Vacuuming your home can be a daunting task, and frustration is usually due to a lackluster machine that just isn't doing the trick quickly and efficiently. But with so many models out there and several new technologies, how do you choose the best vacuum cleaner for your home? Luckily, our buying guide will help you determine the features and styles that are right for you, and our roundup includes models on the market at every price point.
How often do you vacuum? There's no need to be embarrassed. Some of us just don't have the time to get to this task everyday. But you should consider the frequency when choosing a unit. If you do vacuum daily, Michele Lupton, Communications Director for Rowenta USA, says a light-weight stick model is perfectly fine for maintaining your home. Although, if you tend to wait for a week or more to vacuum, a larger upright or canister model with a more powerful motor will help you get the job done. Lupton also noted that even if you are a constant cleaner, if you have a large home with wall-to-wall carpeting, a small stick vac may just be too small.
How much power do you need? Lupton says suction is the single most important factor while choosing the most effective model in addition to cyclonic action, which is what draws the dust and particles into the machine. Rob Green, Design Engineer for Dyson, also explains that air flow and agitation, or the ability of the vacuum cleaner to penetrate and remove dirt from the carpet fibers as well as the filtration level, which measures how much of the debris is expelled back out, all have to do with suction. Although many manufacturers boast about the amount of AMPS their product uses, Green says air watts are the more accurate measurement for a machine's cleaning power. Bottom line: Green says a vacuum with over 200 air watts is a good indication that it will be a powerful cleaner.
Which style is best? Bagless models are great because you don't have to worry about stocking up on bags, and in most cases, you don't even have to touch the canister to release the mess -- just press the button and hold it over the garbage can. But on the other hand, with a bag, all of the grime is contained, and you have less exposure to the particles when throwing it away. Although, sometimes less powerful, upright models have better maneuverability than canister type cleaners. Bottom line: Newer bagless models trump vacuums with bags because these will lose suction and airflow as the bag gets full.
Any special features to look out for? Lupton also suggests that the shape of the vacuum's head is important to check out, as you'll want one with channels to whisk away the dirt and dust. Also, a spinning brush is great, especially for carpeting, because it will comb through fibers and extract more debris. Although strings and hair can wrap around the brush and must be cleared away with a scissor. While shopping, flip the appliance over and take a look for these features.
Cordless models are beneficial if you are cleaning large spaces but make sure that the model has a long enough run time. Bottom line: Dyson has a new model with a tangle free turbine tool that cuts through caught hairs (great for pet owners), and Lupton suggests if you are going for a cordless vac, look for at least forty minutes of power, because some models only provide ten or twenty.
Click through our slideshow of the best vacuums on the market now.