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These affordable vacuum cleaners went head-to-head with Dyson
Editor's note: An earlier edition of this article recommended the Hoover MAXLife Elite Upright Vacuum, but after long-term testing of this model, we have removed it from our list and added two additional affordable vacuums in its place.
You can spend a lot on a quality vacuum, but at the end of the day, it’s just a dirt-sucking machine. We tested over 100 vacuums this past year and were pleasantly surprised at some of the top performers. We put all the vacuums through the wringer — whether it was a $700 Dyson or a $100 Amazon brand. After watching them suck up everything from pet hair to cereal, we graded each model on effectiveness, ease of use, maneuverability, noise level, and value.
Best Upright: Shark Navigator Freestyle Cordless Upright Vacuum
The swivel design makes for easy maneuvering under furniture and around corners.
It's excellent at sucking up pet hair.
This is lightweight for an upright vacuum.
This vacuum does not have a HEPA filter.
This Shark Navigator Freestyle Upright Vacuum gives the ease and power of a traditional corded vacuum, but it's cordless, which is very rare for an upright vacuum. This makes it an excellent pick for those with larger spaces who have to navigate around furniture or corners. The upright design is especially convenient for any surprise interruptions when cleaning: You can step away, and it stands on its own. In testing, we found the swivel steering on this Shark vacuum easy to use; at under eight pounds, it’s reasonably light for this type of larger, upright style.
When testing the vacuum’s suction power, we noticed it did a particularly good job cleaning up hair on carpeted and hard surfaces, making it a great choice for pet owners constantly dealing with shedding pets. However, those with allergies should note it uses a foam filter rather than a HEPA filter.
We like the large dust bin that allows for uninterrupted cleaning without emptying, and when it is time to empty this vacuum, it’s easy. The battery lasted through our entire testing process (about 15 minutes) without losing any power. It's worth noting that Shark offers a complimentary one-year limited warranty, so you can save money without worrying if your affordable vacuum will break in a few weeks.
Price at time of publish: $129.99
Type: Cordless upright | Filter Type: Foam | Wattage: 125W | Dimensions: 10.5 x 9.6 x 46 inches | Weight: 7.5 lbs. | Capacity: 16 gal | Included Accessories: Charging dock
Best Cordless Stick: eufy by Anker HomeVac H30 Infinity Cordless Vacuum
It weighs less than two pounds, so it's easy to tote from room to room.
It's great for cleaning high, hard-to-reach places.
The convertible design allows it to also be used as a handheld vacuum.
This is an incredible value for all its features.
It does not have a HEPA filter.
The dust bin is on the smaller side.
Good things do come in small packages. The Eufy by Anker HomeVac H30 is a small but mighty vacuum and our top cordless stick vacuum pick. Squeezing in at just under $200, this is an incredible deal considering its power and easy maneuverability.
This affordable vacuum is under two pounds, and the even weight distribution on this vacuum made it easy to hold during testing. Since there's not too much weight at the front or back end of the vacuum, it's very easy to maneuver. Even as our lightest vacuum, we found it super effective and efficient in cleaning up debris on both hard and carpeted surfaces. We like the convertible design and its ability to transform into a handheld vacuum quickly.
This affordable vacuum cleaner also comes with a crevice tool and a motorized brush attachment, making it that much more of a deal. We did note that we had to empty the dust bin during our tests because it’s on the smaller side, but, on the brighter side, the battery ran for 20 minutes during our testing process without any change in suction or power.
Price at time of publish: $199.99
Type: Cordless stick | Filter Type: Cloth | Wattage: 200W | Dimensions: 16.73 x 3.54 x 2.87 inches | Weight: 1.79 lbs | Capacity: 0.06 gal | Included Accessories: Mini-motorized pet brush, 2-in-1 crevice tool, pipe tools, mopping module, disposable mopping cloths
Best Canister: Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister Vacuum Cleaner
The ergonomic design makes vacuuming sessions less painful.
The automatic cord rewind is a handy feature for such an affordable vacuum.
It has a 16-foot cord to easily clean large rooms.
This vacuum does not have a HEPA filter.
For those who prefer a canister vacuum, our top pick is this Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister Vacuum. Canister vacuums are a great ergonomic choice, and we found that this Eureka canister's floor nozzle pivoted well across different surfaces and maneuvered easily around furniture. This type of vacuum usually tends to be pricey, but at right around $100, this one is a great deal.
The 16-foot cord was long enough to clean an entire large bedroom, though we imagine you’d have to move and replug this vacuum to cover a much larger space. However, the canister is so lightweight that moving around with this vacuum wasn't an issue during testing. This Eureka model was especially effective at cleaning debris off upholstery, and we appreciate that the crevice tool is built into the handle, so you don't even have to switch out the attachment. Eureka offers a one-year limited warranty on this model.
Price at time of publish: $104.77
Type: Corded canister | Filter Type: Washable foam | Wattage: 960W | Dimensions: 12.10 x 9.60 x 14.10 Inches | Weight: 8.2 lbs. | Capacity: 0.66 gal | Included Accessories: Additional filter
Best Under-$100: Dirt Devil Versa 3-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
This can convert to a handheld vacuum in seconds.
This is the most affordable cordless stick vacuum we tested.
The small brush head and lightweight design made it easy to maneuver around furniture.
This does not have a HEPA filter.
It has a 12-minute battery life, so you may need to charge it mid-clean if you're vacuuming a large area.
We love how simple and easy to use this Dirt Devil Versa 3-in-1 Cordless Stick Vacuum proved during testing. At less than five pounds, moving around with this vacuum was a breeze. The smaller brush head was easy to maneuver around furniture, and the rollers glided effortlessly along all testing surfaces. For a small vacuum, we were impressed with the suction power and could complete our debris tests in less than three passes. The convertible design is excellent for off-the-floor cleaning, like furniture or countertops. We also love how easily this Dirt Devil vacuum changes into a handheld vacuum.
The battery life lasted throughout our entire testing process without losing power. (According to Dirt Devil, the battery life on this vacuum is 12 minutes.) Is this the best vacuum ever? No, but for under $100, it will get the job done. This would be a great secondary vacuum for a storage space, workshop, or dorm. There's no warranty on this one, but it’s our lowest-priced vacuum on the list.
Price at time of publish: $89.99
Type: Cordless stick | Filter Type: F117 | Wattage: 80W | Dimensions: 7.8 x 10 x 42.5 inches | Weight: Under 5 lbs. | Capacity: 0.11 gal | Included Accessories: None
Best for Pet Owners: Moosoo K23 Pro Cordless Stick Vacuum
This is lightweight and compact for maximum maneuverability.
It has a powerful, efficient suction that picks up pet hair and crumbs with ease.
It is quieter than other models we tested.
It has a HEPA filter.
This vacuum can’t stand upright on its own.
Stay tidy on a budget without compromising quality. The MOOSOO Stick Vacuum K23 Pro stands out and gives the coveted Dyson vacuums a run for their money at a fraction of the price. This cordless stick vacuum has a HEPA filter, which will trap harmful particles when cleaning and is a great choice for those with allergies. We found this cordless vacuum easy to maneuver, and it transitioned from carpet to hard surfaces with ease. At under six pounds, this compact vacuum is very portable and will make cleaning multiple areas more manageable. In our tests this vacuum demonstrated strong and effective 23KPa suction, cleaning up a variety of debris, including pet hair, quickly.
The 4-in-1 design comes with several attachments for cleaning different surfaces and hard-to-reach areas. The wall-mount makes for convenient storage and access. The LED light feature helps when cleaning dark corners or crevices, and the vacuum’s light weight makes emptying this bagless vacuum easy, but be sure to take out the filter beforehand, or else it’ll fall into the garbage. (The last thing you want is to find yourself elbow-deep in the trash sifting for a lost filter.)
There are three adjustable power settings, and we appreciated that this vacuum’s noise was more on par with a hair dryer and quieter than typical vacuums, so it likely won't scare your furry friends. This is a great affordable alternative to a fancier brand (ahem, Dyson) for quick, efficient cleaning. MOOSOO offers a 12-month warranty, which only sweetens the deal.
Price at time of publish: $149.99 (orig. $299.99)
Type: Cordless stick | Filter Type: HEPA | Wattage: 300W | Dimensions: 12.99 x 5.91 x 29.92 inches | Weight: 5.28 lbs | Capacity: 0.26 gal | Included Accessories: Wall mount, hose, smaller upholstery, and crevice attachments
Best Handheld: Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Cordless Handheld Vacuum
This is extremely portable, so you can use it in your car or anywhere around your home.
The pet power brush keeps hair from tangling.
The crevice tool is perfect for hard-to-reach areas, like in between seats.
This vacuum does not have a HEPA filter.
Handheld vacuums and dustbusters are ideal when you need to vacuum on the go. In our opinion, the Shark UltraCyclone earned its spot on this list. This is a great vacuum to keep in your car and one of our editors swears by it. Its compact and super lightweight design (less than three pounds) made it easy to use and maneuver throughout our testing process.
The included crevice tool allows you to achieve an even deeper clean, perfect for those hard-to-reach areas in the car or between the seats. This vacuum performed exceptionally well on hard surfaces, too, and it’s great at cleaning up hair because hair doesn’t tangle or wrap around the brushes — a pet owner’s dream. In addition to the crevice tool, it comes with two brush attachments to really get at the fur. This vacuum’s battery lasted throughout our 25-minute testing process. Shark offers an impressive two-year limited warranty on this model, too.
Price at time of publish: $89.99
Type: Cordless handheld | Filter Type: Fabric | Wattage: 80W | Dimensions: 20.8 x 3.8 x 4.3 inches | Weight: 2.8 lbs. | Capacity: 0.11 gal | Included Accessories: Self-cleaning pet power brush, crevice tool, scrubbing brush
Things to Consider Before Buying a Vacuum
There are various types of vacuums: upright, corded, cordless, handheld, stick, and canister. There are even robot vacuums that do all the work for you — however, be ready to spend more than $200. While they all do the same job, choosing the right one for you and your space will make vacuuming a more pleasant experience (we promise). Generally, upright and canister vacuums have more power, but they are bulkier cleaning machines and usually need to be plugged in. So, evaluate how much suction power you need for your household's everyday messes. (Speaking of messes, if you want a product that both vacuums and mops, you may want to consider a wet-dry vacuum.) If convenience is your top priority, a cordless stick vacuum, like the Eufy by Anker HomeVac H30, gets the job done, is easy to maneuver, and is small enough to store almost anywhere in your home.
Ideally, you want a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter that can trap allergens and dirt particles. If your vacuum doesn’t have a HEPA filter, look for one with a filter that's easy to wash or replace. Some of the vacuums on this list don't have a HEPA filter, and that's part of what you sacrifice when opting for a cheaper vacuum, so consider that when making your choice. Our pick for pet owners, the Moosoo K23 Cordless Stick Vacuum, has a HEPA filter.
Purvi Parikh, MD, allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health, says a HEPA filter cleans your carpet and the air in your home, making it ideal for those with allergies. "It will trap particles and molecules, so they do not go back into the air," she says. "This helps with virus particles, which is big in a pandemic, and because viruses tend to be worse in allergy and asthma sufferers."
If your vacuum is cumbersome or hard to maneuver in your space, you’ll avoid using it. Consider what works best for your home and layout. If you have mobility issues or struggle with pushing a vacuum around, consider a canister vacuum like the Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Canister Vacuum Cleaner. Typically, upright vacuums are a little more difficult to maneuver, while cordless stick vacuums are easier to use. All of the vacuums on our list were easy to push around and navigate through our living room obstacle course.
Even at an under-$200 price point, vacuums are an investment. Look for warranties from vacuum companies to ensure you can get support if needed. Parikh says not to hesitate to replace your vacuum when necessary: "Most should be replaced every 5-7 years, depending on the model.” Even more reason to choose a budget-friendly option.
How We Tested
We conducted multiple in-depth vacuum tests over the course of a year, with each focusing on a different type of vacuum (upright, cordless stick, handheld, and general vacuums). Here are the specific areas we looked at:
Setup: For each test, we timed how long it took to put the vacuum together and then noted the ease of assembly.
Noise Level: We tested the noise level with a decibel reader to determine which vacuum was the quietest (and the loudest!) during operation.
Maneuverability: We set up an obstacle course of a coffee table, sofa, and armchair to test maneuverability around tight corners and under objects.
Cleaning Effectiveness: We tested each vacuum's effectiveness on both hard and carpeted surfaces. We poured coffee grounds, food, hair, popcorn kernels, and more on both surfaces to see how quickly the vacuum could suck up each mess. We also tried out the effectiveness of the various attachments.
Price: At the end of the test, we looked at the price and graded the vacuum's performance against its price tag to determine whether or not it was a good value. Every vacuum on this list is an incredible value.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you find a good vacuum under $200?
Yes, as our top picks for affordable vacuums range from $88 to $199. Our tests show you can get a great, quality vacuum for less than $200, so invest in the vacuum that suits your needs best.
Is Shark cheaper than Dyson?
Shark vacuums are cheaper than Dyson by a notable amount, but they are still fantastic, powerful vacuums — our top picks from Shark range from $99-$129. For reference, the cheapest Dyson vacuum is $399.
Is a HEPA filter important in a vacuum?
A HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter helps trap tiny dust and allergens instead of releasing them back into the air. Parikh says finding a vacuum with a HEPA filter is very important to ensure your home and the air inside of it are clean.
What type of vacuum is best for carpet vs hardwood floors?
An upright vacuum with a cord often provides the best suction for carpeted floors; however, there are some great options (like the Shark Navigator Freestyle) that are upright cordless with excellent suction. It also depends on what type of carpet you have, as some require more suction to lift embedded dirt. If you have hardwood floors, you have more flexibility as they don’t require the same suction needs; however, you want a vacuum that maneuvers easily around corners.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
L.A. Hubilla is a freelance commerce writer for PEOPLE who covers all topics, from beauty and fashion to the best home goods you can buy. For this article, she consulted multiple vacuum tests, compared quality across the board, and used our tested insights to determine which affordable vacuums made this list. Additional picks were added by Erin Johnson, senior commerce editor at PEOPLE, who has personally tested a multitude of vacuums over the years. She's written reviews about the best upright, cordless stick, robot, and handheld vacuums on Real Simple, The Spruce, PEOPLE, and more.
Meet Our Experts
Purvi Parikh, MD is an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health.
What Is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
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Read the original article on People.