You’ve got the bases covered, but then there are all the creases and crevices that your upright vacuum can’t get to no matter how hard you shove it in the corner. And that’s why the canister vacuum exists. The cleaning nozzle — which is attached to the vacuum via a long hose — makes it SO MUCH EASIER to work your way up a staircase, go across the tops of ceiling fans, get all up in your upholstery, plus a million other dust-bunny-prone places in your home.
The Good Housekeeping Cleaning Lab’s top pick is theMiele Complete c3. This cleaning beast was able to suck up dirt on plush carpets and bare floors alike. It’s backed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, too, so if your product ends up being defective within two years of buying, Good Housekeeping will send you a full refund. You can read more about our limited warranty here.
To inform their recommendations, the Cleaning Lab pros have looked at a wide array of canister models over the years, judging for how well they picked up debris, trapped allergens, and worked across various floor types. They also looked at how intuitive controls were, how heavy each vacuum was, and how simple it was to empty bags or dust bins and to clean filters. The Miele Complete C3 stood up to their criteria across the board. Here’s more info on why — plus four other canister vacs to consider — below:
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Top Lab Pick: Miele Complete C3
Miele Complete C3 Vacuum
Miele’s vacuums have won over our pros in past cleaning tests, and this Good Housekeeping Seal star is no exception. Knowing that super soft or plush carpets are often harder to clean because of dense tufts, the Miele Complete C3 comes with a brush roll that can flip between five different sizes to make plowing through plush easier. A metal telescoping wand (for tight spaces), a dusting brush, an upholstery tool, and a crevice tool are also included in its accessories set as is a Pure Suction Floorhead made for use on all smooth flooring. The vac uses a high filtration bag and HEPA AirClean filter that the company claims will retain 99.99% of dust from being released back into the air — a plus for allergy sufferers.
Weight: 20 pounds Cord Length: 24 feet
Bagless: Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Canister
If you don’t want to keep a stock of extra bags and filters for your vacuum, stick with this pick from Dyson. Instead, it comes with a built-in bin that you can empty over the trash can just by pushing a button. Our pros also recommend using the built-in scraper to clean off the filter to prevent microscopic dust from clogging up the vacuum and reducing suction. The Dyson Big Ball comes with a self-adjusting floor head that adjusts to create an optimal seal for whatever type of floor it’s cleaning and in our lab evaluations, it picked up an average of 99.9% of debris from hard wood floors.
Weight: 17.64 pounds Cord Length: 21.3 feet
Best for Pet Hair: Kenmore Bagged Canister with Pet PowerMate
Kenmore Bagged Canister with Pet PowerMate
No one understands the need for a good vacuum like a pet owner. This option from Kenmore comes with a metal telescoping wand and a motorized Pet PowerMate attachment that not only picks up fur, but also can suck up embedded dust and dirt on upholstery. Online reviewers loved that it picked up even the finest hair in one passand the HEPA bag and filter make for easy clean up (just throw the whole thing away!). It’s a bit heavy, but the foot controls make it easy to change the tools without having to bend over or lift up the canister.
Weight: 22.6 pounds Cord Length: 28 feet
Portable: Oreck Pro 5
Oreck Pro 5
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For smaller jobs, the Oreck Pro 5 weighs just 5.5 pounds (the lightest of our picks) and is more portable than the traditional canister. It comes with a shoulder strap and a telescopic extension wand for nabbing dust in hard-to-reach places like window frames, ceiling fans, and light fixtures. There’s also a 20-foot cord so you don’t have to worry if your messes (such as spills in the car) aren’t close to an outlet. While it can’t deep clean pile carpets, our pros were impressed with its pick-up on hard floor, flat carpets, and area rugs.
Weight: 5.5 pounds Cord Length: 20 feet
Lightweight: Eureka Mighty Mite
Eureka Mighty Mite
Apartment-dwellers or college students often don’t have the space for a canister vacuum, but this model is a lightweight and compact machine that doesn’t lack in power. It’s racked up a 3.8 out of 5 star rating from more than 5,000 reviewers who sing its praises for how easy it is to sweep up and down the stairs and its two wand attachments that have excellent pick up in tough-to-reach places. It’s best for quick clean-up jobs on bare floors or smooth surfaces and comes with a blower port for blowing leaves or debris in the garage. That said, you’ll want to stick with the Miele if you are looking to deep clean your carpet.
Weight: 9 pounds Cord Length: 20 feet
Click here to learn more about the Good Housekeeping Institute and our testing methods.
SARAH BOGDAN, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING INSTITUTE Product Analyst, Home Appliances & Cleaning Products LabSarah Bogdan, a trained mechanical engineer, researches and evaluates home appliances and cleaning tools for the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute — whether she’s assessing irons and vacuums or detergents and cleansers, she’s constantly analyzing data and tracking what’s buzzing with consumers.
For smaller messes, a good handheld vacuum offers a quick clean-up without hogging storage space. It won’t replace a full-size vacuum, but comes in handy for quickly tackling dry spills, tracked-in dirt, and pet hair stuck to just about everything. The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab tested some of the handheld vacuums available on the market, and these top picks won’t leave you disappointed.
Top Lab Pick: Bissell Pet Stain Eraser
The Bissell Pet Stain Eraser is perfect for those who are blessed with messy pets and carpets — and it’s a Good Housekeeping Seal holder, too. It doubles as a wet/dry vacuum and a stain remover and comes with a unique cleaning formula that stores on board to remove not only your pet’s messes, but food and other spills as well. This appliance works on carpet and upholstery, and it also includes a brush in case your mess needs a little extra scrubbing. You can even use it in the car! With an 18-minute runtime, you’ll be able to tackle multiple stains in one cleaning session.
Amazon’s Choice: Karcher TV1 Indoor Vacuum
$59.99 (25% off)
The Karcher Wet/Dry Vacuum can tackle most messes all around the house — from a toppled plant to a spilled glass of wine or a leaky dishwasher. Weighing in at about 6 lbs. with a conveniently placed handle, you can move around with this vacuum without breaking a sweat. It’s much more portable and easier to use than typical wet/dry vacuums, and you can easily store it when not in use. It comes with an entire toolkit of attachments, like extension wands that make tough spots easy to reach.
Best Value: Craftsman C3 19.2 Volt Hand Vacuum
For fans of Craftsman cordless power tools, this mini vac is the perfect add-on accessory for quick clean-ups. It uses the same battery pack as the other tools (which you can buy separately) and comes with a crevice tool, dusting brush, and a replaceable filter. In our tests, its battery life was longer than others we tested and it’s built to be used indoors and out — meaning it’ll come in handy after backyard parties in the summer.
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Bonus Attachments: Dyson V7 Handheld Vacuum
Yes, it’s pricey, but the Dyson V7 comes with features you just won’t get with other vacuums. It had a runtime of about 27 minutes in our tests (at the lowest setting). The cordless vac is lightweight and you can empty the dust cup without getting your hands dirty. It comes with six different attachments, and many more are available to purchase separately. By using the Dyson Mattress tool (sold separately), it can suck up dust and other surface allergens trapped in your mattress and other fabrics.
Long Reach: Black+Decker Cordless Hand Vacuum
When you’re wielding this Amazon best-seller, no dirt pile is out of reach. The long nozzle pivots a full 360 degrees to nab dust around chair legs, banister rails, and other tight spaces. And the pull-out crevice tool extends the vacuum’s reach into narrow spaces and along baseboards. With the flip-up dusting brush, you can gently remove dust from delicate furniture surfaces, carpet, and upholstery.
Mini Handheld: Bissell Pet Hair Eraser
The nubby rubber nozzle of this little (less than 4-pound) vacuum was made for those annoying pet hairs. It flexes and contours around chair arms and stair treads to get every last piece. For dry spills on bare floors (like kitty litter), remove the rubber tip and extend the wide, built-in crevice tool for quick pick-up. Even though it’s not cordless, the power cord is 16-feet long.
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Wrap-Around Hose: Black+Decker 20V Max Lithium Flex Vacuum
While the Good Housekeeping Institutehasn’t put this model through rigorous tests yet, we did evaluate a previous version. (We like how the hose wraps around the unit, making it easy to store and carry.) It’s a popular top-rated pick according to Amazon and Target shoppers. It has a 4-foot wrap-around hose and comes with a pet hair brush, too. One reviewer on Amazon says they are able to use it for up to 45 minutes at a time without signs of slowing down, while another wrote that his is still “going strong” after a year and a half of use.
CAROLYN FORTE, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING INSTITUTE Director, Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab and Textiles, Paper and Plastics LabCarolyn Forté, a certified consumer science expert, is the director of the Home Care & Cleaning Products Lab and the Textiles, Paper and Plastics Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
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I’ve been all too excited to share my kitchen reno journey with you guys and I have to tell you, one of the things I knew was coming was one epic post reno clean up.
So, rather than just doing it like a normal person (#youtubelife), we’re going to set up a bunch of cameras and film the process for you so that way you’ll know, step-by-step how to effectively clean up after any reno job.
This can be an overwhelming concept if it’s not well planned and executed, but planning for this ahead of time will save you loads of time and effort.
Post-reno Plan Ahead Checklist
Have a new furnace filter on standby. Once the reno is done, you’re going to change your furnace filter.
Keep your windows open as much as possible, the air circulating through will help with the dust as well as any smells from off-gassing paint or materials. Plus, who wants to smell reno dust all the time? If your contractor (or you) prefers to work with them closed, open them as soon as the work day is done.
Move as much stuff out of the way as possible to clear up your reno space. That way you’re not dealing with clutter while you are maneuvering heavy sharp tools and materials everywhere. Also, you can keep dust away from these items – well, you can try to.
Remember that dust is tiny and floats, so it’s going to end up pretty much everywhere, whether you want it to or not. You’re going to have to accept a certain level of dust until this whole deal is done.
Clean as you go – have a shop vac or broom handy and sweep or vacuum daily. Yes, it’s extra work but it is absolutely critical to keep dust to a minimum. You’ll traipse it around the house otherwise and it will get absolutely everywhere. If you have a contractor, you should ensure this is included as part of your agreement.
Consider a shop vac if you are going to have a lot of drywall dust – the fine particles can clog a regular vacuum filter and, well, kind of ruin it. So, a little dust is OK but a lot of it calls for a proper shop vac.
If your reno was enormous, consider calling in a duct cleaner. You can clean as much as you like, but ducts will house the dust sediment and that will get re-circulated throughout the house through your HVAC system.
Your vacuum should have a HEPA filter on it to get as many fine particles as it can. Shop vacs don’t come with these, at least not that I’ve seen, but your regular vacuum will.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s how to actually clean a space that’s been renovated.
Start with an empty space and always work your way from the top to the bottom, that’s the way dust settles.
Begin by vacuuming and wiping everything down, and cover all horizontal and vertical surfaces, since this dust sticks absolutely everywhere.
To clean walls and moulding, use a flat head mop. You can use it dry or slightly dampened to pick up the dust.
Next, clean your light fixtures if you have them. Remove the fixture cover and clean with warm soapy water, rinse, dry and replace. I have potlights so I am not going to do this, but if we had our old fixtures in here, you better believe I’d be doing this!
Then, section by section, working from top to bottom around the room, you are going to clean. Every single corner, nook and cranny will be touched by you because that dust gets absolutely everywhere. Start by vacuuming the surface with an appropriate attachment, then wiping with a dampened microfiber cloth. You can just use water since nothing is actually dirty, it’s just dusty. Now if it is dirty, go ahead and use some dish soap and water but that’s about all you need. You want to get every angle, side and ledge to ensure no dust is left behind. So for this cupboard, that means the top, side, front, inner door, hinge and each shelf. Closer to the bottom, you can ensure your baseboards are super clean by vacuuming with a crevice tool and wiping with a dampened cloth.
If there was upholstery, use an upholstery brush on your vacuum and run several passes over each area to ensure you get all that dust up. Upholstery can act as a sponge and absorb a lot of this so you have to really work it!
If you were covering any furniture, the same rules apply. Remove everything, vacuum the furniture, wipe every angle, and then of course, wipe each item as you replace it.
Light switch plates and vents can also be removed and wiped, then replaced, or just cleaned really well to remove any build up.
If you have appliances, move those out of the way and clean the floor space underneath to get rid of any excess dust that’s fallen behind.
Once this is all done, I recommend vacuuming once more. Dust will have fallen to the floor while you were cleaning, so get rid of it and keep it from re-settling on your freshly cleaned space.
And now, you can finally start replacing everything where it belongs. Remember to wipe each item with a damp microfiber cloth before doing so, because it’s quite likely that anything in the house will have a think coating of dust. Keep in mind that you may still see dust resettling over the next few days and within a week it will be gone. It is just so fine that it’s nearly impossible to remove it all with one go!
A barrel vacuum (sometimes called a cylinder or canister vac) is the typical workhorse vacuum you know and love, used for your big household cleans, with the main motor unit pulled behind you as you clean. They are:
much more popular than upright vacuums
easier than uprights to use in awkward places, such as stairs, car interiors and behind furniture
good for thorough cleaning of large areas of floor.
Upright vacuum cleaner – Vax Performance Floors and All VX6.
Upright vacuums have the motor situated in the body of the unit, so you don’t need to pull the barrel behind you. They are:
less popular than barrel models as they can be bulkier and harder to store
good for cleaning large level areas of carpet due to their built-in power heads
less convenient than barrels for cleaning awkward places such as stairs and behind furniture, but usually have a separate hose extension to help with these tasks.
Both barrel and upright vacs come in bagged (requires a disposable bag that holds the dust/dirt) and bagless varieties (dirt goes directly into a receptacle to be emptied).
Do I need a Dyson?
Dyson is by far the biggest-selling vacuum brand in Australia, bagless models are very popular and most other brands have had to follow up with bagless models of their own. And yet Dyson barrel and upright vacs (priced from $599) are rarely recommended in our vacuum reviews.
They often get good overall scores, but not quite good enough to be recommended: they’re usually not so good at picking up dirt from carpet, which is the main job for vacuum cleaners in most homes.
For barrel and upright vacuum cleaners, Dyson models are generally good, but you can find better (and cheaper) options.
How much should I pay?
The models in our latest barrel and upright vacuums review range in price from $85 to $1999.
Mid-priced vacuum cleaners usually offer the best combination of performance and value.
Usually the more expensive models, loaded up with the latest and most powerful technology, give the very best carpet cleaning.
Some low-cost vacuums compare favourably with pricier models, but generally the cheaper models are better suited to cleaning hard floors.
Bag, bagless or water filter: which is best?
Vacuums are generally bagless (with an on-board bin) or use bags to collect the dust, but there’s also a third type to consider: the water filter vacuum cleaner. These have an on-board water container to trap the dirt.
Bins and reusable cloth bags are messier and harder to empty, while bags are more user-friendly, but have ongoing costs and you may sometimes forget to to buy them.
You usually need specific bags for a given vacuum cleaner, and you might void your warranty if your machine breaks down and you’ve been using generic (unbranded) bags rather than the brand’s own bags.
You also need to consider the costs of bags on the environment (in our vacuum reviews we include the price of each bag where applicable and also make note of the company’s policy of bag disposal).
Models that use bags are much less popular than bagless models.
They tend to be less messy to empty. Bags generally come with sliding shutters to prevent dust from spilling out when removed.
With a bagged vacuum you can just put the full bag into the rubbish bin, rather than risk letting dust and allergens back into the air as you tip the vacuum bin into the rubbish. This could make a bagged model a better choice in an apartment, or when you don’t have a garden into which you can empty the vacuum bin dust.
Bags aren’t necessarily recyclable, but are usually biodegradable. If the bags are completely biodegradable, you can simply put them in your compost – your garden worms will thank you for the tasty snack.
When you change the disposable bag, you’re also changing and refreshing a large part of the filter system. However, the other filters still need replacing from time to time.
Generally a disposable bag is larger than a bin, so doesn’t need to be emptied as frequently.
This type of vacuum does involve an ongoing cost as you’ll need to buy bags from time to time, and it can be inconvenient if you run out.
Many warranties demand that you use only the manufacturer’s branded bags rather than generic replacements. This could apply if your machine breaks down due to dust entering the engine or a similar fault; it shouldn’t apply in unrelated cases such as wheels breaking or the power head failing.
Bagless models are by far the most popular type.
It’s easier to see and retrieve an item that’s been accidentally sucked up.
Disposing of the waste from a bin can release dust and allergens back into the area. But if you have a house with an outside area, this is less of an issue – you could even dump it straight into the garden or compost.
With a bin model you’ll need to either clean the main filter frequently, or replace it – a hidden extra cost.
Make sure you replace filters when necessary, as the vacuum’s performance could deteriorate otherwise.
Bin models generally involve fewer ongoing costs as you don’t need to keep buying bags.
Find out more about the pros and cons of bag vs bagless.
The container needs to be emptied after each use, and when finished for the day, you must clean and dry the container and filters to prevent mould growing in the vacuum cleaner. This means a bit more more work but is generally an easy process.
Water filter models can also usually be used for cleaning up wet spills.
They claim exceptionally good dust filtration and to be ideal for people with allergies, asthma and dust sensitivity. We haven’t tested this aspect, but note that many other bag or bagless models come with HEPA filters and could be just as good if not better for dust filtration.
Features to look for
Power head or turbo head
A power head has a built-in motor with a rotating brush. They are very good at removing dirt from carpet, as they agitate the carpet pile to release more dirt.
A turbo head also has a rotating brush but isn’t powered; it uses airflow to get the brush spinning. It’s usually less effective than a power head.
These attachments are designed to boost cleaning performance but tend to make the vacuum bulkier and/or heavier. And they may not be as easy to use or manoeuvre.
The basic hard floor/carpet cleaning head is usually all you’ll need for most floors. But when it comes to picking up pet hair from carpet, a model with a turbo brush or power head will often give a more thorough clean.
Tools such as a crevice nozzle (for narrow corners and around chair cushions), an upholstery brush (for curtains and soft furnishings) and a dusting brush can be very handy. Check whether these tools are supplied with the vacuum cleaner or if they’re optional extras.
This lets you adjust the wand to suit your height, so you can vacuum without bending your back too much. If you’re tall, try to test the model in-store to ensure it’s long enough for you.
Adjustable head height
This feature’s useful if you have carpets with different pile heights, and also for wooden or tiled floors.
A control on the wand that allows you to vary the suction for more delicate jobs, such as cleaning curtains.
This handy feature lets you know when the dust collector is full without having to open the vacuum.
A vacuum that can reverse the airflow to blow air continuously is a godsend when it’s time to blow up the airbed!
Onboard storage for accessories
Handy when you’re cleaning edges and upholstery, and/or dusting furniture whilst vacuuming.
Allows the wand to be attached neatly to the cleaner when storing. This is useful for keeping all the bits together.
This is much easier than winding up the cord manually! Upright vacs don’t have this feature, but you can wind the cord around two hooks to keep it tidy.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air filtration. It’s an international standard for filters that trap minute particles.
This type of filter can help if you have asthma or a dust allergy or sensitivity, but you have to clean or replace it regularly (about once a year) to ensure it works efficiently – which may mean more ongoing costs.
If you have asthma, a dust allergy or are simply sensitive to dust, it can help, though for asthma sufferers it’s not likely to be the complete answer to house dirt. Find out more about HEPA filters, asthma and allergies.
The Samsung Powerbot R7070 is a connected robot vacuum that gets a lot of things right, but middling battery life and some connectivity issues hold it back.
When buying robot vacuums, you want to know two things: How well does it clean, and can you leave it alone and trust it to do the job? The Samsung Powerbot R7070 fares well on both counts, with powerful suction and an intelligent camera-based navigation system. It automatically adjusts suction power based on flooring, deftly maneuvers around objects, and easily traverses various surface types. That’s not a bad deal at $699.99, especially when you consider Samsung’s top-of-the-line model, the Powerbot Turbo R9350, is a whopping $1,200. The only drawback is its Wi-Fi feature set is of limited usefulness because of Samsung’s buggy Smart Home app. And while you can technically control the vac with Amazon Alexa, it’s hit-or-miss in practice. Still, despite the connectivity hiccups, the Powerbot is an efficient cleaner, though the iRobot Roomba 960 remains our Editors’ Choice in this price range.
Design and Accessories
The Powerbot isn’t the sleekest robot vac in town. That’s partly due to its functional aesthetics and bulky form factor. It measures 3.8 by 13.4 by 13.7 inches (HWD), and weighs a hefty 9.5 pounds. That’s tall, but not so tall that it can’t slip under some lower profile furniture. It should be able to clean under most beds, though it might struggle with couches and coffee tables. Meanwhile, bulkier robots like the Dyson 360 Eye and Bobsweep PetHair Plus stand taller at 4.7 and 4.5 inches respectively.
While most robot vacuums are circular, the Powerbot is an elongated D-shape. Its front bumper is a straight edge, which helps it clean corners and get right up against walls. On top, you’ll find the camera in a recess behind the bumper. Below that you’ll find the top-loading dustbin and release latch. And at the rear is the touch display with a cleaning mode button, play/pause button, and a docking button. If you flip the Powerbot over, you’ll find a self-cleaning roller, drop sensors, charging contacts, two main wheels, one rear wheel, and an On/Off switch.
SEE ALSO: The Best Robot Vacuums of 2018
As for accessories, the Powerbot comes with your standard charging dock, an extra filter, and a remote control. Instead of a battery-powered virtual wall, you get a roll of magnetic tape that you can use to cordon off areas you don’t want the bot to clean.
Setup, App, and Alexa Integration
Out of the box, the Powerbot doesn’t require much setup. There are no side brushes or batteries to install, so it’s just a matter of plugging in the dock and letting the bot charge up. While you’re waiting, you can slide two AA batteries into the remote, or mark off problem areas (e.g., rooms with lots of cords, clutter, fragile items) with the magnetic tape so the Powerbot doesn’t enter those areas.
Once the vacuum is fully charged, you can press the Play/Pause button on the bot or remote to get started right away. Or, you can download the Samsung Smart Things or Samsung Smart Home app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. You’ll want the former if you have the SmartThings Hub, otherwise, you should download the latter. If you have the Hub, you can add the Powerbot to existing routines or schedules. For example, you can add the Powerbot to your “away” routine so that it cleans whenever you’re not at home. In either case, you’ll have to create a Samsung account, but after that the app will walk you through a relatively simple process to get the Powerbot hooked up to your Wi-Fi network.
The Smart Home app is simple to use, if a bit buggy. After adding the Powerbot, you can view a log of previous notifications or view the main robot vacuum control screen. From there you can steer the vacuum using the directional pad, start Auto Cean mode, or initiate Spot Clean mode. If you scroll down, you can see how much battery life remains, choose the suction power level, schedule cleans, toggle repeat cleans, or view history logs.
While it’s easier to schedule cleans through the app, just about everything else you can do from the included remote control. It looks like your average TV remote, complete with a directional pad and a big Pause/Play button in the center. Below the directional pad, there are six buttons: Clock, Remote, Repeat, Schedule, Spot, and Sound. Most of these buttons—like Clock, Schedule—are self-explanatory. Spot will initiate Spot Cleaning mode, while Repeat will make the Powerbot clean a room multiple times until the battery is low. Sound can be used to turn on or off sound effects, while Remote turns Wi-Fi on or off. At the top left you have the power button, and on the top right is the recharge button, which sends the robot back to its dock. Above the directional pad is a row of three buttons that you can use to toggle suction power.
When it comes to steering the bot, I actually preferred the physical remote. It’s intuitive, fits easily in your hand, and doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi. Conversely, the directional commands on the app screen didn’t always register in my tests. Plus, I noticed that the app frequently lost connection to the server, or crashed soon after opening.
Like iRobot’s Wi-Fi Roombas, you can control the Powerbot with Amazon Alexa. To do that, you just have to enable both the Samsung Smart Home (Basic) and Samsung Smart Home (Complete) skills in the Alexa app and link your Samsung account. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to start a clean, tell the bot to change to Max Power mode, or return to its dock for charging. Emphasis on should.
In practice, enabling the skills was easy, but I was never able to get my Amazon Echo Dot to reliably interact with the robot. Mostly, Alexa asked me to try again or said she couldn’t find the Powerbot. I had better luck when I asked Alexa to “open Samsung” or “ask Samsung for help” and responded to her prompts. To be fair, using Alexa to control smart home products always has some quirks. However, I could do a lot more with iRobot’s Roombas with fewer errors overall.
The Powerbot is pretty smart, as robot vacuums with cameras usually are. Instead of randomly pinballing around a room, the Powerbot uses its camera to clean more methodically, weaving back and forth in a snake-like pattern. And because of its flat edge, it does a better job of getting up right into a corner or against a wall. You can also set it to make multiple passes at a room in case it misses something the first time around.
I ran three separate cleans at my apartment, and was pleased that the Powerbot was able to easily navigate across different floor types. It handled the raised transition between my hallway and kitchen with aplomb. The vacuum also performed well on darker flooring. My living room rug has tripped up many a robovac due to its black border and dark geometric patterns—including the Roomba 690, Bissell SmartClean 1974, and the Bobsweep Bobi Pet. However, the Powerbot cleaned it just fine. Not only that, I noticed it automatically increased suction power on the rug and lowered it when it moved to hardwood.
Another benefit of camera-based navigation is that the Powerbot, while powerful, didn’t bang up my furniture or move things where they don’t belong. In most cases, it gently navigated around obstacles, though I did have to rescue it once or twice from between chair legs. Conversely, random cleaners will sometimes push objects into another room, like the Roomba 690, or mow down an innocent dining room chair, like the Bobi Pet. Also, when it comes to automatic docking, the Powerbot was always able to find its way home without any needing any help. If you properly prep your apartment, you should have no qualms about letting the bot run while you go about your business.
The vacuum also gets points for its top-loading cyclone dustbin and washable filter. It’s very easy to remove, and washing the filter makes maintenance more cost-effective. However, while the Powerbot is a powerful cleaner, its dustbin doesn’t hold a whole lot of dirt. If you need a heavy clean or have hairy pets, you should be prepared to empty the bin more frequently. While pricier, the Dyson 360 Eye can suck up more dirt, dust, and hair at a go.
Another minor issue: Scheduling options with the Powerbot are more limited than average. While you can set a one-time or daily clean, you can’t customize it by day of the week like you can with most other connected robovacs, including the Roomba 690, Roomba 960, and Dyson 360 Eye. For instance, if you only want it to clean on its own on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm, you’re out of luck.
Battery life on the Powerbot is middling. In Quiet mode you can get about 90 minutes, which is decent for a robot vacuum. On Normal mode, however, you’ll only see about an hour of cleaning. And if you want to clean on the Turbo setting, you get a dismal 30 minutes—that’s worse than the Dyson 360 Eye’s 45 minutes on the equivalent setting. In testing, I averaged somewhere between 60 and 70 minutes using a mix of modes. That’s not horrible, but ideally we like to see closer to 90 minutes of clean time. You might be tempted to use Quiet mode to get the longest runtime possible, and that should suffice if you already have relatively clean floors and minimal carpeting. However, if you do have carpets, pets, or persistent dust bunnies, you’ll want to at least keep it on Normal.
No vacuum, let alone a robot vacuum, is truly quiet. That being said, the Powerbot on Quiet mode is about as close as you can get to unnoticeable. Even in a small apartment, I had to strain to hear it in another room. The only vacuum I’ve tested that’s quieter is the Eufy RoboVac 11. On Normal mode, it’s about as loud as any other bot, while of course, Max mode is about as loud as your traditional stick vacuum.
The Samsung Powerbot R7070 is a solid robot vacuum. It navigates well, is a superb cleaner, and is easily controlled via remote. The only issue is that its Wi-Fi features aren’t fully there yet. The Samsung Smart Home app frequently loses connection to the server, and Alexa integration is a bit clunky in practice.
For the same price, the iRobot Roomba 960 delivers a similar performance and many of the same Wi-Fi features, but also a painless user experience. Plus, you get maps of areas cleaned, more scheduling options, and you can control it with both Alexa and Google Assistant. When it comes down to it, the Roomba 960 makes better use of its connected features, which is why it remains our Editors’ Choice pick for high-end robovacs. That being said, the Powerbot might be a better choice if you have a lot of tight corners or are already invested in Samsung’s smart home ecosystem. This is especially true if you use the Smart Things Hub to automate your daily routines and schedules.
If you’re not looking to spend the big bucks, you should consider the iRobot Roomba 690 for an affordably priced Wi-Fi-enabled bot. And if you don’t need Wi-Fi, it’s hard to beat the Eufy RoboVac 11, our Editors’ Choice for budget robot vacuums.
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About the Author
Victoria SongAnalyst, Hardware
Victoria Song is an analyst on the Hardware team at PCMag. Since graduating from Temple University’s Japan Campus in 2010, she’s been found reporting and editing in every corner of the newsroom at The ACCJ Journal, The Japan News, and New York bureau of The Yomiuri Shimbun. In her spare time, she bankrupts herself going to theater, buying expansions to board games, and cleaning out the stacks at The Strand. Someday, she hopes Liverpool FC will win the league, but she isn’t holding her breath.
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Vacuums have come a long way. You no longer have to suffer the indignity of dragging around an unwieldy plastic hose connected to a clumsy, wheeled canister the size of a Galapagos tortoise. In fact, you don’t even need to get off of the couch. Though it still feels like a relatively new product category, there are several good robot vacuums available to help you dispose of dust, pet hair, and other debris in your home—without needing to lift a finger. Which is the right one for you? We’ve rounded up our highest-rated robot vacuums, and provided a few pointers to help you find just the bot you’re looking for.
Robot Vacuums vs. Cansiter and Upright
Unlike more traditional canister or stick models, robot vacuums are autonomous and (for the most part) intelligent. The vacuums we’ve tested are equipped with lasers, motherboards, sensors, and even Wi-Fi to navigate around your home without the need for assistance. With a few exceptions, you barely have to interact with them at all.
Most robot vacuums come with charging docks and can even charge themselves. Just pick a robot-accessible spot for the dock, and the bot will return on its own before it runs out of juice. When it does, it will sit there until it has enough energy to go back out and continue to bust dust from where it left off. You can also set schedules for most bots to wake up and start a cleaning job, so it can take place while you’re out of the house. That means you can potentially avoid all physical interaction until the vacuum needs to be emptied—you still can’t take that step out of the equation.
Also unlike many traditional vacuums, all of the robots included here don’t use bags to hold the dust, hair, and other debris they suck up. Instead, they use an easy-to-remove dustbin you can simply eject and empty into the nearest garbage can. And many come equipped with HEPA filters that prevent allergens from spreading through the air.
Are Robot Vacuums Worth It?
A robot vacuum is usually higher in price than a traditional vacuum (though not always; the Dyson Cinetic Animal + Allergy costs $700). The models listed here range from under $200 to $1,000. That’s a pretty sizable investment, even on the lower end. Let’s consider just what you get for the price.
Unless you really love to vacuum, the task itself is pretty mundane. Depending on the size of your house, a robot vacuum can save you anywhere from minutes to hours of your time every week by taking care of a pretty thankless chore. That alone is reason enough for some people to consider one.
In addition, robot vacuums have reached the point where they’re basically just as effective and powerful as regular vacuums. The robots rounded up here use filters, side brushes, and spinning brushes that will do an equally good job of cleaning your home as their upright equivalents. They’re also fairly compact, so they won’t take up much space in your storage closet. And they’re able to travel underneath most couches and tables, so you don’t have to rearrange furniture. Even if you do, the more advanced robots on this list use memory banks to note where furniture is placed, so as not to bump into anything on a future pass.
Also worth mentioning: Smart robot vacuums are much more affordable now. What are the benefits of connectivity? Most Wi-Fi vacuums can be programmed and controlled remotely using your smartphone. Some can even be activated with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.
Premium connected bots can generate statistics and maps of the areas they’ve cleaned. Some of Neato’s Botvacs even create personalized floor plans that eliminate the need for you to use physical “virtual walls” to cordon off sections of your home. Meanwhile, the Samsung Powerbot R7070 can easily integrate into existing routines with other smart home devices if you have a SmartThings Hub. So while connected bots are generally pricier, they do come with some nice perks.
Which Vacuum Is Best for Pet Hair? Hardwood?
Generally speaking, all the vacuums we’ve tested can handle hardwood floors and pet hair without issue. Floor-cleaning robots like the iRobot Braava Jet specialize in mopping and sweeping. They aren’t eligible for this list because they don’t suck up dirt and debris, but they will get your hardwood floors nice and shiny. Some vacuums, like the Bobsweep PetHair Plus and Bobi Pet come with mop attachments, but they’re not as effective overall.
For more, see our list of The Best Robot Mops.
How We Test Robot Vacuums
We test robot vacuums in PC Labs and in our actual homes, with the following categories in mind: battery life, navigation, setup, suction, and if it supports Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the app experience.
Chances are you don’t want to babysit your vacuum. That means you’re looking for a robot that can traverse different floor types or maneuver around furniture without needing help. This is especially true if you have dark flooring, as infrared sensors might confuse a black carpet with a ledge, and refuse to pass over it. We test vacuums on hardwood, tile, and darkly colored rugs to see how well they manage the transitions across various surfaces.
Battery life is also an important factor to consider based on the size of your home. In general, most robot vacuums can run for at least 60 to 70 minutes, which should be enough to tackle many apartments and single-floor homes. If you have a bigger living area, you’ll want to look for something in the 90-minute range so it can hit every room in the house before requiring a recharge. To test this, we charge the battery to full, start a cleaning cycle, and time how long the robot runs before it needs to be docked. And if a robot says it can automatically dock, we check to see if it can easily find its way home.
Another note on battery life: The number you see listed in the chart above is our tested result in normal mode. High-power or other modes often bring that number down a bit.
Most robot vacuums are reliable when it comes to getting rid of standard household detritus, so you don’t really have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to suck up lint, dirt, or hair. Since we test all the robot vacuums in the same home environment, we check how full dustbins get and whether obvious debris like food particles and visible dust bunnies are picked up. We also note whether the robot uses a random or methodical cleaning pattern. Random cleaners often run across the same space multiple times but take a longer time to get everything. Methodical cleaners don’t take as long, but may only pass through a room once unless programmed otherwise.
Finally, we test how easy it is to set up, program, and control the robot. Some only require an initial battery charge, while others ask you to install side brushes and batteries. For connected bots, app design and reliable Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity are major factors that impact your experience. We provide a detailed analysis of our experience in each review, and you can see our Vacuum Product Guide for the latest models.
Best Robot Vacuums Featured in This Roundup:
Ecovacs Deebot N79S Review
MSRP: $229.00 $215.00 at Amazon
Pros: Affordable. Powerful suction. App control. Amazon Alexa compatibility.
Cons: Finicky Wi-Fi setup. Minor navigation issues.
Bottom Line: The Ecovacs Deebot N79S robot vacuum offers powerful cleaning, app control, and Alexa voice command support for an unbeatable price.
iRobot Roomba 960 Review
MSRP: $699.99 $549.00 at Amazon
Pros: Good navigation capabilities. Handles different floor types well. Relatively quiet. Works with smartphone app and voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Shows map of cleaned areas.
Cons: Occasionally gets stuck under low furniture. Can’t steer using phone app.
Bottom Line: The iRobot Roomba 960 isn’t cheap, but thanks to a mix of premium features and performance, it’s the best high-end robot vacuum for the price.
iRobot Roomba i7+ Review
MSRP: $949.99 $949.99 at Best Buy
Pros: Self-emptying dustbin. Multistory mapping. Excellent camera-based navigation. Automatic room recognition. Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.
Cons: Expensive. Noisy. Clean Base is bulky.
Bottom Line: With the ability to empty its own dustbin, iRobot’s Roomba i7+ is the first robot vacuum we’ve tested that truly does all of the work for you.
Neato Botvac D4 Connected Review
MSRP: $499.99 $499.99 at Amazon
Pros: Excellent laser navigation. Supports cleaning maps. Virtual No-Go boundary lines. Smart charging. Alexa and Google Assistant compatible. Integrates with IFTTT and the Apple Watch.
Cons: Battery life could be longer. Loud.
Bottom Line: The Neato Botvac D4 Connected isn’t cheap, but it offers virtual boundaries and customized cleaning maps for less than any other robot vacuum.
Neato Botvac D7 Connected Review
MSRP: $799.00 $813.99 at Amazon
Pros: Excellent navigation capabilities and battery life. Detailed, interactive cleaning maps. App-based virtual boundaries. Expanded third-party integration including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT.
Cons: Expensive. Small dustbin. Loud.
Bottom Line: Neato’s Botvac D7 Connected offers interactive cleaning maps, long battery life, and better third-party smart home integration than any other robot vacuum.
Eufy RoboVac 11s Review
MSRP: $219.99 $220.44 at Amazon
Pros: Affordable. Compact. Quiet. Strong cleaning performance. Good battery life.
Cons: No virtual barriers or app control. Limited scheduling options.
Bottom Line: The Eufy RoboVac 11s is an affordable, frills-free robot vacuum that’s small enough to clean under even the lowest furniture.
iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review
MSRP: $249.99 $159.99 at Amazon
Pros: Compact size. Long battery life. Supports scheduling and multiple cleaning modes.
Cons: Occasionally became lost returning to charging dock in testing.
Bottom Line: The iLife A4s is a compact, no-frills robot vacuum cleaner that sucks up dirt and debris without emptying your wallet.
iRobot Roomba 690 Review
MSRP: $374.99 $299.00 at Amazon
Pros: Relatively affordable. Controllable via phone app. Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. Powerful suction.
Cons: Navigation issues with dark flooring and docking in testing.
Bottom Line: iRobot’s Roomba 690 vacuum offers lots of functionality for the price, including control via smartphone and support for voice commands through popular smart home devices.
Neato Botvac D5 Connected Review
MSRP: $599.00 $476.99 at Best Buy
Pros: Relatively compact. Good at cleaning edges and underneath cabinets. Excellent battery life. Sleek, easy-to-use app.
Cons: Pricey. No steering options. Dustbin is small and finicky to remove.
Bottom Line: The Neato Botvac D5 Connected is an all-around solid robot vacuum with accurate laser navigation and built-in Wi-Fi for app control from your phone.
Samsung Powerbot R7070 Review
MSRP: $699.99 $499.99 at Amazon
Pros: Powerful suction. Flat edge works well in tight spaces. Manual steering option. Smart navigation over different floor types. App control.
Cons: Middling battery life. Wi-Fi features aren’t utilized well. App crashed often and frequently needed to reconnect in testing. Alexa integration is unreliable.
Bottom Line: The Samsung Powerbot R7070 is a connected robot vacuum that gets a lot of things right, but unimpressive battery life and some connectivity issues hold it back.
CR’s tests of stick vacuums from Shark, Dirt Devil, and Bissell show there are a lot of vacuum options for small messes
By Haniya Rae
Last updated: February 06, 2019
“In the past few years, stick vacuum suction has gotten a lot stronger, especially in battery-powered stick vacuums,” says Frank Rizzi, a senior Consumer Reports test-lab engineer who tests vacuums. “If you don’t have wall-to-wall carpet, these machines can do a lot of cleaning.”
Furthermore, cordless stick vacuums are taking over. According to the marketing research firm Gap Intelligence, more than 100 different cordless stick vacuums are currently on sale at major retailers compared with less than 30 corded stick vacuums.
Runtime for cordless stick vacuums varies widely. In Consumer Reports’ tests, some stick vacs lost power in as little as 15 minutes, while others ran for 47 minutes. Some manufacturers provide an extra battery with their cordless stick vacuums so you can have one charging while you’re cleaning with the other.
Consumer Reports has tested dozens of stick vacuums from such brands as Bissell, Black+Decker, Shark, Dirt Devil, Hoover, and Dyson.
How We Test Stick Vacuums
Because stick vacuums don’t have the same deep-carpet cleaning capability as full-sized models, CR conducts a carpet surface cleaning test, evaluating how well the machines pick up sand, rice, and cereal within a certain amount of time. (In the more challenging embedded-dirt test for full-sized vacuums, our engineers try to clean up sand that’s been ground into pile carpet.)
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Quietest Vacuums From CR’s Tests
In our bare-floor cleaning test for cordless stick vacuums, we scatter litter on a tiled floor with grout grooves, which increases the difficulty of the test. We also conduct a pet-hair removal test on medium-pile carpet as well as a clean emissions test to see whether a vacuum is releasing the dust that you just sucked up.
Read more about our vacuum tests in this handy guide to how CR tests vacuums.
Below are the best cordless stick vacuums from CR’s tests listed in alphabetical order.
Best Stick Vacuums From CR’s Tests
Bissell Air Ram 1984 CR’s take: For an affordable price, like others on this list, you get a top-notch and self-standing cordless stick vacuum. The Bissell Air Ram 1984 scores an Excellent rating on our carpet cleaning test and is just as good at bare floors. It has the longest runtime among the cordless vacuums in our labs with a charge that lasts 47 minutes. Even though it’s a basic model, the Bissell Air Ram has held its place near the top of our ratings for some time. But unlike other stick vacs, it doesn’t convert to a hand vacuum or come with any accessories, it’s just a stick vac.
Bissell Air Ram 1984 Stick vacuums
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Black+Decker Smartech HSVJ520JMBF27 CR’s take: Though not as impressive overall as the Bissell Air Ram, the Black+Decker Smartech is impressive at cleaning bare floors and earns an Excellent at suctioning up pet hair, but not quite as good at cleaning carpet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do as well removing dirt from around the edges of a room. On the plus side, this vacuum has a convertible hand vacuum for getting into tight spaces, and a swiveling powerhead to help you easily maneuver around furniture. At 20 minutes, the battery life is shorter than that of some of the other models we tested, so you’ll have to be quick at cleaning.
Black+Decker Smartech HSVJ520JMBF27 Stick vacuums
Price: $200 Shop
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Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus BD22510PC CR’s take: At this price, and we’ve seen it on sale for even less, the Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus is packed with cleaning power. In fact, it aces every one of our tests—carpet, bare floors, and earns an Excellent rating for pet hair. Plus it’s whisper quiet. It’s only so-so on edges, however. Runtime is 19 minutes and it takes 3 hours to recharge. At 6.3 pounds, it’s easy to maneuver and the swivel head helps when you’re vacuuming around furniture. The Dirt Devil converts to a hand vac and comes with an electric-powered brush and a crevice tool for deeper cleaning.
Dirt Devil Reach Max Plus BD22510PC Stick vacuums
Price: $130 Shop
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Shark IonFlex 2X DuoClean Ultra-Light Cordless IF251 CR’s take: One of the best stick vacs in our ratings, the DuoClean IF251 can get around tight corners with ease, and is stellar at picking up pet hair from both bare floors and carpets. In terms of picking up debris on carpet, this stick earns a Very Good rating, meaning it picked up most of the embedded talc in our tests. Like other Shark stick vacs, it has a dual brush roll that includes a bristle brush roll and a soft brush roll which helped it excel on the carpet and pet hair tests. Shark vacuums earn our top ratings for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.
Shark IonFlex 2X DuoClean Ultra-Light Cordless IF251 Stick vacuums
Price: $450 Shop
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Shark Ion F80 Cord-Free MultiFLEX IF281 CR’s take: Shark’s MultiFLEX IF281 is another example of a great stick vacuum that excels at bare floor cleaning and pet hair pick up. The MultiFLEX IF281 earns an Excellent rating in our emissions tests, meaning it did not distribute much dust back into the environment as it rolled over piles of debris. It’s not the best—but not the worst—at carpet cleaning, so you might want to stick with bare floors or choose a different stick that scores higher on our carpet cleaning tests. Shark vacuums earn the best ratings for both reliability and owner satisfaction.
Shark ION F80 Cord-Free MultiFLEX IF281 Stick vacuums
Price: $450 Shop
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Shark Ion X40 Cord-Free Ultra-Light IR141 CR’s take: The Shark Ion X40 earns an Excellent rating for bare floor cleaning and is one of the quietest stick vacuums that we’ve tested. It doesn’t do so well when it comes to carpet, so those with lots of carpeted floors should steer clear (or look at a similar Shark model, such as the DuoClean Ultra-Light Cordless IF251). Our testers especially liked the duo clean power head that includes a bristle and a soft roller, which help it pick up both fine and large particles. For those concerned about the longevity of their vacuum, Shark as a manufacturer earns our top ratings for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.
Shark ION X40 Cord-Free Ultra-Light IR141 Stick vacuums
Price: $300 Shop
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Shark IonFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light IF201 CR’s take: While it’s called ultra-light, the Shark IonFlex weighs 8.7 pounds, which is average for models in our cordless stick vacuums 6 pounds and over but several pounds heavier than the truly lightweight models in our tests. This well-rated Shark cleans up pet hair like a champ, earning an Excellent rating on that test. And like the top-performing corded SharkFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded HV391, it has two cleaning speeds and converts to a hand vacuum when you need to get into tight spaces. Unfortunately, you can’t remove the brush roll for cleaning, so you’ll need scissors to cut away strands of hair and fur. The lithium-ion battery runs an average of 15 minutes when fully charged, on the skimpy side. But unlike some stick vacs, you can vacuum at any speed without sacrificing runtime. Shark vacuums earn our top ratings for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.
Shark IONFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light Cordless IF201 Stick vacuums
Price: $370 Shop
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Shark Rocket Complete with DuoClean HV380 (Walmart) CR’s take: This top Shark is a corded model that converts to a hand vac and comes with a 12-inch crevice tool. It earns an Excellent rating for its performance on our carpet cleaning tests—if you have wall-to-wall carpets and need to pick up small messes, this might be a good choice for you. This vacuum wasn’t so great at keeping emissions down, however, so if you are sensitive to dust you might want to find a different vac. This model has the option of compact storage, and the large dirt chamber can be emptied with just one step.
Shark Rocket Complete with DuoClean HV380 (Walmart) Stick vacuums
Price: $240 Shop
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Inside the Vacuum Test Lab
In the market for a new vacuum cleaner? CR expert, Sue Booth, shows “Consumer 101” TV show host Jack Rico how Consumer Reports puts models through the paces.