Best Vacuum Cleaners

Frugal consumers looking for the best canister vacuum or best upright vacuum under $100 can find what they need in this comprehensive buying guide. Based on a close reading of vacuum cleaner reviews, our picks include several models designed for pet hair and products from Shark, Dyson, Bissell, Hoover, and more.

What We Considered

In researching our picks, we looked to commentary from sites such as Consumer Reports, TopTenReviews, CNET, BestReviews, and Wirecutter, which test products they review. The experts there are familiar with many different models and adept at spotting the stars, including some in the budget range. We also sought firsthand feedback in scores of consumer reviews on manufacturers' web pages and retail sites including Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Kohl's, Target, and Walmart.  

We Looked At

Users want a vacuum that suctions up dirt, debris, and dust from all types of surfaces -- hardwood and tile floors, rugs large and small, shag and low-pile carpeting, baseboards and stairs, furniture and drapery -- without leaving anything behind, creating more scatter, or emitting nasty particles back into the air. Pet owners want all that plus thorough pickup of pet hair, fuzz balls, and dander. Each model on our list generally meets these standards. Some reviewers are so impressed with the performance of our favorite canister and stick vacuums that they use the machines for more tasks than they planned.

Still, none of our budget picks garners exceptional ratings from reviewers. An average of 4 stars (out of 5), give or take a decimal point or two, is about as good as it gets. Insufficient suction, motorized accessories that don't work, and dirt blowback are among the biggest performance irritants.

Consumers sometimes seem to expect more from this basic home appliance than it is engineered to provide. Cheap vacuums are primarily intended for lighter duty rather than whole-house deep-cleaning, and some users express annoyance when the suction falters on room after room of thick carpeting. But, for the most part, reviewers accept the minor limitations and praise the models on our list.

In the not too distant past, upright vacuum cleaners were bulky beasts weighing 30 to 40 pounds, while canister vacuums were bulbous and awkward. These days consumers can find high-performing electric cleaners with compact styling, svelte profiles, and envy-inducing weight. Uprights are generally heavier than canisters, which often are designed for portability and ease of use on stairs; stick vacuums are lighter still. We read occasional comments about certain models feeling heavy, especially to older users or those with physical limitations.

Nearly all upright and canister vacuums get their power through a cord plugged into a wall outlet. The length of the power cord is often an afterthought that users come to regret. The models we researched have cords ranging between 16 and 27 feet. Depending on the area to be vacuumed, a few extra feet of cord can mean the difference between efficiency and frustration. The longer the cord, the greater the reach and the fewer outlet changes. Some reviewers complain that even 25-foot cords seem short. Of course, the full reach is extended by the hose, and often an extension wand. Some stick models run on batteries with no cord to get tangled or constrain movement, although then the run and recharge times can be limiting.

Complaints about build quality (lots of plastic) and limited durability pop up in reviews of nearly all the models we researched. Reports about pieces breaking -- especially small items like the clip that holds the dirt cup or a turbo brush that stops spinning -- surface occasionally. More often we read about machines overheating and then conking out. Possible explanations include a dirty filter or a clogged dirt cup or hose, any of which may trigger a shutdown to avoid damaging the motor. In many cases cleaning out the blockage sets things aright, but some reviewers say their machines never worked again.

Warranties on most low-cost vacuums run one or two years. Some Shark models carry a five-year warranty.

Our Top Pick

Bissell CleanView With OnePass 9595A
Our Picks
Bissell CleanView With OnePass 9595A

Tried and true, this Bissell upright vacuum exceeds thousands of users' expectations, according to reviews. It deftly handles jobs often left for heavier-duty machines, like picking up pet hair. Its strong suit seems to be hardwood and other bare surfaces, but this vacuum acquits itself nicely on carpets and rugs, as well. Users appreciate the five height settings, long 25-foot cord, large dirt cup, accessories, and value price.

  • 12-amp motor delivers strong suction that conquers pet hair, experts and users say, with particularly impressive performance on bare floors.

  • 5 height settings; brushes and suction on the sides for cleaning along baseboards.

  • 6-foot hose, TurboBrush, crevice tool, dusting brush, and extension wand.

  • HEPA and washable foam filters.

  • 25-foot cord.

  • 2.2-liter dust cup.

  • Less effective at pulling up embedded dirt from carpets in expert testing.

  • No suction control.

  • Scattered complaints about excessive noise, dust leaking out of the exhaust, or a chintzy build.

Bissell Zing 2156A

The full-featured Bissell Zing bagless canister vacuum surprises many reviewers with its all-around usefulness. Many report having bought this lightweight model for light duty in the car and quick touch-ups on floors but set it to work on more challenging tasks, with good results. At a little over 10 pounds and fitted with a carrying handle, the vacuum is easy to cart around.

  • Very strong suction works equally well on bare floors, rugs, and upholstery, according to reviews.

  • Variable suction control; bare floor and carpet settings; automatic height adjustment.

  • Combination crevice tool/dusting brush and extension wand.

  • 2-liter dirt cup.

  • 3-stage filtration.

  • Automatic cord rewind.

  • Lightweight, at 10.23 pounds.

  • "Best Bang for the Buck" among canister vacuums in BestReviews' comparison.

  • Accessories don't always stay attached, users report, and there's no onboard storage.

  • Debris may collect near the top of the dust cup, requiring frequent dumping.

  • Scattered griping about weak suction from the 9-amp motor.

  • 16-foot cord and 4-foot-8-inch hose are relatively short.

Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away earns extra points for versatility, with its removable canister. Many users say the swivel steering helps it maneuver well around furniture and into corners while the canister is handy for spot cleanups and stairs. Only a bit of grumbling about a narrow cleaning path and an awkward, top-heavy design dampen otherwise laudatory reviews, which also highlight the array of practical accessories and fair price.

  • "Lift-Away" design turns the vacuum from an upright into a canister.

  • Strong suction picks up pet hair and penetrates carpet, users report; some say it outperforms high-end models.

  • Wide pet upholstery tool, dusting brush, and 24- and 5.5-inch crevice tools; on-board tool holder; accessory bag.

  • Swivel steering.

  • On/off switch for the brush roll.

  • Sealed anti-allergen system with a HEPA filter.

  • 2.84-liter, bottom-empty dust cup.

  • 12.5 pounds; the canister alone weighs 7.5 pounds.

  • 5-year warranty.

  • Some complaints about the unit tipping over.

  • Scattered reports of small plastic pieces breaking.

Dirt Devil Featherlite Cyclonic SD40120

For the most part, users like the inexpensive Dirt Devil Featherlite Cyclonic. It's easy to maneuver and carry around, and a 5-foot hose, telescopic wand, and dusting/crevice tool extend its reach into high and tight spaces. Seniors and users with small homes are well pleased with this model, noting user-friendly qualities such as the compact size, bagless design, rinsable filter, and good pickup.

  • Compact but does the job adequately, many reviewers say, especially on bare floors, small area rugs, and car interiors.

  • Variable suction control.

  • Swivel steering.

  • Crevice/brush tool and telescoping wand.

  • Automatic cord rewind.

  • Lightweight, at 10.2 pounds.

  • Rinsable HEPA filter.

  • No rotating brush roll for carpet cleaning.

  • Some grousing in reviews about insufficient suction from the 8-amp motor.

  • Some complaints about the vacuum tipping over when pulled.

  • Tiny 0.6-liter dirt cup.

  • Relatively short 16-foot cord.

Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G

Marketed as the canister vac for bare floors, whether indoors or out, this model might be of limited use to people with lots of carpeting in their homes. Some reviewers caution that the floor nozzle just can't handle the pile on a rug, but most users are quite pleased with the oomph of the Eureka 3670G Mighty Mite canister vacuum. They say it's user-friendly and more than adequate for many cleaning tasks. Many also appreciate that it uses bags to keep dirt contained and avoids the potentially messy task of emptying a dust cup.

  • Easily cleans bare floors and outdoor spaces, according to most user reviews.

  • Blower port makes it ideal for decks, patios, and garages.

  • Crevice tool and dusting brush; onboard tool storage.

  • Lightweight, at less than 9 pounds.

  • Some complaints about poor build quality and crimping in the hose.

  • Scattered gripes about loud noise.

  • Disappointing power from the 12-amp motor, some users say.

Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind UH71250

Users laud the features on this Hoover WindTunnel vacuum, particularly the retractable cord, height adjustment, easy-to-change attachments, and easy-to-empty canister. They likewise commend the results, with several noting that carpets look much cleaner -- new, even -- after a once-over. This versatile vacuum provides a good balance between performance and price.

  • Pulls up pet hair, light debris, and hidden dirt from carpets with ease, according to reviews.

  • 12 amps and 2 channels of suction.

  • Allergen-blocking technology with a rinsable HEPA filter and odor-absorbing carbon filter.

  • Multi-floor brush roll with an on/off pedal.

  • 5-setting height adjustment.

  • Stretch hose, pet turbo tool, pivoting dusting brush, and crevice tool; onboard tool storage.

  • 25-foot cord with auto rewind.

  • 3-year warranty.

  • Disappointment with the upholstery tool among some reviewers.

  • Some complaints about overheating.

  • Some desire for a longer cord or a larger dirt cup (1.29-liter capacity).

  • Heavier than other top picks, at 16.1 pounds.

Hoover WindTunnel 3 Pro Pet UH70930

The Hoover WindTunnel 3 Pro Pet Upright (model UH70930) comes loaded with pet-specific tools, but that's not enough to allay users' disappointment. Reviews harp on poor reliability, citing mishaps such as overheating, clogging, turbo tools that quit agitating, and generally weak performance. Other vacuums -- including specialized models aimed at pet owners -- cost less and give users less to lament.

  • 12 amps and 3 channels of suction do the trick for pet hair and general debris, some users say.

  • Washable HEPA filter.

  • 5-position height adjustment; multi-floor brush roll with on/off switch.

  • Pet turbo tool, crevice tool, pet upholstery tool, and telescoping extension wand.

  • Long 10-foot hose and 27-foot cord with auto rewind.

  • 1.36-liter dirt cup is a snap to empty, users say.

  • Lots of complaints about performance and durability.

  • On the heavy side, at about 17 pounds.

  • Average rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars from more than 250 reviewers on

  • Average of just 3.1 stars from more than 650 reviewers on

Dirt Devil Jaguar UD70230

Problems abound with the Dirt Devil Jaguar UD70230 Pet Upright Vacuum, according to a majority of reviews. Users bemoan a hose that doesn't stay connected, turbo pet tools that don't rotate, filters that clog, and a motor that cuts out. Some of the critical reports were even posted by users who received this vacuum as part of a promotion. It includes pet-specific, electrostatic attachments with agitating motion, and boasts a very frugal price, but the weight of negative reviews suggest bypassing this model.

  • Suctions up pet hair as promised, some reviewers say.

  • Rinsable HEPA filter with carbon odor management.

  • 5-level height adjustment.

  • Long 25-foot cord and 8-foot hose.

  • Complaints from users about weak performance and components.

  • Many reviews call the longevity into question, and the 1-year warranty is relatively short.

  • Of the nearly 130 customers who have reviewed this model on the manufacturer's website, two-thirds give it a negative rating (1 or 2 stars).

  • Lackluster average of 3.3 out of 5 stars from nearly 160 reviewers on Amazon.

Other Products We Reviewed

lg 022614 eureka 4870mz boss smartvac 250

Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac Review

The combination of performance and features is cause for enthusiastic endorsements in Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac reviews. At sites such as Walmart users commend the strong suction power and its ability to make short work of dust and dirt on carpeted surfaces and hard floors; one user reports it nearly lifted up a pair of reading glasses. Pet hair and dander disappear into its maw, as does the aftermath of a project in a basement workshop, assert Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac reviews at Overstock. Many users admit to being serial buyers of this model and conferring one on family members as a gift; one reviewer tells of keeping a unit on each floor of her two-story house. The bagged design also garners favorable comments, many from users who have switched from bagless models. The variety of attachments and features, like the motorized brush roll with an on/off switch, foot controls, and long power cord, likewise draw approving nods.

But perfect the Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac (starting at $140) is not. Several reviews grouse about comparatively weak suction in the hose, which some say renders the stair attachment ineffective. And a fair share of users complains about the model's bulk even though the 4870MZ Boss SmartVac is frequently described as being self-propelled. It 21.5-pound mass is just too heavy to lug up and down stairs, according to some reviewers, and others good-naturedly say it gives you quite a strength-training workout.

The Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac is a bagged upright vacuum with a HEPA filtration system and 12-amp motor. It cleans a 15-inch path and features a 30-foot power cord, which is the longest among the models we researched. The hose length isn't specified but the product description claims it extends five times its resting length. Onboard tools include a nested extension wand, crevice tool, dusting brush, and a Power Paw designed for stair risers and the backs of upholstered chairs. There is also a headlight on the base and nine height settings. The Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac carries a one-year warranty.

Despite sitting near the top of the cheap price range, the Eureka 4870MZ Boss SmartVac is an excellent value. Sure, it's heavier than others but the features and performance compensate, especially when vacuuming large expanses of territory.

Hoover Tempo WidePath Bagged Upright U5140900

Hoover Tempo WidePath Bagged Upright U5140900 Review

Ease of use and a modest price tag earn this model hundreds of 4- and 5-star reviews. Powerful suction and a motorized brushroll attack dirt and debris on any type of flooring. Two extension wands and tools for upholstery, crevices, and dusting prove handy. The bag acts as a filter, trapping dust and pollen, and complements separate filters that can be rinsed and reused.

Some plastic parts appear flimsy. Some users report that the 6-foot hose is stiff and hard to use.

The Hoover Tempo WidePath Bagged Upright will please consumers looking to save a buck without sacrificing performance.

Dirt Devil Dynamite Plus Bagless Upright M084650

Dirt Devil Dynamite Plus Bagless Upright M084650 Review

Light weight (less than 11 pounds) and a relatively narrow cleaning path make this model particularly well suited to smaller homes and furniture-stuffed rooms. Storage is easy with a retractable handle, and the HEPA filter keeps the exhaust clean. Many happy users report five years or more of trouble-free vacuuming, even with pets.

A 4-foot hose may prove limiting to some, and several users gripe about loud noise. A few comments about poor hose and tool suction surface in reviews. The 7-amp motor is weaker than those found on larger, heavier uprights.

Convenient and effective, the Dirt Devil Dynamite Plus Bagless Upright lives up to its billing: it's a surprisingly competent, compact vacuum that lasts.

lg 022614 eureka airspeed zuum as5203a 250

The Eureka AirSpeed Zuum AS5203A fares well on the cleaning front, according to reviews, but falls short in other critical dimensions. Expert tests by Good Housekeeping determined that this Target exclusive (it's also available through a third-party Amazon seller) effectively rids carpets of ground-in dirt and is outfitted with an easy-empty dust container. And yet, the review continues, it delivers weak suction with the attachments in play, tips easily, and sometimes scatters debris when vacuuming hard surfaces.

Eureka AirSpeed Zuum reviews posted at Target largely agree but pile on still more critiques. Users toss out demerits for a flimsy hose (it broke after three outings, reports one), a dirt canister that's both too small and easy to knock over, belts that break, plastic pieces that fall off, suction that tapers off over time, and weak performance on bare floors. Similar themes are repeated at Amazon, where Eureka AirSpeed Zuum reviews go on to recount incidents involving overheating, even after vacuuming just one room.

The Eureka AirSpeed Zuum AS5203A (starting at $100) looks like a standard, budget-priced upright on paper. It weighs a moderate 13.6 pounds, features a HEPA filter, houses a 12-amp motor, and cleans a 14-inch path. It comes with a 25-foot power cord and onboard attachments (crevice tool, dusting brush, and telescoping extension wand). It carries a two-year limited warranty.

While this model might meet certain criteria, it lacks any stand-out feature and apparently suffers from build-quality snafus. The Eureka AirSpeed Zuum sits well within the Cheapism price range, but there are better buys for the money.

Hoover WindTunnel TSeries Pet Rewind Bagless UH70210

This is a bagless version of the Hoover Windtunnel T-Series UH30310, one of our top picks. Accessories like an air-powered hand tool and upholstery tool with rubber blades, along with a carbon filter, call out to pet owners who applaud this vacuum's ability to scrape up matted pet hair and control odors. Multi-level filtration, including a rinsable filter and secondary HEPA filter, automatic cord rewind, and no-scuff bumper add value. Users say the powerful suction revives pet-trodden carpets.

The dirt canister takes some finagling to empty, according to users. The 8-foot stretch hose seems stiff to some, and the unit is heavier than other top budget upright vacs.

This Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Pet Rewind bagless model should suit households plagued with seriously bad pet-hair days.

Hoover WindTunnel TSeries Pet Bagged Upright UH30310.jpg

Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Pet Bagged Upright UH30310 Review

Users rave about the suction, saying this vacuum tackles pet hair and dander like no other. Some report carpets looking shades lighter after a single pass. A HEPA carbon filter eliminates airborne particulates and pet odors, and the bag is a cinch to change. The air-powered hand tool and upholstery tool are designed for pet hair. The 30-foot cord and 12-foot stretch hose provide extensive reach.

Some users say the 2.9-liter bag seems small. The pet attachments are superfluous for people who don't have pets. Color options are limited.

The Hoover Windtunnel T-Series Pet Bagged Upright is the best of the bagged vacuum options, especially for pet owners.

Eureka AirSpeed Unlimited Rewind Bagless Upright AS3030A

Eureka AirSpeed Unlimited Rewind Bagless Upright AS3030A Review

Features like soft wheels, automatic cord rewind, an on-off switch for the brushroll, and easy transition between carpet and bare floors earn this upright high praise from users. They say the suction is plenty strong and doesn't flag. A washable dust cup and high-efficiency allergen filter complete the picture. The three-year warranty exceeds the norm.

A few reviewers report problems with the belt and a sticky brush roller, and some say this model's lifespan is disappointingly short.

The Eureka AirSpeed Unlimited Rewind Bagless Upright is a solid choice at a reasonable price.

Dirt Devil Vigor Cyclonic Pet Bagless Upright UD70222

Dirt Devil Vigor Cyclonic Pet Bagless Upright UD70222 Review

The 10-foot reach of the stretch hose is a selling point for this corded upright with a 14-inch cleaning path. The same could be said for the pet hair turbo tool, rinsable HEPA filter, and odor-management carbon filter. And the price is cheap, to boot.

The Dirt Devil Vigor earns demerits from reviewers due to problems with overheating and parts (like the hose) falling off while in use. Reports also surface about clogging, frequent tipping, and a very short lifespan.

Performance and build-quality issues raise a few red flags. Despite the low cost of the Dirt Devil Vigor, there are better buys for the money.

Bissell Powerlifter Pet Rewind 1792

Automatic rewind for the 27-foot cord impresses reviewers, as does the suction -- so much so that some report needing to empty the dirt cup several times on first use. A Febreze filter that helps eliminate odors appeals to pet owners, who also appreciate pet-centric cleaning accessories. This is a quiet machine that comes with an unusually long five-year warranty.

This model made its debut in the fall of 2016 and has garnered only a few dozen reviews to date, making it impossible to fully assess performance. Some users say the dirt cup is hard to open and must be shut just so.

Useful accessories for pet owners and good first impressions might induce some shoppers to give the new bagless Bissell Powerlifter Pet Rewind a whirl.

Oreck U2000R1 Commercial Upright

Oreck U2000R-1 Commercial Upright Review

Ease of use is the calling card for this commercial upright. It weighs about 9 pounds, features an unusually large dirt-collection bag that serves as a filter, and is designed to snuggle up close to baseboards and scoot under furniture. The 40-foot power cord is the longest among the budget models we researched, and the Arthritis Foundation of America has commended the ergonomic handle. Reviewers award points for powerful suction.

User reviews are somewhat limited, perhaps because the Oreck U2000R-1 is billed as a commercial machine, although it's fine for home use. On-board attachments are nonexistent, and the price is highest of any model featured here.

Consumers seeking a lightweight, no-frills, user-friendly vacuum won't be disappointed with the Oreck U2000R-1.

Hoover Linx Signature BH50020

Hoover Linx Signature BH50020 Review

A secondary allergen filter coupled with a standard rinsable filter might provide respite to the allergy-prone. An on/off brushroll for carpets and bare floors, an indicator light for the 18-volt lithium-ion battery, a reclining handle, and Hoover's WindTunnel technology are compelling features. Hundreds of users deem this model a powerhouse.

Using the brushroll drains the battery quickly, according to reviewers, and some grouse about easily clogged rollers. A few complain about inadequate suction.

A tad pricey for a cordless model, the Hoover Linx Signature nonetheless delivers strong performance in a solid package.

Shark Navigator Freestyle SV1106

The cordless Shark Navigator Freestyle surprises and pleases users with its power and convenience. It's the right appliance for quick cleanups or even whole-house cleanups when a full-size vac just isn't practical. Older people, in particular, appreciate the light weight and easy maneuverability, and pet owners like seeing fuzzies and hairballs disappear. The relatively long run times and quick recharge time add functionality, while the neutral color adds aesthetic appeal.

  • Good suction and brush action excel on carpets and pet hair, experts report.

  • 2-speed brush roll with settings for carpet and hard floors.

  • Swivel steering.

  • 14.4-volt battery with 4-hour recharge time.

  • Average 17-minute run time on carpets and 24 minutes on bare floors, according to the manufacturer.

  • Very lightweight, at 7.5 pounds.

  • Less effective on bare floors, according to reviews.

  • No attachments.

  • Scattered reports about weak suction and limited durability.

Hoover Air Cordless 2in1 Stick Handheld BH52100

Hoover Air Cordless 2-in-1 Stick & Handheld BH52100 Review

A removable hand-held vacuum ups the convenience factor for this cordless stick model. The electronic brushroll switches for hard or carpeted surfaces, and LED lights brighten the way. Other user-friendly features include a rinsable filter, light weight (6.9 pounds), and swivel steering. Reviews say this stick vacuum performs better on bare floors than on carpets but assign high value to the 2-in-1 design.

The 20-volt lithium-ion battery takes nine hours to charge. Reviewers hedge their assessments about the suction (not enough) and overall build quality.

For some consumers, the versatility of the Hoover Air Cordless 2-in-1 Stick & Handheld Vacuum may outweigh its real and perceived shortcomings.

Dirt Devil SimpliStik Plus 3-in-1 SD22010

The Dirt Devil SimpliStik Plus 3-in-1 is acceptably (sometimes surprisingly) effective in small areas, a majority of users say, and so easy to use. Removing the handle and floor nozzle turns it from a stick vacuum into a handheld. A few reviewers balk at the lack of included tools and others at what they consider indifferent suction. That said, this model's multi-function versatility may come in handy.

  • Removable hand vacuum.

  • Works well on bare floors, low-pile rugs, steps, and car interiors, users report.

  • Featherlight, at 3 pounds.

  • Rinsable filter.

  • Weak 2-amp motor.

  • No attachments or rotating brush.

  • 18-foot cord is on the short side.

  • Some complaints about poor build quality.

Buying Guide

Choosing a Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuum cleaners are one of those ho-hum appliances found in almost every home. An effective and reliable vacuum is essential for suctioning up the dirt, dust, and debris that settle onto floors and upholstery on a never-ending basis. There are plenty of types to choose among -- upright, canister, stick, handheld, even robotic. We cover the latter two styles in separate guides, but we picked through the rest of the offerings, both bagged and bagless, and read scores of reviews to glean the best vacuum cleaners under $150.

The type of vacuum to choose ultimately depends on personal preference, as well as on the home to be cleaned: Are most floors carpeted or bare? Are there lots of steps and draperies or blinds? Do you have children or pets? What about the ergonomics of an upright versus a canister model, with the vacuum head on the end of a hose? Is portability critical? Where will the vacuum be stored? Each type of vacuum cleaner has its pros and cons.

Upright Vacuums.

Uprights are the more common, and traditional, type of vacuum cleaner. They're generally considered the go-to household appliance for heavier cleaning, like ridding deep-pile carpets of embedded dirt and pulling up mounds of pet hair. As the name implies, there's no bending over when operating these machines and the push-pull motion isn't too taxing. The wide cleaning path -- usually 13 to 14 inches -- requires fewer "sweeps" across the floor or carpet to cover a large area. The main drawback of uprights: They can be hard to maneuver into corners and under furniture owing to the wide and thick head.

Canister Vacuums.

Canister vacuums are quite versatile. A hose serves as the conduit between dirt and machine and connects to an array of attachments. Canisters are compact and lighter than uprights, easier to carry around, and better suited for stairs. They're also a tad quieter. On the downside, users may need to bend over slightly while cleaning and must pull the vacuum from behind, a setup that's perhaps less comfortable and opens the possibility of dinging furniture or walls. The nozzle attachments also tend to cover less territory than an upright vacuum. However, the narrower nozzles on canister models -- usually around 10 inches -- are easier to maneuver in smaller rooms, around furniture, and into corners.

Stick Vacuums.

A subset of the upright segment, stick vacuums are bagless, sometimes cordless, and lighter than uprights and canisters. They're engineered for small jobs, like daily sweeps of tile or hardwood floors, quick once-overs for area rugs, or simple cleanup behind shedding pets or messy kids. Some stick models are combo units featuring a detachable handheld powered component. Users swear by the convenience and ease of use, although they gripe about batteries that run out of juice quickly, often in 15 minutes or less.

Bagged vs. Bagless Vacuums.

As with the choice between canister and upright, the decision to go bagged or bagless is personal. One difference is that the dirt cup in a bagless vacuum must be emptied and cleaned frequently, preferably after each use. Some users consider this a grubby chore. A closed bag provides a layer of protection against escaping dust and dirt, which may irritate allergy sufferers. Still, many like the simplicity of dumping the contents of the dust cup into the garbage compared with opening the vacuum to remove the bag and always keeping replacements on hand. Some experts are partial to bagged vacuums, saying they do a better job deep-cleaning carpets and rugs than bagless models do. Proponents of the bagless variety counter that bagged vacuums incur ongoing cost and are less eco-friendly because of the endless stream of used bags going into landfills.

Pricey vs. Cheap Vacuums.

The market for cheap vacuum cleaners is filled by well-known brand names such as Bissell, Hoover, Dirt Devil, Eureka, Shark, and Black & Decker. Oreck occupies a middle ground in terms of price, along with models from some of the manufacturers previously mentioned. Popular high-end labels, some bearing price tags of $1,000 or more, include Dyson, Miele, and Kirby. Upscale models generally outflank less costly vacuums with more powerful suction, more robust technology, more complex air filtration systems, and more features and accessories. They do a better job cleaning carpets with deep pile and picking up debris with less scatter. Still, the best cheap vacuums get the job done more than adequately, though perhaps not to white-glove standards.

Features Comparison

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Product Title
Product Title

Bissell Zing 2156A

Bagless canister
9 amps
10.23 lbs.
Crevice tool/dusting brush, extension wand
16 ft. auto rewind
1 year

Bissell CleanView With...

Bagless upright
12 amps
15 lbs.
TurboBrush, dusting brush, crevice tool, extension wand
25 ft.
Multi-level, washable foam
2 years

Shark Navigator...

Bagless upright/canister
10 amps
12.5 lbs.
Turbo brush, dust brush, 2 crevice tools
25-30 ft.
HEPA, anti-allergen, rinsable
5 years

Dirt Devil Featherlite...

Bagless canister
8 amps
10.2 lbs.
Crevice/brush tool, telescoping wand
16 ft. auto rewind
HEPA, rinsable
1 year

Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G

12 amps
< 9 lbs.
Crevice tool, dusting brush
20 ft.
1 year

Hoover WindTunnel 2...

Bagless upright
12 amps
16.1 lbs.
Pet turbo tool, pivoting dusting brush, crevice tool
25 ft. auto rewind
HEPA, allergen-blocking, carbon
3 years

Shark Navigator...

Bagless cordless stick
7.5 lbs.
1 year

Dirt Devil SimpliStik...

Bagless stick
2 amps
3 lbs.
Detachable hand vacuum
18 ft.
1 year

Hoover WindTunnel 3 Pro...

Bagless upright
12 amps
17 lbs.
Pet turbo tool, crevice tool, pet upholstery tool, telescoping wand
27 ft.
HEPA, rinsable
2 years

Dirt Devil Jaguar UD70230

Bagless upright
10 amps
13.2 lbs.
Electrostatic dusting brush and turbo hand tool, crevice tool, extension wand
25 ft.
HEPA, carbon, rinsable
1 year