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How to Clean a Vacuum Cleaner

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Photo: Michael Hession

I’ve lost count of all the people in my life who have given me a hard time for recommending a vacuum that “broke” within a year or two.

Almost every time, it turned out that they’d never done any basic maintenance, such as clearing clogs, cutting tangles, and dealing with dirty filters. Usually, all it would take was a 10-minute tune-up to get their “broken” vacuum back in business.

Suddenly worried that you’ve neglected your vacuum or whether you’ve thrown away a vacuum that still worked? It never needs to happen again. Here’s how to keep your vacuum sucking.

What you need

Photo: Liam McCabe

  • Scissors (or another blade): To cut tangles away from the brush roll.
  • Compressed air: To quickly clean dusty surfaces and blow away buildups in hard-to-reach places.
  • Small brush (or toothbrush): Not as quick or deep-reaching as compressed air but still decent for dusting.
  • Pipe cleaners: To deal with bigger clogs in hard-to-reach places.
  • Damp cloth or sponge: To wipe away grime.
  • Flashlight: To help find clogs.
  • Work gloves: To keep dust and grime off your hands. Latex is good, and cloth gardening gloves can be fine, too.
  • Mask: To keep dust out of your nose. Cloth or medical masks will work, though respirators are ideal if you have one. But try to do the work outside anyway.

For some vacuums

  • New bag: Most vacuums are bagless now, but some still use bags.
  • New filter: Most modern vacuums use washable filters, but some still use disposables. Knockoffs are generally okay.
  • New belt: Most vacuums use lifetime—or at least very long-lasting—belts to drive the brush roll, but some still need to be replaced occasionally.

For serious maintenance

How long will it take to clean?

Video: Liam McCabe

Every vacuum needs some maintenance. It’s normal, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it entirely. Plan for 10 to 30 minutes for basic maintenance, plus 24 hours of drying time if you rinse any parts. More serious repairs might take a couple of hours.

If your vacuum seems weaker than it used to be, it needs attention. Ditto if the vacuum ever shuts itself off abruptly—that’s usually a fail-safe feature to protect the parts from overheating. And it’s never a bad idea to do some preventive maintenance, or at least a visual inspection, occasionally.

The good news is that most of the maintenance is uncomplicated, and advice for the trickier jobs can be found on YouTube. Here’s what I’ve learned from a decade of testing vacuums, reading manuals, talking to repair technicians, watching how-to videos—and getting an earful from family, friends, and co-workers.

As you go along: Clean up dust and grime

Video: Liam McCabe

As you get a peek at all the hidden parts of your vacuum, take the opportunity to brush, air-blast, or damp-wipe any buildup you find inside the vacuum. Let damp parts dry for 24 hours, preferably in sunlight, before you use the vacuum again.

Empty the bin (or replace the bag)

Maybe this seems too obvious to even mention, but some people do not understand how important this step is. Air needs to flow through a vacuum, and an overstuffed bin or bag blocks that airflow. Personally, I’ve seen two vacuums that were simply too full to work. It just hadn’t occurred to their owners that if they dumped out the debris, their vacuums would work again.

Wash or replace your filters

Photo: Liam McCabe

Any decent vacuum filter will eventually get clogged with dust, and the vacuum will lose suction. A dirty filter starts to slowly, silently inhibit your vacuum’s cleaning performance long before then.

Most vacuum makers recommend cleaning or replacing filters at set intervals—and those intervals vary wildly. Tineco, for example, recommends cleaning the filters on its stick vacuums after every few uses, while Miele says you need to change its vacuum filters only after every fourth bag change. Typically you can wait a bit longer than recommended between filter service, and everything will run fine, but the delayed maintenance will catch up with the vacuum eventually.

Filter care instructions can differ from vacuum to vacuum. Some models, such as Dyson’s cordless stick vacuums and most robot vacuums, have a single filter. Others, like the Shark Navigator Lift-Away series, have multiple filters. Find them all!

Video: Liam McCabe

Plenty of vacuums still use disposable filters that you need to buy and replace periodically. But washable, reusable types are very common now. In general, you clean one of these by tapping it on the edge of a trash bin until the obvious debris falls off and then rinsing it under cold water until the water runs clear. You should give the filter at least 24 hours to air-dry.

Check for clogs and clean them out

Photo: Michael Murtaugh

Usually, clogs form when debris that’s slightly oversized or tacky gets stuck in the narrow, twisty, transitional areas inside the vacuum. The intake channel on the cleaning head is one common spot, for example. On stick vacuums, the junction where the shaft meets the dust bin is often a bottleneck.

If you think you need to clear a clog, look first at those transfer points. Disconnect the hoses or cleaning head if you can, and look for any “trapdoors” that might be built into the vacuum—all of which are likely spots for clogs to form. Clear out any jams or buildups by hand, with a pipe cleaner, or with a can of compressed air.

If that doesn’t turn anything up, try to shine a flashlight deeper inside the machine and work at any clogs with a pipe cleaner.

Untangle the brush roll

Photo: Liam McCabe

If anyone in your household (pets included) has hair that’s longer than a few inches, there’s a really good chance that some of it ends up wrapped about your vacuum’s spinning brush. Floss and thread can get tangled, too.

Photo: Liam McCabe

Over time, string-like debris covers more and more of the bristles on the brush and prevents it from working well on carpets. In extreme cases, the wrapped hair can stop the brush from spinning freely, which can then lead to the drive belt snapping or the bearings getting damaged—both of which need to be repaired at an extra cost and inconvenience that you’d likely avoid with regular maintenance. Wrapped hair also causes the machine to draw more power, depleting your cordless stick or handheld vacuum’s battery faster and putting more strain on the motor.

A simple way to get rid of wrapped hair is to just cut the tangle with scissors or slice it with a blade. Some models have a little groove along the length of the brush that can guide your cutting tool.

Your tool may not always be able to reach to the ends of the brush, but you can usually just pull the remaining hair off by hand.

If you have the option to partially or completely remove the brush roll (or wheels) without completely disassembling the cleaner head—check the manual for instructions—you should do so. This makes it extra easy to cut away tangles and wraps.

Deeper maintenance

Most of the time, the basic yet thorough cleaning we’ve outlined above will get your vacuum back into top form.

But if you still aren’t getting much oomph, or the power keeps cutting out, or the vacuum just won’t start, you have a few other possibilities to consider:

  • The batteries are dead (on battery-powered vacuums), or there’s some other fault in the charging system, such as dirty charging contacts or a broken power adapter.
  • If it’s a robot vacuum, a dirty sensor can cause the bot to behave strangely.
  • A cracked hose is leaking air and reducing suction.
  • Either the belt (cheap to fix) or the transmission (more expensive) for the brush is broken.
  • You have a “phantom” clog in the bag, the narrow tips of the cyclones, or the filter. These can be caused by debris such as flour, plaster dust, or other fine, white, gummy stuff. The clogs are hard to spot but act like cement and choke the airflow.

You can find tons of DIY repair videos on YouTube, and they can be a great guide to fixing these problems. But sometimes your best bet is to bring your vacuum into a shop and let an experienced technician give it a shot.

Sabine Heinlein contributed reporting.

Meet your guide

Liam McCabe

Liam McCabe is a former senior staff writer for Wirecutter, and has covered the wild world of appliances since 2011. After testing dozens of robot vacuums, he is neither worried about AI nor holding his breath for self-driving cars. He enjoys visiting factories and learning about regulatory loopholes, and has flooded our testing area only three times.

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Further reading

  • The Best Car Vacuum

    by Sabine Heinlein

    We recommend four handheld vacuums that have helpful tools and the ability to reach into the nooks and crannies of a car.

  • The Best Robot Vacuums

    by Rachel Cericola and Liam McCabe

    A robot vacuum can keep your home free from debris, pet hair, and dust, with little effort on your part (some even empty themselves). Here are six we recommend.

  • What’s the Best Vacuum for Hardwood Floors?

    by Liam McCabe and Sabine Heinlein

    While any vacuum can clean bare floors, some models make the task a little easier. The most versatile option of these is the Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352.

  • How to Clean a Stroller

    by Elise Czajkowski

    A stroller is bound to get messy, and the type of mess determines the best way to clean it.

Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).

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10 Best Vacuum Cleaners of 2023

Best Overall Upright Vacuum

Shark Stratos

$430 at Amazon

Dust Bin Type: Bagless | Cleaning Path Width: 9.5″

REASONS TO BUY

Great carpet cleaning

Spectacular hard surface cleaning

Convenient to use

Highly maneuverable

REASONS TO AVOID

Expensive

The Shark Stratos stands out as one of the top upright vacuums available in the market today thanks to its exceptional cleaning performance, effortless maneuverability, and convenient lift-away feature. Shark has continuously improved its duo clean technology, equipping the Stratos with a dual brush roll system that effectively eliminates dirt and debris from various surfaces, including hard floors and carpets. No matter the type of flooring, you can expect beautifully cleaned surfaces. The lift-away feature enhances usability by enabling easy cleaning of stairs, accessing tight spaces under furniture, and reaching challenging spots.

Our evaluation of the Shark Stratos revealed very few shortcomings. Only through rigorous side-by-side comparisons was our team able to identify minor criticisms. We do think it could benefit from a slight improvement in its edging ability and a reduction in weight. Though, it still leaves carpets looking expertly clean, and you are unlikely to notice any issues at the edges. Overall, the Shark Stratos is an exceptional vacuum cleaner, leaving little room for improvement.

Read more: Shark Stratos review

The Shark Stratos left no crumbs behind in any of our carpet cleaning tests.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Most Economical Upright Vacuum

Shark Navigator Lift Away

$180 at Amazon

Dust Bin Type: Bagless | Cleaning Path Width: 11. 25″

REASONS TO BUY

Great maneuverability

Picked up almost all pet hair

Reasonably priced

REASONS TO AVOID

Requires some additional passes

The Shark Navigator Lift Away took the top spot in our testing for its affordability and impressive performance. This model is extremely easy to handle and move around corners. Additional premium features of this model include a HEPA filter (so that dust and debris won’t fly out of the vacuum) and a ‘Lift Away’ mode, which allows users to take apart the vacuum and use it as a handheld vacuum. These two features are commonly seen on more premium upright vacuums, and you’ll rarely see them at this price point.

Although the Shark Lift Away is a stronger performer, we did notice a couple of flaws. It took us a couple of extra tries to pick up debris on both hardwood flooring and carpets. This will admittedly require a bit more of your time, but not much. Overall, this vacuum is great for anyone on a budget who doesn’t want to sacrifice quality features.

Read more: Shark Navigator Lift Away review

The ‘Lift Away’ feature on the Shark Navigator is very simple.

Credit: Chris McNamara

Best All-Around Stick Vacuum

Shark Rocket Pet Pro

$290 at Amazon

Power Source: Battery | Cleaning Path Width: 10 ¼”

REASONS TO BUY

Easy to use

Great at removing pet hair

REASONS TO AVOID

Expensive

Relatively loud

The Shark Pet Pro was one of the top performers in the stick vacuum review. This stand-up stick vacuum works like a full-sized machine — but is much easier to handle — leaving us with few critiques about its performance. This machine handles hair extremely well because the brush penetrates the carpet to extract hair while the agitator self-cleans. The Pet Pro comes with crevice, brush, and pet tools for furniture and stairs. Also, the “stick” portion of the machine can be removed, turning it into a handheld vacuum — a real plus for vehicle cleaning. The unit is just eight pounds, it has an easy-to-swap battery that lasts up to 21 minutes (in economical mode), and it has a swift recharge time of just 2.5 hours. The Pro does well on both hard and soft surfaces, large and small debris, and its 37″ articulating shaft makes it easy to get under the couch or bed without getting on your hands and knees.

The performance of the Shark Pet Pro is rather impressive. Our only criticism is that this machine is a bit loud compared to other models, and pushing the vacuum straight into a wall leaves a small gap that the agitator could not reach. However, run the agitator perpendicular to the wall, and there is almost no gap. As a bonus, the Pet Pro is freestanding — a rarity among stick vacuums — so it will stand at attention until the next time you need it.

Read more: Shark Pet Pro review

The Shark Pet Pro is a well-designed, high-quality device that can clean-up the toughest of messes.

Credit: Laura Casner

Top Premium Stick Vacuum

Shark Stratos Cordless

$419 at Amazon

Power Source: Battery | Cleaning Path Width: 10. 25″

REASONS TO BUY

Superb cleaning performance

Folds up

Multiple power settings

REASONS TO AVOID

No charging indicator

Pricey

The Shark Stratos Cordless seamlessly tackles whatever mess is placed in front of it, regardless of the surface. This model gives other stick vacuums a run for their money, as it picked up almost all the oats and rice spilled throughout our testing area. A simple click of a button allows the system to transition into a handheld model for cleaning non-floor surfaces like couch cushions or car seats. This cordless model won’t be limited to locations with power outlets, so you can easily float this around the entire house without needing to replug. The machine has average maneuverability, but you should have no trouble getting around furniture and tight corners. It boasts an impressive battery life, with power settings ranging from eco to boost. When all the cleaning is done and you’re ready to relax, this system folds down, easily packing away into tight places.

The Stratos Cordless should last the entirety of your cleaning unless you exclusively run it on boost mode. When docked to charge, there’s no indicator to let you know its charge level. Instead, you have to turn it on to see what power percentage it has. It isn’t the easiest to get started with an inconveniently placed button, and it weighs in at 8.9 pounds. However, much of that weight is held in the brush head. Additionally, it’s on the pricier side. This is quite an impressive machine and we think the investment will be worth the extra cleaning power and performance.

Read more: Shark Stratos Cordless review

With just a click of a button, the Stratos Cordless transitions into a handheld vacuum for easy couch cushion cleaning.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Overall Canister Vacuum

Eureka WhirlWind

$80 at Amazon

Power Source: Plug-in | Cleaning Path Width: 10 ½”

REASONS TO BUY

Easy to use

Good performance on hard surfaces

REASONS TO AVOID

Struggles with pet hair

Requires bags

If you want one of the best canister vacuums at an affordable price point, the Eureka WhirlWind is a top choice. This model was one of the absolute best performers in our best canister vacuum review. We were impressed by its ability to plow through cereal, oatmeal, and flour in our hard surface and carpet cleaning tests. At 11 pounds, this vacuum cleaner is also one of the easiest to carry up and down stairs. We appreciated this model for its impressive cleaning performance, handling, and ease of use.

Pet owners may want to go with another unit unless they are on a tight budget. Unfortunately, the pet hair performance was lackluster due to the absence of a brush roller. But, if you’re looking for an affordable vacuum and don’t mind making a few more passes to collect pet hair, the WhirlWind may be a viable choice.

Read more: Eureka WhirlWind review

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Carpet Cleaning Canister Vacuum

Miele Compact C1 Turbo

$452 at Amazon

Power Source: Plug-in | Cleaning Path Width: 10 ¾”

REASONS TO BUY

Good at removing pet hair

Maneuverable

REASONS TO AVOID

Spendy

The Miele Compact C1 Turbo is an all-around top-performing, albeit expensive, canister vacuum. The machine’s key feature is a floor cleaning attachment with a rolling brush (agitator) that makes it more like an upright vacuum cleaner while maintaining the advantages and simplicity of a canister unit. Given the benefits of having an agitator, we were not surprised that the Turbo did well on carpets of all pile lengths (but particularly on the shorter variety) and most debris types. Its swivel head makes it more maneuverable than most canister units, too, while its floor attachment does reasonably well at collecting debris in corners and against baseboards. While this unit performed well across the board, it shined when picking up flour (fine debris) and the toughest debris of all — pet hair.

Although the Miele Compact C1 Turbo excelled at tackling some of the toughest messes, its performance dropped a degree when cleaning larger debris (like rice and cereal) from the fluffier varieties of carpet, requiring more passes than other machines. We also felt that the Turbo was a tad fiddly when switching between attachments. Its ease of use was further impacted by its middling weight of 15.2 pounds — not the heaviest but certainly not the lightest either. Despite this, the Turbo does a great job reaching under low furniture and has a maximum reach of 30 feet for an outlet to the attachment. If this vacuum cleaner fits your budget, it’s a great buy, particularly for pet owners with loads of carpeting.

Read more: Miele Compact C1 Turbo review

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Best Overall Handheld Vaccuum

Black+Decker Flex Vac BDh3020FL

$92 at Amazon

Power Source: Battery | Cleaning Path Width: 1 3/16″ (hose end)

REASONS TO BUY

Good in tight spots

Good with pet hair

REASONS TO AVOID

So-so battery life

Two-handed operation

The Black+Decker Flex Vac BDh3020FL does a lot for a handheld vacuum, and that’s because it’s a lot like a miniature canister vacuum. This model was a top performer in our best handheld vacuum review. The machine has an accordion hose for long reaches, multiple attachments for those hard-to-reach places, and high airflow through its 1 3/16 inch hose end. The Flex Vac did well sucking up animal hair and large debris, such as Mini-Wheats cereal, without clogging. Moreover, the little vac did a great job cleaning deep cracks and crevices (easily reaching 36″ into a 3″ gap), and it did above average in cleaning dusty surfaces with a brush attachment.

While we were impressed with the overall performance of the Flex Vac, it is not without some shortcomings. Specifically, it is loud enough to strain conversation. Also, it struggles with heavy, caked-on dirt as you would find on the floorboard of a car, though it will eventually get the job done if you keep at it. Finally, there is a lack of some convenience features that we would have liked to see. For example, the battery life is a bit truncated at just 15 minutes of runtime on a full charge, and it has a four-hour recharge interval. Also, the Flex Vac is a bit heavy at three pounds. Finally, the unit’s three attachments lack onboard storage though there is a place to organize them on the battery dock. Yet, the large and easy-to-empty canister counteracts some of these convenience shortfalls. All in all, the Flex Vac still performs quite well across the board.

Read more: Black+Decker Flex Vac BDh3020FL review

We used an anemometer to measure the suction power of each handheld vac – including the Flex.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Most Economical Handheld Vacuum

Black+Decker HHVI320JR02

$55 at Amazon

Power Source: Battery | Cleaning Path Width: ~3″

REASONS TO BUY

Good with big debris

Good in cracks and crevices

REASONS TO AVOID

Struggles with fine debris

Quite loud

The Black+Decker HHVI320JR02’s performance is a mixed bag with some real bright spots, including a great price point and the suction power to pick up big messes. The narrow nozzle with the built-in extension makes it effective at getting to those hard-to-reach places without needing multiple attachments. In the same vein, the rotating nozzle feature is a boon for maintaining a good grip on the handle when probing between couch cushions and the like. Also, the fold-down brush does well for vacuuming baseboards, though you need to be mindful not to scratch the wall with the plastic backing. Finally, the Black+Decker HHVI320JR02’s battery lasts ~15.5 minutes, weighs 2.4 pounds, and has an easy-to-empty debris receptacle.

The Black+Decker HHVI320JR02 has some limitations, too. For one, it did not fare well in our pet hair pick-up tests. It also struggles with fine debris like flour and has limited effectiveness on high-pile carpets. Additionally, the unit is considerably louder than other models in the class. Despite these issues, we still favor this unit as a reasonably effective, easy-to-use, affordable handheld vacuum.

Read more: Black+Decker HHVI320JR02 review

The Black+Decker does well in tight spots like between cushions due to its narrow, extendable, rotating nozzle and good suction.

Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Best Overall Robot Vacuum

Roborock Q5

$430 at Amazon

Multi-Room Navigation: Yes | Poo-avoidance: No

REASONS TO BUY

Great navigation

Useful mobile app

Excellent carpet cleaning

REASONS TO AVOID

Doesn’t pick up large debris

Gets clogged with hair

The Roborock Q5 strikes the perfect balance between price and performance, all while packing in the most advanced features. This machine connects to a mobile app, where you can find options for no-go zones, schedules, and suction power. Here, the system creates a virtual 3D map of the home and outlines its cleaning path. Undoubtedly, the Q5 is among the smartest in the lineup, seamlessly navigating the entire space without bumping into furniture, walls, or those walking around. With few exceptions, like larger objects and pet hair, the system excels at tidying up various surfaces. It effortlessly cleaned up oatmeal and rice, even on fluffy carpet.

The Roborock Q5 has a low clearance, making it difficult to pick up larger debris. It also struggled to clean powdery messes like flour. Though it still picks up hair, the strands get wrapped around the bristles over time and can clog the machine. All in all, this robot system outperforms some of the most expensive options and is a handy cleaning tool for those on the go or who simply don’t want to vacuum as often

The Roborock Q5 effortlessly glides around obstacles, avoiding furniture, people, and no-go zones.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Read more: Roborock Q5 review

Robot Vacuum and Mop

Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra

$1,400 at Amazon

Multi-Room Navigation: Yes | Poo-avoidance: Yes

REASONS TO BUY

Endless features

Efficient navigation

Excellent pet waste recognition

Mop that self cleans

Automatic dirt disposal

REASONS TO AVOID

Pricey

Bad with pet hair

All hail the mighty Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra! This super smart robot vacuum has an awesome app that allows users to set up boundaries in any room of their home. This robot is one of the first to explore mopping functionalities and actually mops pretty well. It is also a keen navigator and doesn’t bump your furniture, but still manages to clean pretty close against obstacles. One of the things we loved most about this model was its latest and greatest pet poop-avoidance technology. When we set up simulated poop in our test suite, the S7 noticed it immediately and kept its distance. We highly recommend this model to those who want the most out of a robot vacuum.

Unfortunately, this is probably not the best choice if you have pets. Although it has superb poop-avoidance technology, it still doesn’t do very well at picking up pet hair. This device is also super expensive, and we would think that a robot vacuum this pricey would be able to handle a little bit of pet hair.

Read more: Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra review

The Roborock S7 has incredible stool avoidance technology for those with pets.

Credit: Jessica Riconscente

Best All-Around Cordless Wet Dry Vacuum

Milwaukee M18 0880-20

$125 at Amazon

Power Source: Battery | Cleaning Path Width: 1″ (hose end)

REASONS TO BUY

Great hose design

Robust motor

Great accessory storage

REASONS TO AVOID

Relatively heavy

So-so runtime

The Milwaukee M18 0880-20 is an exceptionally well-designed wet-dry vacuum cleaner. This model is easily at the top of its class in our cordless wet dry vacuum review. It is conveniently streamlined and also packs a powerful electric motor that will bust the toughest messes, be they sopping wet or dry as a bone. Soaked carpets? Heavy nuts and bolts? Piles of sawdust? It will suck all that up without a fuss and, with its HEPA filter, will blow nearly particular-free air out the tail-end. When your work is done, the M18 has a slick, toolbox-like design that accommodates all the attachments and self-retracting hose within. Another nice design feature is the hose routing that runs straight into the can where others use an easily-clogged elbow.

While the Milwaukee M18 0880-20 is a great vacuum, it isn’t without some limitations. For one, it did not fare well when sucking up standing water on a hard surface. In the M18’s defense, this results from a poorly designed floor attachment, not poor suction or airflow. Another weak spot for the M18 is its run time. At four minutes and 39 seconds per amp hour, it’s below average for its class. And, at 10 lbs 2 oz, it’s on the heavy end of its class, too. However, its hose stretches from 24 to 90 ½ inches, so you shouldn’t have to move it around too much. All in all, this is one heck of a wet dry machine, and we feel that most will overlook its deficiencies in light of its exceptional performance and ease of use.

Read more: Milwaukee M18 0880-20 review

The M18 is an extremely well-designed machine that can tackle the toughest mess in quick order.

Credit: Laura Casner

Why You Should Trust Us

This complex and diverse vacuum market overview comes from hundreds of hours of researching, testing, and comparing these machines since 2015. Specifically, we tested these vacuums for ease of use, cleaning effectiveness on common mess types, battery life, and reach, to name just a few of our analyses. This overview takes the best machines from five vacuum categories — upright, handheld, canister, wet-dry, robot, and stick — and combines them to give a telling overview of the market as a whole.

We put every vacuum cleaner through exhaustive testing protocols in our lab – involving tens of different tests to assess performance in a range of common-use situations including: carpet cleaning, hard floor cleaning, vacuuming up pet hair, small particle cleaning (flour), and a variety of challenges including picking up oatmeal, cereal, and rice.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Senior Research Analyst Austin Palmer, review editor Jessica Riconscente, and author Nick Miley worked together to curate this vacuum cleaner review. This triad has well over 10 years of collective experience testing home electronics such as vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, kitchen appliances, and cordless tools.

Nick brings scientific experience gained in university research facilities and writing journal articles. Austin brings hundreds of hours of hands-on testing experience assessing products ranging from keyboards to photo printers, and now runs GearLab’s testing site. Finally, Jessica has on-the-ground experience as a professional cleaner, working at hostels and upscale homes for several years. She is also a dog mom and understands the demands placed on a vacuum when it comes to hairy messes.

Our research analyst, Jessica Riconscente, spread out debris over a short pile carpet for our robot vacuum testing.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Our testing of vacuum cleaners is divided into four separate rating metrics:

  • Carpets
  • Hard Surfaces
  • Ease of Use
  • Pet Hair

These metrics contribute to each product’s overall score based on what consumers want out of their vacuum. The weightings for each metric will vary among different vacuums; for example, a handheld vacuum is quite different from an upright vacuum and therefore requires different tests and weightings. This comprehensive testing and rating approach helps us to help you find the right vacuum for your household and budget.

The Shark Stratos effectively picked up all the debris in our hardwood floor testing.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

How to Pick the Right Vacuum:

The first question you’ll want to answer is what kind of vacuum you need to satisfy your needs. While all vacuums perform the same general function, there is a high degree of specialization in the vacuum market. A good way to conceptualize this is to think about the messes you’ll most likely be cleaning and where. If this prompt made you think, sawdust in the garage, you’re solidly in the wet-dry category. On the other hand, if you thought of heavily-trafficked carpets in the house, you’re in the market for an upright, canister, or stick vacuum. The following is a breakdown of the various types of vacuums covered in this review. These categories will not only describe the machines but also where and what they do best.

Upright Vacuums

Your favorite upright vacuum is what many people think about when they imagine a vacuum cleaner. These machines are essentially the Swiss army knife of in-home vacuum cleaners. They are completely self-contained, with the canister, attachments, power cord, and extension hose all in one unit. A common feature in an upright is a roller brush or agitator that stirs up the debris for the vacuum to then suck into its canister — this makes them great for high pile carpets and hard texture surfaces where other vacuums struggle. These machines commonly have a hose that can be disconnected on one end and used with attachments like a handheld device for cleaning stairs and furniture. These are universal machines for household use, and their freestanding, self-contained design makes them easy to store in a closet or corner.

The Shark Stratos is an all-around impressive upright vacuum.

Credit: Jessica Riconscente

Stick Vacuums

Stick vacuums are simply a pared-down version of an upright device that is often battery-powered, but not always. Stick vacs often lack the accessories of uprights, such as a detachable handheld device, but again, not always. Some of the more sophisticated devices are quite comparable to high-quality uprights. The main difference is the slender profile of the unit, which makes the vacuum easier to store but also means that the canister is smaller and thus will need to be emptied more often. As such, we think these devices make the most sense in smaller areas, rooms with less traffic, or limited high pile carpet.

Many premium stick vacuums come as lightweight cordless models, which allows you to move and vacuum throughout your home without difficulty.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Canister Vacuums

Canister vacuums are similar to uprights, with the obvious exception that the canister storing the collected debris is trailered behind the vacuum head and handle. This means that the business end of the vacuum is lighter and arguably more maneuverable. Still, it can also be harder to store in a closet or corner because the unit as a whole is bulkier. However, these machines do provide a bit of a sound demeaning because the motor is in the canister, and some find them easier to use on stairs since the canister can be left on the ground or carried in one hand while the other is free to work the business end of the machine.

One benefit of a canister vacuum is the ability to easily drag it around your home or up and down the stairs.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Handheld Vacuums

Handheld vacuums are essentially an accessory and are not intended to clean a whole house. They do well at getting into all the places your upright or canister vacuums aren’t expected to reach. When we think about a handheld unit, we think about countertops, window sills, the car, or light spot cleaning when you don’t want to get out the full-size vacuum. These devices are battery-powered, so the runtime can be an issue, but the lack of a cord makes them all the more agile and nimble.

Handheld vacuums work well for hard to reach areas.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Robot Vacuums

Robot vacuums are more than just a novelty. These machines offer users real time-savings when used correctly. While they are no substitute for a traditional vacuum cleaner (and the human running it), they are great for routine cleaning of the home and some light spot cleaning. The downside of the robot vacuum is that they require some setup, charging, have relatively small dust bins, and are not always intelligent — meaning that some cannot reliably make decisions not to run over something that doesn’t need picking up.

Many robot vacuums now come with smart capabilities and mapping that can be managed from your smart phone.

Credit: Jessica Riconscente

Cordless Wet-Dry Vacuums

As the name suggests, “wet-dry” vacuums are designed to tackle a whole other type of mess compared to those units discussed above. Wet-dry vacuums specialize in big messes where water or other liquids are involved. For example, these machines can suck up a bucket of water into their cans, something we wouldn’t dream of doing with an upright device. However, wet-dry vacs lack an agitator, so they are not great at cleaning large carpeted areas. When we think of wet-dry vacs, we think of work in the garage, motorhome, car, truck, or boat. Most of these units are battery-powered; thus, battery runtime will be something you’ll want to pay attention to if you put them on big jobs. These machines are self-contained, compact, and powerful.

The M18 is completely self contained making it easy to use, carry, and store. However, don’t be fooled by its simplicity – this machine can tackle the big, wet messes.

Credit: Laura Casner

To Bag or Not to Bag

While the bag debate was an important part of selecting a vacuum cleaner at one time, that is no longer the case. Nowadays, the vast majority of vacuums are bagless. This is a good thing for the most part because the lack of a bag reduces waste and trips to the store. However, there is no denying that, when emptying a bagless canister, some of the dust collected can escape into the air. If you are sensitive to dust, a bagged vacuum cleaner may be the right choice.

Bagless canisters tend to be easier to empty.

Credit: Abriah Wofford

Conclusion

This general overview of the vacuum market has highlighted the best models in the several classes of vacuums, including upright, stick, robot, canister, wet-dry, and handheld. Along with the overview, we have included a buying advice section to help you narrow down the market. These tools will assist you in selecting the right vacuum for your needs. With the proper vacuum, cleaning isn’t just a chore — it can be an enjoyable task.

Rating of construction vacuum cleaners

Rating of professional construction vacuum cleaners 2018

(Top 5 Professional Construction Vacuum Cleaners)

This rating is based on customer reviews, statistics of calls to our service center and an analysis of our company’s sales. Therefore, it cannot be considered as a rating of all construction vacuum cleaners on the domestic market. It includes only professional vacuum cleaners designed to collect fine building dust, which are in the assortment of our company and for which there is a sufficient amount of statistical data.

In this rating, we tried to reflect not only the characteristics and reliability of construction vacuum cleaners, but also such important issues as the availability of service, cost and ease of ownership (availability and cost of spare parts, their resource), a set of accessories included in the delivery. It will also describe the pros and cons that each model has.

Detailed description of the top ten vacuum cleaner models.

#1. Starmix iPulse L-1635 TOP (Germany)

The iPulse L-1635 TOP construction vacuum cleaner from the German manufacturer Starmix is ​​one of the best devices for cleaning construction and other fine dust, as well as one of the best-selling devices among construction premium vacuum cleaners in our store.

This machine has the highest suction power (vacuum 290 mbar, air flow 75 l/s). Two filters with a large filtration area and a fully automatic filter cleaning system allow this vacuum cleaner to be used in very intensive work without loss of suction power and without the use of dust bags. The main advantage of the iPulse system is that it will turn on filter cleaning exactly when it is needed to maintain suction power. Those. with a small amount of work, when the load on the filters is small, cleaning will rarely turn on or will not turn on at all, and with intensive work, it will work quite often. This system not only provides a stable suction power, but also significantly extends the life of the filters, preventing them from clogging to a critical level. Thanks to this, the vacuum cleaner is ideal for working with grinders, wall chasers and other tools that produce a large amount of dust. The socket built into the vacuum cleaner allows you to synchronize the operation of the device with power tools up to 2 kW.

The vacuum cleaner is delivered in a rich package. The scope of delivery includes a five-meter hose, steel tubes and a wide floor nozzle (working width 37 cm). Also included are rails for installing a systainer, a crevice nozzle, an adapter for connecting a tool and a tank handle, which greatly facilitates the transportation of the vacuum cleaner. Angle and extension tubes – steel.

There are no complaints about the quality of this model. Service calls are extremely rare. And it should be noted that almost all vacuum cleaners that came in for repair failed due to inadequate use (working without filters, working with “cemented” or damaged filters, etc. )

There are no problems with accessories, as a rule, everything is always in stock. The cost of components, in our opinion, is somewhat overpriced, but this factor is offset by the presence of non-original consumables, as well as simpler consumables from Starmix.

There are service centers that carry out warranty repairs in almost all major cities, but their coverage is not very large. For our part, we try to facilitate the process and in case of a breakdown, you can always send the vacuum cleaner to us. If it fails due to the fault of the manufacturer, then we carry out repairs free of charge and compensate all costs for transporting the device to us and back. It is worth noting that any breakdowns occur extremely rarely and the presence of a service center nearby serves more for complacency than is a necessity.

#2. Starmix iPulse L-1635 BASIC (Germany)

technically, it is no different from the iPulse L-1635 TOP model, but it costs less. Everything said about the leader of the rating applies to this device. It is placed in second place because it has a more modest package. Simplified equipment is not only a minus, but a plus, because. allows you to purchase an advanced device for less money. At the same time, this model will be an excellent choice if there is no need for very frequent work at height, because. the height of the work will be limited by the length of the hose 3.2 m. Also, the tank handle is not included in the package, and the elbow and extension tubes are plastic, not steel, like the iPulse L-1635 TOP. Also included is a 30 cm wide floor brush and a cone adapter for connecting to a power tool.

#3. Starmix ISC L-1625 TOP (Germany)

Construction vacuum cleaner Starmix ISC L-1625 TOP is the most popular vacuum cleaner in our store. This model combines excellent suction power characteristics (vacuum 290 mbar, air consumption 75 l/sec), high reliability and reasonable price for devices of this class. This model is simple and unpretentious. It could be put in the first place, because. in terms of its characteristics, it is not inferior to the models of the iPulse series, but it would still be right to put it in third place, because. this model does not have the same advanced vibration filter cleaning system. The filter cleaning system on this machine is switched on forcibly when dust is collected and automatically when the vacuum cleaner is synchronized with a power tool. Thanks to two filters with a filtration area of ​​4300 sq. see (as on iPulse), designed to collect fine dust class “M” and their cleaning system, this vacuum cleaner can be used without dust bags. Also, this device will perfectly cope with the collection of water. After collecting water, it will be necessary to rinse the filters with water and allow them to dry before collecting dry dust. If it is necessary to switch frequently from collecting water to collecting dry dust, it is better to have two sets of filters, one for collecting dry dust, the other for collecting water / liquid dirt. In this case, it makes sense to buy non-original filters to collect water, because. they are cheaper and their role will only be to prevent water splashes from entering the engine compartment.

The vacuum cleaner is delivered in an excellent package, corresponding to the purpose of the vacuum cleaner: 5 m hose, steel tubes, 37 cm wide floor nozzle, three-stage adapter for connecting to a tool and a crevice nozzle.

As for the availability of spare parts, consumables, warranty and service, this device, of course, has the same pros and cons as the leader of our rating.

18 Best powerful vacuum cleaners – Rating 2023

Performance

Before you start looking for the best vacuum cleaner, think about what you expect from it. Are there pets living in the house, because of which the floor and furniture are covered with wool? Do you have young children known for their ability to litter with great speed and enthusiasm? If you answered yes to one of these questions, you really need a powerful vacuum cleaner. In other cases, this criterion can be put aside.

Take note of the suction power. The higher it is, the faster and more efficiently the device will cope with cleaning the floor, carpets and upholstered furniture. It is desirable that the suction power is at least 300 watts.

Some manufacturers indicate the power class, the dust extraction class on smooth floors, the dust extraction class on carpets and the filtration quality. These classifications range from A to G, but you should only choose Class A devices. These are the ones that will give you the best results.

By the way, do not forget to take into account the noise level. The quietest models generate a sound of about 64 dB.

    Filter types

    Not all filters are equally good at trapping dust and allergens. There are 3 most popular types of filters, each of which has its own distinctive properties.

    1. Disposable filters hold debris well, but cost extra because they need to be replaced.

    2. Washable filters allow you to wash them as needed, which has a positive effect on financial expenses. They do not need to be changed as often as disposable or foam filters.

    3. HEPA filters are great for trapping tiny particles, allergens and pet hair. They are recommended for people who are demanding on air quality.

    The choice of filtering system depends on what effect you want to achieve. For allergy sufferers, it is better to take a device with a HEPA filter, but if you want a washing vacuum cleaner, then an aqua filter will be installed in it. Good qualities have cartridge filters that capture dust microparticles well.

      Usability

      No matter how great a vacuum cleaner is in terms of technical characteristics, if it is inconvenient, it will not be of any use. That is why pay attention to ergonomics before making the final choice.

      If you are interested in bagless models, take into account the capacity of the tank or dust container.