Product Reviews

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CR's best vacuums of 2018.

Best Vacuums of 2018

These vacuums really suck—which is exactly why we like them

It has been a fun few years in Consumer Reports’ vacuum labs. Cordless stick vacuums are better than ever and are now crowding out corded stick vacs at major retailers. And robotic vacuums have finally transcended from being a novelty item in YouTube cat videos to a serious cleaning tool.

But while the new kids on the block are turning heads, if you want deep cleaning, you’ll still need to rely on your trusty upright or canister vacuum. That said, we’ve also found plenty of good small vacuums for smaller messes.

How We Test Vacuums
To find out how well a vacuum picks up dirt, how much debris it retains, how easy it is to maneuver, and how noisy it is, Consumer Reports puts vacuum cleaners through a tough set of tests. We embed talc, sand, and pet hair into carpet before vacuuming. We use the same type of litter on bare floors and observe whether the vacuum picks it up or scatters it about. And we maneuver the vacuum around, just like you would, to make sure it’s easy to operate.

Here, reviews on the best vacuums you can buy right now, from each type we test. Drumroll—er, brush roll, please.  

Bagged Upright
Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

CR’s take: The midpriced Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150 earns top marks on bare floors and scores well for tool airflow. That means it’s exceptionally powerful when used with its attachments, which include a crevice tool, bristle brush, and power roller. On bare floors it captures almost every particle it picks up, keeping them contained in its disposable bag. And it’s no slouch at removing embedded dirt from carpet or tackling pet hair, either, although it’s a little louder and tougher to handle than some bagged uprights. It’s not the cheapest model you’ll find, but this impressive performer is certainly among the best vacuums we’ve tested.  

    Bagless Upright
    Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2

    Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2

    CR’s take: The Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 excels at cleaning bare floors and is almost as good at cleaning carpet. It’s also a great choice if you have pets that shed, because it cleans up on our pet-hair test, earning top marks. CR’s test engineers found this Dyson to be superb at containing the dust it collects—it scored well for emissions, although that doesn’t account for the mess you may make when emptying the bin into the trash. (And that’s true of any bagless vacuum.) The Dyson lacks a few features that may be important to you—notably, a manual carpet-height adjustment and suction control, which protects your curtains when you’re using the attachments. One last caveat: It’s one of the noisier bagless uprights we tested.

      Bagged Canister
      Miele Complete C3 Marin

      Miele Complete C3 Marin

      CR’s take: Our top-performing canister vacuum, the Miele Complete C3 Marin earns perfect marks in almost every test we throw its way. It’s a champ at bare floors and embedded pet hair but also excels at capturing dust particles. Powerful airflow makes its attachments especially effective. It’s also noticeably quieter than many models. It gets dinged a bit on our handling test, and that’s true of most canister vacuums, which trail behind you at the end of the suction hose. At more than $1,000, it may suck a big chunk out of your bank account, too—certainly something to consider before making the splurge. See our cannister vacuum ratings for other high-performing options.

        Bagless Canister
        Kenmore 22614

        Kenmore 22614

        CR’s take: If you can live without bags, this Kenmore 22614 aces our bare floors test and is almost as good at carpet cleaning. It’s also worth a look if you have pets, because it performs superbly in our test vacuuming up embedded cat hair. You’ll appreciate the capable tool airflow if you use your attachments a lot, and this vacuum is also low on emissions, meaning it retains what it sucks up. The noise level is so-so, and the vacuum isn’t as easy to maneuver as other canisters in this class.

          Stick Vacuum (Less Than 6 Pounds)
          Dyson V8 Absolute

          Dyson V8 Absolute

          CR’s take: On the surface, it might seem difficult to justify the purchase of a stick vac that costs two or three times what you would spend on a top-rated full-sized vacuum. Though no stick vacuum can fully replace the performance of an upright or a canister, it’s what the Dyson V8 Absolute can do that makes it such a standout in our ratings. It offers exceptionally powerful suction, which helps it earn perfect scores on bare floors, carpets, pet hair, and edges in our tests. It’s also among the quietest of comparable models and runs an impressive 21 minutes on a single battery charge—long enough that you might be surprised at how infrequently you’ll need to lug around a heavier, full-sized model.

            Stick Vacuum (More Than 6 Pounds)
            Bissell Air Ram 1984

            Bissell Air Ram 1984

            CR’s take: The cordless Bissell Air Ram 1984 easily sucks up dirt and debris from carpets and bare floors, and even devours embedded pet hair in our tests—compacting the collected debris into little bales of dirt stashed in the head of the unit. While it lacks the suction of a full-sized upright or canister, it’s still a vast improvement over the cordless sweepers of yesteryear. In fact, it scores well across most of our tests. Its edge cleaning performance is solid but lags behind some other stick vacuums because it lacks a crevice tool. Despite that, we’re willing to bet it’ll become your go-to for small spills and everyday messes. It stands upright on its own and has a handle that collapses to fit under pantry shelves. With a 47-minute run time, it’s the perfect way to keep floors tidy between deep cleanings. 

              Robotic Vacuum
              Samsung Powerbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA

              Samsung Powerbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA

              CR’s take: In a category you might associate with Roomba—and one that has seen an onslaught of noteworthy new entrants, including models from premium brands Dyson and Miele—it’s Samsung’s Powerbots that steal the show. The Powerbot R7065 powers through dirt on carpets and bare floors, acing both tests, and even finds its way into tight corners, thanks in part to its rectangular bumpers. It operates quietly enough that it’ll go unnoticed, though it’s hard to resist watching it return home to dock and charge after each intensive 86-minute cleaning session. Ultimately, no robotic vacuum can replace a full-sized upright or canister. But the Powerbot comes closer than any other robotic.

                Hand Vacuum
                Shark Pet Perfect II SV780

                Shark Pet Perfect II SV780

                The Shark Pet Perfect does everything a great hand vacuum should do, in an inexpensive and easy-to-use package. It excels at sweeping small messes from bare floors and easily gets into corners. It runs for a full 19 minutes—longer than you’d need for most small messes—and even comes with a rotating brush roll that helps it tackle pet hair or spot-clean carpets. We also appreciate that the nickel-cadmium battery is replaceable, though it takes a full 16 hours to charge. Note that its score in our Noise test is middle-of-the-road. Still, for an appliance you may only need occasionally, this hand vac is a great way to stretch out more thorough cleanings and tackle messes such as spilled Cheerios on the spot before they spread through your house.

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                  Haniya Rae

                  I​’m interested in the intersection between design and technology​—whether for ​drywall or robotic vacuums—and how the resulting combination affects consumers. I’ve written about consumer advocacy issues for publications like The Atlantic, PC Magazine, and Popular Science, and now I’m happy to be tackling the topic for CR. For updates, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@haniyarae).