The Best Types of Vacuum Cleaners for Every Household

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Categories Vacuuming
Kick dirt and dust to the curb with one of these types of vacuum cleaners. 

When it comes to shopping, choosing from the different types of vacuum cleaners is no easy task. There are a lot of different vacuum cleaners on the market. You’ll see a range of colors, functionalities, and prices.

We’ll help you find the right vacuum cleaner to bring your home from dusty to spotless in a matter of minutes.


Types of Vacuums Comparison Chart

Type Cleaning Surface Best for Cleaning Noise Level Maneuverability Storage Size Price
Handheld Any fabric, hard floor, carpets, cars Dust, crumbs, hair Quiet Easy Small $
Canister Carpets, fabrics, hard floors, stairs Dirt, pet hair, dust, food Moderate Difficult Large $$$
Upright Carpets and hard floors Dust, allergens, hair Loud Medium Medium $$
Stick Hard floors, light carpet, and rugs Surface litter, like crumbs and hair Loud Easy Small $-$$
Robot Hard floors and carpets Dirt, dust, hair, crumbs Quiet Easy Small $$-$$$
Backpack Floors, carpets, furniture Soil and dust Medium Easy Large $$-$$$
Wet and Dry Floors, cars, furniture Liquids, solids, foods, glass, dust Medium Difficult Large $-$$
Central vacuum system Carpets, hard floor, furniture Dirt, debris, dander Quiet Medium Small $$$

8 Types Of Vacuum Cleaners Explained

The types of vacuum cleaners to choose from can be overwhelming. Each one comes with its pros and cons.

1. Handheld Vacuum

Cleaning the sofa with a handheld vacuum

The handheld vacuum cleaner is good for cleaning hard-to-reach places. Think of your car, between the couch cushions, and underneath the bed. You can even use this handy machine for cleaning corners in rooms for a thorough clean.

PROS:
  • Good for nooks and crannies.
  • You can keep it in your car.
  • Corded or cordless.
  • Good for pet hair.
CONS:
  • Not good for general cleaning, as it would take too long.
  • Less power than a canister or full-sized vacuum.

Additional Specs

Type Handheld
Cleaning Surface Any fabric, hard floor, carpets, cars
Best for Cleaning Dust, crumbs, hair
Noise Level Quiet
Maneuverability Easy
Storage Size Small
Price $

2. Canister Vacuum

Vacuuming a laminate floor

This powerful vacuum comes with a separate canister attached to the wand of the vacuum. Because of the separate canister, the engines of these vacuums can be bigger. If you’re looking for amazing suction and airflow, consider a canister vacuum.

PROS:
  • Powerful vacuum.
  • They can clean floors, stairs, under furniture, upholstery, and curtains.
  • Lightweight.
  • They come with a variety of tools for different surfaces and flooring types.
CONS:
  • They are bulkier, making them harder to store.
  • You need to assemble it before use, so it’s not as quick as other vacuums.
  • You have to take the canister with you as you vacuum.
  • Not good for people prone to back pain, as you’ll have to bend down to lift the canister and switch the vacuum on and off.

Additional Specs

Type Canister
Cleaning Surface Carpets, fabrics, hard floors, stairs
Best for Cleaning Dirt, pet hair, dust, food
Noise Level Moderate
Maneuverability Difficult
Storage Size Large
Price $$$

3. Upright Vacuum

When you visualize vacuum cleaners, an upright vacuum is probably the image that comes to mind. These vacuums are popular in households because they are effective for cleaning carpets and hard floors. They’re also affordable, powerful, and easy to maneuver.

PROS:
  • Easy to store.
  • Stand up on their own.
  • Great for cleaning carpets, but can also be used on hard floors.
  • They come with attachments for different uses.
  • Wide cleaning path which is good for large areas.
CONS:
  • Typically heavier.
  • They can be quite noisy.
  • Difficult to vacuum stairs because the cord or the body of the vacuum gets in the way.
  • Not efficient in hard-to-reach places or corners without attachments.

Additional Specs

Type Upright
Cleaning Surface Carpets and hard floors
Best for Cleaning Dust, allergens, hair
Noise Level Loud
Maneuverability Medium
Storage Size Medium
Price $$

4. Stick Vacuum

Woman cleaning hard floor with a cordless stick vacuum

Stick vacuums can be corded or cordless. They are the least powerful of these types of vacuum cleaners but they are good for small, narrow spaces.

Because of their stick-like design, they’re slender and simple to store.

PROS:
  • Easy to store.
  • Lightweight.
  • Good for quick, small messes.
  • They work great on hardwood floors.
  • Corded or cordless.
CONS:
  • Not as powerful as other vacuums.
  • Small dirt bin capacity.
  • Noisy.

Additional Specs

Type Stick
Cleaning Surface Hard floors, light carpet, and rugs
Best for Cleaning Surface litter, like crumbs and hair
Noise Level Loud
Maneuverability Easy
Storage Size Small
Price $-$$

5. Robot Vacuum

Robotic vacuum cleaner cleaning the carpet

A robot vacuum is like having a well-behaved dog. They clean up your mess, and you don’t even need to train them.

Robot vacuums are becoming more and more popular. That’s because of their wonderful convenience. This vacuum does the work for you while you’re out or while you’re home, cleaning floors and underneath furniture.

PROS:
  • You can relax while the vacuum cleans.
  • The vacuum can find its way around the room and navigate between tight spots.
  • You can control it with your smartphone.
  • Takes only a small storage area.
CONS:
  • They clean small messes, so you might need to vacuum manually every so often.
  • Small dirt bin capacity.
  • Expensive.
  • Not great on shaggy carpets or rugs.

Additional Specs

Type Robot
Cleaning Surface Hard floors and carpets
Best for Cleaning Dirt, dust, hair, crumbs
Noise Level Quiet
Maneuverability Easy
Storage Size Small
Price $$-$$$

6. Backpack Vacuum

A backpack vacuum is a vacuum you can wear like a backpack. This can be a good choice for people who experience back pain.

While these have decent suction, they aren’t as powerful as some of the previously mentioned vacuum cleaners.

PROS:
  • Good for people with back pain.
  • They pick up soil and dust.
  • The wand is lightweight.
CONS:
  • Straps can be hard to adjust.
  • The storage bags inside are usually quite small.

Additional Specs

Type Backpack
Cleaning Surface Floors, carpets, furniture
Best for Cleaning Soil and dust
Noise Level Medium
Maneuverability Easy
Storage Size Large
Price $$-$$$

7. Wet And Dry Vacuums

Vacuuming tile floor with a shop vacuum

A wet and dry vacuum has the ability to vacuum up dry dirt and wet spots, a very useful function. So whether you’ve got spilled milk or sprinkled sawdust, this vacuum can solve your problem.

PROS:
  • Vacuums wet and dry debris.
  • Good for inside the home but also on industrial sites.
  • Easy to wash out the separate filters.
  • Nozzle for getting into small spaces.
  • Inflates mattresses and paddling pools.
CONS:
  • Corded, so if using outside, you’ll need to use multiple power supplies.
  • It gets smelly, especially if you’re vacuuming up urine or vomit.

Additional Specs

Type Wet and Dry
Cleaning Surface Floors, cars, furniture
Best for Cleaning Liquids, solids, foods, glass, dust
Noise Level Medium
Maneuverability Difficult
Storage Size Large
Price $-$$

8. Central Vacuum System

If you’re tired of plugging and unplugging vacuums, you can get a central vacuum system installed in your home.

You get a tubing system hidden inside the walls of your house. That’s connected to a motorized suction unit usually stored in basements or garages. The tubing system can also connect to wall ports throughout the house.

When you need to vacuum, you connect a long hose to the wall ports and turn it on. Then you vacuum as normal around the house. The debris goes down the hose, through the tubes, and into the debris collection container.

PROS:
  • More powerful than normal vacuum cleaners.
  • You don’t need to bring anything around with you.
  • Healthier indoor air quality since the debris container is located outside of living areas in the house.
  • Quiet.
  • The suction isn’t affected as the container fills.
  • You add value to your house.
CONS:
  • These systems are expensive, costing roughly $1,000 to $3,000.
  • You have to carry around a pretty long hose.
  • Less energy efficient.
  • Difficult to vacuum stairs.
  • Not that effective on carpets.

Additional Specs

Type Central vacuum system
Cleaning Surface Carpets, hard floor, furniture
Best for Cleaning Dirt, debris, dander
Noise Level Quiet
Maneuverability Medium
Storage Size Small
Price $$$

Is A Vacuum Cleaner Really Necessary?

Maybe you’re quite happy with your broom and dustpan, but here are some reasons that a vacuum cleaner is necessary.

What Are The Advantages Of A Vacuum Cleaner?

  • It’s good if you have allergies: If you don’t vacuum, your allergies could worsen (1). Dust, pollen, and pet dander never go away. Dust mites breed quickly, too (2).
  • Your carpets and rugs will last longer: The more often you vacuum, the cleaner your house will be, therefore, lengthening the lifespan of your carpets, rugs, and other furniture.
  • Vacuuming purifies the air: To an extent, vacuuming can purify the air, especially if you’re a smoker. Smoke gets caught in carpets, curtains, rugs, and couches. Vacuuming is a good way to lessen the amount of old cigarette smoke in your home (3).
  • Vacuuming gets rid of mold: Mold has the creepy ability to move around your home. Vacuuming sucks some of that mold up, cleaning your home (4).
  • Your home looks cleaner: Finally, it’s important to vacuum your home for aesthetics. There’s nothing worse than visiting a friend and being totally uncomfortable in their dusty, dirty home. Vacuum your floors to create a pleasant and clean environment.

Location, Location, Location

Each type of flooring requires a different vacuum cleaner. Consider these tips when choosing the right vacuum cleaner for you.

Hard Floors

If you have hard floors in your house, such as hardwood, tiles, and laminate, your best option is a vacuum cleaner that comes with a number of attachments. You also want to opt for a lightweight vacuum cleaner so you prevent scratches on your floor.

An upright vacuum cleaner can scratch your floors and leave debris on your floors. Some upright vacuums do come with a setting for hard floors, but you’re better choosing something like a canister vacuum.

Canister vacuums usually come with an attachment brush for bare floors, which prevents scratching. Plus, they are good for rugs if you have any on your hard floors.

Carpeting

If you’ve opted for a cozy carpet in your home, it’s important to care for that. For carpet, you need something quite powerful. It needs to be able to pull out dirt and debris from carpet strands.

You don’t need to worry about floor scratching, so an upright vacuum cleaner is a fantastic option. So, when you have wall-to-wall carpet, shaggy or smooth, or even area rugs, an upright vacuum is best for you.

Bagged Vs. Bagless

When it comes to deciding between vacuum cleaners, you might also want to consider if you want a bagged or bagless device. There are pros and cons to both.

Bagged Vacuums

PROS:
  • It’s good if anyone in your family has allergies. Bags trap most of the dirt, dust, and pollen. Exposure is minimal even when you’re emptying them.
  • There is less mess. The dust doesn’t go everywhere when you empty the vacuum, because all the dirt is in a bag.
  • Vacuum bags are available at most supermarkets.
CONS:
  • You have to change the bag regularly.
  • There is more waste and an extra ongoing cost to your vacuum cleaner.

Bagless Vacuums

PROS:
  • Environmentally friendly option.
  • You don’t need to stock spend money on vacuum bags.
  • Usually, you can see how full the dirt container is so you know when to empty the vacuum.
CONS:
  • It’s messier. When you dump the vacuum contents into the trash, dust tends to fly up everywhere. We often find we need to vacuum around our garbage can after emptying our vacuums.

FAQs

What Should You Not Vacuum?

So, you get your new vacuum cleaner. You’re excited. You want to vacuum everything.

But wait … is there anything you shouldn’t vacuum?

Yes. There are quite a lot of things you should stay away from.

  • Used coffee grounds: You already know that used coffee grounds are a pain to clean. Imagine it all getting stuck inside your vacuum cleaner. Not a pretty sight.
  • Wet foods: Vacuuming up wet foods, like baked beans or soup, can damage your vacuum cleaner’s motor. Plus, these foods could go off inside your vacuum cleaner and create mold.
  • Plant debris: If you have houseplants that keep shedding their leaves, pick them up by hand. They could clog up your vacuum cleaner.
  • Fireplace ash and construction debris: Ash and construction debris are so fine that when you vacuum them, the machine just blows them around and back into the air. Cover the ash or debris in wet coffee grounds and sweep them up instead.
  • Coins and small toys: Don’t vacuum up larger objects. They can get stuck inside your vacuum cleaner and destroy your expensive purchase.
  • Liquids: Unless you have a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, don’t vacuum up liquids. Use a mop instead.
  • Makeup: Eyeshadow, lipstick, foundation, blush — all things you should never vacuum. They can melt inside the vacuum and destroy the motor.
  • Large pieces of glass: Large pieces of glass could get stuck inside your vacuum, puncture the bag, or scratch up the inside, so sweep these up with a broom instead.
  • Lots of hair: It’s okay to vacuum hair that’s lying around your home, but if you’re cleaning up after a haircut, sweep it up instead. Hair can get trapped in the roller or hose of your vacuum cleaner.

Should You Vacuum Or Dust First?

Dust first, then vacuum.

When you dust, you won’t get every particle. Some go into the air and land on your floors, surfaces, and furniture.

Then you can go around your house with the vacuum cleaner and pick up the dust that has fallen. This results in a cleaner home and improves your exposure to allergens.

Why Are Vacuum Cleaners So Loud?

If you have a child or pet who is scared of the vacuum, it’s probably because it’s so darn loud. Thankfully, there are a few options for quieter vacuum cleaners listed above. But what makes them so loud in general?

There are a few reasons.

  • Fans: Vacuum cleaner fans rotate at high speeds so that it can collect everything. The airflow from the fan combined with the suction is enough to create loud noises.
  • Motors: Vacuum cleaners are electrical and they have motors. Like a car does, vacuum cleaner motors make noises. If you want a quieter motor, choose a vacuum with a DC motor.
  • Vibrations: Vacuum cleaners vibrate because of the fans and the motors. This causes the vacuum to knock against the floors which can result in a loud noise.

Double Check

If your vacuum cleaner is louder than normal, or making strange noises, double check the parts. There could be a blockage or breakage somewhere which is causing the scary noises.

Get The Right Vacuum Cleaner

Don’t skip out on purchasing a vacuum cleaner. They’re necessary for a clean and tidy home. When you do go to purchase a vacuum cleaner, make sure it’s the right one for you.

Consider your floors, the size of your home, and whether or not you experience back pain. All of these factors will help you find your perfect match.

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!
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