The Best Editor-Tested Vacuum Cleaners You Can Buy Now

updated Jul 5, 2024
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Vacuum cleaning up baking soda on a colorful rug with seal in upper left that reads "Apartment Therapy the Best List 2024 Vacuum Cleaners"
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Let’s be honest: The only household appliance with the power to totally suck and have us love it for it is the vacuum cleaner. Today, people tend to be pretty opinionated about them since these modern machines have set new industry standards beyond being sleek and powerful. Suddenly, the household vacuum has become more than just a cleaning tool; it’s a status symbol — a point of pride worth talking about and showing off. Some are even more than just vacuums, with the ability to mop, self-navigate, and connect to our phones.

It can be as challenging to separate fact from emotional attachment as it is to determine which bells and whistles are worth the investment. For these reasons, we’ve put the newest, most popular, and even the most underrated vacuums to the test to determine which ones truly are the best. If you’re in the market for a vacuum cleaner, whether it’s handheld, hands-free, or purple (why not?), you’re bound to find your perfect match right here.

The Best Vacuums

What to Consider Before Buying a Vacuum

There are seemingly endless factors involved in choosing the best vacuum for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, which is why research is so important — and why recommendations should be taken with context. Here’s what to think about:


If portability is high on your priority list, you’ll likely want to opt for a cordless vacuum so that you’re not tethered to a wall. Additionally, you’ll want to opt for a lighter-weight vacuum so that it’s not tiresome to push around. That said, if you don’t mind a corded machine, opting for one with a long cord (at least 30 feet) will ensure you can still move with ease. What’s more, picking a rotating vacuum, such as the Dyson Ball Animal 3, will allow you to easily maneuver around corners, which will also add a layer of convenience to your cleaning process.

Types of Vacuums

Upright: These are the vacuums you’re probably most familiar with. They’re usually larger and heavier than stick vacuums in order to hold themselves up but have a whole lot of power and are especially suited for deep carpet cleanings. This makes them ideal for larger households.

Stick: These vacuums are the most popular, especially for those in smaller spaces and apartments. Usually, they’re lightweight and easier to store than bigger upright models. They also have great maneuverability. The downside? They typically can’t stand on their own and aren’t as powerful as other vacuums, and they work better on hardwood and low-pile carpeting since all debris has to make a sharp right angle to reach the canister.

Canister: While these vacuums are an older style, they’re now made with today’s standards and are still a great option if you want something powerful for your hardwood flooring and low-pile carpet. The long hose makes them convenient for reaching out-of-the-way spots, and they tend to be lighter than uprights, although the fuller-sized models can be difficult to store if you lack closet space.

Handheld: If you have pets, kids, a vehicle, or just don’t want to deal with your regular vacuum’s attachments, a handheld vacuum is a good addition to your cleaning arsenal. They’re best for light cleaning (like pet hair on upholstery or dry spills), but obviously aren’t ideal for large area cleaning.

Mini: Yes, vacuums got even smaller. Mini vacuums are palm-sized picker-uppers that are great for those on the go or who like to keep their immediate space sparkling clean.

Robot: Another great option for households with pets, robot vacuums are designed to run on their own. They aren’t great for a deep clean but are a solid choice for regular maintenance.

Corded: Most vacuums are corded, meaning they must be plugged in to run. The con of a corded vacuum is that you have to keep finding new outlets if you have a large space, giving you less flexibility. But they make up for being limited by usually being more powerful than cordless models.

Cordless: Most stick vacuum models are now cordless, meaning they run on a battery charge. While cordless vacuums give you freedom to access every spot in your home with no trouble, they need to be charged regularly to avoid dwindling battery power, which reduces their effectiveness, possibly without you even knowing it.

Bagged: Most traditional vacuums come with a bag that has to be emptied out once it’s full. Bagged vacuums catch everything rather than use a filter to decrease what’s collected, so they fill up quicker. While emptying the bag more often can be annoying, bagged vacuums are recommended for those with allergies since there is less contact with dust and debris during and after use.

Bagless: Many people prefer bagless vacuums, which use a filter instead. Although bagless vacuums are more convenient, they do require maintenance — you should clear out your dust bin after every use and replace your filter every year, which can sometimes be more costly than replacing bags.

Wet Vac/Mop: Some vacuum models can switch back and forth between mopping and vacuuming (usually with a quick accessory change or some supervision). If you have mostly hard flooring or are able to clear your space for a day, you could even solicit a robot wet vac to work a room while you do something else.


Think about how dirty your floors and upholstery tend to be. The more debris they harbor, the more suction you’ll need to adequately clean them. Generally speaking, corded upright vacuums offer more suction than cordless options due to higher electricity input. That said, suction isn’t the only characteristic that plays a role in how effective a vacuum is. The head of the machine does, too. Typically, densely bristled machines are better able to catch and remove debris. 


When investing in a vacuum, it’s important to consider your goals. If you solely want to clean your carpets, a variety of attachments aren’t necessary. If, however, you hope to vacuum your couch, window treatments, car, or in tight corners around your home, they absolutely are. Fortunately, many corded and stick vacuums come with an assortment of attachments to cater to various situations. Robot vacuums, on the other hand, come with fewer accessories (if any at all).

Type of Household

Larger houses: If you’re cleaning a good deal of square footage, go with an upright or canister vacuum. Uprights are best at cleaning all types of flooring and have enough power to give your entire home a deep clean. If you have minimal carpeting or high ceilings, a canister vacuum is recommended, especially if you don’t want to deal with lugging a 20-pound vacuum up and down stairs.

Smaller homes and apartments: If you lack storage space and have a smaller area to clean, a stick vacuum is probably best. Stick vacuum technology is getting better every year, and some models can compete with uprights in terms of power, but you don’t necessarily need all that power if you live alone in a small studio. Plus, sticks are much easier to store — especially those that break down into easily connectable parts.

Pets: Dealing with a lot of pet hair? Really any vacuum can work, and you don’t necessarily need a vacuum that’s branded as “made for pets.” It more so depends on the surfaces your pets spend time on. Many pet owners like a bagged vacuum to keep fur and dander contained, while others might be annoyed at how quickly those bags will fill. Just make sure your vac has a strong, sealed filter, and consider buying a handheld or robot vacuum for easy maintenance.

Allergies: If you have serious allergies, you’ll likely benefit from a bagged vacuum. Emptying a dust bin can make allergens go back into the air, so keeping them contained in a sealed bag is healthier.


In previous years, if you were serious about buying a good vacuum, you had to be ready to spend. While budget vacuums have always existed, there are some on the market now that will stick around for a while — it’s more about maintaining your vacuum than spending the most you possibly can for one. That said, when we talked to Stu Davis, a vacuum repairman who’s been in business for 45 years, he said the best vacuum brands are indeed the most expensive ones. “I recommend Miele, Riccar, and Sebo,” says Stu. “They’re the most reliable and well-made.” The only problem? Their vacuums can cost over $1,000, and Riccar and Sebo, in particular, are only available in specialty stores.

But Stu makes a great point: “Are you more concerned with the best price or the best cost?” Although spending hundreds of dollars on a vacuum might seem a little outrageous, Stu reasons that you’ll save in the long run, since those professional-level high-end brands will last for years with minimal maintenance.


When it comes to vacuums, there are three major certifications:

The Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval: The CRI measures how well vacuums clean carpets, testing for things like soil removal efficacy, residual moisture, and surface appearance change.

Asthma & Allergy Friendly (AAF) Certified: To meet this certification, vacuums have to pass a certain set of standards proving that they remove surface allergens effectively.

British Allergy Foundation (BAF) or Allergy UK Certified: Allergy UK, a subsidiary of the British Allergy Foundation, has tested, reviewed, and approved these certified products and determined their use safety for those with allergies across a range of types and severities.

What We Look for in a Vacuum Cleaner

We tested and researched a wide range of models to find the best household vacuums, judging them on the following criteria:

  • Functionality: How well does the vacuum clean dirt and debris? Does it work on a range of surfaces? Does it require multiple runs in order to pick everything up? What’s its range of motion like?
  • Durability: How long does the vacuum last? Does it require a lot of maintenance? Does it have a warranty?
  • Ease of purchasing: Is it easily ordered online, or does it have to be purchased in a store? Is it only sold to professionals or can it be found commercially? How much does the vacuum cost? Does it go on sale?

The Best Vacuums

From editor-favorite cleaning brand Shark comes the Stratos Cordless Vacuum, which is one of the most versatile models we tested. It’s easy to maneuver from room to room, and its power level seriously impresses our commerce SEO editor, Sarah, every time she uses it. She’s a fan of the Clean Sense IQ technology, which is a special feature that senses dirt and adjusts power and suction accordingly; the double brush roll, which gives a deep clean without requiring you to detangle hair; and the MultiFLEX wand that makes easy work of getting under furniture. Plus, it has an hour-long runtime so you can get every nook and cranny in your space. Sarah claims it picks up pet hair just as efficiently as human hair.

“This vacuum got every surface of my home crystal clean,” she says. “Hardwood? Pristine. Rugs? Not a crumb left in sight. After transitioning it into a handheld and attaching the smart two-in-one crevice and brush tool, my baseboards, door frames, and upholstered surfaces were also spotless.”

Read our full review of the Shark Stratos Cordless Vacuum.


  • 8.9 lbs.
  • Cordless
  • 60-minute run time
  • 309-watts; 12.3 amps
  • Washable HEPA filter, foam and felt filters
  • Includes duster crevice tool, odor neutralizing puck, and anti-allergen brush
  • Features self-cleaning brush roll, DuoClean brush roll system, and flexible wand
  • 5-year limited warranty; 2-year battery warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who are looking for a versatile, lightweight, and powerful vacuum that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it and get into every corner.

Good to Know: One of the only downsides that Sarah has found is the Stratos’ duster crevice tool, which she says has weak suction power. “However, the anti-allergen dusting brush attachment made up for that with its sleek two-in-one design,” she adds.

At under $35, the BISSELL Featherweight Stick Vacuum is nothing short of a steal. Weighing less than three pounds — practically nothing compared to others we’ve tried — this lightweight machine will inspire you to vacuum your home each and every day with ease. (At least, that’s how commerce deputy editor Alicia and contributor Kendall felt with the BISSELL Featherweight Stick Vacuum in hand.) From sofas and floors to ceiling fans and window treatments, it works like a charm. Part of its allure is that it breaks down into a handheld vacuum, which is incredibly convenient for harder-to-reach areas (like the tops of fan blades) and in smaller spaces (such as under car seats). Additionally, since it breaks down and has detachable parts, it’s easy to store.

That said, even when fully assembled, the vacuum is slim enough to fit in coat closets without taking up more room than a broom. Now, we know what you’re thinking: Such a slim, lightweight machine surely can’t tout much power. On the contrary: Because it’s corded, the BISSELL Featherweight Stick Vacuum maintains a reliable power level every single time, which is more than we can say for many cordless models four times the price.

Read our full review of the BISSELL Featherweight Stick Vacuum.


  • 2.6 lbs.
  • Corded; 15-foot power cord
  • 700 watts; 2 amps
  • Standard disk filtration
  • Includes crevice accessory
  • Features removable floor nozzle
  • Available in 3 colors
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who want something simple; those looking to spend as little as possible (without compromising efficacy); those who want multiple vacuums.

Good to Know: The lowest suction setting on this vacuum is ideal for lightweight rugs.

Allow us to address the elephant in the room: The Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra Robot Vacuum is expensive. That said, AT tester Danielle found that it’s well worth the splurge. The sleek robot wet-vac is sold in black and white and features an all-in-one docking system where the machine self-empties, self-cleans, self-dries, and self-refills, offering the user a fully hands-free experience. “This is definitely the fanciest vacuum I’ve ever owned so it’s a relief that it works well,” Danielle says. “I work a lot, so being able to control the vacuum remotely is a huge plus because it means I can always come home to a clean house even when I don’t have time to tidy up myself. I have hard flooring throughout my apartment, and its never looked better!”

Whether you’re using the robot vacuum to sweep up dirt and debris or to deep clean carpets or mop floors, it can do it all — including sucking up deeply embedded pet hair. Despite being a cordless vacuum, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra Robot Vacuum touts impressive suction that works on uneven floors. It’s impressive, to say the least.


  • 10 lbs.
  • Cordless
  • 180-minute run time
  • 5500Pa suction
  • Washable filter
  • Includes charging RockDock, VibraWash Water Tank, VibraWash Mop Cloth Mount, and VibraWash Mop Cloth
  • Features self-drying, self-washing, self-emptying, self-refilling, and self-cleaning
  • Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri
  • Available in 2 colors
  • 1-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: The Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra Robot Vacuum is ideal for those who don’t have the time to vacuum and mop their floors, as it can be controlled via the app, as well as by voice control, allowing users to clean their home without lifting a finger.

Good to Know: With this kind of investment, we usually like to see a longer warranty to insure the machine. Only you can decide if a 1-year limited warranty is enough to make you click “Buy Now.”

The Shark Cordless Detect Pro blew us away during testing. What makes this machine stand out is its portability, convenience, and overall effectiveness. It comes with a charging port that not only ensures it’s always fully amped for your next cleaning sesh but also totally empty. That’s one of the wow-factors of this vacuum: While it can hold up to 30 days’ worth of dirt and debris, it self empties while docked, so you never have to worry about an overflowing canister. Additionally, with HEPA filtration and an anti-allergen complete seal, you can rest assured that the Shark Cordless Detect Pro keeps your floors and the air around you clean. 

Other things we love? In addition to a self-emptying canister, the Shark Cordless Detect Pro has a self-cleaning brush roll, so the machine stays effective in its cleaning. (If you’ve ever dealt with a knotted-up brush, you know how major this is.) And, best of all, it promises up to 60 minutes of run time in ECO mode, so you can clean your home without having to constantly recharge.

“The Shark Detect Pro is a definite upgrade from the last Shark self-emptying vacuum I’ve used (and also loved!),” says commerce editor Britt. “What I really love about this model is that it has a tall dock that takes up less space, so it’s easier to fit in narrow areas of my home. The vacuum is so much quieter than I expected it to be and has done a great job picking up pet hair from my two dogs.”

Read our full review of the Shark Cordless Detect Pro.


  • 14.8 lbs.
  • Cordless
  • 60-minute run time
  • 240-watts; 15.6 amps
  • HEPA filter
  • Includes self-emptying charging base, crevice tool, odor neutralizing puck, and pet hair accessories
  • Features self-emptying canister, self-charging base, and self-cleaning brush roll
  • 5-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those looking for a powerful cordless vacuum that’s easy to maneuver and even easier to charge and clean.

Good to Know: Since this is a cordless vacuum — albeit a powerful one — it’s best used on low-pile carpet and hard floors for best results. 

*Honorable Mention: Our runner-up is another of Shark’s impressive vacuums: the Cordless Pro Vacuum, which touts a portable design, odor neutralizer technology, true HEPA filtration, and powerful suction that works well on low-pile carpet and hard floors. The reason it didn’t earn the top spot in our review, though, is because it only offers a 40-minute run time and, as commerce editorial assistant Morgan points out, “It needs to be propped up against the wall when it isn’t in use,” as it doesn’t stand on its own or have a docking station. Instead, it has a removable battery that can be charged anywhere in your home. While the brand likely thought this was more convenient, it actually can put the vacuum at risk for falling over and getting damaged. Still, if you have somewhere to store it and like the idea of not having to hang a dock, you might just love this machine.

Best Corded: Dyson Ball Animal 3

The Dyson Ball Animal 3 is a favorite among pet owners. It’s a powerful corded vacuum with whole-machine filtration and an innovative tangle-free turbine that makes removing pet hair from carpets and rugs a breeze. 

While talking about the base of the machine, we have to highlight the iconic Ball design, which has long set Dyson apart. The rotating accent allows the vacuum to easily be used upright, as well as rotated flat to seamlessly reach beneath couches and around tight corners. As effective as the base of the machine is, the vacuum comes with a variety of attachments to make cleaning stairs and tight crevices less of a hassle. It even comes with a grooming tool so you can brush your pet then suck all the fluff directly into the vacuum. Suffice to say, Dyson (yet again) thought of everything when crafting this luxe vac.

“It’s the best vacuum I’ve ever owned and used so far to take care of pet hair and dust,” says AT producer Peggy. “It feels smooth and strong on all surfaces. I would definitely recommend!”


  • 17.3 lbs.
  • Corded; 35-foot power cord
  • 290-watts; 11.7 amps
  • Whole-machine filtration
  • Includes tangle-free turbine tool, stair tool, combination tool, and pet groom tool
  • Features nylon bristles, cleaning modes for every floor type, instant-release wand
  • 5-year warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those looking for a high-quality corded vacuum that can be used in a variety of ways; those in large homes; those with pets.

Good to Know: The pet-grooming tool is meant to be used while the vacuum is turned off. So brush your pet first, then turn on the vacuum suction (otherwise you may scare your pup in the process).

If you’re not afraid of a larger vacuum that can give your entire house a deep clean, our top upright pick is Kenmore’s Featherlite, which, as its name suggests, is still remarkably lightweight at under 12 pounds. It can tackle debris on any floor type with ease, leaving carpet and hard floors totally spotless. While it’s picking up dirt, the Featherlite also grabs dust with its AllergenSeal system, which filters 99.97% of dust down to 0.3 microns. It even comes with a detachable pod and wand so you can reach any difficult spots, as well as an upholstery tool to keep your couch and chairs in tip-top shape.

AT’s brand activation associate manager, Reece, especially loves how effortless it makes cleaning his small apartment — and how little space it takes up when it isn’t in use. “It is very easy to detach from the base and carry around to get in small little nooks,” he says. “The base of the vacuum has great movement and can really turn and reach all the spots in my small apartment.”


  • 12.4 lbs.
  • Corded
  • 850 watts; 8 amps
  • HEPA filter
  • Includes upholstery tool and 3-in-1 combination tool
  • Features crevice tool, LED headlights, quick-release wand, and 9-foot extended hose
  • Available in 3 colors
  • 1-year warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who want a deeper clean across a large area, without sacrificing too much store space for their vacuum.

Good to Know: The Featherlite may not be cordless, but it’s still extremely maneuverable with its swiveling LED head, according to Reece.

Pet owners, look no further for your next vacuum: BISSELL’s Multiclean Allergen Lift-Off Pet Vacuum. The lift-off technology and removable canister make it so you can pick up pet hair — and any other dirt and debris — on every surface. More attributes that make it perfect for picking up after your furry friends? The HEPA-sealed allergen system, tangle-free brush roll, and additional pet tools (which conveniently store on the vacuum so you’ll never lose track of them). When you’re done cleaning, the One-Touch Easy-Empty tank, paired with Cyclonic Pet Hair Spooling System — which separates and traps pet hair — makes maintenance a breeze.

AT contributor Holland owns two fluffy cats, and this vacuum has been a lifesaver in her one-bedroom apartment. “It removes the dirt and cat hair from both my flat rug as well as my more textured rug, and after a few months of use, the tangle-free brush roll is still holding up,” she says. “I probably use the crevice tool even more than the actual vacuum to remove dust, dirt, and litter from all the hard-to-reach places in my apartment.”


  • 15.7 pounds
  • Corded; 30-foot power cord
  • 840 watts; 7 amps
  • HEPA filter and sealed allergen system
  • Includes crevice tool, 2-in-1 dusting brush, and Pet TurboEraser Tool
  • Features tangle-free brush roll, swivel steering, Cyclonic Pet Hair Spooling System, lift-off detachable pod, and 7-foot extended hose
  • 5-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those with shedding pets who want to cover every inch of their space easily.

Good to Know: Holland says that “it does take up a lot of space in my one closet, but I’ve been wanting a full-size vacuum to manage the pet hair for a long time. So for me, it’s worth it.”

A robot vacuum is a smart purchase if you don’t have much time for deep cleaning during the week — or your space sees a lot of foot traffic and messes, and it’s difficult to keep up with it all. YEEDI’s top-of-the-line model not only vacuums but also mops, keeping your floors debris-free and shining. The Cube truly does take all of the hassle out of cleaning, thanks to its self-emptying, self-washing, and self-drying capabilities. It claims to go up to 60 days before it requires any maintenance, and the 1,000-milliliter water tank handles a number of washes before you have to refill it. After scrubbing with an impressive amount of force, the Cube squeezes out dirty water by itself and dries the surface with hot air.

Our tester, AT contributor Bre, was blown away by how well it mapped out her house with its advanced visual and laser fusion navigation system. “I have had it for six months and it has held up very well!” she says. “The mopping function is incredible, and I was shocked it got my floors as clean as it did using only water — no floor cleaner! I have been recommending it to all my friends with or without pets.”


  • 37.7 lbs.
  • Cordless
  • 180-minute run time
  • Includes mop pad, edge brushes, and docking station
  • Features multi-level mapping, visual and laser fusion navigation, suction auto-boost, and dual-edge brush
  • App-enabled and compatible with Amazon Echo
  • 1-year warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who are short on time or want their weekly floor cleans to be more low-lift.

Good to Know: Bre owns two large, fluffy dogs that shed a lot, and she’s found that too much of their hair can get tangled in the brush and prevents the Cube from self-emptying. However, if she keeps up with vacuuming their hair beforehand, “it works perfectly.”

A full-sized vacuum might not be in the cards if your home has no storage space to spare. In that case, a handheld vacuum is the answer. Plus, even if you do have plenty of room, a handheld is ideal for light messes, when you don’t want to whip out your larger vac. It can also get into tighter spots that your larger model might not be able to. BLACK+DECKER’s dustbuster blast is all about convenience, with its high suction power, rechargeable design, and built-in crevice attachment. The washable two-stage filter handles debris both large and small. It also offers an anti-tangle brush, which has rubber bristles to remove more stubborn debris and hair.

AT’s commerce coordinator, Mila, says that the dustbuster blast gets the job done efficiently. “I like the crevice tool feature because it can go in and vacuum the hard-to-reach areas of my couch,” she notes. Mila also previously tested the brand’s earlier version of the dustbuster, and says that the newer one’s suction power has improved by a clear mile.


  • 2.2 lbs.
  • Cordless
  • 15-minute run time
  • 75 watts
  • Washable filter and pre-filter
  • Includes crevice tool
  • Features built-in flip-up brush
  • 2-year limited warranty

Who It’s Best For: Those who don’t have any storage space; those who want a vac for handling lighter messes, cleaning their couch, and accessing hard-to-reach areas.

Good to Know: Mila adds that this vac is pretty loud despite its small size.

Another Shark vac that stands out is the Rotator Pet Lift-Away, which we recommend for every pet owner who has enough space for it. Its two-brush roll system handles every surface with ease, leaving nothing behind on carpets or hard floors. It’ll pick up hair without wrapping, and it even offers technology to eliminate odors, leaving your space fresher than it was before. You can also lift and convert the Rotator into a handheld pod, which is ideal for stairs and furniture, but even fully assembled, the swivel head covers a ton of ground. Like our Best Overall pick, this version also removes allergens and dust for cleaner air.

AT’s shopping writer, Nikol, gave this vac to her parents, who have owned and sworn by Shark products for over a decade. Her mom especially loves its filter and powerful suction for picking up after their Pomeranian, and the attachments, like the upholstery tool, were a hit. “If you want to actually get your house clean, get a Shark,” her mom told her. “It’s heavy, but it’s good exercise.”


  • 14.35 lbs.
  • Corded; 25-foot power cord
  • 960 watts; 8 amps
  • HEPA filter and sealed allergen system
  • Includes crevice tool, upholstery tool, and anti-allergen dust brush
  • Features LED headlights, self-cleaning brush roll, odor neutralizing technology, and lift-away pod
  • 5-year warranty

Who it’s Best For: Those who don’t mind a bulkier vacuum that can handle deeper cleans, especially if they own shedding pets.

Good to Know: The Rotator isn’t the slimmest of vacuums, but according to Nikol’s mom, the heft is worth it for the deeper clean. Nikol explains, “She doesn’t trust stick vacuums to get a proper clean like an upright vac.”