vacuum cleaner

Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide- What to Look For

The vast vacuum market chocks on bazillions of good and seemingly good water filter vacs, wet-and-dry vacuums, pet vacuums, carpet cleaners, pool vacuums, bagged options, leaf vacuum mulchers, bagless vacuums, artificial turf cleaners, senior citizens options, high pile rugs options and more. While having options is desirable, having tons of them can be overwhelming. This vacuum cleaner guide should clear up any confusion that could be bogging down your decision-making.  

Contents show

What is a Vacuum Cleaner?

A vacuum cleaner is an electric-powered device that uses suction to suck up loose debris and dirt from surfaces. It can be used to clean various surfaces and items including flooring, carpeting, upholstery, toys, strollers, and every other surface, nook, or cranny that can be vacuumed.

There are different kinds of vacs. And it’s crucial to learn them all so you can confidently choose the right one for your cleaning situation. That’s where this vacuum cleaner guide helps.

How Does a Vacuum Cleaner Work?

A vacuum cleaner may look complex and science-packed, but all vacuums work by essentially the same principle — suction. Suction is what happens when you use a straw to sip from a drink. The pressure at the lower end of the straw is higher than the pressure at the top where your eager mouth is.

 Naturally, a pressure drop happens between the two straw ends. And that’s the magic (a difference in fluid pressure) that forces the contents of the bottle up the straw and into your mouth.

A Brief Physics Lesson

If your highschool physics isn’t too rusty, you’ll remember a strange principle called Bernoulli’s Principle. As the blades of the fan rotate, that action creates and pushes out a fast, forward-flowing air stream that heads toward the outlet port.

 As a result, a pressure drop happens behind the fan. There’s more air pressure in front of the rotating fan blades than behind the fan. When the air pressure behind the fan drops below ambient air pressure (the air pressure outside the cleaner), the result is suction or partial pressure.

Since nature abhors emptiness, air from the outside rushes into the cleaner through the vacuum’s intake port. Now, if the air is traveling fast enough and the dirt and debris on your carpet or floor aren’t too heavy, the suction tears them away and transports them to the exhaust port.

Before the air leaves the machine, it gets cleaned in the bag/filter. The bag is primarily woven paper or cloth with multiple tiny holes. These small holes allow clean air to flow out through the outlet port while capturing solid particles such as dust and debris.

Buying Tip: Consider choosing a vacuum cleaner that has a rotating brush for agitation. If your carpet has tons of embedded soil, this fast-spinning roller brush loosens the debris and dirt up to make it easier for suction to pick the filth up.

The Main Parts of a Vacuum Cleaner

vacuum cleaner
  • A typical vacuum cleaner has the following vital components:
  • Intake port
  • Exhaust port/outlet port
  • Electric motor
  • Fan (fan and motor make one integrated mini system)
  • Bag (made of porous fabric or paper)/air filter, preferably a HEPA filter
  • Housing
  • Attachments and add-on accessories (optional)

Let’s take a closer look at the parts so you can develop a complete understanding of how they come together into a fully functional vacuum.

Intake Port

The intake is where the entire vacuum cleaning process starts. When buying a vacuum cleaner, the width of the attachment is a critical consideration. Here’s a critical fact to remember: The motorized fan belches out dirty air at a constant flow rate.  

A narrow attachment needs to suck in the same amount of air as a wider attachment in the same amount of time. For that reason, a narrow vacuum attachment must reel in air at a faster speed to keep up with its wider counterpart.

Consequently, a narrower vacuum attachment has the airstream moving at a much faster speed compared to a wider attachment given the same amount of fan power.

 And a faster airstream translates into a much lower air pressure behind the fan, which correlates with a bigger pressure drop. The bigger the pressure drop, the stronger the suction force of the attachment.

Important Takeaway: A narrower attachment offers greater suction than a wider attachment given the same amount of motor capability.

Some Intake Ports Feature a Rotating Brush

NOT all vacuum cleaners have a rotating roller brush. The role of this brush is to provide agitation, to knock debris and dirt loose for easier removal by the airstream. And agitation is something you need enough of if your carpeting or flooring collects tons of filth insanely fast.

If you have young children and puppies or kitties, you’ll likely see more dirt, debris, dust, and pet hair in your carpet quicker. A vacuum with weak agitation sucks at deep cleaning a carpet. Plus, you’ll have to work more or harder to accomplish the same task.

The roller brush may be an optional component, but many homeowners and apartment dwellers whose carpets take lots of traffic find that they really need it. It’s crucial to keep pet hair/pet fur out of the roller brush. Why? I’ll tell you why in a section down the road titled: vacuum cleaner maintenance tips. Yes, I’m suggesting you read the entire vacuum cleaner guide.

Motor and Fan

The more powerful the motor, the faster the fan and greater the suction. If motor/fan A boasts a bigger wattage than motor/fan B, you’ll clean faster with it. So, pay attention to the fan’s wattage.

I suggest you watch a few Youtube videos of the option you’re craving before purchasing. That’s the only way to learn how relatively powerful each model is in real-life cleaning scenarios.

Vacuum Cleaner Bag

vacuum cleaner bag

When dirty air gets sucked in at the intake, it travels all the way to the vacuum cleaner bag. Dirt, debris and other kinds of filth collect in this bag which doubles up as an air filter.

Manufacturers use a highly breathable or porous material to make this particle collection compartment. This porous medium acts as a kind of membrane that permits gaseous contents (clean, fresh air) to pass right through while trapping solid matter. At this point, the unit releases a blast of dirt-free air back into your living spaces.

To be clear, though, a vacuum cleaner is NOT an air purifier. But when lumped together with other pet allergen-management measures, a vac can make your life noticeably better if you have breathing issues.

It doesn’t matter where you position this dirt bag. The most important thing is for the airstream to flow without hindrance between the intake and exhaust ports.

Bag Location Varies

This bag is located just behind the exhaust port in upright cleaners. In this setup, air filtration happens near the outlet, and it’s the last activity the cleaning system performs.

With canister vacuums, you’ll find the bag just behind the intake port. In this cleaner type, particle filtration takes place as soon as dirty air enters the unit. The fan pumps out clean air rather than dirty air as is the case with upright options.

Factors That Determine the Suction of a Vacuum

Here’s a quick list of the factors that affect vacuum performance:

  • Fan Power
  • Resistance in the airstream path
  • Width of the attachment

Fan Power

Greater fan power translates into greater suction or cleaning power. Some options such as canister vacuums and upright vacuums can be supremely powerful while robotic vacuums and handheld cleaners aren’t that powerful.

Resistance in the Airstream’s Path

If the airstream’s path is clogged up with obstacles such as dirt and debris in the vacuum bag, drag increases. Not surprisingly, the particles start zapping through the bag at a slower rate, and suction suffers.

So, be sure to replace the bag when it gets full. Actually, it’s best to dump out the bag at 80 percent capacity.

Width of the Vacuum Attachment

The wider the vacuum attachment, the less suction. And the narrower the attachment, the more suction. Aside from delivering a more forceful airstream, a narrower attachment enables you to access nooks you wouldn’t with a wider one.

There are different kinds of attachments, and each kind is designed to do a specific thing really well. If you match each attachment with the right cleaning job, there’s no nook or cranny you won’t reach and tidy up.

The vast majority of vacuums come with standard attachments. Sometimes it’s just one cleaning accessory, other times you get more than one. The following are most common basic attachments:

  • Extension wand
  • Dusting brush
  • Crevice cleaner
  • Upholstery tool

Extension Wand (Add 18″ to Your Hose)

It’s a plastic, solid attachment that adds 18 inches of length to your vac’s hose. Use this attachment to reach fan blades of your high ceiling fan without using a stepladder.

You can also suck dust off light fixtures dangling from the ceiling and clean air vents with this tool. What’s more, you can use it to reach tight places behind appliances such as fridges.

And if coins or other things fall in crevices, you can easily retrieve them with this tool. Be sure to stretch and secure with a band a piece of pantyhose over the tool’s opening so those objects won’t clog your vac.

Upholstery Tool (4-6 Inches Wide)

This tool gives you width rather than length. Use it to remove pet hair and dust from your mattress or even the carpeting covering your stairway. Also, picking up lint on upholstery should be a breeze.

Dusting Brush

This tool features a brush at the opening. Use it to dust lamp shades, clocks, air vents, refrigerator coils, chair legs, table legs, window screens, baseboards, and even window treatments. And no, it won’t scratch these surfaces because the 1-inch bristles on the brush are soft enough.

Crevice Tool (Adds 8-12 Inches to Your Hose)

This skinny tube with an angled end is the ultimate crevice cleaner. It adds up to 12″ to your hose. It’s what you need to pick up dirt and debris from the nooks and crevices of your baby stroller or car seat. With this, no spot or corner is too tight that you can’t reach it.

Add-on Accessories Often Bought Separately  

Some vacuums come with more than the standard attachments. Where that’s not the case, you just have to buy the extra cleaning accessories separately.

Here’s a list of add-on attachments that can help you perform tasks regular attachments may not do too well:

  • Floor sweeper
  • Pet groomer
  • Car cleaning nozzle
  • Fan blade duster
  • Multi-angle brush
  • Power brush
  • Drain unclogger
  • Micro-dusting kit (Computer keyboard cleaner)
  • Mattress refresher
  • Radiator brush
Where to Use These Add-on Attachments

How do you remove bits of crackers and sand out of carpeted car mats? Use a wedge-shaped car cleaning nozzle.

To dust the tight spaces between the fins of your radiator or vent slats, fit a radiator brush with stiff bristles over the crevice cleaner of a Miele vac. And to suction up loose fur or hair from your dog, use a pet groomer. If your pup will remain calm when you crank up that vacuum, you can certainly vacuum them.

An add-on attachment like a fan blade duster can help you easily deal with cobwebs. And instead of using a broom and dust pan to tidy up your wood or tile floor, consider using a 12-inch floor sweeper with a soft half-inch bristles. Put the same add-on accessory to clean low-pile rugs.

When cleaning sofas, mattresses, and other large pieces of furniture, you can use a mattress refresher instead of an upholstery tool. Do you sleep with your lovely cat or pup and they shed? Nothing tackles pet allergens on mattresses and couches better than a mattress refresher.

Dredging up that stubborn disgusting buildup in your tub, sink, or shower drain gets easier if you empower a wet-dry vacuum with a drain unclogger.

Vacuuming up carpeted stairs, car interiors, or flooring in small tight spaces such as a small closet or a powder room is best accomplished with a power brush. This is a light, compact motor-driven tool inside which is a rotating roller brush.

A multi-angled brush helps you get grime out of blinds, baseboards, and crown molding. And there’s nothing more effective for cleaning out the extremely hard-to-reach nooks in light fixtures and closet tracks. This brush typically features soft bristles that stick out from a head that turns on a curved hose.

How Do You Remove Gunk from Your PC Keyboard?

If you’re into DIY sewing, your sewing machine certainly collects dust in very small spaces. And if you’ve ever tried dusting your computer’s keyboard, you likely didn’t manage to suction up all the dust and grime.

To clean these extremely hard-to-reach crevices, get a micro-dusting kit. The typical kit comes with a 36″ hose, a micro extension wand, brush tools, and crevice tool.

I bet you can choose the right cleaning accessory every time going forward.

How to Choose the Right Vacuum for Cleaning Your Home

types of vacuum cleaner

Below is a nice little list of the factors you should to keep in mind as you shop around for the right vacuum cleaner for home use.

  • Know the cleaning accessories the machine offers.
  • Test Out the unit in-store before shelling out.
  • Pick something that won’t kill your ear drums (don’t worry, vacs are rarely too loud).
  • Stay away from brands no one knows.
  • Decide if Wi-Fi connectivity matters more to you than privacy and security.

Buy the Right Vacuum Type

What and where you’ll mostly clean matter a lot. Some vacuums work well on hardwood surfaces. Others are masters at deep-cleaning immensely thick carpets while others are exceptional multi-surface cleaners. It’s essential to understand the different vacuum cleaner types there are and where each really shines. I have listed down at least

Know the Cleaning Accessories You’re Getting

How well your vacuum cleans different surfaces and areas depends a lot on the accessories it comes with. If you’re a pet owner, buy a pet-friendly vacuum with an upholstery attachment and a special brush designed to pick up pet hair.

Try the Vacuum Out Before Purchasing

Even if you intend to buy the vacuum online, testing the model you’re eyeing in-store would be a good idea. Touch the cleaner to learn if it’s sturdy enough. Lift it to whether it’s too heavy. Push and pull it around a little to get a sense of how it handles. Buy it from the store if you like, but why pass up a good deal online?

Vacuum Cleaner Noise Levels

For the most part, vacuum cleaners aren’t deafeningly loud. That said, some are quieter than others. If you 4-month baby who needs to sleep a lot, too much noise can be a problem. Generally, central vacuums and canister vacuums are quieter than other vacuum cleaner types.

Note that even a relatively quiet vacuum can seem louder while cleaning tiled spaces such as the kitchen or bathroom. But unless it is defective, I doubt your vacuum will ever get too loud as to necessitate soundproofing your home.

Wi-Fi Connectivity for Targeted Floor Cleaning

Wi-Fi connectivity becomes a feature to consider if you intend to buy a robotic cleaner. If mapping and targeted cleaning sound enticing to you, then definitely choose a Wi-Fi-enabled precision cleaner. But if you shudder at the idea of the thing sending out your data, choose an option that’s not connected. Connected devices threaten personal privacy and security.

Price and Brands: What Are the Best Vacuum Brands?

Set aside anywhere between $100-$1500 — generally, the pricier the better. If you’re unsure about brand, stick to the tested and proven. Go with Miele, Riccar, Sanitaire, Shark vacuums, Hoover, iRobot, Dirt Devil, Bissell, Royal, Samsung, and Dyson. Other worthy brands include Kenmore and Tineco.

I suggest you spend some quality reading quality vacuum cleaner reviews. That’ll help you learn teeny weeny details that generic product descriptions gloss over.

11 Types of Vacuum Cleaners (And When to Use Each)

canister vacuum

Let’s dive in.

1. Canister Vacuum Cleaners (for Homes With Multiple Stairs)

What they are: In a canister vacuum cleaner, the power head and suction hose aren’t in the same compartment as the motor and dirt bag/container. Canister vacuums tend to be quieter than most other vacuum types. But while canisters seem lighter, they’re bulkier and pricier than upright vacuums.

The entire vacuum design coupled with having a retractable cord makes canister vacuums super versatile and maneuverable. They’re the best bet if your house features several steps due to their maneuverability. However, they have trouble fitting in small storage spaces such as closets.

Where to use them: They’re best suited for multi-surface use. Use them on hard surfaces such as bare hardwood floors and tile. Also good for cleaning drapes, upholstery, and furniture and for cleaning smaller carpeted areas such as stairs and car mats.

2. Upright Vacuum Cleaners

What they are: An upright vacuum cleaner features a built-in power head and stays upright while at work. This popular carpet cleaning champion boasts a rotating brush called a beater brush/beater bar. The brush sinks into the carpet pile, knocks loose dirt and debris, and finally surfaces them for removal.

Choose a bagged upright vacuum that supports height adjustability. Flicking a switch enables you to adjust the height when transitioning from a thick carpet to a hardwood floor.

Many people love upright vacuum cleaners because most are affordable. Also, they’re easy to store because of their default proclivity to stand upright. Additionally, most come with standard attachments that make them versatile.

Disadvantages of upright vacuums: They’re noisier than canister vacuums, and the best-performing options tend to be pretty heavy.

Where to use upright vacuum cleaners: Their greatness becomes evident when fluffing up dense carpets. They’re also good for vacuuming hardwood floors.

3. Handheld Vacuum Cleaners (Super Convenient)

What they are: They’re small-sized, lightweight, battery-powered, handheld vacuum cleaners that lack the cleaning power of canister and upright vacuums. They’re highly portable and quieter than full-sized canisters and upright models. Some are corded while others are cordless.

Where to use handheld vacuum cleaners: Use them to clean your place up after your human and furry babies have spilled this or that on the couch or short-pile carpet. Also good for cleaning hard floors, getting rid of pet hair/fur on upholstery, and cleaning your car’s interior.

4. Robotic Vacuums (Smart Options for Precision Cleaning)

robotic vacuum cleaner

What they are: These are smart vacuums that follow programmed instructions to clean up dirty spaces. You can also operate them remotely, and they don’t clean beyond the sensor limits you have set. Some are smart enough to detect your flooring type. Auto options make adjustments to the suction or beater brush to suit the flooring type. With other options, brush and suction settings must be done manually.

Artificial Intelligence is disrupting entire industries and threatening livelihoods, but there are benefits, too. In robotic vacuums, AI and IoT come together beautifully to create obedient bots that save human backs from the drudgery of cleaning floors.

Where to use robotic vacuums: Use them to light-clean hard floors and carpets between real cleans with a human-operated robot.Do robot vacuum cleaners really work on carpets? Yes, they do, but they’re not as thorough as traditional vacuums.

Robotic vacuums don’t pump out as much cleaning power as conventional cleaners. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bot that deep-cleans your dense carpet as good regular vacuums do.

5. Stick/Sweep Vacuums

What they are: These are lightweight, battery-powered vacuums found somewhere between handheld and upright vacuums. While most vacuums have a bag debris collector, sweep/stick vacuums a dirt cup. Some are cordless while others are corded.

There are two types of stick vacuum cleaners namely:

  • Corded stick vacuums
  • Cordless stick vacuums

Cordless Options

These are less bulky than corded vacuums and also somewhat safer because you’ll never trip over a cord and break your nose. Aside from that, they don’t gobble up much storage space.

The downside is that they’re pricier compared to corded choices, and users constant gripe about battery problems. Most batteries are useless by the fifth year.

Corded Stick Vacuums

Like upright vacs, corded sweep/stick options are rather tall, but they’re not as heavy. Your back will thank you for getting this lightweight vacuum because it won’t have to bend over all the time.

One downside to corded vacs is that most are noisy. And since the dirt bin is pretty small, they’re not super convenient. Also, be careful lest you trip over the cord and get hurt. And you won’t be impressed if you use a corded cleaner to clean a messy carpet. 

Note: These are best used as supplementary cleaning devices rather the main cleaners.

Where and when to use stick vacuums: They’re best for giving relatively small areas such as kitchens and bathrooms a quick cleanup. Also good for tackling spills on hard floors and picking up dog and cat hair.

6. Deep Cleaners/Carpet Extractors/Carpet Shampooers

What they are: These are the quintessential carpet cleaners, but they’re specialty vacuums that aren’t designed to work every day. Nor are they built to clean hardwood floors. Using soapy warm water, carpet cleaners agitate carpet fibers clean stains. Finally, they suck up dirt, debris, and excess water from your carpeting.

Where to use them: deep-cleaning or spot-cleaning carpets.

7. Pet Hair Vacuum Cleaners (for Pet Owners)   

What they are: Thesearepet-centric vacuum cleaners designed to remove pet hair and odors remarkably better than regular vacuums. These vacuums are usually bagless, which means suction doesn’t decline over time.

Most importantly, pet-focused cleaners come with extra attachments that give them exceptional pet hair removal ability. In most cases, you also get an extra upholstery attachment so you can easily remove pet dander and hair from furniture.

Normally, pet vacs use special allergen filters and bristles that pick up pet hair without getting entangled.  But what keeps pet hair from getting tangled in these bristles? Covers on the bristles make sure they don’t become matted as often happens in regular vacs. Also, you can easily detach the beater brush and get the hair out.

Where to use pet hair cleaners: Choose this cleaner if you love pets such as dogs and cats. They’re also great for allergy sufferers because they’re great at pet allergen removal and pet odors.

8. Central Vacuums (Whole-house Cleaning Champions)

What they are: These are costly whole-house vacuuming systems that require you to hire an expert to install. They usually come with a heavy hose that’s as long as 30 feet; they can be a hassle to carry around. Filth collects in a relatively dirt holder.

These cleaning behemoths eat up storage space. Plus, they usually don’t have any space to hold your cleaning supplies as you clean.

One HUGE advantage of central vacuums is that they’re pretty easy to use. They’re easier to use than most canister cleaners because only the power head and hose need to be moved around during the clean.

Here are two more reasons to consider a whole-house cleaner:

  • They operate pretty quietly.
  • The dirt chamber is roomy — emptying it happens infrequently.

9. Bagged and Bagless Vacuums

Bagged vacuums have a disposable bag made of cloth or paper. They filter pollutants out so you can breathe sanitized air indoors.  Bagless options come with a durable compartment or chamber that holds debris and grime.

Bagless vacuums are becoming increasingly popular, but are they better than bagged vacuums? Each type has certain advantages and disadvantages. But if the current trend continues, it’ll be hard to find replacement bags for some bagged models.

Bagged vs. Bagless Vacuums, What’s Better?

The traditonal cleaner is a bagged vacuum, but you’ll buy replacement bags forever. Plus, you won’t always know when the bag is full or nearly full. It’s easy to chuck out a bag that’s not full yet. There’s one more thing: a bagged vacuum’s performance declines as more dirt enters the bag.

How do you know a bagged vacuum is full? Decreased suction is usually the first clearest sign that the bag needs to be replaced. Also, these options typically feature a “bag-full” indicator. And if you notice a whiff of unpleasantness, the bag likely needs to be changed.

But here’s the good news. With a bagged option, you can choose a HEPA-bagged cleaner. And HEPA filters capture air contaminants extremely well according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Besides, this sealed bag releases fewer allergens back into indoor air compared to the sealed chamber of a bagless vac.

In comparison, bagless options are eco-friendlier vacuums that can save you tons of money over the long term. That’s because you never spend money on replacement bags.

Another advantage of bagless vacuums is that the dirt-holding chamber is typically clear. You get to see what’s inside and how much capacity remains. What’s more, it’s easy to know if your cleaner is working. An empty chamber indicates zero work done.

But while a bagless vacuum may be an eco-friendlier choice, some of the dust particles in the chamber might re-contaminate your indoor air. Plus, emptying the bin can be a messy ordeal, and for the most part, bagless vacuums have an air filter which needs replacement. But this filter is replaced less often, usually 6-12 months depending on cleaning frequency. 

In the end, it’s down to personal preference. I’m sticking with my HEPA bagged Miele cleaner.

10. Dry and Wet/Dry Vacuums

These terms can be pretty confusing if not overwhelming. In this section, you’ll learn what each is and isn’t.

Dry Vacuums

What they are: These are vacuums designed to suck up dry messes. There are bagged and bagless options, and the devices are remarkably good for battling dust and debris in carpeting, furniture, upholstery, and hard floors.

Where to use them: Use dry vacuums for the easiest as well as most challenging cleaning tasks. Ask them to suck up wood chips, fine dust, construction dust, or even maintaining cleanrooms, and they’ll obey. If it’s a pro-grade vac, it should remove mold, lead dust, and even asbestos.

Wet/Dry Vacuums/Shop Vacs

What they are: Wet/dry vacuums or shop vacs are rugged, long-lasting machines built for cleaning up wet debris, wet spills, dry messes, and even snow. These aren’t ordinary vacuums, and you most likely don’t need this type unless you’re moving into a new home or want to clean a really dirty jeep. They’re not cheap, though, but that’s because they’re vacuuming beasts.

Think of shop vacs as wheeled heavy-duty vacuums that’ll take on everything from flooding water in the basement to nails, wood chippings, saw dust, and everything in between.

This vac comes with a slew of different attachments and that make it versatile. And if you fit it with the right attachment, you can even blow air into clogged drains to unblock them. Water damage specialists really like shop vacs.

Suitable for: Cleaning up a new home or a dirty jeep, tidying up a messy workshop, clearing flooded basements, and even unclogging drains.

11. Water Filter Vacuum Cleaners

What they are: Water filter vacuums are similar to traditional vacuums in the sense that both types rely on suction to suck up stuff. They can handle wet messes as well as dry ones. The unit comes with different attachments to achieve different cleaning goals. For example, it may have an upholstery tool so you can get rid of pet hair on furniture.

One difference between water filter vacuum cleaners and conventional cleaners is that they use water as a filter instead of using a bag or a debris chamber. Instead, the cleaner blows dirty air into a reservoir that traps dirt and debris while letting air exit back into the room.

With this option, you won’t see suction drops, and there are no consumables such as bags and air filters to replace. All you have to do is remove the reservoir, pour in water, add a defoamer, put the reservoir back in, and fire up the unit.

One drawback with a water filter vacuum is you have to empty the grossy contents in the reservoir and clean it. Some people hate that.

Is a water filter vacuum cleaner better than a regular vacuum? Not necessarily, but the best water filtration vacuums are super powerful. These are premium vacuums, but some think their performance isn’t any better than what significantly cheaper traditional models deliver.

Where to use water filtration vacuums: Use them to clean wet and dry messes spilled on hard floors.Also, put on a suitable attachment and use the gadget to clean your sofas.

Note: Different kinds of vacuums overlap. A vacuum can belong in more than one category.

Top Vacuum Maintenance Tips

The best way to get consistent peak performance out of your faithful floor-cleaning contraption is to keep it well maintained. If you don’t take good care of your vacuum, it won’t love you back, and you’ll start contacting your local vacuum repair shop more often.

Below is a bunch of tips on how to keep your vacuum running efficiently while avoiding costly vacuum repairs.

1. Change the Vacuum Cleaner Belt Once Every Year.

If you don’t change the belt when the time comes (at month 12 for most vacs), you’ll end up with a stretched, worn out belt. When the belt is in this condition, the agitating roller brush gets sluggish or even stops spinning.

2. Keep an Eye on the Vacuum Bag or Canister.

It’s best to replace the vacuum bag when it’s roughly 80% full. Some vacs feature a “bag full indicator” that reminds you to replace the vacuum bag. If you have a canister vacuum, empty the canister when it gets half-full.

One way to know it’s time to dump out the bag or empty the canister is when you start noticing a distinct smell emanating from your unit.

Failure to chuck out the filled-up bag dramatically reduces airflow and impacts the performance of the motor. Eventually, you’ll start seeing zero suction out of your floor and carpet cleaner.

3. Keep the Roller Brush of Your Vacuum Clean and Free of Pet Hair.

If your vacuuming machine has a dirty roller brush, that’s a hefty repair bill waiting around the corner. As you motor your vacuum cleaner over the carpet or flooring, the agitation brush picks up pet hair, human hair, and other stringy materials.

When pet hair materials entangle the bristles, they slow down this cleaning accessory. The brush gets lame, and it starts sucking at what it once did excellently — picking up hair and debris in carpeting or on the floor.

Aside from negatively affecting agitation, entangled bristles can severely damage your cleaning gadget. How can that happen? When enough hair gets into the bearings, the bearings in the cleaner tend to seize up.

In some cases, too much hair in the bearings can melt down the nozzle housing. Now, that’s real damage.

4. Set the Nozzle to the Right Height

The nozzle shouldn’t be buried too deep in your carpet pile during use. If the nozzle height stays too low, it’s easy to damage your lovely carpet. You know you have the right nozzle height when the roller brush’s bristles barely touch the carpet pile. Set the nozzle lower than that ONLY if you enjoy buying new pricey carpets every 2 months.

5. Stay Sharp As You Use Your Vacuum

You’ll do most vac maintenance work when the machine isn’t in use. But there’s one thing you must do at all times. And that’s keeping an eye on how your unit is performing during each cleanup.

If anything unusual happens when you’re vacuuming, turn off the unit and investigate the problem. For example, if the vacuum starts loafing about instead of cleaning your carpet, flooring, or upholstery, power off the machine immediately.

And if airflow suddenly dips, pause and inspect your cleaner. Clogged-up vacuums often end up with heated-up motors and worse performance overall.

6. Inspect Your Carpeting or Flooring Before Powering Up Your Vac

 A bad vacuum clog can damage your machine permanently. So, inspect the surface you’re about to vacuum. Remove any paper clips, tiny toys, strewn socks (your hubby needs some talking to, huh?), quarters, bobby pins, and whatnot.

These items can clog up your hardworking mechanical cleaner causing all kinds of vacuum issues. Your motor might heat up and probably start acting out or even burn out.

Tips for preventing a vacuum clog:

  • Look around and pick up anything that might get into your cleaner.
  • Don’t vacuum big objects such as toys, paper clips, bobby pins, and coins.
  • Avoid vacuuming wet messes. Wet messes can damage your vac beyond repair.
  • Stay away from tiny particles such as drywall dust unless your machine delivers extremely powerful suction force. Shop vacs are good for sucking up that kind of stuff.

When shopping for a vacuum cleaner, consider picking an option with a safety shutoff feature. Such a machine automatically shuts down in the face of anything that could clog it up.

7. Replace the Air Filter When the Time Comes

If your vac features a disposable filter, replace per the manufacturer’s instructions. How often you replace the filter depends on how hard your unit works for you and how frequently. Pet ownership also affects filter replacement frequency.

For a home with a few flurry pets around, replacement generally happens at month 12. And if you have a breathing issue and need to vacuum off pet allergens and other allergy triggers more often, replace the filter after 6 months. But if you live alone and aren’t always hosting wild parties in your apartment, vac experts recommend replacing the filter after 2-3 years.

8. Get Your Vacuum Serviced Regularly

You can service your vac at home, or if you didn’t get a mechanical brain, have a service provider handle the job for you. If you choose the DIY route, use a shop vac or an air compressor for the task.

Also, give your unit a thorough checkup to find out if anything needs to be replaced. Does your vac need a new belt? Maybe the gadget needs a new filter. Or the roller brush bristles are too short. If any part needs fixing or replacement, handle it.

Wrapping Up

Whoa! That was a pretty comprehensive vacuum cleaner shopping guide. You learned about different kinds of vacuum cleaners and what makes each type unique. What remains is for you to head over to Amazon and pick up a good vacuum for your keeping your home or apartment squeaky clean. 


  1. Thanks for explaining how you should consider maintaining the internals of your vacuum cleaner to prevent unwanted breakdowns or buildups. My friend wants to try investing in cleaning equipment that can keep dust away from his work office. I hope this can convince him to find an expert that can help him out in the future!

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