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A Definitive Guide To The Best Vacuum Cleaners

Here’s how to find a vaccum that doesn't suck, plus our top picks for every budget.
A Definitive Guide To The Best Vacuum Cleaners

(Illustration: iStock)

There are many things I’d rather be doing than vacuuming. Perhaps that’s why, until recently, I made do with a vintage ’70s upright model my mom gave me years ago. It worked fine—except that it was heavy, loud and somehow left behind an odour reminiscent of yesterday’s breakfast. So finally, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and get a new vacuum.

With so many different vacuum cleaners on the market, it was hard to decide on a style, let alone a brand. Did I really need to spend more than $1,000 for a luxury model? What features were critical? I soon found myself... sucked into the vortex of vacuum research.

I spent hours reading research and learning what to look for in a vacuum so you don't have to. Read on for a definitive list of the best vacuum cleaners based on style, cost and function.

Types of vacuum cleaners

Upright vacuums


Upright vacuums contain the motor, filter and power head in one unit. They work well on medium- and high-pile carpet thanks to rotating brushes (called beater bars), which push into carpeted flooring to loosen dirt, hair and debris. They are a good option for people with pets because the fan is up and away from the ground and won’t blow around fluffy fur before it gets sucked up.

Most come with attachments for cleaning upholstery, crevices and hard-to-reach areas. Their upright configuration makes them easy to store in a closet. On the other hand, they tend to be noisier than other types of vacuums and can be heavy and cumbersome to carry up and down stairs.

Canister vacuums


Canister vacuums separate the handle and cleaning head from the main unit, which houses the motor, filter and dust bin. These are connected by a long, flexible hose. Because of their low profile, they tend to be lighter and more versatile than upright vacuums and easier to use on stairs, under furniture and in tight or awkward spaces. Many models feature on-board storage for various attachments.

Canister vacuums are typically better suited to bare floors—including wood—and low-pile rugs, but some come with floor nozzles made for carpets. The only real downside to canister vacuums is that their design makes them bulkier and more awkward to store.

Stick vacuums


Battery-operated cordless sticks are lightweight and easy to manoeuvre. Because they are compact, they're a good choice for small spaces with limited storage space. Most come with various attachments for cleaning different surfaces. This all sounds great, but there's one caveat: You will be sacrificing some power for convenience, as stick vaccums tend not to be as powerful as upright or canister vacuums.

Robot vacuums


Once considered a novelty, robot vacuums have proven their worth—several friends of Chatelaine swear by theirs. They use software to map your home and create a cleaning route, avoiding furniture and stairs. They use a brush roll and spinning side brushes to gather up dust and dirt, and some include a mop. Robot vacuums are typically programmed and controlled using Wi-Fi and a smartphone app, with remote scheduling capabilities.

Robot vacuums are handy for doing touch-ups between regular cleaning sessions, particularly if you have pets that shed a lot. They aren’t known for deep cleaning, however, and are usually used in addition to a more heavy-duty vacuum.

What to consider when buying a vacuum cleaner



Even if a vacuum is great at sucking up dust and dirt, it can spew particles back into the air as it vents, polluting indoor air. A good filter is important for trapping fine particulate matter, allowing only clean air to escape. Studies have shown that a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can maintain and even improve air quality, while other filter types are not as reliable.

If your household includes small children, allergy-sufferers or people with respiratory issues, consider buying a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Look for models advertised as “fully sealed."



The larger the dust bag or bin, the better the airflow—and better airflow means better suction. A larger dust bin also needs less emptying and cleaning. If your space and budget allow, a vacuum cleaner that has a larger dust bin is a good investment.



If you’re sensitive to noise or live with people who are, look for a vacuum that features quiet operation. The noise from the average vacuum cleaner is between 75 and 85 decibels (dB), with 60 dB as the quietest on the market.

This might not seem like a wide range, but decibels are measured in such a way that 80 dB is twice as loud as 70 dB and 70 dB is twice as loud as 60 dB. For reference, background conversation at a restaurant is typically around 60 dB.

Cleaning performance


Manufacturers often describe their vacuums as “powerful,” boasting their amperage or wattage. The reality is that these numbers tell you how much power the motor uses—not how well they work.

The more important indicators are airflow and suction. Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), and vacuum cleaners often provide 50-100 CFM based on different motors and filter systems. (Some vacuums give their measurements in L/S, or litres per second.)

Suction is sometimes measured in kilopascals (kPa), but a more contemporary measure is air watts (AW). Unlike watts, which tell you how much power the motor uses, air watts indicate the power of suction.

You should look for a canister vacuum with an air flow of least 100 CFM, or an upright vacuum with at least 60 CFM. The suction of robot vacuums is often measured in Pascal (Pa/kPA), a different way of rating suction. Look for a robot vacuum with suction power of at least 500–2000 Pa.

Bagged versus bagless


Some vacuums collect dust and dirt in bags, whereas others use only a dust bin with a filter. Each has benefits and drawbacks.

Bags are handy because they tend to have greater capacity and are easy to switch out, but they pose an added expense. Good quality bagless vacuums are easy to empty and clean, but there’s always a risk you’ll release dust into the air while doing so, and emptying them can create yet another mess to clean up.

Plus many bagless vacuums use filters that you need to clean regularly to remove trapped particles, and you'll need to replace them about once a year.



The best vacuum cleaners come with accessories designed to help with different tasks, like dusting, vacuuming upholstery and reaching corners or ceilings. Before you invest in a vacuum, make sure it includes the attachments you’re most likely to use.

Size and weight


Some powerful full size vacuums can be heavy and bulky, so there’s always a balancing act between a vacuum that performs well and one that’s user-friendly. Take into consideration what your physical limitations are and how much storage space you have available.

Our best vacuum picks for 2024

Best cordless vacuum

Dyson Gen5 Detect Absolute, $1,200


Dyson Gen5 Detect vacuum cleaner in Prussian blue and gold and on a white background, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

If you want to nerd out on vacuuming, the Dyson Gen5 Detect Absolute is for you. It features a laser beam on the cleaner head, which illuminates every speck of dust and dirt on hard floors. The vacuum also has a sensor that detects the size and number of particles being sucked up, adjusting suction to optimize battery life.

The Gen5 Detect comes with the usual wall-mounted dock and attachments, but it the coolest accessory is the “hair screw tool,” a motorized attachment used for smaller areas like upholstery, steps, or vehicles.

Because the brush roll is tapered, it’s able to suck up long hairs or strings and shoot them into the canister without any tangles. The main cleaning head also resists tangles, with 56 “de-tangling vanes” that clear wrapped hair from the brush as you clean. And unlike older Dyson models, which conked out quickly, this model has up to 70 minutes of run time (even when used as a handheld vacuum).

  • HEPA filter: Yes
  • Airflow: 76.49 CFM
  • Suction: 262 AW
  • Dust bin capacity: 0.77 L
  • Weight: 3.5 kg
  • Noise: 87 dB
  • Run time: 70 minutes
  • Recharging time: 4.5 hours

Best budget cordless vacuum

Tineco A10 Essentials, $230


Tineco A10 Essentials cordless vacuum cleaner, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

For an inexpensive vacuum, the A10 is impressive. Like the Dyson, it has LEDs on the head to light your cleaning path. It also boasts a sealed, four-stage filtration system with a 0.3-micron HEPA filter. You can operate it with a trigger for quick jobs or choose continuous mode to vacuum for long periods without tiring your hands.

Weighing only 1.3 kg (the Dyson weighs 3.5), the A10 is super light—but it’s no lightweight. The 350-watt brushless motor provides powerful suction of up to 105 air watts in Max mode. The A10 can be converted to a hand vacuum using the crevice and dusting attachments.

The detachable battery provides up to 40 minutes of runtime, and when you’re all done you can store and charge it on the wall-mount dock. The 0.4-litre dustbin is fully detachable, making it easy to empty and clean. A two-year warranty makes it one of the best vacuum cleaners on the market.

The downsides? Hairs are easily tangled in the cleaning head, so if you have long-haired people or pets in your household, you’ll need to get out your scissors often. Also, not all the dust gets sucked into the dust bin, so the head may need regular cleaning. The dust bin is fairly small, at only 0.4 L.

  • HEPA filter: Yes
  • Airflow: 22.58-35 CFM
  • Suction: 110 AW
  • Dust bin capacity: 0.4 L
  • Weight: up to 2.3 kg
  • Noise: 70.0-71.5 dB
  • Run time: 6-25 minutes
  • Recharging time: 3-4 hours

Best upright vacuum with bag

Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum, $299


Shark NV360 Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe Upright Vacuum Cleaner, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

The Shark Navigator consistently earns top marks from reviewers and customers alike. It boasts powerful suction for both bare floors and carpets, and it excels at picking up pet hair with various attachments. With swivel steering, it is easy to manoeuvre in and out of tight spaces, in corners, and around furniture.

One great feature is the lift-away functionality: you can quickly detach the nozzle to clean things like upholstery, furniture and stairs. And the anti-allergen complete seal with HEPA filter traps dust and allergens in the vacuum.

  • HEPA filter: yes
  • Airflow: 80 CFM
  • Suction: 270 AW
  • Dust bin capacity: 1.10 L
  • Weight: 6.5 kg
  • Noise: 75.7-76 dB
  • Run time: NA
  • Recharging time: NA

Best bagless upright vacuum

Kenmore DU4080 Featherlite Lift-Up Bagless Upright Vacuum, $223


Kenmore DU4080 Featherlite Lift-Up Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

The Kenmore Featherlight weighs 5.4 kg compared to the average of 7 kg for an upright vacuum. With its ergonomic design and responsive swivel, it's incredibly easy to use. The unique “lift-up” technology lets you remove the canister from the floor head, so you can easily vacuum harder-to-reach spaces.

It picks up large debris better than other vacuums in its price range. There’s a convenient suction adjustment button for high-pile carpets or thick rugs, and a brush roll on/off button for switching between carpets and bare floors. The floorhead is also equipped with a LED headlight and a hair tool that automatically removes strands from the brushroll.

A large fabric “squeegee” on the bottom of the floorhead offers a better seal on hard floors so you don’t scatter debris. A completely sealed HEPA filtration system traps 99.97% of dust down to 0.3 microns. The kit includes a tool for pet hair, an upholstery tool and a 3-in-1 combination tool (crevice tool, dusting brush and upholstery tool).

A few caveats: This model is a bit louder than some bagged vacuums and not as effective at sucking up small debris. Hair also gets tangled in the floor head.

  • HEPA filter: yes
  • Airflow: ≥ 21 L/S
  • Suction: ≥ 180 AW
  • Dust bin capacity: 1.5 L
  • Weight: < 5.4 kg
  • Noise: 75 dB
  • Run time: NA
  • Recharging time: NA

Best budget upright vacuum

Shark Navigator Swivel Pro Complete Upright Vacuum, $160


Shark Navigator Swivel Pro Complete Upright Vacuum cleaner, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

This vacuum may be inexpensive, but it packs a lot of great features. If you’re concerned about air quality, the Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology and HEPA filter promise to trap dust and allergens.

The powerful suction can tackle carpets, but it’s gentle enough to use on hardwood floors. An extendable hose provides more than three metres of reach, allowing you to access hard-to-reach spaces. It comes with an upholstery tool, dusting brush and crevice tool. Because of the swivel steering, you can easily manoeuvre around furniture.

  • HEPA filter: yes
  • Dust bin capacity: 0.78 L
  • Airflow: NA
  • Suction: NA
  • Weight: 6 kg
  • Noise: NA
  • Run time: NA
  • Recharging time: NA

Best bagged canister vacuum

Miele Complete C3 Vacuum Cleaner, $744


Miele Complete C3 Multi Surface Canister Vacuum Cleaner, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

Suitable for either low or medium-pile rugs or hardwood floors, this model has a quiet but powerful motor with six levels of suction. It features a brush for carpets, as well as an attachment for hard flooring. The user-friendly design automatically adjusts suction to the floor type.

It also includes a telescopic stainless-steel wand and one-touch cord rewind. It comes with a dusting brush, upholstery tool and crevice nozzle. Finally, this is also one of the few Miele models that comes with a HEPA filter.

  • HEPA filter: yes
  • Airflow: 122.3 CFM
  • Suction: 5.32 kPa
  • Dust bin capacity: 4.5 L
  • Weight: 8.4 kg
  • Noise: 67 dB
  • Run time: NA
  • Recharging time: NA

Best bagless canister vacuum

Miele Boost CX1 Cat & Dog, $1,050


Miele Boost CX1 Cat & Dog - Bagless Canister Vacuum Cleaner, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

This vacuum is geared toward pet owners, with powerful vortex technology capable of sucking up stubborn pet hair embedded in carpets. In addition to the upholstery nozzle, crevice tool and dusting brush, it comes with a brush made specifically for picking up pet hair. It's compact and easy to manoeuvre and is also outfitted with a HEPA filter to keep pet dander and other allergens out of the air.

As for the cons, the main floor head lacks a brush roller, relying instead on its suction power to pick up dust and debris.

  • HEPA filter: No
  • Airflow: >100 km/h
  • Suction: 89–422 AW
  • Dust bin capacity: 1 L
  • Weight: 8.16 kg
  • Noise: 78 dB
  • Run time: NA
  • Recharging time: NA

Best budget bagged canister vacuum (with HEPA filter)

Kenmore Lightweight Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner, $270


Kenmore Pet Friendly Lightweight Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

Another pet-friendly vacuum, this model is completely sealed with a HEPA filter. It includes a dusting brush, long crevice tool, motorized pet hair tool, and a bare floor brush. It’s lightweight and manoeuvrable, with stair grip technology to increase its stability on stairs.

The eight-metre cord is retractable, and all the attachments are stored neatly on board. The extendable suction wand lengthens to give nearly three metres of reach. The performance indicator lets you know when it’s time to check for clogs or change the bag. You can also adjust the height for different surfaces.

  • HEPA filter: Yes
  • Air flow: ≥ 70 CFM
  • Suction: ≥ 210W
  • Dust bin capacity: NA
  • Weight: 8.6 pounds
  • Noise: ≤ 73 dB
  • Run time: NA
  • Recharging time: NA

Best robot vacuum

Roborock Q5 Pro, $1,134


roborock Q5 Pro+ Robot Vacuum cleaners and Mop, used in a post on the best vacuum cleaners.

The Roborock features a 3D mapping technology that scans rooms and creates detailed maps in minutes, finding an optimal route for floor cleaning. With the app, you can control cleaning schedules, suction power, route, no-go zones and more. Or you can use voice control to instruct your robot to start, stop or tackle specific rooms using Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Siri Shortcuts.

With 240 minutes of run time and a generous (for robot vacuums) 770 mL dustbin, it tackles a large home—up to 3,230 square feet—in one shot. It mops and vacuums simultaneously, and when a carpet is detected it automatically increases suction to the max.

The multi-directional brush stays close to the ground, ensuring uneven surfaces are cleaned.

  • HEPA filter: yes
  • Air flow: 14 CFM
  • Suction: 5,500 Pa
  • Dust bin capacity: 770 mL
  • Weight: 7.48 kg
  • Noise: 67 dB
  • Run time: 240 minutes
  • Recharging time: NA

Best portable upholstery vacuum cleaner

Bissell Little Green Portable Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner, $95


A Bissell green machine portable vacuum cleaner, in a post about the best vaccuum cleaners.

This lightweight carpet and upholstery cleaner is beloved by pet lovers, including Chatelaine's editor-in-chief. If you don’t have the space or the need for a big carpet cleaner, this does the trick. With the hose attachment, you spray cleaning solution on the stain, then scrub with the brush attachment. Finally, you vacuum up the soiled solution.

This machine is also ideal for detailing car interiors. It offers the easiest way to clean carpets that we've tested.

One downside to this machine is that you can’t take apart the nozzle to clean it, so hairs and lint can get stuck in it; your best bet is to vacuum up hairs and lint with a regular vacuum before you break out the Little Green to tackle stains.

  • Weight: 4.4 kg
  • HEPA filter: No
  • Tank size: 48 oz “dirty” tank
  • Weight: 4.4 kg
  • Noise: NA
  • Run time: NA
  • Recharging time: NA

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