Quietest Vacuums From Consumer Reports' Tests

These high-performing models operate at a lower volume

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Even the quietest vacuums that Consumer Reports tests make plenty of noise, but there are some that keep the racket down to an acceptably dull roar.

In CR’s vacuum lab, we measure sound with a decibel meter at ear level with a vacuum set to deep-clean at its maximum power setting. Noise at typical vacuum decibel levels, around 70 decibels, isn’t enough to damage your hearing, especially because you probably won’t be running your vacuum cleaner for longer than an hour or so at a time.

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Still, “Having chronic exposure to loud noise can be a problem,” says James Dickerson, CR’s chief scientific officer. “It's not just having a peak amount of power or energy that causes damage. It’s damage over time.”

And there’s also the quality-of-life issue. According to health experts, noise below the level that can cause hearing damage can still affect your everyday health and well-being.

“When doing the noise test, we are concerned with the level of noise coming from the vacuum that can be an annoyance to the user and anyone else in the home,” says Sue Booth, CR’s lead vacuum tester. “It’s about comfort.”

You can find the noise scores in our vacuum ratings, which cover upright, canister, stick, handheld, and robotic models. To narrow the field down to the quietest in each category, select the type (for example, “uprights”), then click the “Rated Best For” dropdown and select “Noise.”

Quietest Upright Vacuums

Upright vacuums clean carpets quickly and thoroughly. Generally, they’re not as good as canister vacuums when it comes to bare floors. Here are the two quietest uprights from those models that score Very Good or better overall.

Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog
The Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog is indeed good at picking up pet hair, and it aces both our carpet cleaning and bare floor tests. It’s quiet for a vacuum cleaner—the quietest bagged upright, earning a rating of Very Good for noise. It also has strong tool airflow, which is key if you use your attachments a lot.

Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680
The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680 is the quietest bagless upright in our tests, earning a rating of Very Good for noise. It does a solid job getting embedded dirt out of carpets. It’s also a beast at removing pet hair, something to consider if you have a dog or cat. A brush on/off switch prevents the vacuum from scattering dirt over bare floors or damaging your carpet.

Quietest Canister Vacuums

Canisters are a good choice if you have stairs in your home because you can hold the hose in one hand and the body of the vacuum in the other. Canister vacuums typically offer powerful suction, which means they excel when using tools. Here are the two quietest canisters from models that score Very Good or better overall.

Miele Complete C3 Alize
If quiet is what you aim for, the Miele Complete C3 Alize is your best bet. It’s the quietest among both full-sized vacuums and stick vacuums—it’s comparable to the quiet buzz of a typical office space. It doesn’t hold up when it comes to carpet—it earns only a Good rating on that front. But it’s fantastic at cleaning bare floors and pet hair, so if you don’t have carpet and want a very quiet vacuum, this could be the model for you.

Miele Complete C3 Marin
The Miele Complete C3 Marin is one of the quietest canisters we tested, earning a rating of Very Good for noise. And it performs well on all the tasks that matter: carpet and floor cleaning, and picking up pet hair. It features manual carpet-height adjustment, which is a good option if you have higher-pile carpets. Find out why Miele vacuums have a very loyal following.

Quietest Stick Vacuums

Stick vacuums tend to be quieter, and their relatively compact size makes them a great option if you have limited storage space. But a stick vac might not be the machine you want for deep cleaning. Here are the two quietest stick vacs from models that earn Very Good or better Overall Scores.

Shark Ion X40 Cord-Free Ultra-Light IR141
The cordless Shark Ion X40 is very quiet and earns a rating of Excellent in our noise tests. It does a great job in our bare floors and pet hair cleaning tests, but when it comes to cleaning carpet its performance is only so-so. This vacuum also performs well in our emissions testing, meaning that if you have allergies or are sensitive to dust, this vacuum might be a great choice.

Bissell Air Ram 1984
This is a budget-friendly stick vacuum that earns an Excellent rating for noise. If you have pets, the Bissell Air Ram 1984 is a good choice. It was only a touch noisier than the Miele Complete C3 Alize. It’s also cordless, which some people prefer, and weighs 7.9 pounds. It doesn’t convert into a detachable hand vacuum the way many other stick vacuums do. But it’s tough to beat the Bissell’s combination of value and performance.

Quietest Robotic Vacuums

These little cleaning bots work relatively quietly in our test labs but don’t always pick up everything in early passes around the room. One advantage of a robovac is that you can program it to run when nobody is home, in which case noise might not be a concern. If you do want to run it while you’re home, here are the two quietest robovacs from our tests.

Eufy RoboVac 11s
The quietest robotic vacuum in our ratings—earning it a rating of Excellent for noise—is the Eufy RoboVac 11s. Its noise levels are about equivalent to the sound of rain drumming on your windows. Though it’s not the most efficient cleaner—testers noted that it sometimes scatters debris—it does the job, operates quietly, and has a cliff sensor, so it won’t tumble down stairs. It leaves very little pet hair on carpets, so it’s a solid choice for households with a pet that sheds. This robotic vacuum isn’t WiFi-enabled, but you can control it with a smartphone app.

Samsung Powerbot R7040
The sleek Samsung Powerbot also earns an Excellent rating in our noise test. A couple of key design details make it stand out among the competition, such as its ability to clean along walls: It’s equipped with a shutter brush that extends down to sweep up dirt only when it nears a wall—an improvement over side brushes that are out at all times and can scatter debris. As for power, the Samsung Powerbot is able to pick up fine grains of sand and embedded pet hair from carpets. (You have to manually clean the pet hair from the brush.) Samsung’s Smart Things app allows you to check the status of the bot as well as schedule it and view cleaning history.

Which Products Are Damaging Your Hearing?

Some outdoor yard equipment is so noisy it can damage your hearing within 15 minutes. On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Eric Hagerman explains how CR tests to find out how loud—and dangerous—these products can be to your hearing.

Home Content Creator Haniya Rae

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).