Shark APEX DuoClean Zero-M Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The APEX DuoClean finished at the top of our test group, excelling and outperforming almost every other model across most of our tests. In some of our most difficult tests, it earned exceptionally high marks, including ones that proved too difficult or even impossible for many other models.
Comprised of our most important set of assessments, our carpet cleaning metric accounts for 35% of the final score for each vacuum. We used four different types of messes — rice, oats, Cheerios, and flour — to score the cleaning performance of each vacuum, testing them out on flat, low-pile carpet and fluffier, medium-pile carpet. The Shark APEX delivered a stellar performance.
The APEX did an absolutely phenomenal job with the rice on low-pile carpet, getting the majority of the rice with a single pass and getting the remainder on the second, leaving absolutely nothing behind. However, it did a little worse on fluffier carpet, taking three passes to suitably clean it, and we still found a few grains lodged deep within the carpet fibers. It performed very similarly in our flour test, getting practically all of it with two passes over the low-pile carpet and only leaving trace amounts behind on the fluffy carpet.
The APEX finished out this metric with two more stellar results. It did a great job sucking up Cheerios from both types of carpet, leaving none behind largely due to its front roller, part of Shark's very effective dual brush technology. It did almost as well cleaning oats from a low-pile carpet, although it did leave a few fragments behind. The APEX cleaned about the same on a medium-pile carpet, though it took a few more passes to get to the same point.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is responsible for a quarter of the overall score, and we focused in particular on how easy it was to clean under furniture, along the walls, and in the corners of a room, including the maximum reach of each appliance. Additionally, we evaluated the loudness of each model. We also checked the ease of switching the vacuum between different floor types.
There is a slider switch right on the handle that lets you switch between flat, fluffy, and hard floors. The rotating brush doesn't stop completely on the hard floor setting, but it does rotate much slower.
The APEX does an excellent job at cleaning right up to an edge, but it does struggle a tiny bit in corners. It would usually leave behind a handful of rice right in front of the vacuum when it approached head-on.
However, its Lift-Away feature makes it exceptionally easy to clean under furniture, earning it top marks in that test. This vacuum reached slightly farther than average under our simulated sofa without using the Lift-Away feature. It can reach under even the largest pieces of furniture, like a large bed or corner sofa, with ease when using the Lift-Away feature.
The APEX is also relatively quiet for an upright vacuum, registering one of the lower dBa readings on our SPL meter across all the models we tested. That means this vacuum is less likely to petrify your cats, but no guarantees. It also has a maximum reach from an outlet of more than 30 feet, which is on par with the best models we handled.
In this round of tests, we ranked and scored each vacuum on how easy it was to push or pull the device, maneuverability, and the amount of effort required to clean a flight of stairs. This trio of evaluations accounted for 20% of the final score.
The APEX weighs 17 pounds, which is normal for the average vacuum. This makes it fairly easy to clean a flight of stairs, helped by the fact that you can usually reach 6-7 steps with the hose.
You can always use the vacuum in Lift-Away mode, which makes handling even easier — especially when it comes to weight. The APEX also has a swivel head that makes it highly maneuverable, gliding over carpet and hard floors, as well as around tight corners and obstacles smoothly, and with little to no effort at all.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Similar to our carpet cleaning metric, we used the same four types of messes in our hard floor cleaning metric; rice, oats, flour, and cereal. Together, these four tests on different debris were weighted at 10% of the overall score, as hard surface cleaning is typically a job for other tools, like a mop or broom. The APEX delivered a fantastic set of results for its exceptional performance.
This vacuum did an essentially perfect job when it came to cleaning flour and rice off of our sample of laminate flooring. It didn't fling the rice around at all and even cleaned flour out of the tiny cracks between boards. It continued its perfect performance in our cereal and oatmeal tests, collecting all of the Cheerios and oats without any issues at all. The APEX DuoClean proved to be a phenomenal hard floor cleaning machine.
Weighing only 10% of the final score, we measured the amount of pet hair each vacuum picked up. To do this, we distributed five grams of pet hair on a section of medium-pile carpet, then scored each vacuum on the percentage of hair successfully picked up.
The APEX sucked up 96% of the hair we dropped on the floor. Although, there were some clumps left behind on the carpet left on one side. Still, the clumps were easily swept up with just one more pass.
Should You Buy the Shark APEX DuoClean Zero-M?
If you want the best upright vacuum on the market, and your budget allows it, then you need to look no further than the Shark APEX DuoClean Zero-M. You cannot get a better balance of performance, features, handling, or a more user-friendly experience from any other model available to date.
What Other Upright Vacuums Should You Consider?
The Shark APEX DuoClean Zero-M narrowly beat out the Shark Vertex for its better maneuverability and slightly better hard surface cleaning. However, if you want a slightly larger canister capacity and marginally better carpet cleaning performance, then take a serious look at the Shark Vertex. If either model is a little too pricey, then consider yet another Shark product, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional. It offers great performance but at a significantly more affordable price point.