Best Vacuum Cleaner Models and Features
Most people fall on one side or the other when it comes to vacuuming.
They either absolutely love doing it, get a kick out of cleaning their space and smelling that fresh “just vacuumed” smell that accompanies a good old-fashioned deep clean – or they absolutely hate vacuuming, don’t look forward to it at all, and wish that they could get away with never having to pull out a vacuum cleaner ever again.
However, at the end of the day, regardless of whether or not you are absolutely over the moon when it comes time to doing it or if you have been contemplating hiring a full-time maid service to do the “heavy lifting” for you, you’re going to need to have one in the house.
Dirty floors aren’t just unsightly – they are unhygienic, and you’ll push guests out the door faster than you could have ever imagined if you aren’t regularly keeping things trim and tidy.
At the same time, you can’t just purchase any old model and hope that it will give you the kinds of deep clean results you’re looking for.
Like any other industry, there are some vacuum cleaners out there that are head and shoulders above the rest of the pack, options that are pretty “middle-of-the-road” and utilitarian, and there are models that you should avoid at all costs – the kind of vacuums that won’t clean your floors, but instead suck money out of your pocket and waste it at the exact same time!
But that’s why this quick guide was created. By using all of the information below, you are going to be able to find the perfect version for your specific needs, your specific budget, and your specific expectations. Sure, it might take a bit of extra digging around to find your next vacuum cleaner – but if you use this guide when making your decisions, everything becomes a lot simpler and definitely more streamlined.
So sit back, relax, and digest all of this information you’ll find in this quick guide. It’ll only take you a couple of minutes to run through, but by the time you’re done, you’ll know everything you need to about buying your next vacuum cleaner! Let’s get right to it!
Breaking Down the Different Types
The reason that it is so difficult to find a high quality vacuum cleaner on the market today is not because there aren’t all that many top-of-the-line options (in fact, the opposite is probably true and there is a bit of a surplus of high quality machines out there) – but because there are so many different types and variations for you to pick and choose from.
There aren’t just one or two different kinds of vacuum cleaners, but instead more like four or five – each of them bringing different advantages, different benefits, and different shortcomings to the table. You are going to need to understand what each and every one of these form factors are about, how a specific type of vacuum will help you (and how it will hinder your ability to clean), and whether or not it makes perfect sense for you going forward.
Easily the most common type of vacuum cleaner found in homes and offices all over the world, the upright vacuum cleaner is a relative newcomer to the vacuum cleaner world.
You see, most people (up until right around the 1970s or 1980s) had large canister style vacuums that were a real pain in the you-know-what to drag around and clean with.
It wasn’t until innovative vacuum cleaning manufacturers changed the game completely with upright vacuums that were easy to control, a dream to maneuver, and just as powerful as those old-school canister vacuums were.
That form factor change altered the landscape of vacuum cleaners forever, and today the overwhelming majority of vacuum cleaners sold are of the upright variety.
A little bit on the larger side of things (and coming in at anywhere between 14 pounds or 20 pounds – or more, in some rare circumstances), upright vacuums are pretty easy to use and are capable of cleaning your entire home before the bag or bag less container needs to be emptied.
It gets a little bit difficult for these vacuum cleaners to fit into smaller spaces (without accessories and attachments), but for “volume cleaning” it doesn’t get any better than this.
As mentioned above, canister vacuum cleaners were really some the first commercially available vacuum cleaners, and completely transformed the way that people cleaned and maintained their homes.
Before canister vacuum cleaners came along, most people used a floor or carpet sweeper, a rudimentary device that was basically a motorized broom. Bissell was world-famous for their floor sweepers and carpet sweepers, and also helped to spearhead the canister vacuum cleaner revolution.
Slightly less heavy than the upright cleaners (ranging anywhere between 7 or 8 pounds and 14 through 15 pounds or so), they can be a little bit difficult to maneuver because of their bulbous form factor.
However, the lighter canister vacuum cleaners can be lifted up and carried just about anywhere and everywhere (including on your stairs or steps), which might make them more convenient for you – depending entirely upon the areas in your home you have to vacuum.
Usually very (VERY) powerful, these vacuums come with a hose that attaches to the cleaner to give you maximum flexibility when you are looking to clean floor surfaces. Also, because of their power plant, they are capable of cleaning carpets and other soft floor surfaces as well as hardwood and other hard floor surfaces without any special attachments or switched settings.
If you’ve ever had to mess around with your vacuum cleaner to get it to clean a different floor type (and then switch it back when moving into the next space), you know how much time this cleaning flexibility can save you!
A bit of a hybrid between standard upright vacuum cleaners and miniature handheld vacuum cleaners (a type that we will tackle in just a moment), a stick vacuum cleaner is the best of both worlds – powerful enough to clean large rooms but small enough to fit into tight spaces and store just about anywhere in your home.
These models can also be 100% cordless and run off of lithium-ion batteries for extra energy efficiency. Just imagine what it would be like to vacuum all of your floors without having to maneuver long cords over furniture for trying to find an outlet in your next space that you have easy access to!
That’s the kind of big advantage that stick vacuum cleaners bring to the table.
On the flip side, however, they aren’t capable of cleaning too terribly large spaces (or too many large spaces), just because of their smaller canister. You’ll end up emptying the canister out multiple times if you are putting it through a pretty heavyweight workload, and you might want to transition to a standard “upright vacuum” if that’s the case.
The Dirt Devil changed the game when it came to vacuum technology in the 1980s, and the industry has never been the same since.
Offering a perfect blend of power, performance, and ridiculously compact form factors, handheld vacuum cleaners (like the Dirt Devil and a number of others) are designed specifically for “spot cleaning” or taking care of vacuuming in areas that you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.
Perfect for keeping in your vehicle, camper, or your office just to do a bit of vacuuming in a pinch, you wouldn’t ever want to have to vacuum a large (or small, for that matter) room with one of these – though it might be an interesting form of discipline if you have children aren’t behaving!
Seriously though, because they are so useful and so and, you’re going to want to think about picking one of these handheld vacuum cleaners up to act as a “backup”. Usually pretty inexpensive, you’ll be able to add one to your cleaning equipment collection for next to nothing.
Though we have a very long way to go until we get to the Rosie the Robot (from The Jetsons) stage of robotic vacuum cleaners, the options that we have available today are incredibly effective and 99.9% hands-free.
These amazing little machines have been designed to go around your home vacuuming up there, dust, debris, and just about anything else on your floors in a preprogrammed pattern, completely taking care of the grunt work of vacuuming while you kick back and relax.
If you aren’t all that crazy about doing your own vacuuming and don’t have the money to hire a team of maids to tackle it for you, a robot vacuum cleaner just might be the next best thing! Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the technology is still in the early stages – and you’ll still have to tackle free emptying of the backless canister and changing of the filter from time to time. Still, it cuts down on a lot of the effort you would have had to expand vacuuming with a more traditional set up.
For a lot of people, it’s the only way to vacuum!
Features You’ll Want to Look for Before Purchasing
Even though most vacuum cleaners are created pretty equally today (with varying degrees of quality across the board), there are at least a handful of “make or break” features that you should be looking for in your next vacuum cleaner purchase.
Though you’ll have to decide exactly which of the special features below are important to you (and which ones you aren’t all that concerned with), it’s critical that you make sure you are getting a fully equipped vacuum cleaner – or you’ll end up regretting the purchase and using the equipment a lot less than you would have otherwise.
Cleaning accessories: One of the most important details that you want to verify before pulling the trigger on a vacuum purchase is whether or not there is a full lineup of cleaning accessories available for that particular model.
Most vacuum cleaners today come with all kinds of accessories in the box (things like power cleaning nozzles, scrubby brushes, narrow attachments for hard to reach spaces, etc.), but there are still a number of options out there that are very “bare-bones” and include nothing more than the vacuum cleaner, the power cord, and maybe a bag or filter – if you’re lucky.
Energy efficiency: Another feature that you’ll want to look into before you purchase a new vacuum cleaner is how much energy it is going to consume during use.
More and more manufacturers out there are getting serious about making the most energy efficient models they came. However, you’ll also find companies that are willing to pump out almost ancient technology that draws way more energy than it has any business drawing – just because it’s cheaper to stick with the status quo than to innovate.
If you don’t care about paying absurd amounts of money for your energy bill each month, energy efficiency may not be that important. However, if you want to save money (and take advantage of cutting edge electric or battery technology – like lithium-ion batteries, for example), then this is a feature that you’ll want to investigate where it
Bag Versus Bagless
The great debate in the vacuum cleaner world today is whether you should go with a vacuum cleaner that uses a bag or one that uses a bag free canister.
Some people believe that using a bag creates a stronger suction than you’d get with a bag free set up, but everyone agrees that a bag vacuum is a lot more headache and hassle to clean and maintain – not to mention you’ll have to buy bags that will need to be replaced on a regular basis.
On top of that, you’ll have to decide whether or not you want the dirt and debris trapping capabilities that a bag brings to the table over the ease and convenience that a bag free set affords. With a bag free vacuum cleaner, you just have to touch a button over your garbage and all of the debris that you have picked up will be deposited into your trash – but some of that is going to be released right back into the spaces that you just cleaned.
The Ability to Go From Hard to Soft Surfaces Seamlessly
The last real special feature you should be looking for is the ability of your vacuum cleaner to go from hard floor surfaces to soft floor surfaces with absolutely zero extra effort or adjustments on your behalf. Up until about 15 or 20 years ago, you had to use different settings and different adjustments on your vacuum cleaner if you wanted to clean a carpet versus a hardwood floor.
Carpet is (obviously) a more difficult surface to clean, and requires a bit of a delicate touch to get all of the dirt and debris you’re looking to pull out of those soft fibers. Hardwood floors (or any other solid surface, for that matter) become a breeze to clean up – just because there are no soft places for different, dust, and debris to height when the vacuum comes along.
Being able to seamlessly transfer from one surface to the next, with the vacuum doing all of the adjusting on its own, is a special feature that you will really come to appreciate. This is especially true if you have a larger home or larger spaces to clean up.
When it all boils down, you are going to have an almost infinite amount of options in front of you, with all different kinds of vacuum cleaners find for your attention (and your money).
Pay close attention to the details above, read as many reviews as humanly possible, and really try to think about how you expect to use your vacuum cleaner going forward. Then (and only then) will you have a good idea as to which of the vacuum cleaners out there will be best suited for your specific needs.
This guide is definitely going to help you every single step the way, but you need to get pretty clear about what your vacuum cleaner expectations are before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
Believe it or not, at the end of the day, it’s going to be a lot easier of a decision to make than you were probably expecting.