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The Best Vacuum Cleaners of 2020

The swivel steering makes it a breeze to maneuver around furniture.
Monday June 22, 2020
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After researching hundreds of products, we bought 12 of the best vacuum cleaners of 2020 to rigorously test side-by-side in order to find out which model mopped the floors with the rest. We took a look at both canisters and upright models, making a wide variety of messes on all types of floors to compare cleaning performance. Additionally, we looked at how convenient and easy to operate each vacuum is, as well as their maneuverability and any other features that differentiated one model from another. Take a look at our full review to see which vacuum cleaner takes top honors, which ones are our budget-friendly picks that won't suck your savings account dry, and which vacuum is perfect for specialty jobs like pet hair pickup.

Top 12 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Best Overall Vacuum Cleaner


Shark APEX DuoClean Zero-M


Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$305.99
(23% off)
at Amazon
See It

78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Carpet Cleaning 8
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Handling 7
  • Hard Surface Cleaning 9
  • Pet Hair 9
Dust Bin Type: Bagless | Cleaning Path Width: 11.75"
Phenomenal at cleaning carpet
One of the best for pet hair
Fantastic for hard floors
Mediocre reach

The APEX DuoClean with Zero-M by Shark earns the highest score in the category. It handles all types of messes with ease on both hard and soft floors, cleaning up everything from rice to flour. On top of excellent cleaning performance, the APEX is amazingly easy to use. The swivel head is exceptionally maneuverable, and a Lift-Away function gets into the hard-to-reach places around your home. Also, the new Zero-M does a great job of collecting pet hair.

Drawbacks are few and far between. The cord is on the shorter side and the base of the vacuum is prone to falling over when using the wand attachment. That's about it. We highly recommend the Shark APEX.

Read Full Review: Shark APEX DuoClean Zero-M

Best for Carpet


Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly


Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$299.00
(15% off)
at Amazon
See It

69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Carpet Cleaning 8
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Handling 4
  • Hard Surface Cleaning 6
  • Pet Hair 9
Dust Bin Type: Bag | Cleaning Path Width: 13.75"
Unparalleled carpet cleaning ability
Fantastic at pet hair
Cleans close to edges
Hard to maneuver
Heavy

The Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly is a bulkier bagged vacuum cleaner that is short on extra features and functions, but it really can't be beaten for carpet cleaning performance. It did a great job of removing even hard to clean messes from soft floors and has one of the larger cleaning paths of the group, making it a breeze to tackle large rooms efficiently.

However, this performance comes at a price; it's hefty and a little less maneuverable. However, it is the clear choice for carpeted homes that are in need of a heavy-duty machine. It also does a solid job cleaning hard floors and can keep up with messy pets or kids.

Read Full Review: Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly

Best Bang for the Buck


Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional


The Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional.
Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$199.99
(20% off)
at Amazon
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Carpet Cleaning 7
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Handling 7
  • Hard Surface Cleaning 6
  • Pet Hair 9
Dust Bin Type: Bagless | Cleaning Path Width: 11.25"
Easy to use
Cleans up pet hair with ease
Great performance at cleaning
Only OK cleaning hard floors

If you are shopping for a solid vacuum cleaner on a budget, then we highly recommend the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional. It removes all types of debris from carpet, including pet hair. It isn't too heavy or cumbersome, is overall easy to use, and is highly maneuverable, primarily as a result of its swivel head.

However, we weren't impressed with its performance on hard floors. It cleans up medium-sized debris reasonably well but struggles with very fine messes like flour and larger debris such as Cheerios. It required a few extra passes to get the job done. All in all, this is our favorite vacuum when shopping on a budget. It holds its own with other models that cost significantly more and delivers an above-average performance across the board.

Read Full Review: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional

Best on a Tight Budget


BISSELL Zing


Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$59.99
at Amazon
See It

59
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Carpet Cleaning 6
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Handling 7
  • Hard Surface Cleaning 6
  • Pet Hair 3
Dust Bin Type: Bag | Cleaning Path Width: 11.3"
Inexpensive
Handles great
Subpar at picking up pet hair
Short reach

This inexpensive canister vacuum did decently well in our testing. It scored above average in almost every set of tests we did and costs a fraction of the price of the top models. This no-frills model is very nimble and maneuverable for cleaning in tight places, can keep both carpet and hard floors suitably clean, and doesn't weigh too much.

However, the Bissell Zing has some noticeable flaws. This little canister vacuum doesn't do the best at picking up pet hair and we found that its overall cleaning performance pales in comparison to the premium products. This bare-bones model is a good choice if you are shopping on a very limited budget and only have mild messes to clean up. However, you might want to invest a bit more in your vacuum if you routinely have heavy-duty messes left by pets or sticky-handed children.

Read Full Review: BISSELL Zing

Best Canister Vacuum


Miele Compact C1 Turbo


Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$499.00
at Amazon
See It

68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Carpet Cleaning 7
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Handling 6
  • Hard Surface Cleaning 7
  • Pet Hair 9
Dust Bin Type: Bag | Cleaning Path Width: 10.75"
Great at cleaning carpet
Very maneuverable
Fantastic at pet hair
Expensive

The Miele Compact C1 Turbo doesn't merit an award, but we felt it still deserved recognition. This canister vacuum is easy to use and set up, has high maneuverability, and it is one of our favorite models for quick cleanup — especially in cluttered areas. The Miele earned the highest score of all the canister vacuums in our test, making it a solid choice for those with a strong preference for this style over an upright model.

Unfortunately, this bagged vacuum is quite expensive — one of the pricier models of the entire group. Miele vacuums have a solid reputation for longevity and durability, but this one costs a lot for a vacuum that didn't post the top score.

Read Full Review: Miele Compact C1 Turbo


The top vacuums on the market  ready for some head-to-head testing.
The top vacuums on the market, ready for some head-to-head testing.

Why You Should Trust Us


At GearLab, we won't ever accept any free or sample units from manufacturers so you can be sure that our review is completely unbiased. Our in-house vacuum testers, Austin Palmer and David Wise , have tested dozens of upright, canister, stick, handheld, and robot vacuums over the past three years so they have notched long hours on the vacuum reviewing circuit.

In addition, we also consulted with Lindsey Schultz, co-owner of Mighty Tidy Tahoe, a professional cleaning service that cleans close to 1000 rental homes, residences, and offices each year. Lindsey helped us refine and revise our testing plan and process, and lent her expertise to our evaluation process and testing results.

To rate these products, we put them through a series of challenging tests designed to push them to their limits. We conducted over 20 different tests for each vacuum, equating to hours and hours sucking up pet hair, oatmeal, flour, cereal, and rice from different types of carpet and hard floors.

Related: How We Tested Vacuum Cleaners


Analysis and Test Results


We split our various assessments into five weighted rating metrics — Carpet Cleaning, Ease of Use, Handling, Hard Surface Cleaning, and Pet Hair — with each metric weighted relative to its significance on overall performance.

Related: Buying Advice for Vacuum Cleaners

Value


Both of our top scorers, the Shark APEX and the Kenmore Elite, cost at least a few hundred dollars, but offer unmatched performance. The former is the best all-around and the latter is by far the best vacuum for carpets. If spending that much on one of these models is too much, then you should consider either the Shark Navigator Professional or the Bissell Zing. The Navigator makes only minor concessions, struggling slightly at cleaning hard floors compared to the top models but scores very well in every other aspect, all while costing quite a bit less than the top award winners. If you are shopping on the tightest of budgets, then the Zing should be one of the first products you consider. It certainly isn't the best of the best, but it retails for a fraction of the top scorers and does an overall decent job.

The Kenmore Elite was the top performer when it came to cleaning carpets.
The Kenmore Elite was the top performer when it came to cleaning carpets.

Carpet Cleaning


Carpet cleaning accounts for 35% of each score — the largest of any metric. We used oatmeal, cereal, rice, and flour as our sample debris, spreading out a measured amount on low and medium-pile carpet and pressing it in with a floor roller, then running each vacuum over it. We compared the results, counting the number of passes to get the floor visually clean, as well as comparing the amount of debris picked up in a single pass.


The Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly and the Shark APEX DuoClean take home the top score, earning an 8 out of 10 for their exceptional performance.

The Shark APEX did a fantastic job cleaning up the rice, doing particularly well at getting all of the rice off of the low-pile carpet. It got most of it with a single pass and didn't leave a single grain behind after a second rollover. It also did very well with the medium-pile carpet, although there were a few grains deep in the fibers that eluded it. It did equally well with the flour, easily getting practically all of it from the flat carpet and only leaving a bit behind on the fluffier carpet.

The APEX made quick work of our simulated dust test.
The APEX made quick work of our simulated dust test.

It finished out with two more excellent sets of results, doing a great job in our cereal and oat collection tests. The APEX sucked up all of the Cheerios with ease on both types of carpets and only left trace amounts of oats behind.

The Kenmore did an amazing job collecting rice, only requiring two passes to clean up everything on both low and medium-pile carpet. It even outperformed the APEX in this test. This vacuum continued its excellent run when it came to cereal and oatmeal. However, it did take a few more passes (6-8 in total) to get the oatmeal out of the fluffy, medium-pile carpet satisfactorily. Unfortunately, the performance dropped when it came to flour. Though it still maintained its top spot when cleaning the flour out of the medium-pile carpet, the Kenmore dropped to the middle of the pack on the low-pile carpet. All three of the Shark vacuums and the Hoover WindTunnel outperformed it.

The Kenmore struggled slightly with the flour on low-pile carpet  dropping to the middle of the pack.
The Kenmore struggled slightly with the flour on low-pile carpet, dropping to the middle of the pack.

Following the Kenmore and the APEX, a quartet of vacuums all tied for the runner-up position, with the Shark Rotator with DuoClean, the Navigator Lift-Away Professional, the Dyson Ball Animal 2, and the Miele Compact C1 all earning a 7 out of 10 for their superb carpet cleaning.

The Shark Rotator did an excellent job at collecting the rice — almost on par with the Kenmore — even getting the vast majority of the rice in a single pass on the medium-pile carpet.

The Rotator collected the vast majority of rice with a single pass.
The Rotator collected the vast majority of rice with a single pass.

The Shark Rotator performed on par with the Kenmore for cereal, requiring 2 or fewer passes to sufficiently clean the carpet, and even did well at collecting flour from low-pile carpet, tying with the Shark APEX and the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball. However, the performance of the Rotator dropped to third overall when picking up flour from fluffy carpet and didn't impress when put to the oatmeal test, requiring 10 passes to sufficiently clean it.

The Navigator Lift-Away Professional also did very well at collecting rice, matching the Rotator when it came to cleaning low-pile carpet. However, it required a few extra passes to catch the residual grains, ultimately not performing as well on the fluffier carpet. The Navigator Lift-Away Professional struggled a little with the flour on the flat carpet, but did an excellent job on the fluffier carpet, significantly outperforming the Rotator.

There was even more residual flour left behind on the flat carpet  though it visually appeared clean.
There was even more residual flour left behind on the flat carpet, though it visually appeared clean.

It did take a few extra passes to get all of the debris on the fluffier carpet but finished out with a strong performance in our cereal and oat collection assessments on low-pile carpet. The Navigator Lift-Away Professional tended to push the debris around for a while before collecting it, which we noticed most with the Cheerios.

The Navigator does a great job at collecting oats  it just took a few extra passes to get all of the mess cleaned up.
The Navigator does a great job at collecting oats, it just took a few extra passes to get all of the mess cleaned up.

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 did take a few more passes to match the amount of material collected by the Shark Rotator but more or less matched its performance at rice collection. However, it did poorly at collecting flour — dropping to the middle and the lower half of the pack for this test — tying with the Hoover on the flat carpet and performing second-worst in the fluffy carpet test, only beating the Oreck.

This model did somewhat poorly  taking plenty of passes and leaving plenty of residual flour behind.
This model did somewhat poorly, taking plenty of passes and leaving plenty of residual flour behind.

It performed on par with the Rotator and the APEX for collecting cereal and oatmeal on low-pile carpet, but slightly worse on the fluffier, medium-pile tests.

The Miele did quite well at collecting flour, tying for the overall runner-up position in both of the tests.

The Miele did quite well at collecting flour from flat carpet  earning the runner-up position for its performance.
The Miele did quite well at collecting flour from flat carpet, earning the runner-up position for its performance.

However, its performance dropped slightly in the remaining three tests — delivering an above-average but not exceptional performance. It did slightly worse than the Dyson Ball Animal 2 at collecting oatmeal on low-pile carpet but slightly better on the fluffy carpet, doing as well as the Kenmore. It performed well on the flat carpet and average on the fluffy carpet, overall doing reasonably well in the cereal and rice tests.

Next, the Shark Navigator Deluxe and the Bissell Zing earn a 6 out of 10 for their overall above-average performance at cleaning carpets.

The Bissell Zing delivered a solid performance across the board, doing particularly well in the flour and cereal test. While it did alright at the low-pile carpet, it tended to do much better on the fluffy carpet — breaking a trend for these products. It almost tied the Kenmore's performance at collecting flour from the medium-pile carpet. It delivered an average performance in the rice and oatmeal tests.

The Zing did quite well at collecting rice  though it took a few passes and would occasionally pile it up.
The Zing did quite well at collecting rice, though it took a few passes and would occasionally pile it up.

The Shark Navigator Deluxe didn't quite match the Rotator when it came to collecting rice, performing similarly on flat carpet but lagging on the fluffy carpet. The Navigator Deluxe left more rice behind than the Rotator after completing more passes. The same pattern emerged in the flour test, with the Navigator Deluxe coming in a very close second to the Rotator and the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball on the low-pile carpet, but finishing in the middle of the pack in the fluffy carpet test.

The Navigator did very well  but it was still bested by the Rotator.
The Navigator did very well, but it was still bested by the Rotator.

Once again, the Navigator Deluxe did better at collecting cereal from the low-pile carpet, only requiring an extra pass to match the Rotator or Kenmore, but requiring multiple passes to clean sufficiently, as it tended to "snowplow" the Cheerios around, rather than sucking them up. However, the Navigator Deluxe did do very well in the oatmeal test, matching the performance of the Rotator.

Next, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball earned a 5 out of 10 for its acceptable carpet cleaning performance. The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball did alright but couldn't come close to the performance of the top Shark models or the Dyson Ball Animal 2. However, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball did exceptionally well in the flour test, receiving the top score overall on low-pile and the third-highest on the medium-pile carpet.

The Dyson Cinetic did the best of the entire group at the flour on flat carpet test.
The Dyson Cinetic did the best of the entire group at the flour on flat carpet test.

Moving on to the cereal test, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball did an abysmal job, clogging up from the crushed Cheerios.

The Cheerios proved too much for the Cinetic Big Ball  clogging it almost immediately.
The Cheerios proved too much for the Cinetic Big Ball, clogging it almost immediately.

The Dyson Cinetic did redeem itself slightly in the oatmeal test, doing an average to an above-average job and only leaving a few flakes behind.

Finishing towards the bottom of the group for our carpet cleaning tests, the Oreck XL and the Bissell 9595A both earned a 4 out of 10 for their subpar performance. The 9595A did very poorly at collecting rice, with the Oreck performing even worse, leaving plenty of residual rice after multiple passes.

The Oreck and Bissell 9595A both finished at the back of the pack in the flour test, tying for the second-worst score respectively. Performance improved slightly with cereal and oatmeal, with both models scoring average, or just below.

The BLACK+DECKER AirSwivel Lite received a 3 out of 10, ending up as the lowest score out of the entire group. It was ok at collecting rice and oats but failed at picking up Cheerios due to its low clearance.

Ease of Use


The Ease of Use metric accounts for 25% of the final score of each model. We compared the noise of each vacuum cleaner, its maximum reach, and the ease of cleaning close to edges and under furniture, as well as how each vacuum handled transitioning between different surfaces.


A handful of models — the Shark APEX DuoClean with Zero-M, the Shark Rotator DuoClean, Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly, and the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional — all earned the top score of 7 out of 10 when it came to ease of use. The Shark APEX and the Shark Rotator all handle surface transitions exceptionally well — though not quite on par with the Dyson Ball Animal 2, which automatically adjusts to different types of floors and lets you turn the rotating brush head on or off. The Rotator and the APEX both have a button on the handle, with a hard floor option that will slow down the rotating brush, as well as options to select between low-pile and medium-pile carpet.

The Rotator has a button on the handle to switch between hard and soft floors.
The Rotator has a button on the handle to switch between hard and soft floors.

The Navigator Lift-Away Professional only gives you the option to turn the rotating brush on or off but lacks options for different piles of carpet or for adjusting the height of the extractor. However, it is very easy to turn the brush on or off with a convenient button right near the top of the vacuum.

The selector switch allows you to turn the rotating brush on and off.
The selector switch allows you to turn the rotating brush on and off.

It is a little hard to adjust the Kenmore, requiring you to turn a knob on the front of the vacuum. However, the Kenmore was the beat of the entire group at cleaning close to a wall or edge, leaving the least residual debris.

The Kenmore did exceptionally well in this test  leaving practically no debris behind.
The Kenmore did exceptionally well in this test, leaving practically no debris behind.

The Navigator Lift-Away Professional also did a great job at cleaning along the edges of a room and left only a small amount of mess behind, outperforming the Shark Rotator.

The Navigator cleans in very close to edges.
The Navigator cleans in very close to edges.

The APEX does well right along the edges of a room but will leave some mess behind in the corners of a room, particularly in the space right in front of the vacuum when you push it into a corner.

The Apex does great at clearing debris from the edges  but only so-so at picking up debris head-on along a wall.
The Apex does great at clearing debris from the edges, but only so-so at picking up debris head-on along a wall.

When it comes to cleaning under furniture, both the APEX and the Rotator earned top marks. Both of these vacuums reach a little over 10" under our test "sofa" without the Lift-Away function and completely cleaned underneath when using it. The Navigator Lift-Away Professional and Kenmore only made it about 9" and 7" under our test "sofa", respectively.

The Kenmore didn't reach particularly far under our test "sofa".
The Kenmore didn't reach particularly far under our test "sofa".

Next, we looked at the maximum reach of each vacuum. We measured both the cord and the reach, to determine how far you could effectively clean from the outlet. The Kenmore has both the longest reach of this group, as well as one of the longest reaches overall, with the rest of the products falling in behind it.


Next, we looked at how loud each of these vacuum cleaners is. Both the Shark APEX and the Navigator impressed us by how quiet they are, only registering 72 dBa and 73 dBa on our SPL meter. Unfortunately, the remaining vacuums generate significantly more noise and are much more distracting, especially the Miele, which had a very high-pitched whine.


Following the top-tier models, the majority of the pack all were about the same to use, with the Bissell Zing, Dyson Ball Animal 2, Dyson Cinetic Big Ball, Miele Compact C1 Turbo, Oreck XL, and Shark Navigator Deluxe all earning a 6 out of 10 for their above-average performance.

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is the best at switching between flooring types, automatically transitioning, with the option to turn off the brush. The Bissell Zing is identical to the Eureka when transitioning, with a button on the head that you step on.

The Bissell has a convenient stomp switch to transition between floor types.
The Bissell has a convenient stomp switch to transition between floor types.

The Dyson Cinetic will automatically transition between surfaces, but the brush can't be stopped. However, you can hold a trigger down to release suction to avoid sucking in long fibers from rugs or high-pile carpets. The Navigator Deluxe doesn't adjust for different floors but allows you to turn the brush on or off. The Miele requires you to swap heads for hard floors, while the Oreck lacks all adjustability.

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 did the best of this group at edging, just barely being outperformed by the Kenmore. Next, the Navigator Deluxe and the Oreck got the next-closest to the edge, both leaving a small amount of debris in the tight corners.

The Oreck also did exceptionally well in our edging test.
The Oreck also did exceptionally well in our edging test.

The Bissell Zing, Dyson Cinetic Big Ball, and Miele were all about average, leaving more debris in the corner and missing a few spots here and there.

The Miele, Dyson Cinetic, and the Zing did exceptionally well at reaching under furniture, with this quartet of canister vacuums completely cleaning the area under our test "sofa". The Oreck also did very well, especially for an upright model, reaching between 10"-11" under the furniture. The Navigator Deluxe and the Dyson Ball Animal 2 did alright, reaching about 6" under.

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 doesn't clean particularly far under furniture.
The Dyson Ball Animal 2 doesn't clean particularly far under furniture.

The Oreck XL had the longest reach of the group at 37' and the Navigator Deluxe having the shortest at 27'. The Miele and Dyson models were in the middle, ranging from 30' and 32'.

The Navigator Deluxe, Bissell Zing, and Miele were on the quiet side — on par or just slightly louder than the Kenmore. The Dyson models were about average, similar to the Eureka, and the Oreck XL was a bit loud.

Next, the AirSwivel Lite, earning a 5 out of 10 in our group of ease of use assessments. The AirSwivel Lite has a slightly better reach than some vacuums, able to clean about an inch further under furniture than the, but has a shorter power cord, offering you about 3' less reach.

This vacuum cleaner doesn't have the most impressive reach under furniture.
This vacuum cleaner doesn't have the most impressive reach under furniture.

This vacuum does a solid job cleaning along the walls of the room, but its overall cleaning ability is hampered by the fact that its clearance is not adjustable to accommodate different floor types.

Finishing out the bottom of this metric, the Bissell 9595A once again earned the lowest score, meriting a 4 out of 10 for its wanting performance.

This vacuum has a dial in the front to adjust the height for different floors but you can't stop the rotating brush for when you are cleaning hard floors. It also did fairly poorly in the edge test, leaving a small strip of rice behind. The Bissell 9595A only made it about 5" under our test "sofa" — the worst of the entire group.

The Zing was one of the best when it came to handling.
The Zing was one of the best when it came to handling.

Handling


Comprising 20% of the total score, our Handling metric encompasses maneuvering each vacuum around common obstacles, cleaning stairs, and the pushing/pulling effort required from each model to clean.


The BLACK+DECKER AirSwivel Lite merited the top spot, earning an 8 out of 10 for its exceptional performance. The AirSwivel's hose only has enough reach to clean about 6 stairs, but it is one of the lightest upright vacuums, making it exceptionally easy to carry up or down flights of stairs. It also is highly maneuverable with its swivel head and takes very little effort to push across carpeted floors, though the wheels on some of the best Shark or Dyson vacuums rolled a bit better over soft floors.

The swivel head on the AirSwivel does make it fairly easy to maneuver.
The swivel head on the AirSwivel does make it fairly easy to maneuver.

The Shark APEX, the Shark Rotator, the Navigator Lift-Away Professional, the Dyson Cinetic, the Dyson Ball Animal 2, and the Bissell Zing all earned a 7 out of 10 for their excellent performance when it comes to our Handling metric.

The Bissell Zing and the Dyson Ball Animal 2 all the best of this group at cleaning stairs. The Dyson Ball Animal 2 can clean our entire flight of stairs with its accessory hose, negating the need to carry the vacuum up to complete cleaning.

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 has an exceptional reach  able to clean the entire flight of stairs without needing to be moved.
The Dyson Ball Animal 2 has an exceptional reach, able to clean the entire flight of stairs without needing to be moved.

The Zing doesn't have anywhere close to the reach of the Ball Animal 2, only reaching about 7 steps. However, it is significantly lighter, making it very easy to carry up the stairs with you while cleaning.

The Shark Rotator, the Shark APEX, the Navigator Lift-Away Professional, and the Dyson Cinetic reached almost as far as the Zing — about 6 steps, but are considerably heavier. However, the Shark Rotator, the APEX, Navigator Lift-Away Professional, Dyson Cinetic, and Dyson Ball Animal 2 earned the highest marks overall in our test course, maneuvering through it flawlessly.

We found the Bissell Zing to be the hardest to maneuver of all the canister vacuums, but it did require minimal effort to push or pull. The Dyson Cinetic was a little more work than the Zing, but not as much as the Shark Rotator, APEX, or the Dyson Ball Animal 2.

The Cinetic Big Ball took the most work to push or pull out of the canister vacuums.
The Cinetic Big Ball took the most work to push or pull out of the canister vacuums.

The Miele, the Oreck XL, and the Shark Navigator Deluxe all scored slightly above average when it comes to handling and maneuverability, earning them a 6 out of 10. The Shark Navigator Deluxe impressed us with its exceptional reach, having a hose long enough to be able to clean the entire flight of stairs from the bottom. However, it doesn't glide as easily as some of the other products and seems less nimble, pushing it out of the top tier when it comes to handling.

The Miele could reach about one step further than the Bissell Zing and the Dyson Cinetic, but is heavier than the Zing and lighter than the Dyson. This put the Miele slightly above average at cleaning stairs, while the Oreck was the worst, lacking a cleaning hose.

The Miele did maneuver very well through our test course, on par with the Eureka Mighty Mite. The Oreck XL and the Navigator Deluxe handled alright, but are substantially clunkier than the Shark Rotator or Dyson Ball Animal 2. The Oreck did take a little less effort to push or pull than the Navigator Deluxe or Miele — on par with the Dyson Cinetic.

A comparison of the brush heads on the Zing and the zing Rewind.
A comparison of the brush heads on the Zing and the zing Rewind.

The Bissell 9595A earned a 5 out of 10, moving up in the ranks to the second to last place position for its mediocre performance. It has a decently long reach, making it up 8 stairs and wasn't overly heavy. However, it wasn't the most maneuverable, with the Bissell 9595A being clunkier and more cumbersome to steer than the Oreck XL and the Navigator Deluxe.

Finishing out the bottom of our Handling metric, the Kenmore Elite earned the lowest score of 4 out of 10. This model only reached up 6.5 stairs before you needed to move it — a pain, as it is exceptionally heavy. This model is big and clunky, making it hard to maneuver through our obstacle course, and requires significant effort to push or pull.

The front brush on the Rotator helped collect debris on hard floors  rather than spraying it around.
The front brush on the Rotator helped collect debris on hard floors, rather than spraying it around.

Hard Surface Cleaning


Making up 10% of the total score, our Hard Surface Cleaning test is essentially identical to our carpet cleaning tests, with hardwood floor swapped for carpet. Once again, we spread oatmeal, flour, cereal, and rice on the floor and vacuumed it up, evaluating the performance of each model.


The Shark Rotator DuoClean and the Shark APEX tied for the top spot in this metric, both receiving a 9 out of 10 for their almost identical performance. Using the hard floor setting on both vacuums, the APEX and the Rotator collected practically all of the rice in a single pass — even sucking in rice that was wider than the brush head. This pair also did a fantastic job at cleaning flour from the hard floor, even cleaning it out of the cracks and crevices — though it took the Rotator about 10 passes, it only took the APEX two.

The Shark Rotator did an excellent job in our flour test.
The Shark Rotator did an excellent job in our flour test.

This pair of vacuums carried their excellent performance over to our cereal and oatmeal tests, delivering the best results after only a single pass.

After the Shark APEX and Rotator, the Miele and the Dyson Ball Animal 2 earned the next highest score of 7 out of 10. The Ball Animal 2 picked up all the rice on the first pass, similar to the Shark Rotator, while the Miele required two passes to match its performance. However, the Miele did match the performance of the Ball Animal 2 and the Shark Rotator in our flour test, with all three of these vacuums receiving a perfect score.

The Miele matched the performance of the Rotator in our flour test.
The Miele matched the performance of the Rotator in our flour test.

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 did outperform the Miele at collecting Cheerios, once again only needing a single pass to the Miele's two. However, the Dyson would occasionally push the Cheerios around and pile them up, rather than sucking them up. The Dyson finished this metric with a reasonably good score in our oatmeal test, only leaving a few pieces behind that fell into the cracks between boards. The Miele did alright, tending to push stuff around more often than collecting it.

The bulk of the vacuums came next, with the Navigator Lift-Away Professional, the Bissell Zing, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball, the Kenmore Elite, and the Navigator Deluxe all earning a 6 out of 10 for their hard floor cleaning abilities.

The Navigator Deluxe and the Navigator Lift-Away Professional did a great job in the rice cleanup test, only needing a single pass to collect everything, compared to the two passes it took most of the other vacuums. However, the Navigator Deluxe's and the Navigator Lift-Away Professional's performance both dropped in the flour test. These products couldn't clean up any flour that had fallen in the cracks between boards and plenty of flour became stuck on the wheels throughout the test. The Kenmore also suffered from a similar problem, tracking the flour around as you are cleaning.

As shown  the Kenmore substantially struggled with this test.
As shown, the Kenmore substantially struggled with this test.

The Dyson Cinetic did an excellent job in the flour test, receiving a perfect score. The Bissell Zing would collect the flour out of the cracks only if you pushed the bristles of the brush head in with a scrubbing motion.

The Kenmore led this group in the Cheerio collection test, doing a fine job. This vacuum was closely followed by the Navigator Deluxe and the Bissell Zing. The Navigator Deluxe would have some Cheerios trapped in its brush, while the Navigator Lift-Away Professional and the Zing would push the cereal around, rather than collecting it when moving the brush forward. These vacuums would all collect the cereal when you pulled the head towards you, leaving enough of a gap for the Cheerios to be sucked up.

The Dyson Cinetic did a terrible job of collecting Cheerios in our test, crushing them up and immediately clogging.

Moving on to our oatmeal pickup test, the Navigator Lift-Away Professional did the best of the group, collecting the bulk of the oats in a single pass, with only a quick cleanup pass necessary to render the floor completely clean.

The Kenmore and the Shark did fairly well, performing similarly to the Dyson Ball Animal 2. Unfortunately, both the Bissell Zing and the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball failed to impress when it came to collecting oats, with both of these vacuums simply pushing the flakes around and piling them up instead of sucking them up.

The Zing would push the oats around  rather than collecting them.
The Zing would push the oats around, rather than collecting them.

Ending up in the third to last position in this metric, the Oreck XL earned a 4 out of 10 for its mediocre hard floor cleaning efforts. The Oreck did about average at collecting rice, though it did fling some around. It also did quite well at collecting flour, even getting some out of the cracks, performing on par with the Eureka. However, it did terrible at collecting cereal and oatmeal. The Cheerios were just pushed around, while the oatmeal test ended in mild catastrophe. The Oreck flung oats everywhere, rather than collecting them.

Next, the BLACK+DECKER AirSwivel Lite earns a 3 out of 10 for its lackluster performance and did extremely poorly in 3 out of 4 tests in this metric. It flung rice and oats everywhere, significantly increasing the overall size of the mess from what we started with. Furthermore, the clearance on this vacuum is far too low to effectively pick up larger particles ike Cheerios, ultimately just pushing them around indefinitely.

The AirSwivel delivered a bit of a disappointing performance in our hard floor cleaning tests as well.
The AirSwivel delivered a bit of a disappointing performance in our hard floor cleaning tests as well.

It did do a slightly above average job at collecting flour, but there was a noticeable film stubbornly clinging to the floor after it passed over an area repeatedly.

One of our pet hair donors overcame his paralyzing fear of vacuums long enough to pose for a photo  mainly motivated by plenty of treats.
One of our pet hair donors overcame his paralyzing fear of vacuums long enough to pose for a photo, mainly motivated by plenty of treats.

Pet Hair


The Pet Hair metric is responsible for the remaining 10% of the final score. We spread 5 grams of pet hair on medium-pile carpet, then pressed it in. We ran each vacuum over it, calculating the percentage of hair collected in order to determine final scores.


The Shark APEX, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional, the Dyson Ball Animal 2, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball, the Kenmore Elite, Miele, and the Navigator Deluxe all received top marks when it came to cleaning up after Fido or Fluffy, earning a 9 out of 10 in our pet hair collection metric. These top-tier vacuums all collected 90% or more of the pet hair, with the Navigator Lift-Away Professional doing the best job overall, collecting over 99% of the hair that we spread out on the test carpet, followed closely by the APEX, which picked up 97% of the hair.

Finishing just behind these top models, the Bissell 9595A, Oreck XL, AirSwivel Lite, and Shark Rotator all earn an 8 out of 10 for their good performance. This trio collected most of the pet hair, but left just a little more, getting 86%, 89%, 89%, and 88% of the hair respectively.

Doing a borderline awful job, the Bissell Zing earns a 3 out of 10 for collecting about a third of the hair we spread out.

The best vacuum cleaners you can get today.
The best vacuum cleaners you can get today.

Conclusion


There are a lot of messes out there and we hope that this review helped you narrow down your options. Whether you are looking for a top-tier model that can handle heavy-duty use or a budget option for typical cleaning needs, there is a vacuum cleaner out there for you.

David Wise and Austin Palmer