Uprights, for example, tend to be best at cleaning carpets rather than upholstery. On the other hand, canisters can take up more space but get under furniture more easily. Then there are robot vacuums, which have to run every day to keep the dust bunnies at bay.
These are the best vacuums we tested ranked, in order:
Eufy RoboVac 11s
Dyson V11 Torque Drive
Miele Complete C3 Kona
Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog
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If you want the most vacuum for the least amount of money, the Bissell CleanView is your best bet.
Our tests showed the CleanView offered a fantastic balance of performance and price. Pet owners might need something with even more suction—but the CleanView is a great generalist.
The CleanView picked up an impressive percentage of the test dirt we laid out for it, and we feel the included crevice tool, dusting tool, and turbo brush accessories will satisfy the needs of most households. At 77 dBa, it's louder than more expensive models, but still one of the quietest vacuums we've tested at this price.
Note this model lacks a retractable cord, doesn't carry all of its attachments on board, and isn't great for deep carpet. But user reviews praise its reliability and build quality.
The Eufy Robovac 11S is the heir to the much-loved Robovac 11. This robot vacuum does its predecessor proud, offering excellent suction and improved navigation. The slimmer design allows the S to get its brushes into more places.
When we tested, the 11S picked up around 11.6 grams of dirt per run, more than what most iRobot models manage. We also noted that during operation, the 11S was quiet, rarely making enough noise to interrupt a conversation. The combination of good dirt pickup and quiet operation make the 11S one of our favorite robot vacuums. For under $400, though, the RoboVac 11s is an affordable and effective way to add a robot to your cleaning routine.
The Dyson V11 Torque Drive is a no-compromise cordless vacuum. It has powerful cleaning, great battery life, and features you won’t find anywhere else. The V11 has two major features that set it apart from all other cordless vacuums: an LCD screen on the back and automatic suction adjustment.
The screen lets you know, down to the second, how much battery life you have left. This feature ensures you’ll never be caught short while vacuuming between the cushions. The self-adjusting suction is a little more subtle. When you’re cleaning, the V11 lowers or increases the amount of suction based on the type of surface you’re cleaning. This increases battery life and helps keep this Dyson from damaging your floors.
Shiny new toys aside, the V11 also aces the basics. Our testing showed that this Dyson picked up 95 percent of the dirt we laid out for it. The large debris tests also impressed us: A lot of vacuums just plows crumbs from one side of the room to the other, whereas the V11 has specialized gaps in its brush head to ensure pickup.
The major downside is that the Dyson V11 Torque Drive is expensive. What you’re getting is a vacuum that has features no other brand has; the top-tier performance is the icing on the cake. However, there are vacuums with better value, providing a clean that’s almost as thorough for a fraction of the cost.
Because they can be unwieldy, bagged canister vacuums aren't as popular as they once were. Still, they're the go-to choice for serious cleaning. That's because their separate wands and many attachments make them easy to use under furniture, on a variety of floor types, and on upholstery and curtains. If you have mostly wood floors, a canister vacuum is your best bet.
At over a grand, the Miele Complete C3 Kona bagged canister vacuum might be expensive—but our tests show it gets the job done. On bare floors and thick carpet, the Kona simply captures more dirt than its competitors. It does this with its powered brush head, which is powerful enough to propel itself forward.
When cleaning is done, all attachments store onboard—even the powered Electro Plus wand slots right into the body. And since it's a Miele, nothing but the best build quality will do—no cheap or wobbly panels here. Everything is fine-tuned for balance so the unit won't fall over.
If you suffer from allergies or just demand a clean house, look no further than Miele's Kona.
Wet/Dry vacuums are designed to pick up dirt, debris, and water. The Craftsman 12004 was our overall pick for the best wet/dry vacuum because it offered the most balanced combination of power, usability, and versatility. While it's neither the largest nor the most powerful wet/dry vacuum we tested, it picked up 1.43 gallons of water in just 10 seconds—better than any vacuum its size.
The six-gallon Craftsman also backed up its power with smooth operation. The hose was easy to attach and remove, but still felt secure even when we used it to drag a heavy, waterlogged vacuum. This Craftsman also boasted the easiest filter to remove. That's important since you have to to take the filter off before wet pickup.
The only weak spot is the Craftsman's lack of attachments. It comes with two extension wands, a floor squeegee for wet pickup, and a utility nozzle. That covers wet and dry pretty well—but some of the competition came with more.
If you like the idea of an upright vacuum but want something that's going to last, we recommend spending a little more on a Miele. No matter which model you pick, the Miele Dynamic U1 line of high-end upright vacuums look and feel like nothing else out there. Each vacuum contains weights so it resists tipping over, even when you're tugging on the hose.
But what's more impressive is that the Dynamic U1 models clean as well as they handle. When it comes right down to it, the U1 series picked up more dirt than any other vacuum we've ever tested. Yes, it is expensive—even the entry-level. But when you need a superior clean, Miele delivers.
Hi, I’m Jon Chan, the senior lab technician at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it’s likely I oversee its testing, whether you’re asking about a vacuum or laundry detergent. Over the years, I’ve gotten my hands on hundreds of vacuums and this article is about the best of every type I’ve tested. When it comes to the absolute pinnacle, it’s all about well each model can clean up a mess.
Full-sized vacuums: We hold uprights and canisters to the same standards. Each vacuum is subjected to a battery of tests on surfaces ranging from deep-pile carpet to bare kitchen floors. The carpet tests revolve around the ability of each vacuum to pick up embedded dirt and pet hair. On bare floors, we’re more focused on seeing if a vacuum can pick up large debris like uncooked rice and macaroni.
Aside from cleaning, we also test how easy to use each vacuum is. We check to see how easy it is to lug up the stairs, the length of the power cord, and even count the number of attachments.
Robot vacuums: Every robot vacuum that comes into our labs gets placed in our obstacle course. The course contains simulations of tight furniture legs, low shelves, high thresholds, and three different types of carpet. At each obstacle, we sprinkle in a custom-ground cork mixture. The mixture allows us to measure not only how much the robot picked up but also how far it can clean into each obstacle without getting stuck.
Aside from just suctioning up dirt, other, “softer” metrics interest us. We check out any available smart features, including Alexa and Google Home skills. Inside the box and online, we look for replacement parts and how easy they are to order. Finally, we make note of how easy the robot vacuum is to use, such as how often you need to empty the bin or when it requires human intervention.
Wet/Dry Vacuums: Shop vacuums differ from the rest on this list because they are more at home in the garage than your living room. To the wet part in wet/dry vacuum, we measured how much water each model could suction up in ten seconds and used that as a benchmark for their overall power. See, the horsepower rating on the box signifies only its peak horsepower, which quickly fades after startup. We also tested to see how well each model dealt with wet sand and metal bolts.
Moving away from cleaning, we made a note about how easy it was to use each vacuum. We checked to see if it was easy to assemble, empty, move, and swap out attachments.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.