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Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

A vacuum cleaner is one of those appliances that people usually purchase many times during a lifetime. In some households, a look in the utility closet will discover a handful of vacuum cleaners, all in various states of repair. Many are still in working condition, but have been abandoned in favor of the newest model.

Vacuum cleaners have a tendency to be purchased over and over again because of the poor performance of last vacuum, or in an attempt to achieve the same results with a smaller, lighter appliance. That’s why users should shop carefully for a vacuum before buying one. You’ll save a bundle by choosing a model that suits your budget, your lifestyle, and the surfaces in your household, instead of buying one based on a TV sales pitch or promotional photographs taken in a show house that doesn’t reflect real life. Here’s a handy list of the top tips for selecting and purchasing the perfect vacuum cleaner for you.

First, Choose Your Style

When you go shopping for a vacuum cleaner, you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by the amount of brands and models available. In order to avoid spending a lot of time comparing one vacuum cleaner after another, only to end up back where you started after a short time, it’s better to narrow your search among the six main types of vacuum cleaners. Once you’ve matched the type of vacuum best suited to your household, you’ll have an easier time finding a particular model.

Upright Vacuums

For many people, the design of an upright vacuum is the only kind of vacuum they’re familiar with. It’s the most common type of vacuum, and it’s been a mainstay of household and commercial cleaning since its invention in the early 1900s. An upright vacuum is best described as a rolling cleaning head mounted on a handle with a bag or other container to collect the debris that the machine removes from your floors. They rely on a combination of suction and sweeping to pick up dust, dirt, and debris. Upright vacuums save a lot of bending over, and they are considered ideal for wall-to-wall carpet and large rugs.

Upright vacuums typically weigh more than other kinds of vacuums, but since they’re designed for rolling over large expanses of carpet, that’s not generally seen as a downside. The weight of the unit helps keep the beater bar in contact with the rug as the beater bar loosens the dirt it’s picking up, so a light upright isn’t necessarily better than a heavy model.

Upright vacuums often have attachments that let you use the unit to vacuum upholstery, stairs, and other spots that would be impossible to reach with the cleaner. These attachments are often a source of frustration for users that choose an upright vacuum for all their cleaning chores even though they have very little carpeted floor to vacuum, or lots of stairs. Upright vacuums should only be the first choice of users that have a lot of carpet surface to look after.

Canister Vacuums

Canister vacuums are more popular in Europe than in America. They’re more versatile than upright vacuums, because you can pick up the canister and carry it around much more readily than any upright vacuum. The cleaning attachments that are an afterthought on an upright vacuum are better suited to canister vacuums, but canister vacuums can’t compete with upright vacuums when it comes to cleaning large expanses of carpet. It can be daunting to drag a canister around with you as you vacuum wall to-wall carpeting, and the long wands, hoses, and cords can get tangled underfoot. If you have a small house, or lots of stairs, or few carpets to vacuum but lots of furniture or drapes, the canister might be the perfect unit for you.

Canister vacuums are lighter than upright vacuums, but they need to be, as they’re designed to be picked up and moved around, while upright vacuums roll around on wheels for the most part.

Robot Vacuums

Vacuums that automatically make their way around the room picking up dust and dirt are no longer a novelty. They’ve become much more reliable and effective than the first models, but their appeal is still limited. Homeowners with a lot of bare floor like them, especially if they have pets that leave dander that can be hard to keep after with a broom or upright vacuum. While many models have trouble with transitions between carpet and bare floors, they still do a credible job on wall-to-wall carpeting.

If you have a lot of open floor and not much time, robot vacuums can be very handy, and their prices have come way down in the last decade. They’re mostly used as an adjunct to a thorough cleaning. Using a robot vacuum can let you go longer between cleaning sessions while still keeping your rooms adequately cleaned in the interim. As you might expect, stairs are a big no-no, and pets and children either love them or hate them.

Stick Vacuums

Black & Decker CHV1510 Dustbuster 15.6-Volt Cordless Cyclonic Hand VacuumStick vacuums resemble upright vacuums. These household appliances are less powerful and more straightforward machines, almost like a carpet sweeper than a true vacuum. They’re available in cordless models, so if you’re tired of lugging out a big vacuum and wrestling with power cords just to freshen up a room, they’re an ideal alternative. The cordless models are great for stairs, too. Stick vacuums are less expensive than traditional upright or canister vacuums, so you can afford to keep one on each floor in your house if you’re tired of lugging one vacuum up and down stairs.

Convertible Vacuums

Technically, most upright and canister vacuums are at least somewhat convertible. Uprights often have the same attachments as canisters, and canisters usually come with some kind of beater bar carpet head that lets you vacuum floor rugs. Convertible vacuums take that versatility further by letting you disassemble and recombine different components to make an upright or canister vacuum. If you absolutely can’t decide between the two main types of vacuum, and don’t want to purchase one of each, convertible vacuums can offer at least some of the utility of each.

More Features to Consider

Bags or Bins

Until the 1980s, all vacuums collected dust and dirt in a disposable bag. People were often frustrated by the difficulty they had locating the correct bag for their particular vacuum, and they also had trouble gauging exactly how full their bags were without opening up the machine for an inspection. Many manufacturers have changed over to collecting dirt and dust in clear plastic bins that can be emptied and reused for the life of the machine. Both bags and bagless models offer certain advantages. Emptying a bagless model can be a messy and dusty job, especially if you’re sensitive to dust and allergens. Bags allow you to throw the dirt away without much handling, but they represent an ongoing maintenance cost as well. Choose the method that suits your lifestyle and your budget.

Exotic Filters

All vacuums must expel just as much air as they take in, and if your vacuum has a powerful suction, it will have a powerful exhaust. The quality of the filter that the air passes through before being returned to room air makes a big difference in how much fine dust is put back into the space you’re cleaning. If you have asthma or allergies, you might want to invest in a vacuum that offers High Efficiency Particulate Air filtering. HEPA filters can be washable or disposable, but either way they trap up to 99.97 percent of all particles in the air in order to meet the HEPA standard.


Dirt Devil Dynamite Plus Bagless Upright Vacuum with Tools, M084650REDIf you could choose one word to describe a vacuum, it would probably be: loud. Many people dread cleaning chores because their vacuum is too loud, and apartment dwellers and others that have to worry about bothering others with too much noise hate to turn their vacuum on if anyone else is around. While buyers often equate loudness with power, manufacturers are doing a much better job with muffling the exhaust of their vacuums than in times past. Check reviews for reports of deafening motors before you buy, and compare specifications of the amount of decibels that a model you’re considering emits. On some charts of noise levels, vacuum cleaners are the exact point on the scale where sound is considered annoyingly loud to most people, and specialty vacuums like shop vacs are routinely rated four to eight times louder.

Final Thoughts

Vacuum cleaners (wiki) used to be built to last, with lots of steel parts and durable fittings. Some newer models can do a much better job than old-fashioned vacuums, but they aren’t built for the long run. Consider the lifetime expense of owning any model before you buy, including the cost of add-ons like filter bags and other accessories, and you’re more likely to get a true picture of the cost and value of any model than just by looking at the bottom line price. A machine that’s built to last, and that does exactly what you need it to do, is bound to cost less in the long run than a less expensive machine that breaks down easily or can’t perform the tasks that you need it for in your home. Are you interested to know how they work? Then read this article. Are you looking to get tips on how to vacuum clean carpet floors better, then read this. Or you can watch this youtube video to find out what the experts are saying on the best way to vacuum clean.