What is the Best Vacuum Cleaner – Your Ultimate Guide

Buying a vacuum cleaner is often times similar to buying a car.

To purchase the right one for your needs, you need to define what those needs are.

In this guide, I’ll help identify those needs for you to have an easier time narrowing down hundreds of options available.

You’ve got to remember that there’s not a single product that’ll do all the work. Each type has it’s own pros and cons and we’ll discuss them in detail here.

Best Vacuum Cleaner

Let’s get started.

First let’s talk about the different types of vacuums and what they are most useful for.

Upright Vacuum

Upright vacuums have been around the longest. If you look at the history of vacuum cleaners, you’ll see that a lot of the pioneer brands such as Hoover and Oreck only had uprights in their product line.

These vacuums are the most powerful, capable of deep cleaning carpet and stand upright hence the term.

Full sized variants are bulky, stand over 40″ tall with a large dust bin at the middle that lots lots of dirt. This makes it suitable for cleaning large areas without emptying as often.

Upright Vacuum

Modern upright vacuums have detachable hoses and wands that allow for above the floor cleaning. This adds to its versatility and helps extend the areas that this vacuum can clean.

Here are uprights with detachable hoses for above the floor cleaning

Other brands have taken a step further. To be more specific Shark has taken the traditional upright and added a twist. Instead of just a hose and extension wand, they’ve created a system called the “Lift Away” feature that turns an upright into a canister vacuum.

Here are some models with this feature.

Bottom line: Uprights have the most muscle thus allowing it to deep clean carpet. And these machines are more than just floor cleaners. With brands like Shark, you can clean areas that a canister. These also have the longest power cords around – having between 25 to 35 feet long, decreasing the need to plug and unplug.

Canister Vacuums

Canister vacuums bring a little more versatility to the table with a little less power. What makes this machine versatile is the long extension hose, wand and interchangeable tools that allow it to clean most areas inside your home.

Combine it with the small body on wheens, it’s generally lighter than an upright and easier to move around.

All of this comes at the expense of dirt bin capacity. Whereas a full size upright can carry a gallon of dry dirt, canisters can only a carry a third or less.

In terms of weight there’s not much difference. The lightest canister vacuums weigh around 10 pounds while the heaviest tip the scales at 25.

Canister Vacuum

What makes a this type of vacuum popular is it’s ability to clean tight spaces, under furniture, all the way up to the ceiling.

Another feature to look for would be a motorized brush if you have lots of carpet.

Here are a few canister vacuums that have a powered beater bar

Bottom line: These vacuums are best utilized on medium to large homes with a mixture of carpet and hardwood surfaces. While some models are capable of deep cleaning, it still won’t match the deep cleaning performance of an upright. This is would be a great compromise if you don’t want to deal with the weight and bulk of an upright but still want performance that’s close to it.

Stick Vacuums

These types are watered down versions of uprights. Most of these don’t have the detachable hose that allow it to be used on areas above the floor. So these will be strictly floor cleaners that work best on high traffic areas that need more TLC. Since uprights would be heavy, this is a good lightweight option that you can use on areas that have more foot traffic.

Stick Vacuum

Over the past few years, manufacturers have been creative in how they design their products. Companies like the Dyson and Shark have been leading the way in terms of innovating designs.

British manufacturer Dyson has come up with the DC59 Motorhead that combines stick functionality with handheld features that allows consumers to clean from floor to ceiling.

Shark also has their stick vacuum (that they advertise as an upright), the HV322 that is strikingly similar to the Dyson DC-series only it is heavier and has a cord.

Bottom line: Stick vacuums would be best utilized on high traffic areas that often times attract more carpet destroying elements like sand and pet hair. These cleaners won’t have the same deep cleaning power as an upright but they at least prevent the pileup of dirt and keep carpets cleaner minus having to lug around a 15 to 20 pound machine.

Hand Held

Handhelds are designed to clean areas that make bringing out a larger vacuum inconvenient. Areas like upholstery, tables, vents, blinds, tops of cabinets and car interiors. Even if you own a canister or an upright, it is still more convenient to bring out something that just weighs 5 pounds as opposed to going to your storage room and carry out a 20 pound upright just to clean your exhaust vent.

HandHeld Vacuum

Some brands like Black and Decker incorporate a flexible hose to the design which allows you to put down the machine and allow you to put more agitating pressure on the area you are cleaning.

Others brands incorporate handheld vacuums inside a body of a stick vacuum. This setup allows users to use this vacuum as both a handheld and a stick.

Bottom line: This would be best utilized on hard to reach areas like the ceiling vent where a heavier type of cleaner would be more cumbersome to move around. Buying this gives you more convenience and flexibility to clean as you go without having to unwrap and wrap long cord.

Cordless Vacuums

Cordless vacuums are cleaners that rely on battery power thus cutting the cord out of the equation. This is great if you want something that you can just pick up and clean without worrying about where to plug the cord or you don’t want any cords to unwrap and wrap.


This tool is all about convenience.

Cordless cleaners come in different styles – handheld, stick and even uprights.

Run time range between 10 minutes to as long as 45 minutes in some brands. Even greater battery technology, these vacuums still won’t match a corded vacuum in terms of suction power. Basically you’re paying a premium for convenience because it does not have a cord and most of these machines are lightweight.

Bottom line: If you don’t like cords want something lightweight and portable then cordless vacuums is the way to go. Just remember the limitations, e.g. lack of suction and limited run time.

Robot Vacuum

Robotic vacuums are relatively new in this industry with the first one introduced in the market in 1997. These machines are unique in a way that it cleans by itself with the use of either cameras or infrared devices to them navigate around.

Robotic Vacuum

The autonomy at which these machines operate is what makes these cleaners popular but these are not perfect. Even with the latest technology, robotic vacuums are still prone to getting stuck in tight areas so it isn’t completely a hands-off system.

Two brands are currently battling for robot supremacy, namely iRobot and Neato as both uses completely different systems in terms of navigation.

A third brand, Dyson has re-entered the scene with the introduction of the 360 Eye that uses a 360 camera that constantly takes panoramic shots from floor to ceiling to map out the best path around a room and avoid obstacles altogether. Only time will tell if this robot will be a success in the market or not because it isn’t cheap – it costs a cool $1,600.

Bottom line: These cleaners are best utilized by people who don’t have too much time in their hands to lift up a vacuum. They’d rather use the time to do other stuff at home or at work and leave the everyday cleaning tasks to a robot.

But remember this machines won’t match more traditional vacuums in terms of suction power and are still prone to getting stuck if the area they are cleaning isn’t tidied up before they are let loose.

Other things to consider…

Bagged vs Bagless

The bagged version comes with a disposable bag that you take out once it is full. One advantage of a bagged system is that when you empty it isn’t messy. All you need to do is take out the bag and throw it out, no dust no mess – great for people who are suffering from any sort of respiratory ailment like asthma.

The downside to a bagged system is the cost. If you live in a dusty area that requires you to vacuum every day or have a lot of pets then the cost of these bags can add up pretty quickly.

Bagless vacuums does not use bags, instead it uses a dirt cup to store dirt and a set of filters to prevent dirt from coming back out of the machine. The biggest advantage of course is the cost, with a bagless system you don’t need to spend money on bags. A big savings on running cost.

The biggest disadvantage is when you empty it; it can get messy because you are exposed to the dust and dirt that comes out from there. It may not be for people who may have a bad case respiratory ailment.

Water as filter

There is a third type of filtration system that not many people talk about and that is the use of water. This system is great because there are no filters to clean and bags to replace. You just fill up the tank with water then turn the vacuum on.

Only a few manufacturers produce these are Bissell and Rainbow. While these vacuums have very good cleaning performance and filtration, there are several downsides to it.

First, these machines are quite heavy. For example, the rainbow vacuum system tips the scales at 19 pounds and that’s without water inside the tank. Also these machines since quite bulky and will be difficult to carry up and down the stairs.

Second, it is very expensive. The rainbow vacuum I was talking about earlier will cost you a cool $1,900 and that’s if you buy in Amazon. If you’d buy this retail, it’ll cost quite a bit more.

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About the author: Garrick is the founder of the Cordless Vacuum Guide has been testing cordless vacuums for the past 10 years, and writes about them on this website. When he’s not writing reviews, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son, traveling and tasting different cuisines.