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How to Choose the Right Vacuum Cleaner

Jan 21, 2022

A woman vacuuming carpet

In today’s world, vacuum cleaners aren’t just for carpets anymore. Yes, if your home is rocking carpet, owning a trustworthy vacuum cleaner is a part of everyday life. However, thanks to new home tech, great options abound for any kind of floor you have.

The downside: Choosing the vacuum cleaner that’s right for your home’s needs can get a little tricky. Not only are there plenty of different types of vacuums (all with different features and extras) to choose from, but every household’s needs are going to be just as diverse. And we haven’t even gotten started on the kind of price range you’re going to find out in the marketplace. 

So right off the bat, you’re probably starting to realize that shopping for the right vacuum requires a bit more consideration than just picking one up at the store. Choosing the model that makes cleaning your home as quick and painless as possible should be your ultimate goal. And with our shopping checklist below, you’re already ahead of the game. Read on as we explain the things to look for, so you end up with the best vacuum for every floor in your home.

What’s Your Type?

Identifying your floor-cleaning needs is a great jumping off point for what type of vacuum will be the right one for you. Here are some basic rules of thumb:

  • If your home is covered in carpet or has lots of rugs, upright vacuums are the best choice.

  • If your home has hard surfaces like hardwood or tile, canisters that are easy to maneuver are a great option.

  • For lighter tasks, stick vacuums and handheld models are just right for the job.

  • If you’re a multitasker, or vacuuming is the absolute last thing you want to do in life, robotic vacuums that let you “set it and forget it” are perfect for you (more on those later).

Function > Features

No matter if it’s the coolest, sleekest, prettiest, most sophisticated-looking model you’ve ever seen, a vacuum cleaner has one job. And if it can’t do that job — which is simply to clean your floor or carpet — then what is even the point?

We’re not trying to steer you away from browsing the various designs, shapes and colors in today’s latest vacuum models; one type of vacuum might have certain features that you really like. Just remember that its function should always outshine its façade — so do your homework to ensure it truly fits your cleaning needs. For example, if you’re a pet owner, making sure your vacuum effectively picks up all the scattered pet hair in your home should be high on your list of things you absolutely need your vacuum to do.

Bagged vs. Bagless Vacuum Models

When considering a vacuum cleaner that uses bags versus a bagless model, there are pros and cons for each to be aware of. Vacuums that use bags are more common and therefore may be the more budget-friendly option — but you will incur the cost of replacement bags every few weeks or months. 

If you want to save on that recurring cost of bags, a bagless vacuum cleaner is a nice option. However, bagless also require filters that need frequent cleaning or — if using HEPA filters — replacing, so they’re not exactly cost-free, either. In addition, if you suffer from asthma or allergies, encountering extra dust and dirt from emptying the bagless bin may be a turnoff (despite the HEPA filtration).

Noise Levels

Certain types of vacuum cleaners tend to be louder than others. So, as convenient as online shopping might be, we recommend shopping for one in person if noise level is a concern for you. Most (if not all) vacuum sales associates will let you try out a vacuum in the store so you can determine how loud it is when pushing, pulling, turning and lifting.

Noise levels will also vary by vacuum cleaner style. While upright models with larger engines will naturally be a little louder, smaller canister vacuums tend to be quieter than uprights —and most robotic vacuums are even quieter still.

Cleaning Tool Add-ons

Most vacuums come with add-on extras or other basic tools that help with certain cleaning jobs. Think: narrow extension wands for corners and crevices, small upholstery brushes, round brushes for dusting, even options for ceiling fans and pet grooming. So as you’re shopping, think about the importance of these attachments; because of them, your vacuum could end up being the most versatile cleaner in your home.

Many vacuum cleaners already come with lots of these extra tools (which really do come in handy). But be sure to comparison-shop. The amount of extras may drive up the price, but if you see yourself using them often, it’s probably worth the investment.

How Much “Heavy” Can You Handle?

How heavy your potential new vacuum cleaner is might not seem like a big consideration as you’re shopping, but you’ll definitely care when it comes time to use your vacuum in your home over and over. Some full-size models can weigh up to 20 pounds, while you can find lightweight stick models that weigh under 10 pounds.

Before shopping, think about both your home’s layout as well as your personal physical limitations. How much weight can you actually lift without injuring yourself? How often (and for how long) will you have to lift or hold the vacuum? For instance, if you have stairs, you may want to consider a canister or other lightweight model that’s easier to move from room to room and from floor to floor.

This is another good reason to go to a brick-and-mortar store and do a test run with the model(s) you’re interested in. If you currently have a vacuum cleaner, use its weight as a gauge of whether you should go the same weight or lighter in your new vacuum.

Anti-Allergy Vacuum Options

If you suffer from seasonal or pet allergies or have sensitivities to dust and mites, you’ll want to shop for vacuum cleaners that are HEPA (“high-efficiency particulate air”)-certified. That certification tells you that the HEPA filter inside your vacuum is very good at capturing even the smallest of particles in the air of your home.

How can you be sure a vacuum or its filter is truly HEPA-certified? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a filter must be at least 99.97% efficient at trapping and retaining particles down to .3 microns to qualify for the certification. A quality HEPA vacuum will come with some way to indicate when it’s time to replace the filter for maximum effectiveness.

Robotic Vacuums and Connectivity

Whether you’re someone who has a passion for tech or just hates cleaning floors with a passion, we’ve got good news: Robotic vacuums are becoming more autonomous, accessible and affordable than ever. You’ll find a range of options from self-cleaning and wet-and-dry capabilities to Wi-Fi connectivity and smart options so you can work it remotely.

That said, most assume the connectivity is a given (that’s part of the fun, after all). However, some do not actually allow for connectivity, which means you’ll lose out on some more advanced features such as home mapping and targeted cleaning. So once again, do your homework when shopping to make sure your vacuum has all of the features you want, and consider how important Wi-Fi connectivity is for you.

Will price also be a factor in your decision-making? Perhaps, but it doesn’t have to be a concern.

Don’t Be Floored by Price or Credit. Shop with Acima

Hopefully our shopper’s guide to the best vacuums will make it easy to find your floor’s ideal cleaner. This will make it even easier: You can use Acima with several name-brand retailers, including Best Buy and Overstock and others that offer vacuum cleaners and any other home appliances you’re looking for. That means you can use our no credit option at any of these retailers to shop for the right vacuum with a lease-purchase agreement — without using credit*. Then you get to use your vacuum while you make affordable lease-renewal payments instead of relying on high-interest credit cards that could suck your budget dry. Check it out today!


  1.      “Choosing the Best Vacuum Cleaner” – Consumer Reports, November 5, 2021

  2.       “Guide to Selecting a Top Quality HEPA Vacuum” –