Whether you’re cleaning up after kids and pets or simply looking to maintain a tidy home, investing in a good quality vacuum is essential, no matter your living situation. “Vacuuming your home on a weekly basis is one of those household tasks that requires relatively minimal effort and instantly makes your home look cleaner,” says Caroline Solomon, a New York City-based home organizing expert.
To help you choose the right vacuum for your space, we spoke to home organization experts about the different types of vacuums and how to shop for one. We also rounded up their picks for the best vacuums to shop, and considered Select staff favorites for smaller homes, larger homes, homes with pets and more.
How we picked the best vacuums
The type of vacuum you buy — whether canister, stick, handheld or robot — depends on the size of your space and your specific cleaning preferences. Here’s a summary of the qualities that our experts recommend considering:
- Bagged vs bagless: Some vacuums come with a reusable dustbin; others have a disposable bag that needs to be replaced. Your choice depends on personal preference: Bagged options can be better suited for those with allergies since it keeps dust and dirt contained, while bagless options won’t require you to buy and change out bags frequently.
- Vacuum size and weight: The square footage of your home, the number of floors and the amount of storage space you have are all major considerations when choosing a vacuum.
- Floor settings: Certain vacuums work best on hard floors, while others are meant specifically for carpets (or include attachments that let you alternate between different floor types). Every vacuum we recommend works across various floors, including hardwood and carpet.
- Attachments: Vacuums come with a range of attachments to fit your specific cleaning needs. Look for accessories that specifically tackle pet hair, upholstery and more.
- HEPA filter: Particles in the air can cause airborne diseases and allergic and respiratory reactions — HEPA filters help filter out these particles. All vacuums we recommend below come with a HEPA filter.
Best vacuums of 2024
Below, we highlight expert-recommended vacuums, as well as options recommended by Select staffers. In line with our experts’ guidance, each of the following vacuums features a HEPA filter that can remove up to 99.7% of fine dust and airborne particles.
Best overall vacuum: Miele
Our experts agree that Miele is the best overall brand for vacuums. “I love Miele vacuums because they are lightweight and maneuverable, and they last years and years,” says Solomon. You can use this vacuum on both carpet or bare floors, and it comes with multiple attachments like a dusting brush, upholstery tool and crevice nozzle. Select managing editor Leah Ginsberg says the Miele Compact C1 is lightweight, quiet and simple to use. “It’s easy to replace the bags and filters,” she says. “I also love that it has a button that makes the plug automatically whip back into the vacuum — for whatever reason, I hate manually wrapping wires and plugs around vacuums.” This option also has a three-stage filtration system, which will leave the air free of dust, dirt and debris, according to Miele. Plus, the dust bag has a self-sealing collar to prevent anything vacuumed in from escaping.
Type: Canister | Run time: Corded | Dustbin capacity: 3.5 L | Weight: 14.8 lbs
Best bagless upright vacuum: Shark
This anti-allergen Shark vacuum, a favorite of Solomon’s, comes with a detachable canister for portability and a brush roll shut-off option that lets you easily switch from deep carpet cleaning to bare floor cleaning, according to the brand. The vacuum can also maneuver around tight corners and furniture, according to Shark, and also comes with an upholstery tool and two crevice tools for access to hard-to-reach spaces. This swivel steering vacuum is a Select reader favorite and is often one of our most-purchased items during sales like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day.
Type: Upright | Run time: Corded | Dustbin capacity: 1.04 L | Weight: 12.5 lbs
Best bagged upright vacuum: Kenmore
This bagged upright vacuum is pet-friendly thanks to its powerful inducer motor, which enables the brush roll to spin at a speed high enough to remove dander and stubborn pet hair, according to Kenmore. It has five height adjustment options and comes with multiple attachments, including a crevice tool, bristle brush and power roller. It also has a lightweight aluminum wand that can extend up to 10 feet to clean hard-to-reach spaces. Kadi Dulude, owner of domestic referral agency Wizard of Homes, recommends the bagged canister version from the brand, which “can handle the endless hair from a shedding lab without constantly getting clogged,” she says.
Type: Upright | Run time: Corded | Dustbin capacity: N/A | Weight: 21.3 lbs
Best bagless canister vacuum: Miele
The Miele Blizzard CX1 lets you switch between four suction power settings to clean different surfaces, including curtains, rugs, carpets and hard floors with the turn of a rotary dial. It also comes with attachments like a handheld mini turbo brush for picking up pet hair, a dusting brush and a crevice and upholstery nozzle. The brand’s hygienic emptying system can also separate fine and coarse dust so it isn’t distributed back into the air when emptying, according to Miele.
Type: Canister | Run time: Corded | Dustbin capacity: 2 L | Weight: 19 lbs
Best cordless stick vacuum: Tineco
Dulude is a fan of cordless vacuums because they’re lightweight and convenient. She recommends the Tineco Pure One as a powerful option for hardwood floors: It has an LED panel on the top of the handle that displays the adjustable power level and battery time remaining. The brand’s smart dust sensor detects the amount of debris in front of it and adapts the suction power accordingly, according to Tineco. It also alerts you if the vacuum ever becomes clogged.
Type: Stick | Run time: 40 minutes | Dustbin capacity: 0.6 L | Weight: 11.46 lbs
Best lightweight stick vacuum: Dyson
Dyson is a favorite among our experts and Select staff — I love the brand’s cordless vacuums because they’re great for compact apartments with minimal storage space. The Dyson V11 Torque is one of the lightest vacuums on this list, weighing just over 6 pounds. It has a run time of up to 60 minutes on a single charge and the time remaining is displayed on the vacuum’s LCD screen. It comes with various useful attachments, including a crevice tool, dusting brush and a mini-motorized tool for removing pet hair. For larger spaces, the similar Dyson V11 Outsize has a larger dust bin and a run time of up to 120 minutes.
Type: Stick | Run time: 60 minutes | Dustbin capacity: 0.75 L | Weight: 6.68 lbs
Best robot vacuum: iRobot
This robot vacuum can map out an entire floor of your home to know where to clean, and you can set boundaries using the iRobot Home app to prevent it from going into specific areas. It can also empty its own canister after 60 days and return to its base when it knows it needs a charge, according to iRobot. The Roomba is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants.
Type: Robot | Run time: N/A | Dustbin capacity: 0.42 L | Weight: 7.48 lbs
Best handheld vacuum: Shark
This Shark handheld vacuum weighs under 3 pounds and comes with a self-cleaning brush roll that prevents hair from wrapping around it, according to the brand. It has a washable filter for easy cleanup and a large dust cup that lets you empty it at the touch of a button. It also comes with a crevice tool to clean corners around your home and a scrubbing brush to remove any stubborn dirt.
Type: Handheld | Run time: 10 minutes | Dustbin capacity: 0.41 L | Weight: 2.8 lbs
What are the different types of vacuums?
There are a few different types of vacuums to consider, depending on your different cleaning needs and preferences. To help you simplify your search, we spoke to experts about the differences between the five types of vacuums available: canister, upright, stick, handheld and robot.
This type of vacuum has a separate canister for the motor and receptacle, and has a long hose that’s usually compatible with attachments. It’s a great option for homeowners who have a mix of stairs and surfaces to clean since canister vacuums are much lighter and easier to carry than upright vacuums, says Solomon. Canister vacuums also have fewer moving parts than upright vacuums, which means they typically require less maintenance and fewer repairs. They provide excellent suction, “which is especially handy for bare floors,” Solomon says. However, canister vacuums are often difficult to store away due to their hose, wand and bulkier base, she says.
Upright vacuums are great for homeowners who have large, wide-open spaces since they typically have wheels. “The whole vacuum moves with you, making it less cumbersome than a canister model,” which requires you to move the bin around, says Carl Prouty, a tech expert at Abt Electronics. Upright vacuums also work well on both carpet and bare floors, making it easier to clean in multiple areas of your house, especially if you have pets that shed regularly, says Solomon. However, she cautions that upright vacuums also tend to be heavier than canister vacuums — weighing as much as 20 pounds — making it difficult to lift them up and down the stairs. And, unless the upright comes with a wand, they can’t clean vertical surfaces like walls, upholstery and curtains.
Stick vacuums are slim and lightweight, making them a good option for both quick cleanups and homes with minimal storage space. “Cordless models are simple to take around the whole home, and battery life on cordless versions is constantly improving,” says Prouty. These models are best for people with smaller spaces to clean, since they’re not as powerful as canister vacuums, according to Prouty. They’re also good for those who have kids and are constantly cleaning up spills and messes, he says.
A handheld vacuum is a compact cordless vacuum — it’s similar to a stick vacuum but smaller and more portable, which makes it a good option for vacuuming out your car or spot cleaning, according to experts. Since they’re typically the least powerful type of vacuum, our experts note that a cordless vacuum should complement a heavier-duty model like a canister or upright vacuum, not replace it.
A “smart” counterpart to the traditional vacuum, robotic models can run whenever you want — even when you’re not home — and reset themselves to charge. They help tackle forgotten corners and clean under furniture that larger models may not be able to. “These are the best option for people on the go, people with shedding pets or those who simply like tech,” says Prouty.
However, robot vacuums tend to be slower than most other types of vacuums, so they’re not the best option if you’re looking for a quick cleanup. “If you’re manually vacuuming, it might take 20 to 30 minutes, but it can take up to 90 minutes using a robot vacuum,” says Solomon. These vacuums also require some level of tidying up beforehand since they can move around more efficiently when the floor is decluttered.
How to shop for a vacuum
There are several features to consider before buying a new vacuum. Below, the cleaning experts we consulted shared their guidance.
Bagged versus bagless
Both upright and canister vacuums come in bagged and bagless models — the difference lies in where the dirt goes as it gets sucked up.
“Bagged vacuums generally do a better job of keeping dust and debris contained when you’re emptying them, but the bags are a one-time-use product so you’ll need to purchase new ones every once in a while,” says Prouty. Because bagged vacuums tend to keep these particles contained, they’re typically a better choice for people with severe allergies, he says.
Bagless vacuums, on the other hand, can be great for those who don’t want to have to worry about buying and changing out bags. These models employ a container, called a dustbin, that collects the dirt and debris. “You’ll want to be sure the size of the dustbin is big enough to accommodate your areas — having a small dustbin means you’ll need to empty it out frequently, which makes vacuuming your home take a lot longer,” says Prouty. He recommends looking for a dustbin with a minimum 1-liter capacity for an upright bagless option, or 0.5-liter capacity for a stick vacuum.
“Vacuum size is a major factor if you live in a small space with limited storage,” says Solomon. That weight can also be an important consideration if you have mobility issues, which can sometimes make lugging around a canister or upright vacuum more difficult, she says. In these cases, our experts suggest a vacuum that’s lightweight and tall enough sot you don’t have to stoop or bend over too much when using it.
If you have different types of flooring in your home, you’ll want to look for a vacuum that can accommodate all or most of them. And keep in mind that different types of carpets also require different settings. “Choosing the right floor setting is important to make sure you don’t ruin or scratch the surface,” says Dulude.
The lowest setting on most vacuums works well for bare floors and thin carpets, whereas the highest setting is optimal for thicker carpets and area rugs, according to Solomon. A thick high pile rug, for example, needs a higher setting, while bare wood floors need a low setting and no automatic roll brush, says Dulude.
Different vacuum models come with a range of accessories to fit your specific cleaning needs, especially when it comes to hard floors, upholstery and crevices. The most common attachments include a brush tool, which comes in handy when cleaning upholstery or curtains, and a crevice tool, which is “excellent at cleaning all the nooks and crannies of your home, particularly in between cushions and in between cabinets and vents,” according to Solomon.
Some vacuums may also include pet-friendly attachments like an upholstery cleaner that can collect pet hair on furniture and a detachable beater brush (like the rotating brush under the vacuum) that commonly gets clogged when met with large amounts of pet hair, says Solomon.
The “dirtiest” place in your home may be the invisible air you breathe, explains environmental consultant and building materials specialist Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics. “Particles in the air can not only be a vehicle for the spread of airborne disease and the major cause of many allergic and respiratory reactions but also a carrier for harmful chemicals called SVOCs, which ride on dust,” she says, adding that dust may expose us to bacteria, viruses, mold, pollens, harmful chemicals and more.
That’s why investing in a vacuum with a good HEPA filter is worthwhile: It can not only minimize the dirt on your floors, but also impact the air you breathe. Similar to air purifiers, vacuums with at least one High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter can remove 99.7% of fine dust and airborne particles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. They’re sealed and airtight, so all air sucked through the machine passes through the filter and no dust escapes back out at any point, even when emptying it.
“Cleaning regularly with a certified sealed HEPA vacuum dramatically improves air quality by reducing the amount of airborne allergens, dust and harmful chemicals in your home,” Nelson says. You can use a HEPA vacuum to address dust on virtually any surface, including stuffed animals, books, furniture, walls, ceilings, lampshades and cars, according to Nelson.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Caroline Solomon is a home organizing and lifestyle expert based in New York City.
- Kadi Dulude is the owner of domestic referral agency Wizard of Homes, which outsources housekeeping jobs to independent domestic workers.
- Carl Prouty is a tech expert and media specialist at Abt Electronics.
- Marilee Nelson is an environmental consultant, building materials specialist, certified baubiologist, and co-founder of Branch Basics.
Why trust NBC Select?
Mili Godio is an editor at Select who covers a variety of home and kitchen products, including space heaters, washable rugs and laundry stain removers. For this article, Godio spoke to four experts in home organization and cleaning supplies about how to shop for the best vacuums. She also compiled their recommendations, along with top picks from Select staff.