A Guide to Picking the Perfect Vacuum Cleaner

·10 min read

Ah, the burden of chores. They're typically a source of contention between partners, because quite frankly, they suck. But do you know what simultaneously does and doesn't suck? Vacuum cleaners.

It used to be that these loud, heavy, stubborn contraptions were among the least sexy small home appliance. They were annoying to push or pull around, to clean out, and were only good on carpet. But no more. Now, they're appliances you can fall head over heels in love with. Today's vacuums are sleek, sexy, colorful, and come with bells and whistles to accompany their signature whirrs. They tackle shedding, trap allergens, and can even tidy up and empty themselves while you're out to brunch.

RELATED: The Right Way to Vacuum (Yes, There Is a Right Way!)

While you may not know all the best new vacuum features currently available (we will tell you) you do know your personality type and what you need out of a cleaning companion. To make it easy to find your perfect match, we started there to help you find the vacuum that fits your lifestyle. So without any further ado: What's your type?

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The Power Player

About you: You like horsepower. There's something about the thrum of an engine, that deep vroom vroom and sense of harnessing raw energy that speaks to you. You want equipment that performs and looks good doing it. You don't care for workers that just phone it in; you prefer the assertiveness and certainty of masters of their jobs that won't waste your time.

About your perfect vacuum: If you want unfiltered power and filtered air, there's a reason the Dyson Ball Animal 2 is legendary. It is so strong I can't even use mine on my low-pile dining room rug or entryway scatters because it'll pick them right up. But with the amount of dust and allergens that show up in the bin and the promise of non-fading, powerful suction forevermore, you'll find you'll forgive this high-performance, practically self-propelling vacuum pretty much anything. After all, it's not its fault it doesn't know its own strength, right?

Pro-Tip: Upright vacuums typically offer 100 air watts—a unit of measure that reveals vacuum cleaner efficacy via ratio of output and input—of suction. However, the Dyson Ball Animal 2 provides a whopping 270 AW of suction, which is why it's our top pick for this category.

The Busy Bee

About you: You're too busy to tell anyone how busy you are. Always on the move, you barely have time to sleep, much less clean your house. In fact, home is just a charging station for you, somewhere to crash and recharge between checking items off an interminable to-do list as you balance having it all. Your secret wish is to be able to clone yourself so you can get more done.

About your perfect vacuum: Your best match is a connected, smart robotic vacuum like the Roomba i3+ that can anticipate your needs and learn behaviors to support your busy life. It's self-emptying, self-charging, app-controlled, and intelligent enough to commit your home's floor plan to memory. It's also low-maintenance with a bin that only needs to be emptied out every two months on average, and offers personalized schedules.

Pro-Tip: Most robo-vacs just go in the directions their bounce-off points push them to, which means repeated and missed spots. Upgrading to a laser or optical sensor version helps you make the most of every minute of their battery's run time, and is worth the added cost.

RELATED: The 13 Best Robot Vacuums That Actually Clean Your Carpet, According to Thousands of Reviews

iRobot Roomba i3
iRobot Roomba i3

The Thoughtful Analyst

About you: Stats, facts, bells, and whistles. Empirical data like this are high up on the things that get you excited. One could even say you're a "sucker" for tech, because you feel there are few things as amazing as human ingenuity, especially when it means tangible outcomes that you can see, feel, and examine to your satisfaction at the end of any task.

About your perfect vacuum: New to market, the Dyson V15 Detect Plus Gold was engineered just for curious, results-driven you. Not only does this powerful cordless vac pick up every little thing, but it measures what enters it. This allows the vacuum to react and respond to dust levels, increasing suction when higher dust volumes are identified. Best of all, for number-crunchers like you? It has a laser that detects normally invisible particles like allergens, pollen, skin flakes, dust mites, and more, and then displays the totals of how much it's picked up for scientific proof of how gross your home no longer is.

Pro-Tip: The Hyperdymium motor already promises the most powerful suction of any other cordless, so you can be sure of seeing some impressive metrics.

The Modern-Day Rapunzel

About you: No one needs to tell you to let down your hair—it does it all on its own. Everywhere. Your mane is thick, luscious, and likely long, but the romance of leaving locks of it for lovers is a product of another era. Rapunzels are actually in search of less: leaving less DNA behind, spending less time snipping strong strands from brush rolls, and less maintenance for hair that isn't on their heads.

About your perfect vacuum: The Shark AZ2002 Vertex DuoClean PowerFins boasts a self-cleaning brush roll. The comb actively removes the hair from the bristles on the brush roll, which—by the way—doesn't get caught in the silicone fins or soft roller anyway. But it's far from a one-trick pony. The brand's most powerful vacuum so far also features a detachable bin so that you can turn it into a canister vac in a couple of clicks.

Pro-Tip: Vacuums targeted to address pet hair can also handle human hair, but if yours is on the lengthy side, you'll want the extra features. Longer hair can easily get embedded into carpet, which makes superior suction a must.

Shark AZ2002 Vertex DuoClean PowerFins
Shark AZ2002 Vertex DuoClean PowerFins

The Traditionalist

About you: If it isn't broken, why fix it? You like to hold onto tradition and nostalgia; classic lines and simple functions appeal to you. Because although change can be good, you feel that sometimes, it's not necessary. Designs stand the test of time for a reason, you believe, and little tweaks and updates are all that are needed to improve upon them

About your perfect vacuum: The pricey Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog Bagless Canister Vacuum is the most covetable, sleek, tag-along vacuum set. This is the prestige German vacuum brand's first foray into freeing users from the maintenance costs of heavy bags, and it is spectacular. It's everything you love in a canister vacuum but made better, like a quieter but still powerful engine, a step-to-shift five-level adjustment for different pile heights, and a no-maintenance HEPA Lifetime Filter and self-cleaning Gore CleanStream FineDust Filter that keeps that pesky cloud from puffing up when you empty the bin.

Pro-Tip: This is the crème de la crème of the line, but don't worry—you can treat yourself for less. There are various other colors and models you can opt for without sacrificing too many features.

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The Less-Is-More Type

About you: Size doesn't matter as much to you; you know that great things can come in small, compact, space-saving packages. You're one of two types: detail-oriented, requiring nimble maneuverability and get-in-there gumption or low-maintenance with few needs, like spot-check tune-ups when it comes to cleaning up. Either way, you want a good way to get rid of the occasional pesky squatter with a few too many legs and errant oopsies that don't require big guns.

About your perfect vacuum: The BLACK + DECKER Max Flex Handheld Vacuum is a great crevice-digging, small and handheld vacuum with a few more features than your classic Dirt Devil. The four-foot flexible hose makes it versatile, while a charging station and base keep it cute and tidy. The pet brush and washable bowl and filter are also helpful, but most helpful is that it'll run for about 20 minutes on a charge. (In the context, the average handheld only lasts about 10.)

Pro-Tip: When shopping for handheld vacs, make sure you check dust bin capacity and battery life. These are common pain points for these types of vacuums.

BLACK + DECKER Max Flex Handheld Vacuum
BLACK + DECKER Max Flex Handheld Vacuum

The Deal Finder

About you: Just because something is the most expensive doesn't mean to you that it's the best. In fact, you think that people that pay full-price and top dollar are suckers, and not the kind we're looking for. But it's not about the cheapest, either. You just want the best bang for your buck, because cost isn't the key—it's value that's tantamount, because you're one smart cookie with your mind on your money and your money on your mind.

About your perfect vacuum: The Bissell Cleanview Rewind Pet Bagless Vacuum Cleaner has a lot going on for a price tag that's a fraction of what the premium bagless uprights cost. The fact that it's a pet-geared design means that it's meant to pull up more dirt and hair than your average Jane, and edge-to-edge technology pulls in peripheral debris. Like its fancier brethren, it has multi-cyclonic suction for lasting performance, a washable filter to save you money down the line.

If you don't mind spending a little more, consider also the Eureka NEU522 FloorRover Dash Upright Pet. Although you're losing the retractable cord, you're gaining 35 full feet of it, plus swivel steering, deep pile cleaning, and automatic floor type adjustment.

Pro-Tip: For a floor partner that pulls its weight and then some, it's best to pony up a little more from the onset to cut down on maintenance costs for the lifetime of your appliance. That means opting for eco-friendly options like bagless models and reusable filters when available, making it a double win.

The Shop Talker

About you: If there's a job to be done, you buckle up and just do it. You don't mind rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty, and believe in being prepared for that. Your domain extends into your basement, garage, shed, gym, and more.

About your perfect vacuum: A shop vac, then, is your best bet for your hard-surface life, and we like the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac for it. Sure, there's nothing sexy about its name nor tubby design, but your ideal dreamboat is about performance, and this affordable model provides it. It's heavy duty, offering a 6.5-horsepower motor that can also blow as well as suck. That's right—you can use it for leaves in the fall without missing a beat.

Pro-Tip: Shop vacs are not for in-home, carpet use, but rather for emergencies. You'll still need a vacuum for your house, but this is a smart, functional appliance to have on hand in case of floods, leaks, spills, and more.

Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 16-Gallon Wet:Dry Vac
Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 16-Gallon Wet:Dry Vac