Ask the Audience: Vacuum Recommendations

Dear Home Ec 101,
I am in the market for a new vacuum, and would love feedback on what everyone has and likes. I know you have a Dyson and love it, but not sure if my budget is Dyson or not.  I read Consumer Reports, and they seemed to favor the Hoovers.  Mine just lost its suck, and just bites.
Vacuous in Vermont

vacuum recommendations

Heather says:

I do love my Dyson Animal, but I did not buy it brand new. We purchased a factory refurbished model for around half the retail price. It’s hard to believe -mostly because I refuse to acknowledge that time is moving this quickly- that the vacuum is five years old. We recently replaced the hose, as it developed a split, but that was due to abuse on my part. I have a habit of stretching the hose to its limit to reach the top of the stairs. It’s not a heavy vacuum, I’m just lazy and don’t always want to drag it upstairs if I’m just doing the main floor. Compared to our previous vacuum, an elderly Windtunnel (Made by Bissel.) It was amazing. I still kind of enjoy watching the dust cup fill. Somehow it seems as though I’m accomplishing something.

Now I’m opening the floor to the Home Ec 101 readers.

Do you have a vacuum you love?

Did you recently get rid of one you hated? What bothered you about it?

Don’t forget to include the make and model to help our reader make an informed decision.
Send your domestic questions to


  1. Mrs. B on February 3, 2016 at 7:38 am

    I like the Miele. It filters the exhaust as well as has a filtered dust bag which closes automatically. The strength of suction can be adjusted which also controls the noise level. Love the upright, but the canister is great as well.

  2. ddqqvv on July 22, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Either get a high quality “compact brand” like Miele (their canister vacuums rock) OR a high quality commercial vacuum.

    You might have to pay $500-$600, but the vacuum will last you the next 25 years.

  3. cshanley4 on September 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I have an Oreck and I love it. You still need bags but they are designed to seal shut when removing and there is no additional dust. It only weighs 5 lbs and will vacuum completely horizontal so I can go under my tables and beds quite a ways. I have lots of area rugs and I like that it can go on floors or over the rugs very easily. I believe when you buy one they come with a hand vac with attachments that is separate. I didn’t like that at first but I got used to it really easily (great for the wood floors I have before polishing). The other one I have heard good things about is the Electrolux from Sears. I just really like the weight of the Oreck bc I don’t break my back over a quick vacuum. I don’t even sweep my floors any more.

  4. Amanda on November 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I have two miracle vacs… a must with a dog, cat, husband and child… Hardwood floors and rugs.

    First it's HANDS FREE Vacuuming with My Roomba- Pet Series (LOVE IT!) I use Roomba every other day to manage the hair balls, pet dander(YUCK), dirt and dust. Then I use my awesome Dyson Stowaway Canister Vac for the deep weekly vacuuming.

    Roomba is the Best purchase I've made for cleaning. Keep the rollers free of hair and the canister clean and you will be amazed at all it picks up all by itself — while you are doing other chores!!! YEAH! My floors look great!

  5. Jan on October 17, 2010 at 3:25 am

    I was a loyal Hoover buyer but the last few ones I had lasted a year and that was it —belts continually breaking, motors eventually breaking from some small item getting sucked in. I loved the pickup on them and didn't mind buying bags. Now I have a Dyson regular Vac and although it has great suction, the tool wand is not good and it doesn't vacuum at all along the floorboards. You can see the dirt on my carpet all along every wall. The wand has too short of a flexible hose and you can't angle it properly to vacuum small spaces so I have a lot of dirt left behind on my carpet because of the hassle of having to go back over every area with the wand along the wall and spending twice as long to vacuum up what the regular vacuum always misses. Also Dyson is not that great on wood/vynl flooring as it blows the dirt around more than picking it up.

    • HeatherSolos on October 17, 2010 at 11:53 am

      Jan, I use the hardfloor attachment for my wood floors, in that mode it is more like a cannister vac, but I like that the handle is tall enough for comfortable use. I'm 6' and that becomes important to me very quickly.

  6. vacuum equipment on December 17, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I have the Dyson Ball, it is lightweight and easy to lug around. I have an animal as well but it needs service, it lost it's suck last year. I have had the animal for 6 years and the ball for about a year.

  7. shadow460 on November 10, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Yes, I have a vacuum cleaner that's the best thing since sliced bread. It's not a traditional floor/carpet vacuum, though. It is a DeWalt DC500 shop vac. It runs from either wall power or batteries from DeWalt power tools. Some old Black & Decker batteries will run it also.

    It's great for cleaning out the car, blowing (or sucking) dust and small debris off the porch, cleaning up spills of any size, and it works very well on the job, too. I can't count how many times I've needed to clean up a small puddle of water after a plumbing job, and this vacuum is right there.

    A number of attachments can be had for it. There are several that can do floors and even carpet, but they don't do it quite as fast as a standard upright vacuum would.

    The catch? Price. For the vacuum, two 18 volt NiCd batteries, a charger, a couple of extension poles, a spare (washable) filter, and a couple of accessories, you're looking at $300 to $350. Also if the filters get wet, they will clog until they are dry.

    If you are looking for a second vacuum to use in the car or garage, though, without the need to drag a heavy upright and a cord, and you can get by the price, this is the perfect thing. It'll never replace an upright, but it does so much stuff that an upright cannot or isn't practical for.

  8. La Rêveuse on October 19, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    We got a Bissell designed for Animal homes, and love it. It's a non-bag model, has great tools, and the middle pulls out to go up stairs, which is very handy. There's also a hand tool with the rotating brush, so you can really clean stairs and upholstery, which I love. The filters are easy to clean, and it really sucks! If it had a retractable cord, it'd be perfect. Plus, it's about 80% cheaper than a Dyson. Here's a link.

  9. Caroline on October 16, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I have a Miele that i really like. I don't vacumn that often as I have a bi-weekly cleaning lady and usually all that is required is touch-ups with the dirt-devil cone. Usually milk-bone crumbs and leaves that my greyhounds leave behind. But i had company this week so I went over the 'public' areas with the miele and it worked great. Only downside is it is heavy, and when you're dragging it aroudn the plug will pop out of the wall fairly easily if you reach the end of the cord.

  10. Lucy on October 16, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    We have 3 dogs and a cat that go in and out, plus a horse farm and we and customers tromp in and out. Our floors are covered with assorted hair, sand, mud, bits of maure, wood shavings, hay and straw. I go through once with a Shop-Vac to get the big stuff and then again with an ancient Hoover Decade. The Hoover can't go first or it gags on the big stuff and has to be taken apart and unclogged, but it does get the in-between bits I miss with the Shop-Vac and leaves those nice lines on the carpet that give the impression the whole house is much cleaner than it actually is.

  11. Rebecca on October 16, 2009 at 4:08 am

    I clean houses (plus our own) and for me it's either a Dyson or an Oreck. In no particular order!

  12. Gypsie on October 16, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Another Dyson fan here! I have two large dogs and two furry kitties and the dyson (we only have the basic model) is amazing when it comes to all of the pet hair. I am also amazed at how often I have to empty the canister in just our little living room alone. I love it and am so happy that we bought it. We have had our Dyson for 4 years without any issues.

    Also, you can buy replacement parts on the dyson website. If you purchase the basic model, you can get the animal attachments separately. Then you can pick and choose which attachments you really want and cut down on cost.

    We bought the basic model because at the time, Target was having a promotion; buy a Dyson and get a $100 gift card. Since we shop there anyways, it was almost as good as getting $100 off.

  13. Candy on October 15, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I am currently using my mother's Kirby upright, which she bought in 1972. It's been worked on once in all that time and still works great. The only downsides that I see are the bags and rotor belts are a little more expensive and have to be purchased at the Kirby store. The suction on it is still great though, and my brother and I are still fighting over it. It was some expensive though, since I think a replacement would be about $1500, but close to 40 years of service makes it worth while.

  14. Joyce on October 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I just replaced a Hoover which we were never happy with . After doing some online research I bought a Eureka The Boss SmartVac which was the most highly rated moderately priced vacuum. I wasn't willing to pay $400-$500 for a Dyson. I ordered it from Only negative was that it is not bagless. It does have a HEPA filter.

  15. Rebecca on October 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I actually love my hoover. Its a Hoover Breathe Easy (no longer sold unfortunately). I got it because my apartment neighbor was tossing it. Opened it up, removed a FULL bag, and cleaned out all the carpet fuzz in the tubes and it worked perfectly. I have had it since 2004 and it still works great. And I have a messy toddler so some days its used 3-4 times in a day.

    BUT, I had to buy a replacement part for my Hoover steam cleaner (which I also love, but my toddler removed some latches that hold the water tank on and lost them). The customer service number I called to find the part kept me on hold for 15 minutes then sent me to someone's voicemail. The local distributor of repair parts says that the company changes owners ever 1-2 years and it could take 1 week ot 6 months for our part to come in. Needless to say, I am less than thrilled. The steam cleaner is less than 6 months old, and has been used only a handful of times.

  16. Lucy on October 15, 2009 at 8:50 am

    I use 2 vaccuums, a regular Shop-Vac and an elderly Hoover decade upright with a bag. We have 3 dogs indoors and a cat, plus a horse farm. Our floors are covered with lots of hair plus sand, bits of manure, wood shavings, hay and straw. The Shop-Vac has to go around first and get the big stuff or else the Hoover gags and has to be disassembled and unclogged. The Hoover gets the little stuff plus leaves those lines on the carpet that fools folks into thinking the house is far cleaner than it really is!

  17. Mary Beth on October 15, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Love my Dyson! Have had it for years. Probably need to have it serviced because it seems to have lost some suction (no clogs anywhere) and I think the rolling brush thingy underneath is worn out. If it can't be refurbished for a decent price I will definitely get another. It has been well worth the money for the abuse we've put it through.

    • Eugene Mah on October 16, 2009 at 11:12 am

      a replacement brush from will run you around $20 i believe. It could be that the worn brush isn't moving things around as well as it used to and contributes to the perception that the vacuum has lost a it's sucking power. The new brush will definitely help with that. I noticed much improvement with my Dyson after I replaced the brush on it.

  18. Eugene Mah on October 15, 2009 at 4:31 am

    My vacuum is also a Dyson Animal Ball (DC15), which I love. Still going strong after 6 years or so. Recently replaced the brush bar, which has definitely improved performance.

    The Dyson's do require regular maintenance, but nothing too involved. A couple of times a year I'll take the cannister and cyclone part and rinse it off outside until the water comes clean. There's a lot of dust and junk that can build up in the cyclone part.

    I measure the amount of vacuuming done by how many times I have to empty my Dyson. My living room usually takes me 2-3 Dysons to finish, but can go up to 4-5 when the dogs are shedding.

  19. ThatBobbieGirl on October 15, 2009 at 2:49 am

    We bought a kenmore canister vac which I mostly loved and it lasted about 15 years. My DH replaced it with an Oreck, which I like because it's so light and picks up very well, but I miss a few things, like easily changing to just the hose – this is not an option with the Oreck upright. Also, we have some furniture that the canister vac would go under but the Oreck won't because the cleaning head isn't low enough.

    Don't tell my husband, but I wish we'd just gotten another Kenmore canister vac. It was much more versatile, even if it was heavier.

  20. darnold23 on October 15, 2009 at 2:27 am

    During my 40 year marriage I have had two Electrolux vacuums. I cannot complain about either one. I literally wore my first one out until the hose was threadbare. The second is still going strong and has never had a service call or repair.

  21. Greta on October 14, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    I love, love LOVE my Filter Queen. It's a canister vac w/ a very powerful motor– it gets up all the dog hair around here! They are very expensive if you by them from a dealer, which is why we got ours from ebay, for about $250 (compared to $2000). A lot of money, but they last for many, many years (my parents had the same one for about 25 years before a dealer convinced them to trade it in for a new one.

  22. Susan on October 14, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I am a cheapskate and can't fathom paying lots of $$ for a vacuum cleaner. The downside to my frugality is that I burn through one a year thanks to my two lovely felines. BUT, I finally found one I am completely in love with and it hasn't burned out on me yet and I've had it well over a year now: Bissell Lift-Off Revolution Pet Vac. It sucks cat hair out of the carpet like a charm and has this special pet-hair specific attachment that is perfect for de-hairing my futon. Love it, love it and love it. I will say though, that it's bagless (which is a plus for me) but the canister doesn't hold a great deal (I have to dump it twice for every one time I vacuum my one-bedroom apartment) and you have to be vigilent about cleaning the brushes and filters cause they get nasty real quick. But I've never had a vacuum cleaner that's dealt with my cat hair issues as well or as last as long as this vacuum, so I'm cool with the constant brush and filter cleaning.

  23. Marion on October 14, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    I have a ShopVac EasyLift. It is the most stripped down vacuum that I have ever seen, with no hoses or attachments, but you cannot beat the suction. It actually has one of the small ShopVac motors in it, so it will pick up anything. It looks a lot like those old fashioned vacs my grandma used to have, with the cloth bag to hold the vacuum bag and it weighs practically nothing, since there is no plastic outer case and no attachments. I use a handvac when I need to get in small places or do the drapes, but the EasyLift is great for me since I have wall to wall in every room except the kitchen and baths. The cord is 30 feet long, so I can go forever without having to unplug and switch outlets and the handle drops down so it is flat along the floor to run under the beds. Finally, one of it's best points is that we paid about 60 dollars for it at Lowe's.

  24. GJR on October 14, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Any recommendations for bagged vacuums? I really dislike the bagless ones. I have a cheapo bagless vacuum now and it works fine for my mostly-hardwood apartment, but I would prefer one with a bag.

  25. Jenn on October 14, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I am NOT a fan of my vac, so I'm absolutely bookmarking this for future reference. We're getting a dog soon and the deal is I get a new vacuum cleaner. I currently have a Kenmore upright. The one that Consumer Reports raved about when we bought it, 6+ years or so ago. It has a HEPA filter and the literature even claims it has 2 filters but the second is really just the cloth bag, so a paper bag = no second filter. And the cloth bags are not cheap. Plus it just doesn't have great suction and it never has. It's also cumbersome and the tools are klunky. I suppose the fact it's lasted this long is a plus but I just don't vacuum that often. I've found ways to avoid using it.

  26. FrugalHomemakerPlus on October 14, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I love my Kenmore blue canister vacuum. I've had it for 8 years and it's been great. We've replaced the plug twice now, but other than that, no issues. My mother uses the same brand and she buys a new vacuum about once every ten years. In the time we've had ours, we've had a dog, two house rabbits, and five guinea pigs, and it is STILL going strong despite all the fur/shavings/hay clean up. 🙂

  27. Jamie on October 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    When my bagged vacuum bit the dust and I didn't have the money for a Dyson, I bought the Bissell Pet Hair eraser. Uh, yeah. Little bit of a misnomer. We have two dogs, one of which sheds more than any 5 other dogs that I've ever known.

    I think they named it Pet Hair Eraser because it has an attachment that pulls the hair off of furniture/upholstery and also has a lint brush thing on the base to help pull up hair from the carpet. Past that, it doesn't do anything any other vacuum does and it's certainly not built to handle a lot of pet hair. The workings get clogged up, I can't even vacuum an area rug before the canister is filled and we have to stop. The filters are crap – I've just replaced them with the Arm & Hammer brand and still, every time we run it the whole house smells like dog. I can see where I'll probably have to replace the plastic inner workings at some point, but for now they're pretty easy to clean.

    After reading the comment above about the Dyson Animal, I'm pretty sure I'll be saving up for one of those. I'll take the extra effort to have something that works.

  28. Heather Solos on October 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Adding two more comments from the Facebook conversation:

    I stand by my Oreck. It takes a lickin' and keeps on suckin'


    My Dyson was worth every penny- I bought mine through Sears during a 20% off sale and 0% financing for a year. I have had it for over 4 years ( I have a yellow one-basic version, I think)- no problems. If it loses suck there is probably a clog somehwere that can be easily removed. I broke down because it seemed as though I was buying a new vacuum every year or so- I stand by my choice!

  29. staci on October 14, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    We got a super cheapo refurbished dyson, and i can’t say I am ver impressed.
    It doesn’t seem all that powerful, and the head is so bulky it won’t even go along the couch, which means I have to get the attachements out EVERY time, and the attachment hose isn’t as handy as the panasonic or hoover that we had in the past (we had belt troubles with those, but they were also used when we got them)
    I actually use the tiny Eureka The Boss, that my daughter was given at a yard sale. She thought it was a toy, but it is actually super handy and works decently. It just doesn’t have any attachments, so we have to drag out the dyson for that.

  30. knitaddict on October 14, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I have a Roomba that I ADORE!!! It's messed up right now….(battery issues)…but it's a LIFESAVER. It's great when you've been busy all day doing other things…but you're having company…set it to vacuum the den while you hop in the shower and get ready! It was FAB when our house was on the market…I would clean another room while the Roomba did its thing elsewhere. I've ALSO got a Dyson Absolute for the big once a week job….it's AMAZING. Also amazingly EXPENSIVE…but it was a present from my husband (he was in the doghouse and this helped facilitate his move back into our bed QUITE NICELY! LOL) My husband bought it the day AFTER Molly Maid had been to clean our downstairs for our daughter's birthday party…even though I KNEW that they had just vacuumed with their killer Orecks…I just HAD to try my new Dyson! I was FLOORED (pardon the pun) when I saw how much FUNK that Dyson sucked from my supposedly clean carpet!!! It's worth its weight in GOLD! I'll never own another crappy Dirt Devil!!!!! EVER!

  31. Ginny on October 14, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Our house came with a central vaccuum and I love that – nothing to lug around and a hose fitting in every room. I would really like to upgrade my attachments though – the 1960's models are very much worn and often lose hold of one another. I have checked and the original supplier of ours is no longer in business. I could do an internet search, but I so prefer real world experience. Any advice/ideas on attacment replacements? ~ G

  32. Angela on October 14, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I have a Brissel Lift-off Deluxe. I have had it for over 6 years and it still works great. When I lived in a house that had stairs the lift off part worked great for that. I use it pretty much every day and it works just as well on carpet as it did on my wood floors I had in my last house. It was moderately priced I guess.

  33. Jan on October 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I have had health issues since March preventing me from using the heavy clunkers but have solved the problem quite nicely with my Roomba 415. I never would have believed it could be so easy. I turn it on almost every day and it does an adequate job and keeps the dust bunnies away. I have also acquire a Scooba to wash the floors…that one is used twice a week. Justfill it up with cleaner and let it rip. Love it. Love it. Love it!

  34. Katie R on October 14, 2009 at 10:27 am

    In a stroke of luck, we found an elderly Kirby (generation 3?) vacuum in a thrift store for $50. This thing is worth it’s weight in gold (and boy, is it heavy!). It’s upwards of 20 years old but works extremely well and since we don’t have nearly as much carpet in the house as we used to, it doesn’t get used too often anymore.
    My mother has the same vacuum that she bought brand new (almost 20 years ago) and it’s survived several dogs, 6 kids, 3 houses and many, many stairs. It’s a quality machine but if it died, I couldn’t bring myself to paying full price for a Kirby.

  35. Kirsten on October 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I have a Dyson Animal as well. There are several things I really love about it. 1) Long hose for doing stairs. I have 14 and it reaches all the way to the top no problem 2) Spinning attachment head is great for getting pet hair off upholstery 3) It gets up EVERYTHING

    However…there are somethings that you have to know about them. You do have to replace the filter. I had to buy one after about 3 years. I was pretty dilligent about cleaning it according to directions and they are not lifetime filters. Also if you have high pile shaggy carpet and not burber (sp) you will have some issues with the fibers collecting in the top of the cyclones where you cannot get to it and it affects suction. I have to take a wand attached to our air compressor and clean it out about every 6-9 months.

    We bought the Dyson after we had 2 vacuums die in 2 years. One Eureka and one Hoover. The thing is substantial and is definitely a good vacuum and I would be hard pressed to give it up at this point. But if I had known I would have to use an air compressor to clean it out, I might have looked at other bagless vacuums.

  36. Amanda on October 14, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I have an ancient Hoover that I absolutely love. I got it at a rummage sale for $20, and it's the same one I remember us having growing up (in the 80s…figured I best clarify that I'm not talking about a circa 1963 vacuum!). It's old, but it works fabulously. I know Dysons are supposed to be awesome, but I will be hard-pressed to ever buy a vacuum that's not a Hoover.

  37. Facebook Comment C&P on October 14, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    This is a comment from the Facebook Feed:

    I have the Dyson Ball, it is lightweight and easy to lug around. I have an animal as well but it needs service, it lost it's suck last year. I have had the animal for 6 years and the ball for about a year.

  38. Kim on October 14, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    The 8 pound Oreck. I was going through a vacuum a year (all brands) until I bought the Oreck. It's expensive but I've had it 6 years with NO problems. It's lightweight, easy to carry and use. Couldn't be happier.

  39. julie on October 14, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    we don't have alot of carpet in our house anymore–currently down to just one room of carpet (the den)–so I don't have an expensive vac.For the past 8yrs or so have had a bissell-I think we've gone through 2 of them….budget friendly,does what we need…winner in our book………….


  40. Steve Berry on October 14, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I know – I’m a guy. but I bought 2 vaccumes this year. one was a Hoover for 99$ at Kohls, and it made a ton of noise. so we called hoover and they wanted the cord cut off, and a sticker sent with a return address. so we did. and poof. about a week later we got a brand new one. Hoover warrenties rock.

    In the mean time, we bought a bissle powerforce bagless for 40 bucks at Walmart.

    Now. let me just say. that it’s the lightest most powerful vaccume for the money. and if it fails. who cares. throw it away and buy another for the price of the thing, it’s worth every penny.

    but currently I have two vaccumes – both are really good. economical choices. dyson vaccumes are REALLY expensive yuppi vaccumes – and yes. you will be judged on your choice of vaccumes.

    everyone thinks I’m a poor bastard that cleans super well with 2 vaccumes for the price of 1 dyson!

  41. Steve Berry on October 14, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I know – I’m a guy. but I bought 2 vaccumes this year. one was a Hoover for 99$ at Kohls, and it made a ton of noise. so we called hoover and they wanted the cord cut off, and a sticker sent with a return address. so we did. and poof. about a week later we got a brand new one. Hoover warrenties rock.

    In the mean time, we bought a bissle powerforce bagless for 40 bucks at Walmart.

    Now. let me just say. that it’s the lightest most powerful vaccume for the money. and if it fails. who cares. throw it away and buy another for the price of the thing, it’s worth every penny.

    but currently I have two vaccumes – both are really good. economical choices. dyson vaccumes are REALLY expensive yuppi vaccumes – and yes. you will be judged on your choice of vaccumes.

    everyone thinks I’m a poor bastard that cleans super well with 2 vaccumes for the price of 1 dyson!

  42. jen on October 14, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    I have never used a dirt devil that I liked

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