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How To Choose Vacuum Cleaner Exactly

Start by matching the type to your cleaning. Uprights, especially with a bag, do best overall on carpets. Canisters are easier to maneuver, particularly on stairs. Here's what else to consider before you buy:

Types

Before you buy a new vacuum, learn about the different types of vacuums on the market. While one type might have features that appeal to you, it might not fit your budget or your lifestyle.

Upright vacuums: This traditional design is still the most popular. Uprights tend to cost less than canister vacuums.

Pros: Uprights generally provide a wider cleaning swath than canisters, and they tend to be better at deep-cleaning carpets--particularly bagged models. Most are also easier to store.

Cons: You must drag the entire machine back and forth for most floor and carpet cleaning. Some top performers weigh 20 pounds or more, although many competent machines are much lighter. Uprights also tend to be noisier than canisters overall.

Canister vacuums: The best ones clean carpets just about as well as uprights. (Pet owners note: The uprights and canisters that did best at regular cleaning also tended to excel at picking up pet hair.)

Pros: Canisters tend to be better than uprights for cleaning bare floors, drapes, upholstery, and under furniture, and they're easier to handle on stairs. Most are quieter, and you mostly need to move only the hose and power head, not the entire machine.

Cons: The entire vacuum tends to be heavier and bulkier than an upright, and the hose and wand make a canister harder to store.

Central vacuums: Although they're convenient, central vacuums are pricey, and they typically require professional installation.

Pros: They're even easier to use than a canister. You carry only the hose and power head, and there's no vacuum body to pull along. Central vacuums tend to be relatively quiet, and they don't need to be emptied frequently.

Cons: Their 30-foot hose can be cumbersome and takes up storage space. And there's no place to store cleaning tools while you work.

Hand vacuums: These miniature electric models come with or without a power cord.

Pros: They're handy for light, quick surface cleaning on short-pile carpets and bare floors; some can handle pet hair on upholstery. They're also useful for cleaning up your car's interior.

Cons: They lack the power and capacity of full-sized models.

Robotic vacuums: Earlier models we tested were more expensive novelties than practical appliances, but the category is growing up, with smarter circuitry and more flexibility. A few of the newest models can also be controlled by an app on your smart phone.

Pros: Do the grunge work while you relax. In uncluttered rooms, a robotic vacuum can fill in between regular vacuuming sessions. The better models can find their way out of tight spots and around extension cords. And all can now be programmed not to run when guests or small children are around.

Cons: No robotic vacuum can match the deep cleaning you'll get from the best uprights and canisters. We also suggest you think twice about any robotic vacuum if you have shag carpeting or area rugs.

Stick vacuums: Stick vacuums generally provide smaller capacities than upright models but they do weigh much less. Like uprights, they have long bodies andhandles, and foot nozzles. Many are battery powered. They are mainly for picking up surface litter and not a replacement for a good performing deep cleaningconventional vacuum.

Pros: They're convenient when you need to quickly clean up a mess. Plus, they eliminate your having to bend to clean up a dirty floor.

Cons: Most don't perform as well on carpet as handheld vacuums, the capacity of their dirt bin is typically small, and most are fairly noisy. And while some can double as hand vacuums, these models had mostly unimpressive results.