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Best vacuums for holiday cleanup

Top picks among uprights, canisters, and stick vacuums

Published: October 30, 2015 09:00 AM
Kenmore 31140

You can plan your dinner courses to a tee, chill the wine just right, and still feel behind the eight ball because your vacuum cleaner conked out at a critical moment. If you have time, you might find there’s hope for that old vacuum. But if you need a new vacuum anyway, you can’t go wrong with these five favorites from Consumer Reports' vacuum tests, which also make great gifts.

Kenmore 31140, $200

For an upright bagged model, the type with the most suction for deep-cleaning carpets, we recommend the Kenmore 31140. Some models costing up to $515 more did better overall, but the Kenmore was impressive for deep-cleaning carpets and even better at picking up pet hair, cleaning bare floors, and keeping in what it picked up. We also liked its easy-to-reach on/off switch, the manual carpet pile-height adjustment—better than automatic systems at matching the brush to the surface—and the brush on/off switch, which safeguards bare floors and keeps from scattering debris rather than picking it up.

Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind

Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind UH70120, $130

Impressive cleaning and superb pet-hair pickup helped put the bagless upright Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind UH70120 on our winner's list. This model also delivers lots of suction for tools, manual carpet pile-height adjustment (better for matching the brush to the surface), and a retractable cord--all in a low-priced, relatively light machine that weighs just 18 pounds. Two things this value-priced model doesn't include: suction control for drapes and a brush on/off switch to safeguard bare floors' finish and prevent scattered dust and debris. Among upright brands, Hoover has been a solid performer in our tests.

Panasonic MC-CG937

Panasonic MC-CG937, $330

Panasonic's bagged canister had impressive cleaning across the board, making it one of our top picks. The Panasonic MC-CG937 had ample airflow for tools and did equally well at picking up pet hair. Helpful features include a brush on/off switch, suction control, easy on/off, manual carpet pile-height adjustment, and the expected retractable cord. Also, the bag resides on a little caddy that we found easy to empty.

Kenmore 22614

Kenmore 22614, $350

Impressive cleaning, lots of airflow for tools, and fairly quiet running helped make this bagless canister a top pick. The Kenmore 22614 is also a great choice for picking up after cats or dogs. Key features include manual carpet pile-height adjustment, suction control, a brush on/off switch, and a retractable cord. And among canister brands, Kenmore has consistently been among the top performers. One caveat: Handling this vacuum's 23 pounds took some muscle. But you wanted to keep in shape for the holidays, right?

Shark Rocket HV302

Shark Rocket HV302, $180

Among stick vacuums, the cordless Dyson V6, $300, and Dyson V6 Motorhead, $550, are the performance champs. But for hundreds less, the corded Shark Rocket HV302, $180 did nearly as well and matched the Dysons for carpet-surface cleaning and pet-hair pickup. In both those tests the Shark was top-notch. It was also impressive at cleaning edges, doing bare floors, and is fairly quiet. Prefer a cordless model? Consider the Hoover Platinum LiNX BH50010, $160, instead.

Before checking our vacuum cleaner Ratings of more than 140 vacuums, be sure to check our buying guide for vacuums.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore on Twitter)

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