For the past few years vacuum manufacturers have been making sporty models. Google the “Porsche of vacuums” or “the Tesla of vacuums,” and you’ll get some hits. The Eureka Ultimate Clean Pet is like the Jeep of vacuums: more utilitarian and less zippy. It’s made to handle “off-road” conditions, going from all levels of carpet to bare floors. In our Eureka Ultimate Clean Pet AS3451A review we test out its dust-and-debris-slurping abilities over all types of terrain.
Buttons, knobs, and dials
The first thing you’ll notice about this Eureka model is the color– what car manufacturers might call “champagne.” It’s miles away from Dyson’s vivid colors, and that’s okay. Chances are you’re keeping this 16-pound vacuum in a closet and prefer a more understated hue for your vacuum anyway. Everything about the vacuum is big, from its nearly 4.5-inch-tall brush head to its 1.8-liter dust cap, to its big ol’ red power button. The dust bin is mostly see-through, so you’ll know when your dust bunnies have hit the max fill line. The bottom of the cap flips open to let you empty it, while the top pops open to reveal a washable filter. There’s a clear window on the front of the brush head, so you can watch the brushroll turn. It’s also where you’ll find a large, gray knob with four carpet settings (high, low, and two in between) and one bare floor option. A big gray button lets you turn the brushroll on or off, depending on whether you’re vacuuming a hardwood floor or not.
From the back, you’ll see the can’t-miss, foot-controlled power button, a big circular piece of plastic where the 27-foot cord retracts, the hose draped over a little shelf that feeds into the wand on one side, and a selector knob that leads to the dust cap. Here you can turn the large, round knob to “tools” or “floor,” depending on how you’re vacuuming. On the back of the brush head, there’s also a gray level you tap with your foot to rock the handle back. The vacuum comes with the “Pet Power Paw” tool, a crevice tool, and a dusting brush, but we only found room onboard for a couple at a time.
Let’s talk about pets, baby
The brush head doesn’t swivel, so we had to use a back-and-forth motion to clean.
There are a couple of reasons people often buy pet-centric vacuums: They offer special fur-removal tools, they help get rid of allergens, or both. The Eureka has its Pet Power Paw. It’s like a miniature version of the brushroll that you can use on furniture or stairs. It worked well de-furring our cat tree and made us really appreciate the Ultimate Clean Pet’s “no tangle” feature. There’s a lever on the side of the brush head that you hold down for several seconds while the vacuum is running. A blade cuts through the hair that’s wrapped around the brushroll, which then gets sucked into the dust cap. It’s one of the handiest features we’ve ever seen on a vacuum. It sounds like a buzz saw, though. For allergen reduction, the Eureka has an Arm & Hammer filter, but it’s not clear if it traps 99 percent of allergens, as the Hoover React Professional Pet Plus claims to do with its “sealed allergen system.”
When it’s time to empty the dust cap, there’s a button on top and a handle for carrying. A button on the bottom opens it underneath, releasing the bin’s contents into your trash and air. (We have yet to test a bagless vacuum that doesn’t let out a poof of dust during this stage.) There’s a tab at the top of the dust cap that lets you remove the lid and pull out the filter and screen for cleaning. We found that bigger debris like cereal tended to get caught in the plastic ring around the filter. Luckily, taking everything apart and snapping it back together is easy. There’s even an arrow that shows you how to line everything up.
Whose hairy crumb?
There are so many buttons and knobs on the Eureka Ultimate Clean Pet that remembering what to turn or push can be confusing. It’s not exactly a pain to kneel and manually switch between the bare floor and carpet settings, but we’d occasionally realize we’d been vacuuming the rug without the brushroll spinning. We could see the same happening with the floor-vs. the tool selectors. It was really annoying to discover you’d pushed the vac all over your living room with the suction going to the wand instead. With the vacuum in floor mode, we measured the sound at about 82 decibels from 1.5 feet away. When using the cord retract button, we found it a mostly smooth process, but the cord does buck a bit, so make sure the path is clear. Sometimes the cord would stop retracting, and we’d have to wiggle it around to keep it going.
For our benchmark tests, we found the vac suctioned up 88 percent of the rice on hardwood, 94 percent on the rug, and 86 percent on carpet. For cereal, it was 79 percent on hardwood, 58 percent on the rug, and 93 percent on the carpet. We used the high-pile setting on the carpet and the low-pile for the rug. Though Eureka says this model has a “crumb cleaner” that shouldn’t scatter items like cereal around, we found that both Cheerios and rice shot out from the bottom as we pushed the vacuum over them. While we were impressed with how much fur it could pick up using the Pet Power Paw on carpet, using the Eureka on hardwood for pet hair was hit and miss. Sometimes it would capture clumps of fur and send them into the depths of the dust cap; sometimes they’d skitter toward freedom.
Unlike the Hoover React, the brush head doesn’t swivel, so we had to use a back-and-forth motion to clean. This made getting under our console table difficult, especially since the brush head is so tall.
The Eureka Ultimate Clean Pet has a five-year warranty.Our Take
While it performs well when it comes to pet hair on carpets, the Eureka Ultimate Clean Pet may require other tools in your cleaning arsenal if you have hardwood floors.
What are the alternatives?
Pets and vacuums go paw-in-hand, so there are lots of options. Hoover’s React Professional Pet Plus ($240) has a great pet tool, a few more attachments, and automatically switches from hardwood to carpet without you having to press a button. The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away True-Pet ($304) has some nice hardwood floor options, like a washable microfiber pad. Both are obviously pricier than the $178 Eureka, though.
Will it last?
You can dismantle just about everything in this Eureka to get at the filters and brushroll, so with proper maintenance, we see it lasting awhile.
Should you buy it?
If cleaning out the brushroll on your vacuum is your pet peeve (no pun intended), you might be able to overlook this Eureka’s drawbacks.