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8 Types Of Vacuum Cleaners: Hard Floors And Carpets

Here to help you find the right vacuum cleaner for the dirt in your home.

When buying a new vacuum cleaner, choosing from the different types of hoovers is no easy task. There are many options on the market. You’ll see a range of colors, functionalities, and prices.

We’ll walk you through eight types of vacuum cleaners. This list will help you find the right vacuum cleaner to bring your home from dusty to spotless in a matter of minutes.

Key Takeaways

  • 8 vacuum types: Handheld, Canister, Upright, Stick, Robot, Backpack, Wet and Dry, and Central Vacuum System.
  • Consider cleaning surface, noise level, maneuverability, storage size, and price when choosing a vacuum.
  • Each type has pros and cons, such as power, convenience, or ability to clean specific surfaces.
  • Some vacuums have unique features, like robot vacuums controlled by smartphones, or wet and dry vacuums that clean both liquids and solids.

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 can clean in 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.



  • Not good for general cleaning, as it would take too long.
  • Less power than a canister or full-sized vacuum.

Product 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 vacuum’s wand. Because of the separate canister, the engines of these vacuums can be bigger and stronger. Consider a canister vacuum if you’re looking for amazing suction and airflow.


  • Powerful vacuum with great suction.
  • They can clean floors, stairs, under furniture, upholstery, and curtains.
  • Lightweight wand for easy maneuverability.
  • They come with various tools for different surfaces and flooring types.


  • The canister is bulky, 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.
  • You must bend down to lift the canister and switch the vacuum on.

Product 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 what comes to mind. These vacuums are popular in households because they effectively clean carpets and hard floors. They’re also affordable, powerful, and easy to maneuver.


  • Easy to store.
  • Stand up on their own.
  • Great for cleaning carpets and hard floors.
  • They come with attachments for different uses.
  • Wide cleaning path, which is good for large areas.


  • Typically quite heavy, around 10 to 15 pounds.
  • They can be quite noisy.
  • Difficult to vacuum stairs because the cord and body get in the way.
  • Not efficient in hard-to-reach places or corners without attachments.

Product 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.

However, they are becoming more powerful with better technology. Dyson stick vacuums are super strong. We have one, and we love it.

Because of their stick-like design, they’re slender and simple to store. They’re also lightweight and easy to maneuver.


  • Easy to store.
  • Lightweight, often weighing under seven pounds.
  • Good for quick, small messes.
  • They work great on hardwood floors.
  • Corded or cordless options available.


  • Not as powerful as other vacuums.
  • Small dirt bin capacity.
  • They can be quite noisy.

Product 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 cleans up your mess while you sit back and relax.

Robot vacuums are becoming more and more popular because of their fantastic convenience. Not only do they do your chores, but they can get underneath low spaces and run while you’re not home.


  • 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.
  • Doesn’t take up much storage space.


  • They clean small messes, so occasionally, you might need to vacuum manually.
  • Small dirt bin capacity.
  • Expensive price point.
  • Not great on shaggy carpets or rugs.

Product 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.


  • Good for people with back pain.
  • They pick up soil and dust.
  • The wand is lightweight.


  • Straps can be hard to adjust.
  • The storage bags inside are usually quite small.
  • Not as powerful as other types.

Product 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 can clean up dry dirt and wet spots, a handy function. So whether you’ve got spilled milk or sprinkled sawdust, this vacuum can solve your problem.


  • 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.


  • Corded, so if using outside, you’ll need to use multiple power sources
  • It gets smelly, especially if you’re vacuuming urine or vomit.

Product 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.

This is a tubing system hidden inside the walls of your house. It connects 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.


  • More powerful than normal vacuum cleaners.
  • You don’t need to carry around a heavy unit.
  • Healthier indoor air quality since the debris container is located outside of living areas in the house.
  • Quieter than other options.
  • The suction isn’t affected as the container fills.
  • It adds value to your house.


  • 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.

Product 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:

  • Helps with 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).
  • Best for carpets and rugs: 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 an excellent way to lessen the amount of old cigarette smoke in your home (3).
  • Removes 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

For hardwood, tiles, and laminate, choose a vacuum with various attachments. You also want to opt for a lightweight vacuum cleaner to prevent scratches on your floor.

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

Canister vacuums usually have a brush attachment for bare floors, preventing scratching. Plus, they are good for rugs.


If you’ve opted for a cozy carpet in your home, you need something quite powerful. It must be able to pull out dirt and debris from carpet strands.

An upright vacuum is best for you if you have wall-to-wall carpet, shaggy or smooth, or even area rugs.

Bagged Vs. Bagless

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

Bagged Vacuums


  • It’s best for those with 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.
  • Vacuum bags are available at most supermarkets.


  • You have to change the bag regularly.
  • There is more waste and an extra ongoing cost to your vacuum cleaner.

Bagless Vacuums


  • Environmentally friendly option.
  • You don’t need to spend money on vacuum bags.
  • Transparent dust bins let you know when you need to empty them.


  • It’s messier to empty the canister.
  • You need to deep clean the dust bin every month.


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: Imagine it all getting stuck inside your vacuum cleaner. Not a pretty sight.
  • Wet foods: Vacuuming 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: Don’t vacuum up liquids unless you have a wet and dry vacuum cleaner. 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 long hair 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 clean up the fallen dust. 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.

There are a few reasons why:

  • Fans: Vacuum cleaner fans rotate at high speeds so that they can collect everything. The airflow from the fan combined with the suction is enough to create loud noises.
  • Motors: Vacuum cleaners are electrical with motors. As 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, resulting in a loud noise.

Double Check

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

What Should I Look for When Buying a Vacuum Cleaner?

When buying a vacuum cleaner, you should look for suction power, pet dander accessories, the weight, storage, and waste bin capacity. Also keep in mind the filter type, and which floor surfaces it covers.

How Much Should a Good Vacuum Cost?

Vacuum cleaners costs vary depending on the make and model. The most expensive will set you back over $1,000, while budget-end models cost as little as $50.

How Long Should a Vacuum Last?

A vacuum cleaner should last a minimum of eight years, although, this depends on the make, model, and the frequency of use. Some brands, like Miele, pride themselves on the reliability of their vacuum cleaners, with some lasting 20 years.

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 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 Anthony is a cleaning expert, author, and contributing writer for Oh So Spotless, a leading online resource for all things related to cleaning, organizing, and maintaining a spotless home. With over 15 years of experience in the cleaning industry, Amy has gained extensive knowledge and expertise that have made her a trusted authority on best practices, efficient techniques, and innovative cleaning solutions.