Illustration of a living room in a modern home

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 machine (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.

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Consumer Reports' recent vacuum tests reveal some smaller models that not only punch above their weight but also can be conveniently stowed out-of-sight.

“If you live in an apartment with all hard-surface flooring, you could get one of the stick vacuums that are very compact,” says John Galeotafiore, who oversees CR’s testing of products for the home.

“If you have a lot of carpeting, then you're going to need a vacuum that can deep clean, but you could get by with a bagless upright, which tends to be smaller and lighter than a bagged model."

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

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Bissell Air Ram 1984

Price: $200

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Dirt Devil Power Stick SD12530

Price: $80

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Shark SharkFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded HV391

Price: $300

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Best Compact Vacs for Bare Floors

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Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2

Price: $400

Bare floors
Carpet
Pet hair
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Kenmore Pet Friendly CrossOver 31220

Price: $250

Bare floors
Carpet
Pet hair
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Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680

Price: $260

Bare floors
Carpet
Pet hair
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Best Robotic Vacuums

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Eufy 30C

Price: $300

Bare floors
Carpet
Navigation
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iRobot Roomba e5

Price: $450

Bare floors
Carpet
Navigation
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Samsung POWERbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA

Price: $600

Bare floors
Carpet
Navigation
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Best Handheld Vacuums

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Black+Decker Flex BDH2020FL

Price: $110

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Dyson V7 Trigger

Price: $200

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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Shark Ion W1 WV201

Price: $130

Carpet
Bare floors
Pet hair
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