Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide
You may not realize it, but buying a vacuum cleaner can be one of the hardest home purchases you'll ever make. There are so many things to consider: The size of your home, the best type of vacuum cleaner for your lifestyle... even whether you understand vacuum cleaner lingo. To help guide you through this process, here's everything you need to know about buying a vacuum cleaner.
Evaluate what you need from your vacuum
Do you live in a large house or a condo? Do you have a pet that sheds or a house full of children? Answering simple questions like these will help you decide whether you need an upright cleaner, a canister cleaner or a small handheld version. Also consider how often you'll be vacuuming; the more you work your cleaner, the shorter its lifespan may be.
Do your research
So many vacuum cleaners are on the market, and not all of them are good. Check out reviews on major websites (such as Consumer Reports) before you buy. Also look for brand-name cleaners. The brands that have been on the market the longest tend to offer the best warranties, return policies and customer service.
Test drive your model
As for any other major appliance, you should go to a store to test-drive the vacuum cleaner you're hoping to buy. Make sure the model isn't too heavy or loud for your home.
Know your accessories
When trying out vacuum cleaners, pay attention to the accessories that come with each model. Does it have a carpet brush? What about an edged brush to help with corners? Does it have a long or short hose? Considerations like these may matter, given the size of your home and whether you have carpet, tile or hardwood flooring.
Bagless, with bag or central vac?
Bagless cleaners remove dust and dirt, but can leave residual dust in the air. Bagged versions make for cleaner air, but you must buy bags (which later end up in a landfill). Another more expensive option is a central vac. It's quiet and stores dust and dirt in a holding tank somewhere in the home (usually a garage). The only problem is the need to install hose outlets throughout your home.
Know your lingo
Many vacuum cleaners have labels talking about "airflow" and "filtration." So what does it all mean?
Airflow: This is how much air a vacuum cleaner can circulate to pick up dirt from your floor. The higher the vacuum's rating, the better cleaning job it will do.
Filtration: This is how well a vacuum cleaner rids your home of nasty particles (such as dust). Look for a vacuum that has a heavy-duty filtration system -- a HEPA filter, for instance.
price vs quality
A high price does not always mean quality. Some of the most expensive, trendy cleaners have poor customer service ratings. Be sure to check into less expensive models that enjoy reliable reputations.