The idea that a single vacuum can pick up every mess has been relegated to the dustbin. Homes built today are more than 500 square feet larger than those built in the 1980s. That’s a lot of extra floor space to collect dirt, debris, dander, and the detritus of modern life. No wonder so many homeowners own more than one vacuum. In fact, 43 percent of consumers own two or three vacuums, according to the latest industry data.

Yet despite this arsenal, Consumer Reports’ latest vacuum survey reveals that less than half of our readers are fully satisfied with how their vacuum cleaners perform. Part of the problem may be that they have the wrong tool for the job: You don’t need a classic Kirby to suction up scattered Cheerios, and using a hand vac on carpeting is like using a fork to rake leaves.

“There’s no vacuum that does it all,” says Frank Rizzi, Consumer Reports' vacuum test engineer. “The heavy uprights may be great on carpet, but using the attachments to clean the stairs can be awkward.” To help, we asked Rizzi and crew to play matchmaker, assembling a dream duo of vacuums for you.

To make good use of the interactive chart below, identify your home type, then factor in your flooring (carpeting, solid surface, or mixed).


Put a Lid on Vacuum Noise

Though we haven’t gone so far as to recommend hearing protection when you vacuum, most machines are so noisy that you can’t hear the phone or doorbell ring.

We’ve heard from industry sources that consumers associate noise with power. But in our tests, we’ve found capable vacuums, like Miele’s, that get the job done at a lower volume. Vacuums can be made quieter by adding insulation and reducing motor vibration, but that may add to the cost. We’d like to challenge manufacturers to bring it down a notch.