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Best 10 Vacuums for Small Apartments in 2017 | Up to 70% Off | SheKnows Best Reviews

The Best Vacuum Cleaners for Small Apartments

If you live in New York City, or any other typical urban city, you know you'll have to invest more effort to keep your apartment clean than living in the suburbs. There's more congestion, more motor vehicles--and more pollution. Also, if you have a small, studio apartment in Manhattan, dust and soot tends to accumulate more quickly than in a spacious apartment in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or Staten Island. Also, the neighborhood you live in will influence the air quality, and how much dust accumulates: If you have an apartment overlooking Central Park or the Hudson, the chances are that the air quality is better than in Midtown or in Greenwich Village. All this will influence your decision when buying a vacuum cleaner—whether the dust and grime will require you to vacuum often, or whether you can get away with vacuuming only occasionally.

Also, take into account time constraints when considering how often you expect to vacuum: If you'll vacuum every day or so, the vacuum cleaner can be a small-capacity model. If you vacuum once a week, it might tend to fill up the vacuum cleaner's bag or the removable dirt container. You'll need a greater capacity vacuum in that case.

To help you make the right choice, we have put together this buying guide including everything a city dweller in the Big Apple should know about vacuum cleaners that they should consider to make a good investment. It'll help you:

  • Choose the right type of vacuum cleaner,
  • See useful tips about that type of vacuum cleaner,
  • Read reviews of different brands of vacuum cleaners, and what customers are saying,
  • Select the right brand of vacuum cleaner, and
  • Compare prices and find the best deals.

Considerations When Buying a Vacuum Cleaner for a NYC Apartment

  • What Design to Choose: The three major designs of corded vacuum cleaners are canister models, upright models, and handheld models:
    • Canister: A canister model involves a stationary drum, called the canister, with a flexible, telescoping hose going out of it. The canister stays put, and you do the vacuuming by moving the hose around, vacuuming up the debris along the way. Look at the length of the telescoping hose--that will tell you how far you can vacuum from where the canister is situated. You can find models, such as the Bissell Zing Bagless Canister Vacuum, where the hose can extend your reach by as much as 8 feet.
    • Upright: An upright model requires you to push the vacuum along while in a standing position. An upright will therefore be less maneuverable—unless it has a detachable head. So, in an apartment, you'll probably prefer the canister models. Since you just have to move the hose around, you have the freedom of vacuuming drapes, curtains, upholstery, and more.
    • Handheld: There are also corded and cordless, handheld models, which give you even more liberty. The cordless versions will use a rechargeable battery, which frees you up from having to be attached to a outlet all the time. The small size also makes them more manageable. But they have less suction power, and also less capacity to store up dirt. That will require emptying them out more often. They are ideal for small jobs, where you don’t want to have to take out a 20-pound upright or canister vacuum cleaner. You won’t want a handheld for all of your vacuuming needs, but it can certainly help as a backup.
    • Hybrid models: A nice innovation are the upright and canister models that convert into a handheld model with the press of a button. Examples of this design are the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional and the Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik Stick Vacuum. The upright will thus have a telescoping hose, to function as a canister vacuum, and will also detach, to function as a hand-held vacuum.
  • Surface: You may have to vacuum on a hardwood floor, tile floor, carpet, or linoleum—the floor surface enters into your considerations of which vacuum to buy.
    • Wall-to-wall carpeting: If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, then you can suffice with an upright vacuum that is intended only for carpets—they employ a bristled, rotating bar that rotates at 1000s of times per minute, called the “beater bar” or “brush roll” which will dig into the carpet to lift out the dirt. That's good for a plush carpet—but take note that this brush roll design will scratch a linoleum or hardwood surface and ruin the finish. There should be a button or lever on the vacuum cleaner that you can manipulate when changing surfaces. There are many automatic vacuum cleaners, such as the Panasonic Model MC-UG223 Upright Vacuum Cleaner that doesn’t even require you to adjust settings when changing from hardwood floor to carpet. The vacuum cleaner adjusts the height of the bristle bar itself. Similarly, the Hoover REACT vacuum cleaner has “Floor Sense” technology--sensors which allow it to adjust automatically to the floor surface. It slows down the vacuum down when it runs on hardwood floors, so as not to scatter debris, and speeds up when going on carpets, so as to agitate the carpet's fibers better and get out the dirt.
    • Beware with some carpets: It is advised not to use a brush-roll even on certain types of carpets, such as Berber or oriental carpets. The beating of the brush roll actually will damage the carpet. For these special carpets, raise the brush roll and just employ suction to get the carpet clean.
    • Brushroll cleaner: After continued use, you’ll notice that a brushroll will get entangled with hair and the like, seriously compromising its efficiency. That might require you detaching the brush roll and cutting off the hairs with a knife or pair of scissors. (Make sure you do so only if the vacuum cleaner is disconnected from the electricity!) Some vacuum cleaners have a feature to automatically clean hair and thread tangled around the brush roll. Examples include the Electrolux Precision Brushroll Clean and the Eureka Brushroll Clean. They have a button that you press that activates a cutting tool. It cuts the hairs that are trapped in the brush roll and dislodges them.
    • Hardwood and Linoleum: As we mentioned, the wrong type of vacuum cleaner can scratch hardwood and linoleum floors. If you want to vacuum a hardwood or linoleum floor, it is better to choose a lightweight vacuum, without a beater bar. Alternatively, employ a vacuum which adjusts to the floor type automatically, or manually by pressing a button.
    • Wheels on the vacuum cleaner: Another possibility to not damage hardwood or linoleum floors is an upright with rubber (and not plastic) wheels. Also, look for a vacuum with padding in the front, so as to eliminate the possibility of scratching the floor as you advance through the house.
  • Weight: If you'll be using an upright model, you clearly will prefer a lightweight design, to reduce your exertion to a minimum. If it can convert to a hand-held vacuum cleaner when necessary, then that's an even bigger plus. The Dyson V6 Animal vacuum cleaner is an example of Dyson innovation. Even though it should strictly be considered an “upright”, since you carry the vacuum's receptacle along with you when vacuuming, all of its weight is distributed in the handle. The result is a lightweight vacuum cleaner--only 5 pounds!--with a long wand, which is suitable for vacuuming curtains or other surfaces that are at a higher location.
  • Silent: A silent model gives you the freedom of using the vacuum cleaner any time you want, without any concern that it will disturb the neighbors. There are models where the motor is sealed—these tend to be more quiet.

What People are Saying

Inexpensive small vacuum: If you’re looking for an inexpensive yet efficient vacuum, consider the Dirt Devil Vacuum Cleaner Quick-Lite Plus Bagless Cordless Upright (Cat. No. UD20015). It is a surprisingly powerful vacuum despite its small size. It weighs only 9 pounds, which is also a big plus. The dust cup has a large capacity, that some customers saw that it only had to be emptied after six times vacuuming. One of the drawbacks was the noise factor, even though it was efficient in vacuuming a carpet.

On-board storage: Some customers said that they admired the Panasonic MC-UG471’s engineering design--especially the fact that it has “on-board storage”: you can put the vacuum attachments on the vacuum cleaner itself. You can access and attach the attachment you need when you need it. For example, you can vacuum your carpet, and immediately attach the upholstery attachment when you want to vacuum your couch or lounge chair.

Removing pet hair: If you have pets in your apartment, then you'll have the added challenge of removing pet hair. People praised the efficiency of the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away Upright Vacuum for its efficiency in removing cat hair (one customer has as many as 8 cats in the house!). It also is able to compact the dirt and hair in the dust cup, even after the cup has filled up. Another Shark product, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional with Dust-Away has a special attachment just for removing pet hair. The attachment uses static electricity generated by a rotating rubber roller, which works together with the suction to dislodge pet hair.

Useful Tips for Shoppers

Things you shouldn't vacuum: Despite the versatility of today’s vacuums, there are certain objects you should pick up with the old-fashioned broom and dustpan:

  • Large pieces of glass: These can puncture the vacuum’s bag or the hose, causing major damage. Alternatively, they can get stuck inside.
  • Fine dust: You’d assume that your vacuum is made to pick up dust. But too fine dust will tend to clog the filter quickly. Even if you can wash the filter, a broom and dustpan would be less work in this situation.
  • Wet food: Vacuuming up a liquid in a regular vacuum cleaner can cause a short circuit in the vacuum cleaner's fan. It can also pose a risk of electrocution. Even if what you're vacuuming is just moist (for example, soggy breakfast cereal), it can cause the bag to become moldy. In these cases, fall back on using a dustpan here as well.
  • Small metallic items: These would include coins, paper clips and the like. Since the motor will draw in a powerful draft of air, these pieces of metal are liable to break pieces of plastic in the vacuum.

Wide cleaning path: The width of the vacuum’s nozzle determines the width of its cleaning path. You can find nozzles that are between 11” to 14” in width. The wider the nozzle, the more quickly you will be able to vacuum your floor. But, too wide a nozzle might make it difficult to get into tight places. The Dirt Devil SimpliStik is a stick vacuum with a 9-inch cleaning path, while the Hoover Linx Cordless Stick Vacuum has an 11-inch cleaning path. Make your decision based on how much furniture you have, and whether a wider cleaning width is to your benefit.

Retractable cord: If you have a corded vacuum cleaner, you would like a long cord, so that you can reach every part of the room without having to look for another outlet. But, a long cord might also be a hazard: you don’t want to risk tripping over the cord. So many corded vacuums have a retractable cord feature, which zips the cord back into the vacuum's base. An example of this design is the Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Rewind Plus Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner (Cat. No. UH70120).

Trapping the dust and allergens: If you have a problem with allergies, people notice that a vacuum cleaner that uses disposable bags (as opposed to a dirt cup) tends to trap allergens better. You pop the bag out and dispose of it—you just have to worry about buying new bags every so often. Look for a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (= High efficiency particulate air) filter. That is a US government standard that a filter must remove all particles (up to a certain size) from the air that passes through it. HEPA filters are typically made from fiberglass, where the distance between the fibers is smaller than 0.3 micrometers. It can remove 99.97% of the particles that are 0.3 micrometers or more in size. This is sufficient for blocking pollen, dust mites, and other allergens.

Washable filters: You'll see that some vacuum cleaners have “washable” filters, which you wash and put back in place. They will be more expensive, but that will quickly pay for itself in the fact that you don't have to replace them periodically.

Attachments: Vacuums come with attachments that make them suitable for many odd cleaning tasks around the house. The attachments that you will typically find on a vacuum cleaner are:

  • Extension wand--which allows you to reach high places, or to vacuum underneath furniture without having to move your couch or recliner.
  • Crevice tool--This is convenient for getting in between the cushions on a sofa or armchair. It is also good for vacuuming the baseboard: the wooden board or linoleum strip where the wall meets the floor. You can use it on the ribs of a radiator, on the back of your refrigerator, or the openings of a vent as well.
  • Upholstery tool—This is a wider attachment with a lint-catching strip. It's handy for removing lint and dust from furniture such as sofas, chairs, mattresses, and cushions.
  • Dusting brush-- This is the attachment with brush bristles. It is designed for getting dust off of windowsills, bookcases, and lampshades. You will find that it is also good for vacuuming a computer keyboard.

Top Products

Dyson was founded by the engineer James Dyson in 1993 in Cotswolds, England. He employed innovative ideas to vacuum cleaners, fans, and hair dryers. Dyson sells upright, canister, cordless, hand-held, and robot vacuums.

Shark is a maker of household appliances and cleaning solutions, with its headquarters in Needham, Massachusetts. They make vacuums, steam mops, and garment care products.

Hoover was founded in North Canton, Ohio in 1908 by W. H. Hoover. They are an established name in vacuum cleaners, making upright, canister, cordless, robot, stick, and hand-held vacuums.

Dirt Devil — are makers of a wide range of vacuum cleaners: uprights, stick, hand-held, canister, and cordless vacuums, as well as hard-floor cleaners and carpet washers.

10 / 10

Dyson Ball Multi-Floor Upright Vacuum

The Dyson Ball Multi-Floor Upright Vacuum is known for its compactness, by concentrating the motor in the “ball” at the vacuum's base, which makes the vacuum light and easy to maneuver. Here are some notable advantages: Read the Full Review
  • Self-adjusts to floor type: In order to save you the worry of adjusting to different floor types, the Dyson Ball Multi-Floor has a self-adjusting cleaner head which raises and lowers to focus on the area that is to be vacuumed.
  • Increased suction: The Dyson Ball Multi-Floor employs “Radial Root Cyclone” technology. It has rotating parts that produce centrifugal forces that spin dust and debris into the canister, so that they don't escape into the room.
  • Steers easily: Since all the weight is located in the Dyson “ball”, it is easy to maneuver around tight places. The ball shape removes the need for going over the same area again and again, to make sure you get into corners.
  • Economical: Even though the Dyson vacuums are higher priced than the competition, they are more economical in the long run. Since all the debris is collected in a dirt cup, there is no need to replace bags. Also, the HEPA filter can be rinsed and reinserted—there is no need to buy replacement filters either.
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9 / 10

Shark Rocket DeluxePro Ultra-Light Upright

The Shark Rocket DeluxePro Ultra-Light Upright (Cat. No. HV321) is a lightweight vacuum, weighing only 8 pounds. That makes it easy to carry up stairs, and for easy maneuvering around furniture. Some features include:
  • Two speed settings: The Rocket DeluxePro has two speed settings, with the low speed for bare floors, and the high speed for getting the dirt out of high-pile carpets.
  • Foot pedal: By clicking on the quick-release foot pedal.
  • LED lights: It includes LED headlights to illuminate the area in front of you while vacuuming.
  • Attachments: Shark makes 21 attachments for their vacuum cleaners, but not all of them are compatible with the HV321. There is the 5" crevice tool, which is adequate for corners, baseboards, and other tight spaces. The 12" crevice tool is for tight spaces such as between couch cushions. There are also hard-floor attachments, microfiber pads, duster crevice tools, and dusting brushes.
  • Read the Full Review
$199.99 from
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8 / 10

Dirt Devil - Extreme Cyclonic Upright Vacuum Cleaner

One of DirtDevil’s most popular models is their Extreme Cyclonic Upright Vacuum Cleaner (Cat. No. UD200010). It is a bagless, corded upright vacuum. Its small size makes it ideal for a cramped apartment. The cord is 20 feet long, so it can reach across your apartment without having to look for another outlet.
  • Lightweight and small: The DirtDevil is light unit, weighing only 9.8 pounds. It won't give you any problems carrying it around the house--even up stairs. And when you want to put it away, it has a telescopic handle that collapses until it's small enough to fit in a closet with having to take apart the entire device.
  • Dirt cup: There is an indicator that tells you when the dirt cup is full and must be emptied. It also will tell you if the system has a clog in it. The DirtDevil has a quick-release bottom, that opens at the press of a button.
  • Filters: It has a removable foam filter, and a removable pleated filter. They can be rinsed and replaced. The filters should be cleaned after use, and replaced every six months.
  • On-board storage: The hose and attachments can all be stored on the vacuum cleaner itself. This way, you have quick and easy access to the parts.
  • Read the Full Review
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7 / 10

Dyson DC34 Bagless Cordless

The Dyson DC34 Bagless Cordless hand-vacuum is a lightweight vacuum that weighs only 2.9 pounds, but has a motor that is 3 times faster than conventional motors. Here are some special features:
  • Digital motor: The appliance has a brushless DC motor, that uses electronic switching circuits to control the current in the coils, which makes the rotor turn. (The inventor, Dyson, coined the term "digital motor".) The result is a motor that is three times faster than conventional motors.
  • Accessories: It has two handy accessories, such as 1) a crevice tool, for getting into tight places, 2) a 2-in-1 tool, with a brush for upholstery. You can pull the bristles back, for more suction.
  • Dual power mode: Maximum power will give you 6 minutes of use with a fully charged battery. The battery sustains the vacuum for 15 minutes in Normal mode. There is an indicator light that tells you that the vacuum only has one minute of power left. But don't worry: it will not lose power until the battery is drained entirely.
  • Read the Full Review
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6 / 10

Dyson V6 Animal

The Dyson V6 Animal is a cordless hand-held vacuum with a powerful "digital" V6 motor--a motor with electronic circuits emitting digital pulses to control the rotor's revolutions, so that it can spin as much as 110,000 revolutions per minute. It is especially effective on picking up pet hair--hence the name "Animal". It has 75% more power than the Dyson V6 model.
  • Long wand: It has a very long but lightweight aluminum wand connecting the handle to the vacuum cleaner head. The vacuum’s total weight is 5 pounds, and most of the weight is concentrated in the handle. That makes it easy to raise the long wand, to clean high and hard-to-reach objects. You detach the wand, and it converts into a hand-held.
  • Battery: The vacuum’s device takes 3.5 hours to charge up. When fully charged, the Li-Ion battery gives you 20 minutes of continuous work. That should be enough to vacuum two rooms in your house--so you might have to recharge the battery to vacuum other parts of the house.
  • Read the Full Review
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5 / 10

Hoover Air Cordless Series Bagless Upright

The Hoover Air Cordless Series Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner (Cat. No. BH50120) is a full-size cyclonic vacuum that uses two rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, with give 50 consecutive minutes of fade-free power (meaning that the vacuum will continue to work at top speed until the batteries are exhausted). Vacuuming for 50 minutes is enough to cover an area of 2500 square feet. That's enough for a three-room apartment. Here are some features:
  • Lightweight: It weighs 9.9 pounds, making it convenient to carry around the house. It also makes it easy to maneuver around furniture or in tight areas. Three channels of suction: It has three nozzle channels, which can lift and remove even the most deeply embedded dirt.
  • Multi-floor capacity: It can easily make the transition from carpet to hardwood floors by turning off the brushroll at the press of a button.
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4 / 10

Hoover Linx Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner

The Hoover Linx Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner (Cat. No. BH50010) requires no power cord and no dirt bag that has to be replaced. The dirt collects in a transparent cup, so you know when the cup is full and must be emptied out. Here are some notable features:
  • Small and lightweight: It's a slim stick upright and weighs only 7.3 pounds, which makes it easy to store away in a small closet. It is small enough to carry it up the stairs to vacuum carpeted stairs.
  • Adjust from carpet to hard-floors: There is a button on the stick to adjust from carpet to hard floors--the button raises the brushroll so as not to scratch the hardfloor.
  • Battery indicator: You recharge the Hoover Linx’s battery in a separate recharger, and it takes around three hours to recharge completely. While in use, there is an indicator light to tell you how much power you have left: over 75%, 50%, or under 25%.
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3 / 10

Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional with Dust-Away and 2 microfiber pads (Cat. No. NV 370) is a three-in-one device, being an upright that converts into a hand-held vacuum cleaner with the press of a button. At the same time, it has an expanding hose that can reach as far as 5 feet long, so it can also serve as a canister vacuum. That allows you to easily carry the vacuum around the house, cleaning stairs or hard-to-reach places like curtains and drapes.
  • Attachments: It has a Dyson V6 Animal Dust-Away Floor Nozzle with microfiber pads. It also comes with an 8" upholstery (crevice) tool, a pet power brush, and a dusting brush.
  • Length of cord: It has a 30-foot power cord, with an expanding hose that is 5 feet long when compressed.
  • Changing between carpet to hardwood floor: It has a brushroll shutoff button, that you can use to adjust between different floor types. The brushroll is for carpets, which you should disable for hardwood and linoleum.
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2 / 10

Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind Plus Bagless Upright

The Hoover WindTunnel T-Series Rewind Plus Bagless Upright (Cat. No. UH70120) is an upright that includes a 8-foot retractable hose, which allows it to function as a canister vacuum as well. It is called a "rewind" model, because the long, 25-foot power cord rewinds with the press of a button. That's a great convenience to not get the cord tangled. Here are some of its other features:
  • Adjusts to different heights: It has a knob that allows you to adjust it to any one of 5 different heights. It is suitable for thick carpets as well as hardwood or linoleum floors.
  • Filter: It has a rinsable HEPA media filter, allowing it to trap pollen and dust particles down to the size of 0.3 microns. Standard detection devices and particle counters show no dust escaping. It has a system check indicator, which will tell you if the vacuum is clogged, or if the filter must be cleaned.
  • On-board tools: It has an extension wand, a crevice tool, a turbo tool, and a dusting brush, which is convenient for carpeted stairs.
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1 / 10

Dirt Devil - Simpli-Stik Lightweight Bagless Corded 3-in-1 Vacuum

The DirtDevil Simpli-Stik Lightweight Bagless Corded 3-in-1 Vacuum (Cat. No. SD20000) can serve as a stick vacuum, handheld, or detail vacuum. That makes it suitable for furniture, counter tops, shelves, upholstery, and drapes. In general, hand-held vacuums are good for picking up spills on higher surfaces, such as tables or counter-tops, where an upright will not be convenient.
  • Compact: The small size of the stick makes it easy to carry around, as well as easy to store away when it's not in use. It has a 16-foot power cord, and reaches conveniently under furniture. It also weighs only 3.8 pounds--it's almost no effort to take it from room to room, or even upstairs.
  • Attachments: There is a crevice tool to reach into corners, under and around furniture, and even around electronics.
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