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Sorting Out the Vacuum That's Right for You

Yehudah Posnick

“Home, sweet home” cannot be sweet if it’s not clean. For a few, cleanliness is an obsession! And, for such people, the vacuum cleaner is not just a convenience, but a necessity. Also, if you or a family member suffers from allergies, the proper vacuum cleaner will help keep those allergens at bay, whether it be pollen, dust, or pet hair. 

There is a wide variety of vacuums--canister or upright vacuums with lots of suction and storage, to pick up large amounts of debris. Then there are stick vacuums--which could be just as powerful in terms of suction, but are lightweight and have to be emptied out more often. Also, if you need to vacuum and mop your floor, there are vacuum mops that can do that as well. And, finally, there are robotic vacuum cleaners, which can clean the house when you’re away. 

As when aiming to buy any electronic gadget, some research is essential to choose the one that suits you. We hope that this short guide which we have prepared after going through thousands of vacuum cleaner reviews will help you decide on the best vacuum cleaner for your needs.

Types of Vacuums

  • Canister vacuum cleaners have a canister that contains the motor, a filter, and a bag or cup to collect debris. The canister remains on the floor, while you maneuver the handle to vacuum. Canister vacuums can either use a dust cup, or disposable bags. The disposable bags are more sanitary, since the dirt goes in, but can’t go out, and you dispose of them without any mess. But, buying bags is an added expense. An example of a canister vacuum is the Kenmore Bagless Canister Vacuum.

Kenmore Bagless Canister Vacuum

  • Upright vacuum cleaners will have the motor, dirt cup or bag, and handle all in one chassis. Their drawback is that you have to push it from behind. Even though they’re on wheels, and they usually weigh only from 10-15 pounds, they may cause fatigue over time. But, they also have the advantage that all of the attachments and gadgets remain attached to the chassis. You can conveniently switch to a crevice tool, dusting brush, upholstery tool, and cleaning wand. An example is the Eureka PowerSpeed Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner.

Eureka PowerSpeed Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner, with attachments

  • Cordless stick vacuums are lightweight vacuums that run on a lithium-ion battery that must be charged. A full charge can give you around 25-40 minutes of vacuuming. This gives you greater mobility, since you’re not limited to being near an electrical outlet. You can also convert them into a hand vacuum, so you can use them to vacuum your car or upholstery. A good example is the Shark Rocket Pet Pro Cordless Stick.


Shark Rocket Pet Pro Cordless Stick, and with its hand vacuum

  • Robotic vacuum cleaners have gone from being a remote control fad product to a serious cleaning tool. They’re sophisticated enough to only clean where you instruct it, and to avoid obstacles or possible accidents by falling down a flight of stairs. An example is the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T5 Robot Vacuum and Mop Cleaner, with laser navigation. It can clean for up to 3 hours on a single charge! You can instruct it to start cleaning at night, or while you’re at work.

Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T5 Robot Vacuum and Mop Cleaner

  • Vacuum mops combine both vacuuming and mopping functions. You fill up their water tank with clean water, and perhaps a cleaning solution. They spray the water out to clean, and then vacuum up the waste water into a second tank. An example is the Shark Vacmop Pro. But beware: They may not be intended for carpets or rugs, only for hard floors.

Shark Vacmop Pro

What reviewers say

  • Switching from carpet to hard floor: If you intend to use your vacuum on both carpets and hard floors, there are a number of mechanisms to deal with that. Some have several settings, so that you can adjust to different carpet thicknesses, or to hard floors, by just pressing a button. Others will make the transition automatically, by changing from the bristle roller, for carpets, to just plain suction, for hardwood floors. (The carpet brush attachment will scratch linoleum or hard wood.) Some require changing the brushroll manually when you go from a hard floor to a carpet.

  • Automatic cord rewind: People who buy vacuums with a power cord--either uprights or canister models--like the feature of an automatic cord rewind, where the cord goes to exactly the length that you need from the power outlet. When you’re finished, you unplug the cord, and the cord winds up inside the vacuum! The Eureka PowerSpeed Bagless Upright has a 25-foot-long power cord--but it also has this rewind feature, which is a big help.

Important Features

What you should consider when buying a vacuum cleaner

  • Cleaning path: The cleaning path is how wide an area you can vacuum in one pass with the vacuum. The Hoover WindTunnel Upright Vacuum has an impressive cleaning path of 15 inches.

  • Choose vacuum by the workload: Choose the vacuum cleaner based on the place where you will use it. A large, two-story home may need a vacuum with a large capacity dustbin, like an upright or canister. The upright models are the best for homes and offices that have a wall-to-wall carpet. The canister vacuums are best for accessing areas that are hard to reach, like under furniture, or for drapes--you can maneuver the wand to clean those areas without interference. On the other hand, a small apartment can get by with a stick vacuum.

  • Eradicate allergens: Opt for a vacuum cleaner that will remove all the allergens without releasing them in the air if you have asthma, dust, or pollen sensitivity. Also, look for a vacuum with a HEPA (= High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, which is able to remove minute particles of dust and allergens.

  • Decide if you want a bag with your vacuum cleaner: Go for a bag-less model when you don’t want to buy vacuum bags. However, bag-less vacuums come with a time expense, since it gets messy to clean the filters and dust container periodically.

  • Go for multiple attachments: Opt for a vacuum with several attachments, especially if you intend to clean your house/office extensively on a regular basis. Whether you buy an upright, canister, or stick, they usually have attachments like a crevice tool for getting in between cushions on furniture, a pet turbo tool for removing pet hair, a dusting brush, an upholstery tool, and a cleaning wand for high shelves or curtains.

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