
Who’s it for: Somebody looking for a basic vacuum for basic cleaning
How much will it cost: $75
Why we picked the Bissell OnePass Vacuum:
At only $80, the Bissell OnePass is by far the most economical option on this list. The vacuum may have a low price point, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on features and accessories.
The Bissell OnePass utilizes a Cyclonic System for more powerful suction, and its TurboBrush option allows you to tackle your stairs, upholstery, and furniture with greater ease. The 2.27-liter dustbin and washable foam filter also allow for quick, convenient cleanup, so you can spend less time cleaning the appliance itself.
This is a corded vacuum, though, so your mobility is limited. However, if all you need is a basic vacuum for an occasional dusting, you really can’t beat this value-priced appliance.
How we test
A number of factors were taken into consideration when we made our list. The vacuums had to be powerful, but not too noisy; they had to be versatile, but not too pricey; and the biggest factor was how well they cleaned our carpet.
Digital Trends uses a benchmark process similar to the ones used by manufacturers. It’s pretty simple. The first thing we do is put various substances on the ground. Next, we grind it into the carpet with our sneakers. Then we weigh how much the vacuum picks up.
In addition to demonstrating admirable cleaning power, these vacuums also represent a combination of form, function, and value. You can read more about how we test our vacuum cleaners here.
If we cannot test a vacuum ourselves, we do rigorous research online, checking reviews, user feedback, and other markers to indicate if a vacuum is worth your money.
Things to consider
Before you pick your vacuum, you have to have a good understanding of what you’re going to use it for. Does your house have a lot of carpet or rugs? Do you have a lot of stairs? Do you have pets? Do you live in an apartment with all hardwood floors? How much time can you devote to cleaning every week? Once you know the type of vacuum cleaner you need, you can start narrowing your list down by price, or by specific features.
It should also be noted that the manufacturers of all of these vacuums have multiple models. If you like one of the vacuums on this list but find that it’s too expensive, or missing a certain feature, check the manufacturer’s website and see what else they have to offer. There’s a good chance that you’ll find something that suits your needs.