In many households, "Can’t you do that later?" is a commonly asked question (read, complaint) when the vacuum cleaner is revved up, especially if someone's on the phone, the baby is sleeping, or there's a new streaming series to watch.

While even the quietest vacuums that Consumer Reports tests make plenty of noise, there are some that keep the racket down to a dull roar.

In CR’s vacuum tests, we measure how loud a vacuum is with a decibel meter positioned at ear height while the vacuum with a brush roll runs 2 feet away on medium-pile carpet. We take two noise measurements from each model to find an average decibel level. Generally, full-sized upright and canister vacuums range from about 69 to 80 decibels, equivalent to the noise of a busy road or a noisy restaurant.

“When doing this test, we are only concerned with the user's sound experience,” says Sue Booth, CR’s lead vacuum tester.

Noise at those levels isn’t enough to damage your hearing, especially since you probably won’t be running your vacuum cleaner for longer than an hour or so at a time. 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.”

As a group, robotic vacuums are the quietest type. Note that robotic models tend to be expensive and typically are better as a secondary rather than a primary vacuum.

We note the noise scores in our vacuum ratings, which cover canister, handlheld, robotic, stick, and upright models. You can check that column to find the quietest models that perform the best. 

The experts in our vacuum labs sorted through the decibel data to select these high-performing vacuums that operate at a lower volume.

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Quietest Upright Vacuums

Upright vacuums clean carpets quickly and thoroughly. But they’re not as good as canister vacuums when it comes to bare floors. Here are some of the quieter picks:

More on Vacuums

Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680, $150
The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680 (shown at top) was the quietest bagless upright in our tests and does a good 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. Not bad for a $150 vacuum.

Close Contenders:
Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog and Miele Dynamic U1 Jazz, $550 and $500

These bagged Miele uprights are fairly quiet, and the Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog is indeed good at picking up pet hair. In fact, they both are. Their scores are similar across the board with the exception of tool airflow, where the Cat & Dog has the edge. Tool airflow is key if you use your attachments a lot. If you don't, go for the Miele Dynamic U1 Jazz.

Quietest Canister Vacuum

Canisters are a good choice if you have stairs in your home; you can hold the hose in one hand and the body of the vacuum in the other. A canister vacuum typically offers powerful suction for easier cleaning with tools.

Miele Complete C3 Marin, $1,100
The Miele Complete C3 Marin is one of the quietest canisters we tested and 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 may not be the machine you want for deep cleaning.

Dyson V8 Absolute, $600
The cordless Dyson V8 Absolute is a smooth operator—and relatively quiet at that. It aced our stick-vacuum tests, although those aren’t as challenging as our tests for full-sized vacuums. You’ll appreciate its light weight, 5.6 pounds, and the fact that you can empty the dust chamber in one step.

Close Contenders:
Miele Swing H1 Quickstep and the Bissell Air Ram 1984, $200 each

At one-third the price of the Dyson, the Miele Swing H1 QuickStep is also the quietest stick vacuum. It’s a corded model, weighs 10.6 pounds, and converts to a handheld vacuum. If you have pets, however, consider another model.

The Bissell Air Ram 1984 was just a bit noisier than the Miele but its performance scores are better. It’s also cordless, which some people prefer, and weighs 7.9 pounds.

Quietest Robotic Vacuums

These little cleaning bots worked relatively quietly in our test labs but didn’t always pick up everything in early passes around the room.

Still, if you’re looking for a robotic vacuum, the Ecovacs Deebot M88 and the Eufy Robovac 11 are two of our quietest models and will help keep your home in a spruced-up state. The Ecovacs Deebot M88, $370, is great at cleaning both carpets and bare floors, and picking up debris from tight corners. Or opt for the less expensive Eufy, $250. It’s 3.5 inches tall and can easily scoot under furniture to find those hard-to-reach dust bunnies.