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A Quick Guide to Buying a Vacuum

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Ashley
03.06.13

Unlike the clunky, roaring dinosaurs your parents and grandparents used, modern vacuums can do more than just clean your floors! Today’s lighter, sleeker machines also have filtering systems that clear dirt and allergens from the air, which makes your home healthier and cleaner. So, if you still have a prehistoric vacuum in your closet, there’s no better time to upgrade than the present.

But picking the right vacuum for your home takes some doing. Consider these five factors when shopping for your new machine:

Upright vs. Canister

Upright: In these models, all of the components are combined into one unit that glides easily across the floor.

  • Upside: They’re easy to maneuver (some are even self-propelled!) and zoom across open spaces. Plus, modern models come with hose attachments to reach tough places.  
  • Downside: They can be bulky, which makes them difficult to drag up and down stairs (but this can help tone your arms, so it’s sort of an upside, too). They also tend to take up more storage space.

Canister: A canister model has two components: the body (which holds the motor and filtering system) and the head or extended hose and nozzle.

  • Upside: The long hose and multiple attachments allow you to easily maneuver up and down stairs and clean upholstery. If you have steep stairs or tight spaces in your home, a canister vacuum is probably your best bet.
  • Downside: If you aren’t the best maneuverer, it’s easy to ding a wall or piece of furniture while you clean. Canister vacuums are also generally a little more expensive.

Filter Type

HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are the strongest type of filtration available in vacuums. They rid the air of 99.97 percent of dust, dirt and pet hair. If you’re going to spring for a new vacuum, it’s worth getting one with a HEPA.

Your Floors

Before you buy a vacuum, make sure it has multiple settings that will clean all of the floors in your home. Do you have wall-to-wall carpet? Some carpet-types won’t stand up to the force of a beater bar or power bar. Does your house have wood floors? You can vacuum them, but opt for a suction-only vacuum to avoid damaging the surface – no beater bars!

Noise

This may seem trivial, but give it some serious consideration. This factor is especially important if you have a baby in your family or a skittish pet. A vacuum that sounds like a wood chipper can be really frightening to newborns and animals!

Price

A new vacuum cleaner can cost anywhere from $50 to $1000 dollars, which is a pretty big range! While it may be tempting to grab one of the cheap models, we actually suggest spending $500-$700 dollars. That may seem like a big chunk of change, but with proper maintenance a high-quality vacuum can last for up to ten years. Cheaper models may not hurt your wallet right at the start, but they won’t pick up nearly as much dirt and debris. Plus, they’ll break a lot sooner.

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