Finding and Buying the Best Vacuum Cleaner
Deciding on which vacuum cleaner to buy should be predicated on several factors specific to your needs. I feel that it is in your best interest to ask yourself the following questions before you make a decision on which vacuum cleaner you should buy.
What type of flooring do you have in your home?
The type of flooring in your home is probably the biggest consideration when purchasing a vacuum. Flooring really determines what type of vacuum you need for your home (upright vs. canister) and how powerful of a machine you require. If you have hardwood floors are you going to use a vacuum on them?
Upright vacuum cleaners are the most popular choice, but not always the best. If you have wall to wall carpeting, or you only plan on using the vacuum on the carpeted surfaces in your home, then an upright vacuum is a viable option in terms of performance and comfort.
Upright vacuum cleaners do not clean non-carpeted surfaces very well, and I don't generally recommend them for such task. The only exception would be if you purchased an upright vacuum with an additional extension kit (complete with a floor brush and a small air-driven carpet brush for stairs). You would need to consult whoever you are buying the vacuum cleaner from on the availability of a kit, but they are generally easy for a vacuum store owner to obtain if they don't normally stock them.
A canister vacuum cleaner with an electric powered powerbrush and a floor brush is the best choice if you don't mind using a canister. Canister vacuum cleaners can get underneath most household furniture and into area's that uprights can't. Canister can usually with stand certain abuses (vacuuming up coins or small objects) better than a lot of upright can. A canister that comes with a natural hair floor brush is your best option for cleaning hardwood floors.
A full sized vacuum cleaner is always a preference. A good full sized upright or canister vacuum will have a larger and more powerful motor in most cases when compared to a lightweight vacuum. A good full sized canister vacuum cleaner should have a well made power head for carpet cleaning that runs on electricity as opposed to being air driven. A good light weight vacuum might not be good enough if you have heavy shedding pets or mid to high pile carpet in the home being cleaned.
Do you have pets? Does anyone in the residence suffer from allergies and / or asthma? Is there an infant in the home?
If you answered yes to any of these 3 questions, than you should at least buy a model that utilizes a HEPA filter and disposable vacuum bags. I recommend vacuums with good to great filtration systems to everybody. Most older vacuum cleaners redistribute a fair amount of the debris you are removing from your carpet back into the atmosphere. If you have a pet that sheds then smaller and light weight vacuum cleaners may not remove pet hair from carpet very well and a more powerful vacuum might be in order. If you are shopping for a canister vacuum cleaner then you will at least want a model that has an electric powerbrush head because they are typically better at extracting pet hair from carpet and rugs.
Answering yes above should move you to look for a vacuum (canister or upright) that is also "sealed". A "sealed" vacuum cleaner doesn't leak out contaminated air before it is filtered throught the exhaust filters. Vacuums that are sealed usally have gaskets inside that prevent the air from leaking out before it is cleansed by the internal filtering system. You can have the best HEPA filter in the world, but if air is escaping from your vacuum before it is filtered through the exhaust process, you're re-contaminating the air in the rooms you are vacuuming.
Do you have any physical limitations?
Back problems, arthritis, old age, whatever. If you need a lightweight vacuum, then you need a lighweight vacuum. The uprights generally don't clean as well (small motors to keep the weight down), but if you can physically handle a compact canister vacuuum, I would recommend that as your best option. Be careful what you pick up with a light weight vacuum or your might need to gain some expertise in vacuum cleaner repair if you break a fan.
Will you be able to gets vacuum bags, belts, filters, or other vacuum cleaner supplies in the future?
There really isn't any way to guarantee this. Vacuum stores sell a lot of vacuum cleaner supplies that haven't been used in vacuums made in the last 10 to 15 years. I would speak to whoever you buy a vacuum from. They will be helpful as they are experienced with how vacuum brand manufacturers have been in the past regarding supplies for retired product lines. If you're going to a department store, I would stick with a name brand to improve your odds of finding parts and supplies down the road.
How much money are you willing to spend on a vacuum cleaner?
It always seems to come down to money. This is not always true with vacuum cleaners as there are some very overpriced vacuum brands. If you see a vacuum advertised extensively on televison it is a safe bet you are going to overpay for that vacuum based on how it actually performs when compared to a vacuum brand that does not pay out a lot on marketing. Vacuum cleaner ratings accompanied by detailed reviews can be extremely helpful if you use the right resources. Consumer Digest and various periodicals like Home & Garden magazine will generally review vacuum cleaners in various price ranges. If you are referencing vacuum reviews online you should get the impression the author actually used the vacuum cleaner or move on to the next site.
Premium vacuum brands that are generally only available in vacuum stores will also be more expensive but they are generally worth the money if you have it. For example a Callisto canister Miele vacuum will provide a superior cleaning experience to a Kenmore Progressive or Intuition canister vacuum but you will pay approximately 3 times more for the Miele. Both of those canister vacuums were voted Best Buys not too long ago but there still is a significant difference in terms of performance and quality, but that will cost you. What you can or are willing to spend on a vacuum should also depend on what you are actually cleaning and how often you vacuum your home.