For families with kids and pets, your cleaning needs will be a little different. The more people and pets you add to your home, the more powerful a vacuum you’ll need. On the other side you don’t need a heavy-duty, commercial-grade vacuum cleaner just to clean up after a two-person family who is rarely at home.

Best Vacuums of 2020

Shark Navigator Professional Upright Vacuum (NV360)

  • 25 ft cleaning radius
  • Anti-Allergen Seal and HEPA filtration
  • Weighs only 12.5 pounds
  • Brush roll shutoff for multi-surface cleaning
  • Five-Year limited warranty
Bissell Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum (2252)
  • 27 ft cleaning radius
  • Bagless filtration
  • Weighs 17.9 pounds
  • No automatic rewind
  • Warranty info available upon request
iRobot Roomba i7+ (7550) Robot Vacuum
  • 75 minutes of battery life
  • Cleans carpets and hard floors
  • 3-stage cleaning system
  • 40x suction power
  • Visual Nav + Smart Mapping
Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction Canister
  • 29.5 ft cleaning radius
  • AirClean filter system
  • Weighs only 14.8 pounds
  • 3.5 L dust bag 
  • 6-Speed Vortex motor
Dyson Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner (DC65)
  • Tangle-free turbine tool
  • Radial Root Cyclone filtration
  • Weighs 24.9 pounds
  • Dyson Ball technology
  • Five-Year parts and labor warranty

Which one is best for your home?

Larger Households: Consider an upright or canister vacuum to clean up after multiple people. These vacuums add extra power and they are both able to cover a wide area. Since they have bigger containers, you won’t be emptying out the collection bins as often as you would a smaller stick vacuum.

Baby and dog on carpeted floor
Families with Pets: A pet vacuum will clean up kitty litter and dog hair without getting clogged up — their design is intended for all the messes your four-legged friends can create. Plus, these  vacuums usually include allergen filters to help you breathe easier, even with dander in the air.

Smaller Households: A household with one or two people will be happy with a stick or cordless vacuum. The ease and portability of these options make it easy to clean up smaller spills, so there’s no cause for panic when a potted plant is knocked over or a friend tracks in mud.

Hardwood vs. Carpeting:  Take a look at how much carpeting you have in comparison to hardwood floors. If your home is 80% shag carpet, you’ll want an upright vacuum that can easily take on high-pile carpeting. Today’s vacuums allow you to indicate the pile height of your carpeting, giving you full control over the types of rugs or carpeting that you want to clean. If your home is mostly laid out with hardwood flooring, canister vacuums are well-equipped to clean up smaller dust particles without scattering debris all over the room.

For homes with a half-and-half mix of flooring, make sure that the vacuum you pick can switch between carpeting and hard floors. Some vacuums have a motorized brush intended for carpeting — you’ll want to switch this feature off when you’re approaching a hardwood floor to prevent scattering dirt or scratching of delicate floors.

What are the Different Types of Vacuum Cleaners?

In the world of vacuum cleaners, there isn’t just one model that is the perfect answer for every household.  Some need heavy-duty options to clean up after toddlers and pets while others just need a quick, handheld go-to for chip crumbs.

Upright: Probably the most familiar type of cleaner, the upright vacuum provides the most power, suction, and control to cover wider floor plans and different types of flooring.  Some of the essential considerations you should look at when purchasing an upright is its suction, weight, maneuverability, whether it can be used on multiple flooring surfaces. 

Canister: Better for bare floors, a canister vacuum can easily tackle dusty hardwood without the help of a broom. The attachments that come with a canister vacuum make it easy to leave the canister in place while you use the lightweight hose to clean upholstery, drapes, stairs, and more. They’re also typically quieter than upright vacuums while in use. When considering a canister vacuum, see whether or not the vacuum can also be used on carpeting. 

Stick: Stick vacuums are portable and compact, making them the perfect option for smaller storage spaces and quick-carry situations. They might not have the same suction power as a traditional upright vacuum, but they still tackle tough clean-up jobs without straining your back. The biggest drawback of a stick vacuum is the dirt bin — they typically fill up much faster and need to be dumped out regularly.

Robot: Robot vacuums help maintain a routinely cleaner space since they vacuum on a regular schedule without any effort needed on your part. Robot vacuums have not reached the power threshold of other types of vacuums, so you usually need to pair their daily scheduled cleaning with a more robust once-over with a more traditional vacuum

What are Other Vacuum Features?

Each vacuum type has its own benefit but you’ll also be surprised at the added features that a vacuum can have to make it even better.   Motorized brushes on your upright vacuum should have the ability to turn on and off if you want to use it on hardwood floors. Look for pile-height adjustments if you’re using it as your universal vacuum across all flooring types, you’ll want it to identify flooring types as you roll through the room.  Scrub brushes are beneficial for hard stains or problem areas but don’t determine your vacuum solely based on the accessories.