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The best vacuums for 2020

Your vacuum is the best defense you have against dust, dead skin, and hair. Vacuum cleaners today are lightyears beyond those our parents used. It’s overwhelming just trying to get through all the different kinds, let alone choosing the best one.

Vacuums are must-haves for pet owners, people on a tight budget, and those with hardwood floors or carpets. Even those who never want to vacuum again need one (Hello, Roomba!). We’ve narrowed down some of the best, and answered all your questions so you can choose confidently.

At a glance

The best vacuum: iRobot Roomba S9+

Why we picked the iRobot Roomba s9+:

Some people love to clean. Others, though, may not share the same optimistic sentiments, which is why we’ve been blessed with automated robot vacuums that can do most of the hard work for us. Even though they don’t entirely eliminate human intervention when it comes to cleaning, they’re invaluable when it comes to allotting us time that can be spent doing other chores around the home.

When it comes to the ultimate robot vacuum, there’s nothing quite like the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus! While most robovacs tend to be circular, the Roomba S9 Plus features a unique looking design that’s meant to clean corners and edges with ease thanks to its PerfectEdge Technology and advanced sensors. Dirt and debris stand no chance against the Roomba s9 Plus because its 3-Stage Cleaning System leverages dual rubber brushes and a 40-times suction to suck up fine particles, such as pet hair and dirt, from deep within carpets.

You’ll be impressed by the amount it’s able to collect. One of its most distinguishable features is its ability to empty out its dustbin after each use, something that very few robot vacuums can perform on their own. Thanks to the Clean Base, the Roomba s9 Plus will automatically dispose of the contents in its dustbin — where the debris will then be ejected into an AllergenLock Bag. Outdoing its predecessor, the bag can now hold up to 60 deposit bins before it needs to be replaced.

The s9 Plus isn’t just a self-emptying robot vacuum — it’s much more than that. It’s smart too, not just because it can be voice-controlled via Alexa and Google Assistant, but due to the fact that its Imprint Smart Mapping feature enables the robot to determine the best way to clean every room. This results in a spotless clean that’ll adjust suction depending on the surface, as well as an efficient clean that will avoid obstacles in its path.

The Best Vacuum for Carpets and Hardwood Floors: Shark Apex Uplight

Erika Rawes/Digital Trends

Why we picked the Shark Apex Uplight:

With its DuoClean technology, the Shark Apex Uplight is fully capable of tackling carpets and hardwood floors thanks to its soft brush that polishes and cleans floors, while a separate brush roll cleans carpets. There’s no fuss around having to switch between tools with this vacuum because its soft brush roll can suck up dust and small particles from hard surfaces, and a self-cleaning brush roll deep is perfect at grabbing hair and other debris embedded deep with carpets.

Much like Shark’s other vacuums, the Apex Uplight comes bundled with several attachments to better facilitate your cleaning routine, including an 8-inch long crevice tool to clean hard-to-reach places. Another key feature about the Apex Uplight is its detachable body, which adds versatility to operating it as a handheld device.

On its own as an upright vacuum, it handles nicely because it’s remarkably lightweight at 10.7 pounds — besting our previous favorite in this category, the 14 pound Shark Ninja Lift-Away Pro. Even vacuuming in the dark is made better with the Apex Uplight’s LED lights, which also helps to better illuminate pet hair, dust, and dirt on the floor that otherwise might be overlooked by the naked eye.

Better yet, the Shark Apex Uplight is an example that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a powerful vacuum with lots of features.

Read our full review of the Shark Apex Uplight

The Best Cordless Vacuum: Tineco Pure One S12

Why we picked the Tineco Pure One S12:

Tineco outdid itself with the cordless Pure One S12, which is loaded with user-friendly features. It even has A.I. and smart features. The S12 is able to get up to 100 minutes of run time. It comes with two lithium-ion batteries, and it also has smart battery management so the vacuum reserves its battery when cleaning lighter messes. The iLoop dust sensor can adjust the suction power in real time based on the cleaning situation. So it’ll automatically up the suction when it detects a lot of dirt and then decrease the suction power in areas where there’s only a small amount of debris.

You can monitor the vacuum’s status on the LED screen, which looks sleek and high tech. It tells you the battery level, power and Wi-Fi status, and more (yes, the vacuum connects to Wi-Fi). A touch screen lets you control the suction power, while a corresponding app lets you manage your cleaning. There’s also a filter self-cleaning tool, so you don’t have to manually rinse the filter clean.

The Pure One S12 is quiet (as low as 71 decibels), lightweight, and it picks up pet hair and tiny particles with strong suction power (150 watts). We tried the Tineco Pure One S12, and we were super impressed.

The Best Robot Vacuum and Mop Combo: Ecovacs Deebot OZMO 950

Why we picked the Ecovacs Deebot OZMO 950:

Getting the most out of your hard-earned money is something that people appreciate, so when you’re spending a pretty penny on a robot vacuum, it’s expected to do considerably more than just vacuum carpets and hardwood floors. Enter the Ecovacs Deebot OZMO 950, the only vacuum or mop you’ll ever need!

The Deebot OZMO 950 intelligently maps out rooms to get the most efficient clean as possible, so it’s not wasting time going over places multiple times. It even offers support for multi-room mapping, carpet detection to increase suction power, and virtual boundaries that you can set to keep it away from areas you don’t want it to clean. And yes, it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which allows you to control it with your voice.

Extending its value over other robot vacuums, the OZMO 950 can also mop floors — while vacuuming at the same time. Call it double-duty, but the OZMO 950 will suck up dirt and debris using its dual brushes and underside roller, clearing the way for cleaning math on its underside to mop. For those worried about carpets during mopping mode, the OZMO 950’s sensors will detect carpets and avoid them entirely.

Read our full review of the Ecovacs Deebot OZMO 950

The Best Vacuum for Pet Hair: Dyson Ball Animal 2

Why we picked the Dyson Ball Animal 2:

Dyson already makes some of the prettiest, most well-equipped vacuums around. But, the suction on the Animal 2 is impressive. The 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.

The cyclone technology enables the vacuum to capture tiny hairs, dust, and debris, while the cleaning head self-adjusts to get the best suction on hardwood and carpets. The included helpful attachments — a turbine tool with heads that rotate in opposite directions, a stair tool, and a combination tool — let you clean your home from top to bottom.

The vacuum, which has a .55 gallon capacity, retains great suction performance after years of use. Although this vacuum doesn’t have the best capacity on the market, it’s super easy to empty with a click of a button.

The Best Vacuum Under $100: Bissell OnePass Vacuum

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Why we picked the Bissell OnePass Vacuum:

At well under $100, 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.

Research and buying tips

How does a vacuum work?

In a nutshell, a typical vacuum cleaner uses a brush mechanism to loosen dirt and debris from the carpet. Then, an internal fan and motor create suction and suck the dirt and air into the machine. The machine then holds the dirt into a sealed container and releases the air through a filter.

How often should you vacuum?

It depends on factors like your lifestyle, your flooring, and your individual preferences. Most experts recommend vacuuming carpets at least twice a week, and you should vacuum high traffic areas more often.

How long do vacuums last?

Most quality upright vacuums can last between least 5 and 10 years with proper care and maintenance. Robot vacuums tend to have shorter life spans. Digital Trends’ testing indicates most robot vacuums last around two years (or longer if you replace the battery and brushes as directed).

Are robot vacuums worth it?

Yes. Robot vacuums help to maintain regular floor cleaning, and the price range is steadily declining. You can get a quality vacuum with features like room mapping, smart home compatibility, and powerful suction for the $200 to $300 range. This allows you to clean your home easily and effortlessly.

How is vacuum suction measured?

Many vacuum manufacturers use air watts to measure suction power, which takes airflow and water lift into account and measures how many watts are used to carry a unit of air through the vacuum’s head. Some manufacturers also use Pa to describe suction power (Pascal pressure units).

How do you dispose of a vacuum cleaner?

Contact your local waste management center or electronics recycling center and drop off your old vacuum cleaner. If the vacuum still functions, consider donating it to a charitable organization.

Does vacuuming kill fleas?

Vacuuming can help reduce flea numbers because it can remove larvae and food sources. It may not completely eliminate a flea infestation, however.

How many watts does a vacuum use?

Between 500 and 3,000, with the average vacuum using around 1,400 watts.

Are Dyson vacuum cleaners really that good?

Yes. Dyson vacuums are known for being quality machines with powerful suction, excellent designs, and smart (yet simple) engineering. However, they are typically higher priced than many other vacuum brands.

How does Digital Trends test vacuums? 

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 carpets and hard floors.

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.

Other 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.

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