Best Small Vacuums for Small Spaces
Easy-to-store models from CR's tests get the job done
When you live in a small apartment or house with limited storage space, finding a place to stash a vacuum can be a challenge.
Some uprights are slimmer than others, and given how good stick vacuums have become, you may be able to get by without a full-sized appliance (assuming you don't have miles of carpet).
Robotic vacuums, of course, take up little space but don't have what it takes to serve as your only vacuum.
How We Test Small Vacuums
We put upright vacuums through our full battery of vacuum tests, but because we don’t expect stick vacs or handheld models to perform as well as uprights or canisters, we judge them by different criteria.
Instead of using the more difficult embedded-dirt test, in which our test engineers remove ground-in grit from carpet, CR conducts a carpet surface cleaning test. Engineers also evaluate how well a stick vacuum picks up sand, rice, and cereal from bare floors and carpet within a certain time frame.
For robotic vacuums, we test each machine for its ability to pick up debris from bare floors and low-pile carpet in a custom-made set in our labs that approximates an average-sized room.
Our engineers sit and watch each robot perform a full cycle, carefully tracking every minute of its odyssey. After all, if these robots are meant to make your life easier, they shouldn’t be a hassle to set up, maintain, and run.
Here are some of the best compact choices from our vacuum cleaner ratings listed alphabetically and grouped so that you can match them to your own cleaning needs.
Best Small Vacs for Mixed Surfaces
Best Compact Vacs for Bare Floors
Best Robotic Vacuums
Best Handheld Vacuums
How CR Tests Robovacs
Robovacs have become a popular choice for helping to keep a house clean, but how well do they perform? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports experts explain to host Jack Rico how CR tests these handy vacs to find out which one is right for you.