One of the most satisfying things in life is seeing vacuum lines running across your carpets. While your floors are clean, you can take time off to enjoy the little things in life until your demon of a child considers the floor his or her canvas for spaghetti-based art.
Choosing the right vacuum cleaner for your home is a bit trickier than one might imagine. Sure, you could pick up any vacuum cleaner and hope for the best, or perhaps you would prefer purchasing a robot vacuum to do your bidding 24/7. However, your purchase decision should rely on what sort of flooring your home has and what pieces of debris are scattered across it.
Types of Vacuum Cleaners
Vacuum cleaners typically fall into one of three categories – canister, stick, and upright vacuums.
Canister vacuum cleaners can be considered the “tank” of all vacuum cleaners out there. Their awesome motors provide the best suction power for bare floors, and a wide assortment of attachments are excellent at increasing the tool’s versatility – e.g. cleaning stairs, corners, high spots, vertical surfaces. The problem is that they’re a lot bulkier than the other vacuum types and cost significantly more.
Stick vacuums are the lightest and thinnest of the three. Their lightweight, compact size allows for easy storage. Some models are cordless and can be left charging while left on a wall mount. Their long, thin bodies give the user access to high, hard-to-reach spots. But with small size comes limited power, and sticks are not the most capable in suctioning small particles from smooth surfaces and large debris in carpets.
The upright vacuum can be considered the middle-ground between canister and sticks in terms of power and weight. To some, including us, uprights are a jack of all trades but an expert at none. They’re great on smooth surfaces like hardwood floors, great at lifting and retaining large debris like cereal and pet hair, and with a bit of upper body strength, users can lift them to clean high spots and drapes.
Why should I get an Upright Vacuum Cleaner?
Of the three types of vacuum cleaners out there, upright vacuums are the most widely used. Their inexpensive price relative to canister and stick vacuum cleaners attracts buyers from all corners of the world. Their awesome suction power allows for single-pass cleaning, reducing the number of times you need to repeat vacuuming over the same area. But perhaps the best thing of all is its wide clearing path. You can cover more floor area with each pass compared to other vacuum types.
For the rest of this article, we’ll put our entire focus on upright vacuum cleaners. You won’t regret purchasing one of these if you and floors are at constant battle with pet hair, dirt, dust, and pieces of food.
Upright Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide
There is a sea of upright vacuums to choose from. The high number of producers pumping out models every year or two makes finding the most appropriate upright for your home more challenging than one would hope. In the following guides, we’ll discuss how to find the right upright vacuum cleaner for removing mounds of pet hair and for use on sleek hardwood floors.
Best Upright Vacuum for Pet Hair
For pet owners out there, one of the most frustrating struggles in life is dealing with pet hair. We can shampoo of pets every day, give them the pamper treatment at pet salons and spend more on pet hair conditioner and shampoo than on our children’s food. Your cat or dog will continue to litter your floors with their silky smooth fur. Let’s talk about what features and specs to look out for in an upright vacuum designed for pet hair.
Pet hair is one of the hardest things to clean up. There are even several upright vacuum cleaners that are ill-equipped to suction up larger pieces of debris like cereal and pet hair. To pick up fallen pet hair off floors and carpets, you’ll need a powerful vacuum that delivers at least 150 CFM of airflow. A higher CFM rating would be better and recommended if you have high-pile carpets.
Bag or Bagless
Upright vacuum cleaners can come with bags or removable storage canisters. Both of these styles have their own set of ups and downs.
Bags are removed and disposed of when it reaches capacity. The bag is removed without having to expose the contents, reducing the risk of tiny dust particles from escaping and polluting your home’s air and floors. However, you need to purchase replacement bags periodically. The frequency of how many bags you use depend on how littered your floors are and how often you vacuum.
Bagless vacuums eliminate the need for purchasing replacement bags. They come with plastic, see-through canisters that you remove when full and dump the contents in the trash. They sound great, but they’re quite limited in how much dust they can hold. Many of these canisters have a volume of fewer than 0.5 liters.
For pet hair, we feel that bagless upright vacuums would be the better choice, simply because pet hair, when trapped in dust canisters, will not float away. In our opinion, removing and emptying the canister is preferable to spending money on new bags every so often.
For almost every vacuum-cleaning job, the optimal filter type would be True HEPA (high-efficiency particular air) filters. They trap up to 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns – much smaller than the size of pet hair.
This is a problem when picking up pet hair. The True HEPA filter can become clogged, and depending on whether your upright vacuum comes with disposable or washable filters, at the end of the day, you’ll end up spending either more money on replacement filters or more time on unclogging and washing them. Stick to HEPA-style filters – up to 99% of particles as small as 3 microns.
Included Cleaning Attachments
The vacuum head is ideal for low-pile carpets and tiled floors, but what happens when pet hair goes airborne and lands on your drapes, furniture, shelves, tables, and any surface that is not directly on the floor?
The only way to clean the aforementioned spots without looking like a crazy person is by using the right attachments. A crevice tool would be great at picking up fur hiding between couch cushions. Also, don’t forget about an upholstery tool for sweeping furniture and chairs. You may also want to consider purchasing a pet grooming tool to prevent hair from falling off of your pet and onto your floors.
The agitator brush is the rotating brush found on the bottom portion of the vacuum head. This brush helps dislodge fallen fur from in between carpet fibers. The best vacuums come with a button or switch to turn the agitator brush on and off depending on what surfaces you’re vacuuming.
Carpet Pile Height Adjustment
Another excellent feature is a height adjustment for the agitator brush. For shaggier rugs, switch from low-pile to high-pile mode deeper vacuuming. This increases the versatility of the tool, making it capable of vacuuming all sorts of surfaces without leaving damage in the vacuum head’s wake.
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Best Upright Vacuum for Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors, with periodic buffing, can be one of the best features of your home. Their slippery smooth surface makes sliding across in socks a possibility, an activity more enjoyable than life itself. But it only takes a tiny bit of dust or fallen food to make your beautiful hardwood floors lose its slipperiness and become a tripping hazard on one of your sock-sliding adventures. To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to ensure that your upright vacuum cleaner is equipped with the following features.
There are several factors that you should consider before deciding on which upright vacuum to get for your home’s hardwood floors. These include what type of wood your floors are made of, what sort of debris you’re dealing with regularly, and whether there are any dimples, cracks, or grooves running along your floor’s surface.
In general, hardwood floors do not require a super-strong vacuum cleaner for maximum dirt pick-up. Instead, you can save a bit of money on getting a low- to medium-power upright unit – around 120 CFM – and focus more heavily on other features.
If you don’t have pets or children, then perhaps a True HEPA Filter – not a HEPA-type or HEPA-style – with 99.97% effectiveness in picking up particles as small as 0.3 microns is the best option. Microscopic dirt particles, bugs, and bacteria residing on your sleek floors will get sucked up and trapped in the filter without the risk of clogging. If the HEPA filter is not washable and reusable, clogging could mean spending more on replacements.
Bag or Bagless
If your hardwood floor is experiencing more problems with smaller particles than cereal and pet hair, then a bagless model would be preferable. In this case, there is a reduced risk of minuscule particles going airborne and into your lungs.
However, if you’re dealing with a dirt or bug infestation problem, then bag models are the way to go. Removing the bag does not require exposing its contents to the world, and thus dust will not find its way into your nose. Of course, this comes at the cost of periodically purchasing replacement bags.
Although an agitator brush is ideal for dislodging debris from carpets, it’s not the best thing to use on hardwood floors. Wooden floors are a lot more delicate than they seem, and the agitator brush’s bristles, though not made of any particularly tough material, can leave ugly scratches on your beautiful floor. Now, if you do need an agitator brush for vacuuming carpets, just make sure that the upright vacuum comes with an ON/OFF feature for the brush.
Continuing on the point of saving your beautiful hardwood floors from certain destruction, you should opt for an upright vacuum cleaner that comes with a rubberized bottom. This means the wheels, the protective panel of the vacuum’s intake, and even the corners and sides of the vacuum head. Without these protective casings or coverings, your hardwood floors would undoubtedly end up clean but at the cost of unsightly scratch marks. If this occurs, the only way to salvage your floors would be by getting a professional to remove the marks or manually buff and polish using a floor buffer.
Cleaning large surface areas, even with a mechanized tool, can be a pain in the buttocks. Operating any vacuum cleaner, regardless of what surface you’re cleaning, is a chore that most don’t like doing. To make things easier, we recommend finding an upright vacuum that comes with self-propelled wheels. They allow the vacuum cleaner to move forward and backward almost effortlessly so your arm, shoulder, and back will not have to brunt the entire weight of the unit.
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A vacuum cleaner may seem like a simple purchase, but in reality, finding the right model, especially for particular jobs, can be confusing. In this article, we’ve talked mainly about upright vacuum cleaners and how to find the right model for picking up fallen pet hair and for use on sleek hardwood floors.
When shopping for an upright vacuum for pet hair, suction power is everything. Since pet hair is much larger than dust particles, the vacuum should produce greater suction power. A great place to start would be 150 CFM, though we’d recommend going higher if possible. Also, features like an agitator brush, adjustable height, and a selection of different cleaning attachments make picking up after your pet quicker and much less stressful.
As for finding the right upright vacuum for hardwood floors, you may not need the same suction power for picking up pet hair. A unit that delivers around 120 CFM would be appropriate, but if you have a pet or have particularly dirty floors, a stronger suction is better. As for the agitator brush, make sure that the upright vacuum cleaner either doesn’t have one or has the option to turn it off. Agitator brushes can scratch hardwood floors which is something you don’t want.