22 Different Types of Vacuum Cleaners

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There’s a perfect vacuum cleaner for the carpet, hardwood floors, for the hard-to-reach corners and just about any other surface that needs to be dust-free.

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Blue vacuum cleaner parked in the living room.

The war against dust made it possible for vacuum cleaners to exist as early as the 19th century. It was invented and further developed by people of different backgrounds — from engineers, inventors, industrial designers to janitors. A janitor from Canton, Ohio named James Murray Spangler invented the first portable vacuum cleaner in 1907.

William Henry Hoover bought Spangler’s patent the following year, redesigned the device, added disposable filter bags and introduced the first upright vacuum cleaner for home use in 1926. The Vacuum Cleaner Manufactures Association revealed that 98 percent of households have vacuum cleaners today.

Type

Upright

These vacuums are very common and easy to find at a local store. They offer very powerful suction as well as the ability to tilt when you push them so that you can easily control the direction and speed of the vacuum. When you need a quality vacuum that will do a great job on most any floor but especially carpets, you want to buy an upright vacuum.

They come in both bagless and bagged options and often adjust to different heights of carpets. This allows you to go from one room to another without any problems or having to stop and turn off the vacuum to make changes. While you can sometimes find cordless upright vacuums, these aren’t going to be as powerful as ones that plug into the wall and won’t be able to last for as long before they need to be charged.

Unfortunately, these vacuum cleaners don’t usually have all of the attachments that come with other types of vacuums and this can limit your ability to get into tight nooks and crannies in your home. They do offer great suction but are significantly heavier than other types of vacuums and can be difficult for some people to use.

Upright vacuum cleaner.

Source: Wayfair

Handheld

Handheld vacuums are very small, yet powerful, vacuums that are designed to be picked up and carried to where the mess is located. They are generally cordless so that you can carry them anywhere. For more power, you can opt for a model with a cord, although this will limit how far you can carry the vacuum without changing the plug.

They are perfect for quickly vacuuming up small messes or piles of dirt and can be used on furniture, the floor, and even upholstery. Many people love using them to help clean out their cars and when you buy a model with a car adapter, you can easily keep your car as clean as possible.

It’s important to remember that handheld vacuums are a great way to replace your broom and dustpan and don’t have the power or size to deal with regularly cleaning large rooms. They are ideal to have in addition to a full-size vacuum and will prevent you from pulling out the larger vacuum when you need to deal with small messes.

Handheld vacuum cleaner.

Source: Houzz

Canister

These vacuum cleaners consist of a storage tank connected to a sucker end by a long hose. They come with a number of different attachments that can easily be swapped out so that you can customize your cleaning routine and reach even tight areas. They are great on most surfaces as long as you take the time to change out the attachment to be the right one for the job.

From hardwood and carpet to drapes, walls, and even ceiling corners, you can stretch this vacuum to reach and clean all areas of your home. Because of their long hoses, they are great for cleaning the stairs and can reach for a long way before you have to move the canister.

The downside of these vacuum cleaners is that they can be difficult to store and hard to manage when you have to maneuver them around larger rooms. Because the canister is so heavy, it’s normal to have to use two hands when moving it up and down the stairs.

Canister vacuum cleaner.

Source: Hayneedle

Stick

Stick vacuum cleaners are incredibly lightweight and very slim, making them perfect for anyone who isn’t strong enough to handle an upright or a canister vacuum. They rely on a rotating brush as well as very light suction to pull and whisk dust and debris into the bag or bin.

They have low-profile heads that can be easily maneuvered around furniture, making them a great choice if you have a lot of furniture in your rooms but still need to be able to clean. They are great for dealing with small messes and light dust and are ideal for cleaning under the table after dinner or for use in a house that stays generally very neat.

Unfortunately, even though they are incredibly easy to use and can operate around furniture without any problems, their suction isn’t strong enough to handle large messes. They won’t ever offer the really deep clean that your carpet may need and battery life on cordless stick vacuums tends to be relatively short. This means that you need to plan when you are going to vacuum and may not be able to do your whole house at once if it is large.

Stick vacuum cleaner.

Source: Hayneedle

Backpack

When you are in the market for a vacuum cleaner that is incredibly powerful and easy to move from one location in your home to another, then you may want to consider a backpack vacuum. These save a lot of time, making them ideal if you have a particularly large home that you need to vacuum on a regular basis.

Because you don’t have to deal with pulling a vacuum behind you or pushing it ahead of you, you can work your way through the home quickly. Because the majority of the weight of the vacuum is on your back, you can easily navigate the stairs in your home and can even hold onto the banister for extra security when going up and down the stairs.

They do a great job cleaning hardwood floors, although they are not very useful on plush carpet. Unfortunately, backpack vacuums can cause you to get really hot since you are carrying around the equipment on your back and can exacerbate back problems if you have any; you will want to avoid this type of vacuum if you are prone to back problems.

In addition, they are very bulky and it is easy to bump into not only the walls when you are cleaning but also any lamps or end tables. It is very difficult to move around smaller spaces with a backpack vacuum but they are great for larger, more open areas.

Backpack vacuum cleaner.

Source: Toolnut

Central

A central vacuum system allows homeowners to plug a hose into an outlet in the wall, thereby accessing very strong suction that will allow them to clean all over the home, pulling only the hose along with them. They have a powerful unit, usually located in the basement or the garage, that provides the needed suction to vacuum.

These outlets are located along the bottom of the wall throughout the home so that you don’t have to worry about either pulling a cord with you or where you are going to plug in your vacuum. Any dirt that you vacuum up is stored into a large container that needs to be emptied on a regular basis but not after every cleaning.

These vacuums are great if you have a lot of pet hair in your home or have a very large house that is time-consuming and difficult to vacuum with a regular vacuum cleaner. They remove a lot of dust from the house, which will improve the quality of your air.

The main issue with central vacuum cleaners is that they tend to be very expensive to install and have to be installed by a professional. All of the pipes are under the floors or in the walls and this can create a lot of demolition work in your home to have the system properly installed.

Central vacuum cleaner.

Source: Amazon

Robot

Becoming more and more popular, robotic vacuums use advanced technology to map out the room and then sweep it on their own. They are usually programmed to bump into and then avoid furniture so that they can get as close to all of your belongings as possible so they don’t leave behind a lot of dirt or dust.

One of the main reasons why people choose robotic vacuums is because they can be programmed to run during the night or while the family is out of the home, taking care of this chore. Some can be controlled remotely and they will dock themselves on a charger when not in use so that they will have enough power to operate.

They’re great for getting under furniture that your regular vacuum cleaner can’t handle and for touch-up cleanings, although they aren’t generally powerful enough to deal with large messes. The problem with this type of vacuum cleaner is that you need to make sure that your floor isn’t messy or it won’t have the space that it needs to do its job well.

Additionally, because they are not as powerful as full-sized vacuum cleaners, you may only be able to use a robotic vacuum cleaner in between regular deep cleanings.

Robot vacuum cleaner.

Source: Wayfair

Wet/Dry

Wet/dry vacuum cleaners aren’t generally used in the home to clean the floor but are best used for major spills or dirt. They have incredibly powerful suction and a long cord that allows them to be wheeled around to various jobs.

These vacuum cleaners are great to have on hand for cleaning up messes in the garage or basement and can easily handle cleaning out the water from a flooded basement as well as vacuuming up sawdust from a woodworking project.

Storing these vacuum cleaners can be a little bit difficult since they tend to be very large and bulky but it is their increased capacity that makes them so ideal for tackling jobs of all sizes.

Wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

Source: Amazon

Carpet Sweeper

These types of vacuums are not nearly as popular as they were in the past but are still useful in certain situations. If you have carpet in your home that isn’t very thick, then you can easily use a carpet sweeper to remove debris from the surface. Since they are not electric, they are not noisy and can easily be used without disturbing any other members in your family. They have a small collection area in the head of the sweeper that needs to be emptied on a regular basis to ensure that they are able to pick up a lot of dirt and debris easily.

Carpet sweeper vacuum cleaner.

Source: Houzz

Surface

Upholstery

Cleaning your upholstery is important, especially if you have pets and allergies, so finding a vacuum cleaner that can handle this task is something that you should take seriously.

Vacuum cleaner good for upholstery.

Source: Houzz

Carpet

If you have thick carpet in a lot of your home, then you will want to make sure that you buy a vacuum cleaner that can remove dirt and debris from deep in the fibers of your carpet. These vacuums are very powerful and will be able to pull up debris that was ground into the carpet.

Vacuum cleaner good for carpets.

Source: Houzz

Multi-Surface

If you have both carpet and hard floors in your home, then you will want to find a vacuum cleaner that will do a great job cleaning both types. These hybrid vacuums are often a little more expensive but are worth the extra cost since you won’t have to worry about either damaging your hardwood floors or not getting a truly deep clean of your carpet.

Multi-surface vacuum cleaner.

Source: Houzz

Hard Floors

Vacuum cleaners that don’t weigh as much are a better option if you have hard floors in your home, especially if they are wood and you are worried about leaving behind scratches. Regular vacuums can easily damage your hardwood floors and also tend to scatter any dirt that you are trying to remove. Make sure that you have a vacuum with a bare-floor brush that will help to sweep up the dirt you are vacuuming instead of allowing it to blow all over the floor.

Vacuum cleaner good for hard floors.

Source: Wayfair

Feature

Bagged

Vacuum cleaners that rely on bags to hold the dirt and debris that they remove from the floor have a disposable bag that zips into a cloth section of the vacuum. They are incredibly hygienic and do a great job of containing all of the dust and allergens that you vacuum up inside the bag not only during vacuuming but also when it is time to remove the bag and throw it away.

Because the bag itself is a filter, you will find that your allergies aren’t as bad when you use a vacuum cleaner with a bag. The bags are airtight and any allergens you remove from your home can’t escape. In general, bagged vacuum cleaners do not need as much maintenance as bagless options. You never need to worry about cleaning a filter.

The main problems with bagged vacuum cleaners are that you are going to spend money over the life of the vacuum to buy new bags and the vacuum cleaner doesn’t work as well on a fuller bag as it does on an empty one. It can be difficult to tell when bags are full but throwing them away prematurely costs money.

Bagged vacuum cleaner.

Source: Etsy

Bagless

Bagless vacuum cleaners are becoming more and more popular and tend to be less expensive than bagged vacuums. Not only are they less expensive to buy outright but you do not have to keep buying bags for your vacuum cleaner to work properly. Because the canister on these vacuum cleaners is usually clear, it’s easy to tell when you need to empty the vacuum and the process is very simple.

They are eco-friendly since you aren’t always throwing away bags and you can easily dump your dust and debris into your compost pile. Unfortunately, bagless vacuums do not do as good of a job removing allergens from the air in your home.

Additionally, whenever you open the canister to dump the dirt you have collected, you risk dust and allergens escaping into the air in your home. If you do not clean your filter on a regular basis, your vacuum won’t work properly and will even begin to smell.

 

Bagless vacuum cleaner.

Source: Wayfair

Cordless

If you want to be able to move freely around your home without a cord weighing you down, then a cordless vacuum is a great option. They are generally lighter in weight than corded vacuums and are a great choice for the elderly or anyone who is too weak to handle heavier vacuum cleaners. The main problem with this type of vacuum is that it runs on a battery and there will be a limited amount of time that you can vacuum. If you do not charge your battery, then your vacuum’s performance will be compromised and you won’t be able to get your home as clean as you want. These types of vacuum cleaners are ideal in smaller homes.

Cordless vacuum cleaner.

Source: Houzz

Car Adapter

To be able to plug in your vacuum while on the go so that you can clean your car on a long road trip, you’ll want to look for a handheld vacuum cleaner that has a car adapter. This ensures that you can easily clean your car no matter where you are and you won’t have to rely on finding an outlet to do so. If you travel a lot and have kids, then this is a great feature that will benefit you.

Car adapter vacuum cleaner.

Source: Houzz

Swivel Neck

To ensure that you can easily navigate around any furniture in your home and get around the legs without leaving large patches of un-vacuumed area, you want to opt for a vacuum cleaner that has a swivel neck. These are not constrained to only vacuuming in a straight line and will give you a lot of control over the direction in which you are vacuuming. If you have a lot of furniture or other items in your home that you want to be able to clean around, then this type of vacuum cleaner is ideal.

Swivel neck vacuum cleaner.

Source: Houzz

Adjustable Height

If there is going to be more than one person in your home vacuuming on a regular basis, then you will benefit from buying a vacuum cleaner that has the ability to adjust the height. This allows anyone in the home to vacuum, including kids, and is great for getting the whole family involved in taking care of and cleaning the home. Not all vacuums offer this feature so if there is a large height discrepancy in your family, then look for a vacuum with adjustable height so that everyone can easily use it.

Adjustable height vacuum cleaner.

Source: Houzz

Attachments Included

The right attachments will make it really easy to clean all of your home without having to buy more than one vacuum cleaner. No matter how powerful your vacuum is, you will want to have attachments to be able to get along the wall and remove animal fur and dust that will collect there. Other popular attachments include brushes for furniture and dusting brushes. While you can buy attachments later after you already own your vacuum, to ensure that they fit and will work with your vacuum cleaner, it’s a good idea to buy everything at the same time.

Vacuum cleaner with attachments included.

Source: Houzz

Wi-Fi Enabled

For the ultimate way to clean your home without lifting a finger, investing in a robotic vacuum that is equipped with Wi-Fi is a great idea. These vacuums can connect to your phone or tablet via an app that will allow you to program cleanings and even to check on the status of a cleaning job when you are away from your home. The app will also alert you when you need to empty the bin so that the vacuum is able to perform its best.

Wi-Fi enabled vacuum cleaner.

Source: Hayneedle

HEPA Filter

Vacuum cleaners that come with a HEPA filter will do a much better job at removing dust and allergens from the air. They have a special filtration system that will remove even particles of bacteria from the floor and the air of your home and trap them. By improving the quality of the air in your home and reducing allergens, they make it easier for the members of your family to breathe.

Vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter.

Source: Lowes

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