A good vacuum cleaner can be the best tool we have for controlling dust, dirt, and allergens like pet dander. Finding the best machine to meet our needs and our budget can be frustrating given the dozens of models out there that all claim to be our best bet. Understanding what separates one vacuum cleaner from another is a great start to narrowing down the list of potential candidates.
One step you can take to narrow down your search has to do with a vacuum cleaners filtration system. If asthma or allergies are a concern, you might believe that you shouldn’t even consider models that don’t offer a HEPA filter. HEPA filters have been certified and proven to remove more airborne allergens and other particles than lesser filters. A true HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter must be able to remove at least 99.97% of all airborne particles that are at least 0.3 micrometers in diameter. For reference, the diameter of a human hair is roughly 300 times that size. Most airborne allergens, including pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, are considerably larger than 0.3 micrometers, so some argue that the extra cost of a HEPA filter isn’t justified since any quality vacuum cleaner should be able to handle these allergens. The big advantage of a HEPA filter over others is that most pathogens, bacteria, and microbial spores are small enough that only a HEPA filter will trap and contain them. So, while pet, pollen, and dust mite allergies might be controlled with a non-HEPA filter, a HEPA filter still offers the most air-cleaning power.
Once you decide whether or not you need a HEPA filter, you can look at a vacuum cleaner’s overall performance. Many manufacturers tout superior motor and suction power as key selling points. After all, it does make sense that a more powerful motor equals more powerful suction, which equals better cleaning power, right? Not really. A more powerful motor will create better suction, but without good airflow, that suction won’t be constant. Look for a vacuum cleaner that boasts strong airflow (measured as cubic feet per minute, CFM). Many models have great motors, but poorly sealed airflow paths. Strong airflow is what gives you strong, constant suction. A strong motor with a leaky airflow system is a waste of the motor’s power and your money.
The next thing to think about is the type of flooring you have. If you have both bare floors and carpet, look for a model that has settings for both. If you have one or the other, it’s important to understand that vacuum cleaners need to treat bare floors differently than carpet in order to be effective (and vice versa, of course). Vacuum cleaners that handle carpets best do so by having roller brushes that essentially beat the carpet to stir up dirt, dust, and debris from below the surface. These roller brushes don’t work as well on bare floors because they sit higher up off of the floor and because the rolling (carpet-beating) action is more likely to scatter dirt on bare floors than collect it. Bare-floor models sit lower to the ground and rely strictly on the machine’s suction power (airflow) to remove dirt. These heads don’t work so well on carpet because they aren’t able to get anything that’s settled below the surface. Roller brushes designed for carpet can also be damaging to some delicate bare floors in addition to not cleaning them very well. Always be sure to understand the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining your bare floors.
The choice of canister versus upright is largely a matter of preference. Canister models tend to handle stairs and furniture better than base-model uprights, but most machines now come with enough attachments to allow you to effectively clean any surface with relative ease.
Check out best vacuums for the money for reviews and recommendations on some of the top lightweight models for different types of flooring.
See best vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors for top picks for owners who have hardwood or other bare floors.
Visit this website for reviews of models designed to offer superior performance in terms of pet hair removal.