ISO vacuum cleaner - don't want to call Saul Goodman's guy for advice
September 25, 2013 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Do you have an awesome vacuum cleaner? Can you tell me about it? We need a new vacuum cleaner because ours is old and barely works anymore. We are finding shopping for vacuum cleaners to be very overwhelming. Anyone have any recommendations for us? Parameters below.

Things that are important to us:
*no bags
*not obscenely heavy (we have to lug this thing up and down a flight of stairs)
*not obtrusively large (we live in an apartment with limited closet space - vacuum needs to live in a closet without taking up the entire closet)
*does not require a PhD to operate
*HEPA filter
*some hose attachments for difficult to reach spots (behind couches, under cabinets, etc)
*less than $200

Things that are not so important to us:
*we don't need it to be cute or pretty or sleek or aesthetically pleasing. it's going to live in a closet when not being used.

Things about our apartment worth noting:
*primarily wood floors, but the bedroom and bedroom closet have carpeting
*suspected dust mite problem
*cat who sheds and sheds and sheds

I literally do not know where to begin when it comes to vacuum shopping. We went to Best Buy last week to check out vacuum cleaners and basically found ourselves completely paralyzed with all of the multitudes of options therein. We're not particularly messy and we don't have kids - just the aforementioned shedding kitty - but we're sick of having an ancient vacuum that does little more than push dust/cat hair around on the floor. I'm looking for specific recommendations for vacuum make&model that would be appropriate for our needs. Conversely, if you think my parameters are lacking and/or my price point is ridiculous, suggestions to modify parameters or price point also welcome.

posted by thereemix to Shopping (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
We have been very, very happy with our Dyson, but they are well above $200. We use them on carpet and hard floors and they hit all of your criteria except cost. We bought an upright model close to 10 years ago and it's still running like a champ, and we had gone through at least 2 other cheaper vacuums prior.
posted by jquinby at 7:06 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

In your price range and requirements, Consumer Reports gives the highest score to the Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind Bagless UH70120
posted by procrastination at 7:11 AM on September 25, 2013

The Sweethome recommends The Eureka Boss Smart-Vac, even though it's a bag vacuum. (They claim that you can either pick two of cheap, reliable, and bagless).
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:16 AM on September 25, 2013

We did a bunch of research and ended up determining that this Hoover vacuum was a good deal. So far, we've been very happy with it.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:30 AM on September 25, 2013

I got this Liftawy Shark Navigator at Costco a month or so ago and am very happy with it. I think it was around $160. It seems really complicated when you first get it but it isn't at all once you run through the options. I have a dog and a cat and, using the liftaway option with the pet thingy, I got a ton of hair off of the soft furniture. It works great on the hardwood and carpet and in hardwood mode is really quiet. Suction is amazing. I am coming from an ancient Oreck that had quit doing anything at all but, for the price, the Shark makes me pretty happy...I also got a Litter Robot last week and am thinking it may be my best purchase of the year, may be a little too big for your apt. though.
posted by BoscosMom at 7:48 AM on September 25, 2013

If you can scootch the price point up just a bit ($299 on Amazon), and if you can change the no-bag requirement, I would really suggest a Miele Olympus, as it hits so many of your other requirements! It is exceedingly light--at my last apartment, I would regularly tote it up and downstairs without problems. It has a good woodfloor attachment, as well as a rotating brush attachment for carpets, and several others good for dusting, curtains, etc. It is extremely powerful, and does a great job of picking up stray cat hair and dust, while being HEPA filtered so that the exhaust is very clean. No PhD required to operate--it has an on button, a cord retractor button, and a dial that lets you go from lightly dusting (which was still stronger than our old Hoover) to pull-the-fabric-of-existence-apart strength.

I scoffed at the price when we were first looking at it, but it really has been worth it. It has lasted for years with no mechanical troubles or loss of power, the bags don't cover you with dust when you change them, and its maneuverability helped us reach places our old vacuum could never get to. (Understandably, the bag issue may be a deal-breaker, and we were originally looking for a bagless, but Miele bags are so convenient to work with, it hasn't bothered us at all.)
posted by mittens at 7:52 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Have 3 cats (not entirely by choice....), which means I have the Dyson DC32 Animal PRO.

LOVE IT, and it came with all sorts of attachments, including a very nice actively spinning brush for the sofa. Also have wood floors. I don't have the largest apt, and this vacuum hides nicely behind a door in the living room.
posted by alchemist at 7:57 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband used to repair vacuums for a living. He doesn't like bagless models because the bags are there to protect the machine from wear and tear. Without one, you eventually get dust in the works, contributing to mechanical problems. The dust eventually recirculates through the air whenever you vacuum, too. And at that price point, you're pretty much buying planned obsolescence anyway; the bagless models just exacerbate that.

We use an ancient 1970s canister Electrolux--the kind your mother would have gotten for a wedding gift and the kind that you can usually find used on craiglist for less than a hundred dollars. They're a snap to maintain and repair because they were essentially designed to be heirloom appliances, and there are scads of vacuum repair shops willing to help you if something breaks. We have a lighter, 1990s back-up canister as well--bags for either can be bought at any supermarket. The husband is also fond of Orecks and Mieles, which are likewise made for repair and maintenance; he's not such a big fan of Dyson, because a bagless vacuum is still a bagless vacuum. Despite internet popularity, he feels the higher price point is mostly because of marketing. Your vacuuming experience may vary.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:59 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Repair guy I know swears by Miele and is not such a big fan of Dyson (if you compare the build quality it's pretty clear which is made in Germany and which in Malaysia).

As for me, I use a 1960's Electrolux Tri-Star, it weighs a ton but hasn't slowed down in 50 years of weekly use.
posted by Cosine at 8:04 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you never want to buy another vacuum in your life buy a Miele. Of course they use bags (probably for the reason PhoBWanKenobi states) and they are more expensive but you can hand it down to your children. I've made it very clear to my mom where hers is going when she dies.

I have the Hoover WindTunnel that is recommended above and it works great! My problem actually is with the bagless feature though. Since I have pets when I open the canister nothing moves and I end up having to stick my hand in the canister to pull everything out thereby getting dust all over my hand and usually on the floor again. The reason is pet hair so this may not be an issue for you. My next vacuum will have a bag.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:14 AM on September 25, 2013

Oh, another point against bagless vacuums: if you live in an area with fleas or other critters, they can lay eggs in your vacuum after you suck them up. If you have a bag, you can just throw out the bag and avoid reinfestation. Not sure if this is relevant in your geographic area, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:48 AM on September 25, 2013

My mother has a Miele canister and it's built like a tank and easy to use. However, it was expensive.

I don't have carpet, but I've been brushing my cats regularly with the Furminator and it has cut WAY down on the cat fur tumbleweeds rolling across the floor. Perhaps if you get one of those too you won't even have to use your new vacuum as often.
posted by fozzie_bear at 8:58 AM on September 25, 2013

I have both the Dyson animal and this Eureka 96JZ Quick Up cordless. I love the Eureka just as much if not more than my Dyson. I have two cats, one is a Persian.

The Eureka model comes with a wall mounted charger for the vacuum and an extra battery. The wall mount has a place to charge the second battery. I can get a good 20 minutes of vacuuming on one battery, it is nothing to pop the second battery in to complete the job. The small profile allows it to fit under the cabinets in the kitchen and almost all of the furniture, unlike my Dyson. My home is about 50/50 hardwood and carpet. I will also use a squeegee about every six weeks as shown in this lifehacker post.

I had read about a hack for this model to increase the suction power. When you remove the washable dust cup filter, you will see a plastic grid at the bottom of the holder. Break out this plastic grid as it restricts the air flow, thus suction power. I have done this and am amazed at the power this little vacuum cleaner has. Matter of fact, I could probably sell the Dyson animal, I hardly use it anymore.
posted by JujuB at 9:11 AM on September 25, 2013

I bought a Miele Olympus at the suggestion of AskMeFi a few years ago. It is 300 dollars...but you can find them discounted from time to time and I have been extremely happy with it.
posted by jnnla at 9:32 AM on September 25, 2013

The Dyson Digital Slim is fantastic. Cordless, bagless, has HEPA filter, hangs on the wall, does hardwood and carpet without changing anything, also works as a dustbuster if you take the big attachment off. Only $30 above your price range, refurbished.
posted by w0mbat at 10:02 AM on September 25, 2013

I've had the smaller, regular older model Dyson for 6 years and I was able to get it on sale for around $150 at a big box store. I have a large, high shed dog and have basically the same requirements as you. I LOVE IT. I would have no problem replacing it with a more expensive model at full retail if it ever dies. If your cats shed anywhere near as much as my dog, I don't think you will regret holding out for a sale or upping your budget a little bit.
posted by bradbane at 10:29 AM on September 25, 2013

I bought this Lumina Signature vac from my local Aldi for $80 and I'm more than happy with it. It's essentially a Dyson knockoff, and I actually like it better than the similarly-sized Dysons I've used because it sucks every bit as hard but with less whistling and screaming.

Emptying it is super easy: lift out the canister, press a latch button and the bottom swings open and dumps the dust.

All those people on productreview complaining about suction loss after a few months probably didn't bother reading the bit in the manual that mentions cleaning the filters every once in a while. The cyclone chambers pull most of the dust out of the airstream, but the pre-turbine foam filter and the final-outlet HEPA filter do slowly build up a layer of fine crud. Both are easily washable.

It has a nice long retractable cord, and neat little clips to retain the accessories (no more wondering where the @#^@% the crevice tool got left behind this week) and a comfortable wand handle.

I had a couple of mysterious hose clogs before working out that sucking up twigs with this unit is a bad idea; they jam in curves and build up an upstream plug. The hose fittings are easily taken apart for clog clearance.
posted by flabdablet at 12:23 PM on September 25, 2013

We have an LG Luv250C (I think); I like it a lot. It crapped out and they FedEx'ed me a huuuuge box with special packing materials so it can be shipped out and repaired. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. :7)

We are careful about dustmites, though we don't have any pets.

We used a bunch of things at Bed, Bath & Beyond (coupon, sale, and close-out) so it was like $120 or something -- a steal, anyway.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:49 PM on September 25, 2013

Do not buy a Shark. It works fine for the first 6 months but it's cheaply made and will break down and even simple repairs - like replacing a worn belt - is a PITA.
posted by sixpack at 1:06 PM on September 25, 2013

We have a Hoover bagless that is specifically for pets (one of the Pet Rewind models). It has hoses and some attachments of varying effectiveness that have rubber parts that help pull hair off upholstery. The handle folds down and it is not too heavy. I am pretty sure there is a HEPA filter and a rinsable one. It does well on carpet and bare floors, was under $200 and has lasted us over two years with no noticeable decline in effectiveness.
posted by soelo at 8:14 AM on September 26, 2013

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