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It’s been a fascinating few years in Consumer Reports’ vacuum labs. Cordless stick vacuums are better than ever and have crowded out corded stick vacs at major retailers—and in our ratings. And robotic vacuums have finally moved from being a novelty item in YouTube cat videos to being a legitimate cleaning tool.
But while these new and convenient contenders deserve a place in your cleaning arsenal, they still can’t replace your trusty upright or canister.
“For some people, it might make sense to have multiple vacuums, for different situations,” says Frank Rizzi, a senior lab technician for CR who tests vacuums. “A robotic vacuum can help with maintaining your pristine floors and a stick can help with quick messes alongside your bigger upright or canister.”
How We Test Vacuums
To find out how well a vacuum picks up dirt, how much debris it retains, how easy it is to maneuver, and how noisy it is, CR’s engineers put vacuum cleaners through a set of tough tests. We embed talc, sand, and pet hair into carpet before vacuuming. We use the same type of litter on bare floors and observe whether the vacuum picks it up or scatters it about. And we maneuver the vacuum around the floor, just like you would, to judge how easy it is to operate.
The Overall Score for each model incorporates results for each of these tests as well as ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction, which are based on our survey data about more than 51,000 upright, canister, and stick vacuums that CR members purchased between 2008 and 2018.
Here are reviews of the best vacuums you can buy right now, from each type we test. Drumroll—er, brush roll, please.
Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150
CR’s take: The midpriced Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150 earns top marks on bare floors and scores well for tool airflow. That means it’s exceptionally powerful when used with its attachments, which include a crevice tool, bristle brush, and power roller. On bare floors it captures almost every particle, keeping debris contained in its disposable bag. And it’s no slouch at removing embedded dirt from carpet or tackling pet hair, either, although it’s a little louder and tougher to handle than some bagged uprights. It’s not the cheapest model you’ll find, but this impressive performer is certainly among the best vacuums we’ve tested. Kenmore receives middling scores for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction. See our upright vacuum ratings for other models.
Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away NV586 (Target)
Miele Complete C3 Marin
CR’s take: Our top-performing canister vacuum, the Miele Complete C3 Marin, earns perfect marks in almost every test we throw its way. It’s a champ at bare floors and embedded pet hair but also excels at capturing dust particles. Powerful airflow makes its attachments especially effective. It’s also noticeably quieter than many models. It gets dinged a bit in our handling test, but that’s true of most canister vacuums, which trail behind you at the end of the suction hose. At more than $1,000, it may suck up a big chunk out of your bank account, too. Miele vacuums earn top scores for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction. See our canister vacuum ratings for other high-performing options.
Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat & Dog
CR’s take: This bagless canister is on the pricey side for vacuums, but it’s one of the best bagless canisters you can buy. It earns an Excellent rating on our bare floors test, proving that it can suck up 5 grams of Maine Coon cat fur in no time flat. It’s not so great when it comes to cleaning carpet; canisters are better for bare floors. Allergy sufferers may appreciate that this vacuum also performs well in our emissions testing, releasing little debris back into the environment after sucking it up. Miele vacuums earn top scores for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction. See our canister vacuum ratings for other high-performing options.
Shark APEX DuoClean Corded ZS362
Samsung POWERbot R7065 VR2AM7065WS/AA
CR’s take: In a category invented by Roomba—and one that has seen an onslaught of noteworthy new entrants, including models from two premium brands, Dyson and Miele—Samsung’s Powerbots steal the show. The Powerbot R7065 deftly handles dirt on carpets and bare floors, acing both tests, and even finds its way into tight corners, thanks in part to its rectangular bumpers. It operates quietly enough that it’ll go unnoticed, though it’s hard to resist watching it return home to dock and charge after each intensive 86-minute cleaning session. No robotic vacuum can replace a full-sized upright or canister. But the Powerbot comes closer than any other robotic. Check our our robotic vacuums ratings for more choices.