Start by picking a type. Uprights do better overall on carpets, and canisters are easier to maneuver. Here's what else to consider:
We now group bagged and bagless vacs for easier comparison. Bagless models save on supplies and tend to maintain airflow as they fill up. But roughly one-third of bagless-vac owners we surveyed confirmed that emptying the bin is a dusty chore.
Look for edge-cleaning tools for corners and baseboards. Manual carpet-height adjustment is better than automatic systems at matching the brush to the carpet. Suction control protects drapes, and a brush on/off switch safeguards bare floors and prevents scattered dust and debris. Be sure canisters have a motor-driven head for better carpet cleaning. And don't choose a model just for its HEPA filter; some with regular filters kept in dust equally well in our tests.