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Best Vacuums for Allergy Sufferers

Top picks from Kenmore, Miele, and Shark that ace CR's emissions tests

A woman sneezing into a tissue.

A good vacuum can be a game-changer for anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies. But if your vacuum spews more dust and debris than it picks up, you could be doing yourself more harm than good.

That’s one reason Consumer Reports measures emissions when we test vacuums. The best vacuums keep dirt well-contained and keep the air clean.

If you’re especially sensitive to dust and allergens, buying a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is a good starting point.

“There are newer vacuum cleaners that have different filtration systems, but we always recommend that a HEPA filter is there somewhere,” says Sanaz Eftekhari, vice-president of corporate affairs and research at The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. “The HEPA filter will trap the matters and molecules that are coming in, so they won’t go back into the air."

Another consideration is whether the vacuum has a bag or is bagless. Though many of the bagless vacuums in our tests have low emissions, emptying the bin of a bagless vacuum can create a dust cloud that's difficult to escape.

We asked Sue Booth and Frank Rizzi, who conduct our vacuum tests, to recommend bagged vacuums with the lowest emissions. We found several solid picks from Kenmore, Miele, and Shark. As a bonus, most of these options perform well at picking up another allergy trigger—pet hair. For more choices, check our full vacuum ratings and recommendations.

1

Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150
Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

    Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

    Strong airflow for tools and superb pet-hair pickup are top attractions of this Kenmore bagged upright. Though you can get a fine performer for less, its price includes helpful features, such as a brush on/off switch, which safeguards a bare floor's finish and prevents scattering of debris; suction control, which protects drapes; and manual carpet pile-height adjustment. It earns an Excellent rating for clean emissions.

    2

    Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog
    Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog

      Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog

      A Very Good upright vacuum cleaner overall, this Miele does an impressive job removing embedded dirt from carpets and hardwood floors. It spits hardly any dust or debris back out into the room, earning an Excellent rating for clean emissions. Its pet-hair pickup is a benefit for dog and cat owners who might be tackling piles of fur on carpets or bare floors. At 22 pounds, it’s easy to handle and quieter than many vacuums we tested.

      3

      Miele Dynamic U1 Maverick
      Miele Dynamic U1 Maverick

        Miele Dynamic U1 Maverick

        This Miele is slightly cheaper than the Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog but also boasts an Excellent rating for its performance on our emissions tests. It fares well at carpet cleaning in our tests and has superb pet-hair pickup. The Miele also includes a brush on/off switch to safeguard bare floors and prevent scattered dust and debris. Weighing in at 22 pounds, it's fairly easy to handle.

        4

        Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away NV586 (Target)
        Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away...

          Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away...

          Strong performance at a reasonable price helps make this bagless Shark a top pick. It earns an Excellent rating for clean emissions, and it's also impressive cleaning carpet. For those who prefer to vacuum with tools, hose suction is fairly strong, which is good for cleaning upholstery. It's also a great choice for those with pets: Pet-hair pickup is superb. 

          5

          Miele Complete C3 Marin
          Miele Complete C3 Marin

            Miele Complete C3 Marin

            Even though it’s a bit pricey, this Miele bagged canister is worth a look for its fine cleaning and pet-hair pickup. It rates Excellent for clean emissions. Carpet cleaning and airflow for tools are both impressive, and pickup on bare floors is superb. Other pluses include manual carpet pile-height adjustment, suction control for drapes, a brush on/off switch for bare floors, and a retractable cord. The Miele is one of the quietest vacuums in our tests.

            6

            Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog
            Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog

              Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog

              Canister vacuums also come in bagless versions, which save you the hassle and expense of changing bags, though they often require additional filters that need to be replaced. If you like that trade-off, the bagless Miele Blizzard earns top scores for bare floors and earns an Excellent score for its cleanup of pet hair. The hose suction is pretty good too, which means you can use this vacuum on curtains or upholstery without harming the fabric. And it's tops for clean emissions.

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