- What Is the Right Type of Vacuum Cleaner for Allergy Sufferers?
- What Is a HEPA Filter, and Why Does My Vacuum Need One?
- What’s the Big Deal About Carbon Filters?
- How Many Times Should I Run My Vacuum on the Carpet?
- How Often Should I Vacuum to Control My Allergy Symptoms?
- Top 8 Best Vacuums for Allergies
- An Allergy Sufferer’s Guide to Buying a Vacuum
- Shop by Style
- Shop by Surface
Vacuum thoroughly and vacuum often. That’s the advice often given to allergy sufferers, especially to those who have carpet in their home. With the right vacuum cleaner, you can suction and trap most of the allergens on your floors. With the wrong one, many of those allergens are spit back out and stirred up in the air, eventually settling onto surfaces and into your respiratory tract.
So… what is the right type of vacuum for allergy sufferers? Find out the answer to this question and other vacuums-for-allergies FAQs below.
What Is the Right Type of Vacuum Cleaner for Allergy Sufferers?
As far as allergies go, it doesn’t matter whether you have a canister or an upright. What does matter more than any other feature is the setup of the filtration system. The system should have two features – a sealed housing and a HEPA filter.
What Does It Mean When a Vacuum Is Sealed?
When a manufacturer lists a vacuum as sealed, it means the vacuum cleaner’s suction path and filter compartment are completely closed, and air won’t leak out of the vacuum. To prevent leaks, a sealed vacuum cleaner will have rubber gaskets around the exhaust, the dirt compartment, the filter and any other area where air could escape. Vacuums that aren’t sealed will expel allergens into the air even if it has a HEPA filter.
What Is a HEPA Filter, and Why Does My Vacuum Need One?
A HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate air, filter is a type of filter that consists of multiple high-density pleats designed to trap almost all ultra-fine particles that blow through it. Unlike standard filters that capture about 95 percent of allergens, HEPA filters trap 99.97% of dust, pollen, dander and other allergens as small as 0.3 microns.
What Is a Micron?
A micron, or micrometer, is a unit of measurement scientists use to determine the size of a particle. One micron equals one-millionth of 1 meter. To give you an idea of the size of 1 micron, a strand of hair is about 75 to 100 microns wide; a particle of dust measures approximately 5 microns in width.
My Vacuum Has a HEPA-Type Filter. Is That Okay?
HEPA-type filters trap 99% of particles that measure 2 microns or more. While that capture rate gives them the ability to filter some allergens, HEPA-type filters are inefficient at trapping other, smaller allergens such as bacteria. For those who don’t suffer from allergies, a HEPA-type filter is perfectly fine. However, people who do have allergies need the efficiency that only a genuine HEPA filter can provide.
What’s the Big Deal About Carbon Filters?
Many vacuum cleaners have not only a HEPA filter but also a carbon filter. A carbon filter is made of activated charcoal. The charcoal is treated with oxygen to create numerous pores. These pores trap certain odor-causing particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like smoke and paint fumes, leaving your floors and the surrounding air smelling fresh and clean.
Should I Buy a Vacuum That Doesn’t Need a Disposable Bag?
It depends on the mechanics of the dirt cup. If you want to go with a bagless vacuum, you’ll need one that opens from the bottom instead of the top. If you’re leaning toward a vacuum that takes disposable bags, a micro-lined version will help filter more dust. Those that have a sealing flap will keep dust out contained when you remove it.
I Hate Dumping Out My Vacuum. Can I Wait Until It’s Completely Full?
We get it. Whether you’re emptying a cup or tossing a bag, dumping debris from your vacuum is not exactly an appealing chore. However, dumping it before the cup or the bag is completely full will prevent clogs from obstructing the suction path. Ideally, you should empty either one when it’s one-half to three-fourths full.
I Love My Pets But Their Hair Gets Everywhere. What Features Do I Need in a Vacuum?
Animal hair is an allergy trigger for some, especially when it accumulates on furniture. If you or anyone in your house is sensitive to pet hair, there are two additional features you need in a vacuum aside from a HEPA filter and a sealed system. You’ll want a vacuum with a pre-filter, which traps large particles like hair before they reach the HEPA filter. You’ll also need an upholstery brush, particularly a motorized one.
How Many Times Should I Run My Vacuum on the Carpet?
The number of times you should pass a vacuum over a single area of carpet depends on the vacuum. A vacuum with strong suction and stiff bristles will get the job done in fewer passes. The carpet’s soil level and fiber height also play a role. More passes are required on extra-dirty, hair-covered or high-pile carpet. At a minimum, you’ll need to make two passes per area.
How Often Should I Vacuum to Control My Allergy Symptoms?
Usually, two times a week is sufficient to keep allergens at bay. However, there are circumstances when you may need to vacuum your floors more often. If your allergies are hard to control or come with severe symptoms, you should vacuum once every other day; some people vacuum daily. The same guideline applies to homes with pets, a lot of dust or heavy foot traffic.
Do I Need to Vacuum Other Places Besides My Floors?
Yes. Other areas of your home collect dust, hair and pollen too. Bookshelves, lampshades, fireplace mantles – You name it. A vacuum cleaner with attachments like a crevice wand and a dusting brush will help keep your home allergy friendly.
Do I Have to Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommended Maintenance Schedule?
You don’t have to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, but you should. The owner’s manual usually provides time intervals for every maintenance task. Following these guidelines will keep your vacuum running efficiently while maximizing its lifespan, especially the instructions for cleaning or replacing the filters. In turn, your home will have fewer allergens, and you’ll have less severe allergy symptoms.
Top 8 Best Vacuums for Allergies
Ready to start shopping for an allergy-friendly vacuum cleaner? We’ve reviewed and listed eight highly efficient vacuum cleaners that do an outstanding job of trapping dust, hair and other allergens.
8) Shark Navigator Deluxe Upright Corded Bagless Vacuum (NV42) Review
No need to worry about air leaks with the Shark Navigator NV42. Its triple set of pre-motor filters and post-motor filter rest in an anti-allergen sealed system. Each filter is washable, saving you money over time. The dirt cup holds 1 quart of debris, and it opens from the bottom to prevent dust clouds. It also has a fill line, so you won’t accidentally overfill the cup.
Shark chose to implement a cyclonic suction system in the NV42, which means fewer clogs and longer filter lives. The suction is incredibly strong thanks to the Deluxe’s 1,200-watt motor. Like most uprights, this vacuum cleaner has a brushroll. However, you can turn off the brushroll and vacuum hard floors by simply flipping a switch.
At 15 pounds, this vacuum cleaner is relatively lightweight. Most people will have no trouble carrying it up the stairs. It has a looped handle to help you maintain your grip comfortably. The translucency of the dust cup not only makes it easy to see the contents within it but also creates a dazzling display against the champagne gold color of the housing.
With the Deluxe NV42, you get several attachments to use for above-floor cleaning chores. There is a short crevice wand, a 24-inch crevice tool, a dusting brush and a power brush. You can connect the extension tube to the flexible hose to extend your reach to 10 feet. The 25-foot power lets you vacuum average-sized rooms without changing electrical outlets.
7) Kenmore Elite 31150 Pet-Friendly Bagged Upright Vacuum Review
HEPA filtration from start to finish. The Kenmore Elite 31150 proves it’s designed for pet owners, boasting allergy-friendly certification from the Asthma and Allergy Friendly Foundation of America. The upright contains a disposable bag, a pleated main filter and a post-motor filter, all of which are HEPA-rated.
Inside this silver-bullet beauty, there is a 3D inducer motor. With its enhanced fan and intake, the 12-amp single-stage motor provides strong, unwavering suction. A five-height adjustment knob on the floor head lets you situate the suction inlet close to the floor, and a check-bag indicator along with a cooling valve prevent clogs.
As opposed to sharing one with the suction system, the Elite’s brushroll runs on a dedicated motor. The brushroll’s belt-free design reduces maintenance costs over the life of the vacuum. On the ergonomic handle, a rocker switch lets you stop and start the brushroll.
Clean wherever you’d like with the variety of attachments provided by Kenmore. The crevice tool transforms into a dusting brush when needed. The Pet Handi-Mate has a suction-control collar, and the telescoping wand extends 10 feet. Onboard storage is available for each attachment, and the 35-foot power cord gives you plenty of length.
Kenmore included a few extra conveniences. The Elite 31150 is equipped with two headlights to guide your path in places where you would otherwise struggle to see. There is even an infrared sensor that detects concentrated spots of dirt. When dirt is found, an LED light illuminates until you vacuum the area.
6) Dyson Ball Allergy Complete Upright Vacuum (Formerly the DC65) Review
You’ll never have to deal with dust blowback because the 0.55-gallon dirt cup is equipped with a shooter mechanism. Press the button on top of the cup, and the shooter forcefully pushes out the dirt and debris. For allergen filtration, there are two media. One filter is located in the cup while the other is found in the ball – Both filters are washable and reusable.
To increase the maneuverability factor, the Dyson Allergy Complete has a rotating ball attached to the upright’s floor head and the body. As you turn the 17-pound vacuum by the D-shaped handle, the ball rolls, allowing you to swivel steer. A 35-foot-long cord makes it easy to vacuum large spaces.
With this vacuum, you get a total of seven tools. Some of them are the standard must-haves like the soft dusting brush. Others are rather unique. For example, the reach-under tool bends and extends to clean in awkward areas. There is a mattress tool, which gathers lint and balled fibers, and the multi-angle tool features a twistable, clear joint.
The AFAA-certified has an excellent suction system. A bundle of radial root cyclone channels above the dust cup spin particles at high speed, making the system’s efficiency equivalent to that of a HEPA filter. They’re strong too, generating a whopping 245 air watts’ worth of suction. Throw in a stiff-bristled, separate-motor brushroll and a self-adjusting floor head, and this upright can handle any mess in its path.
5) Shark Navigator Lift-Away Upright Vacuum (NV352) Review
Filters that last a lifetime. Every filter in the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Upright‘s sealed system is designed to work forever, including the double-layer pre-motor filter and the HEPA post-motor filter. The 3-quart dust cup is secured to the vacuum by two side latches. To empty the cup, undo both latches and press the bottom door release button.
You’ll appreciate the ultra-lightweight feel of this 12.5-pound upright vac. A rounded, protruding handle fits the curve of your palm as you steer the pivoting floor head. On the back of the vacuum, there is a quick-turn hook, which enables you to unwind the 25-foot-long power cord instantly.
Above-floor cleaning is where the lavender Navigator really shines. The entire body detaches when you press the lift-away button, giving you maneuverability that’s rare for uprights. Since it only weighs 7.5 pounds in lift-away mode, carrying it is a breeze. You can connect the turbo tool and the short and long crevice wands to the handle or the pole. A two-tool holder provides partial onboard storage.
Lending suction power to the Navigator is a 1,200-watt motor. If you want tailored suction, you can adjust the flow by turning the handle’s vented collar. As you’d expect with a full-size upright, the Navigator is equipped with a brushroll. However, you have the option of running the suction without the brushroll when you need to vacuum hard floors. If a blockage occurs in the floor head, the brushroll stops spinning until the offending object is dislodged.
4) Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away Upright (NV501) Review
Dust and dander stay put in the Shark Rotator Professional‘s sealed filtration system. Inside this system, there are two pre-filters – one made of foam and another made of felt. Additionally, a true-HEPA post-motor filter is concealed behind the front grill. Follow Shark’s cleaning recommendations, and you’ll never need to replace any of the filter media.
The red-accented upright features an 8-pound detachable canister that lifts away from the vacuum cleaner with the push of a button, allowing you to take it anywhere the 30-foot cord reaches. An 8.4-foot stretchable hose can be used with or without the attachment-holding pole, and both components connect to the motorized power brush, air-powered upholstery tool, 12-inch crevice wand and dusting brush.
A 1,200-watt motor drives the upright vacuum’s incredible suction power, pulling debris into the 3.1-quart dirt cup with a bottom-opening door. On the handle, a turning collar allows you to decrease the suction for cleaning delicate items like lampshades and drapes.
Separate from the suction motor, a secondary motor controls the power to the Rotator Professional’s brushroll. Therefore, you can flip the fingertip switch to start and stop the brushroll. Should it become jammed, an indicator light illuminates to alert you of the obstruction.
Weighing 15.5 pounds, the Rotator is an average size for modern uprights. An oval handle helps you guide the swiveling, dual-headlight floor head around corners and furniture. For brushroll-free vacuuming of area rugs and hard floors, you can secure a straight-suction nozzle to the detachable pole.
3) Shark DuoClean Lift-Away Speed Upright Vacuum (NV771) Review
Its compact size makes Shark DuoClean Lift-Away Speed ideal for those who are short on storage space, yet the sealed-system upright is able to filter allergens with the best of them. Dirt and debris land in the 0.9-liter cup while dust and pollen are filtered through two pre-motor media. Allergens that make it past these two filters are eventually trapped by the HEPA post-motor filter. The dirt cup opens from the bottom to prevent dust clouds.
The red-and-chrome-accented black upright vacuum boasts Shark’s ingenious lift-away canister. With the press of a button, you can transform the upright into a 30-foot-corded handheld vac. As you carry the canister by its tote handle, your other hand is free to use either of the two tools stored onboard, such as the duster-crevice combo attachment and the pet-upholstery multi-tool.
As a DuoClean Shark model, this vacuum is equipped with two 8.5-inch brushrolls in a no-tools-needed access garage. The bristled brushroll reaches deep into carpets while the soft brushroll gathers large debris and sweeps hard floors. Swivel steering and a pair of running LED headlights allow for smooth maneuvering. You can even change the brushroll speed by moving the slider on the canister.
Weighing 13 pounds, you’ll have no problem pushing, pulling and lifting the 900-watt vacuum cleaner. Below the D-shaped handle, there is a suction slider. Max mode is suitable for carpets and big messes while Min mode works best for area rugs and delicate surfaces.
2) Miele Complete C2 Hard Floor Canister Vacuum With Rug & Floor Tool Review
Miele’s Complete C2 canister vacuum uses large HEPA filter bags designed to fit within a sealed system. Each 4.5-quart bag comes with a standard AirClean filter; however, you can replace it with an optional, HEPA-grade exhaust filter. An automatic bag positioner and full indicator make bag replacements super simple.
With the canister vacuum, you get two differently styled floor nozzles. The 16-inch Parquet Twister XL nozzle is affixed with soft bristles and pivots in two directions. The all-purpose AllTeQ Combination nozzle features a bristle-retracting foot pedal and thread pullers, so you can use it on low-pile carpet and bare floors.
Inside the muted blue canister, there is a compartment where you can store the vacuum’s accessories, including the dusting brush, crevice wand and upholstery tool. A bumper strip protects your furniture from accidental dings, and the casters won’t damage delicate floors. The canister also has a curved handle, which allows you to carry the 8.8-pound vacuum comfortably.
Miele chose to power the Complete C2 with a streamlined Vortex motor. Optimized for sound reduction, the Vortex motor is rated at 1,200 watts. On the front of the canister, there is a turn dial that lets you select one of six suction speeds, each of which are customized for specific tasks.
Back-saving conveniences are aplenty on the C2. The 33-foot-long power cord is retractable. The cord along with the power are controlled by foot pedals. There is even an onboard parking clip to which the stainless-steel pole attaches, leaving the pole in an upright position.
1) Shark Navigator Lift-Away Speed Zero-M Upright Vacuum (ZU561) Review
Shark never disappoints when it comes to allergen filtration. Its anti-allergen sealed filtration system consists of three filters. The foam and felt media are pre-filters that sit below the dust cup while the pleated HEPA post-motor filter is enclosed in a grilled compartment.
The ruby red Navigator has a lift-away canister. In lift-away mode, you can use any of the three attachments that Shark included with the vacuum. The duster-crevice combo’s brush slides back to reveal a tapered end. The hair-removal multi-tool can be used as an upholstery tool when you unclip the bristle-brush frame. There is also a separate upholstery brush for sofas and mattresses.
Integrating Zero-M technology, Shark gave the brushroll the ability to remove hair as it rotates by using a built-in comb and bristle guard. You can toggle between a low and a high brushroll speed for hard floors and carpets, and an indicator light tells you when the brushroll is jammed, overheating or operating normally.
At 800 watts, the vacuum’s motor achieves above-average suction strength. You can increase and decrease the suction by turning the control collar on the handle. The 2.2-quart dust cup opens from the bottom, and the lint screen is accessible via a door on top of the cup.
The 13-pound upright is lightweight and easy to steer thanks to a looped handle and swiveling floor nozzle. The handle is equipped with a comfortably soft thumb grip and an anti-static metal strip. A 25-foot cord offers extensive reach.
An Allergy Sufferer’s Guide to Buying a Vacuum
As someone who suffers from allergies, there are certain features you need in a vacuum cleaner. Of course, your condition doesn’t define you, so we’ve also included other features that you may want to consider as well as guides for shopping by style and by surface. In other words, this guide has it all.
Filtration should be your number one concern. Remember, a HEPA-type filter does not a true-HEPA filter make, so don’t settle for anything but the real deal. We recommend a vacuum cleaner that has a pre-filter and/or cyclonic suction in addition to a HEPA filter. Since the pre-filter captures larger particles, it will help the HEPA filter maintain its efficiency, and cyclonic suction will aid in dust filtration.
For those who have allergies, suction comes in at a close second to filtration. After all, the stronger the suction, the more allergens the vacuum can lift. More important than powerful suction and cyclonic suction is whether the vacuum leaks any air. Whether you choose an upright or a canister, the best vacuum for you is one that seals the entire airflow path, so allergens can’t escape.
Brushrolls come in a variety of setups. Some have hard bristles to lift particles buried deep within carpeting. Others are soft and flat, which are better suited for hard floors. There are also vacuums that combine both styles into one brushroll or have one of each brushroll.
Alternatively, you can choose a vacuum cleaner that has a separate motor for the brushroll, allowing you to turn it off when necessary. A few models lift or slow the brushroll instead of stopping it, and other vacuums come with more than one-floor head.
There’s a lot to think about as far as floor-nozzle features go. The ability to adjust the height of the floor plate makes transitioning from carpets to hard floors and vice versa easy. A floor head that is slim in height and pivots back and forth lets you vacuum under and around furniture. If headlights are on the floor nozzle, you can actually see what you’re suctioning from under the couch.
In terms of attachments, there are two that everyone should have on their vacuum cleaner – a dusting brush and a crevice wand. With a brush, you can suction dust blinds and bookshelves without stirring the dust around in the air. The crevice wand fits between sofa cushions and along windowsills, getting into those nooks and crannies you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.
Many vacuum cleaners come with more accessories than just a dusting brush and a crevice wand. If you’re a meticulous housekeeper, you’ll appreciate a vacuum with a comprehensive set of tools. There are motorized and air-driven upholstery brushes (either one is a must-have for pet owners). Some attachments flex while others are two tools combined into one.
You may, or may not, be surprised at how often people lose their vacuum attachments. If the vacuum cleaner you like comes with more than two accessories, you’ll ideally want to a place to store them onboard. Some vacuums have a dedicated storage compartment while others have an external clip.
It may seem trivial, but the handle configuration matters a lot. You don’t want your hand to feel fatigued or hurt, so look for a vacuum with an ergonomic handle. By ergonomic, we mean a handle that’s shaped like a D or an O. Ones that curve to your palm or have a rubber grip are also great choices.
Dust and pollen don’t limit themselves to floors. Chances are you’ll want to vacuum places that would require you to get on a step ladder. Vacuums with a detachable canister are perfect for tackling above-head vacuuming chores sans the ladder. A detachable canister, a long flexible hose or an extendable pole will also help.
Large rooms can be a pain to clean if you have to switch electrical outlets midway through vacuuming. Go for a vacuum cleaner with the longest power cord you can find if this is a major issue for you. Shoot for one that’s at least 30 feet. Bonus points if the power cord is retractable.
Another time-waster is a vacuum with an undersized dust bag or dirt cup. If your home is small or the overall size of the vacuum is more important, the dirt capacity won’t be a big factor. If the opposite is true, a bag or cup that holds 2 liters or more of debris should be sufficient.
Does storage come at a premium in your house? If so, look for a vacuum cleaner that’s slim. Use the 12-inch mark as the determiner. If the widest point (usually the floor nozzle) is fewer than 12 inches, the vacuum won’t take up much space in a closet or wherever you choose to keep it.
Nobody wants to lug around a heavy vacuum cleaner. If you have mobility issues or stairs, a lightweight vacuum is best – one that ranges from 10 to 15 pounds. Canister vacuums tend to weigh less than uprights, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.
At the very least, a vacuum cleaner will have a power button, pedal or switch. If you don’t relish the idea of having to bend or stoop, take a good look at the placement of the controls. Many vacuums have buttons, sliders and switches near the top of the unit. Some models only have controls on the handle.
Indicators and Markings
What’s that awful sound? There’s no need to guess what’s causing your vacuum to whine or lose suction if it has a brushroll or suction indicator light. A full-bag or a dirty-filter indicator also prevent clogs from forming. If it’s a bagless model, make sure there’s a fill line on the dust cup (most vacuums have one).
Everyone likes saving money. If you’re more frugal than most, there are certain features that will reduce maintenance costs over time. Direct-drive floor nozzles don’t have a belt, which means there’s a low likelihood of a breakdown. An auto-stop function for the brushroll saves the belt in the event of an obstruction.
There are also some vacuums with filters that last a lifetime as long as you regularly clean them. Bagless vacuums cost less to maintain than bagged models because there are no disposable bags to replace once or twice a month.
Shop by Style
Have your eye on a canister vac? If you want the best of the best, make sure the canister vacuum has soft wheels that won’t mark hard floors. It should also have sturdy casters for easy steering and a comfortable handle for lifting. Foot pedals will save you from backaches, and an onboard hook will keep the pole upright in park. Many canister vacs also have a tool-storage compartment.
Uprights are the traditional choice. A well-built upright vacuum will have an ergonomic handle and swivel steering. The filters will be of the true-HEPA variety, and the suction system will be sealed. Premium models come complete with headlights, various indicators and plenty of attachments.
Bagged vacuums do an excellent job of keeping dust contained . . . as long as the bags are designed to be sealed. Look for a flap that closes over the bag’s inlet to ensure it will contain the debris. To avoid aggravating your allergies, a bag with integrated HEPA filtration is recommended.
Vacuums that hold debris in a cup instead of a bag offer streamlined maintenance and put more money in your pocket. Preferably, you’ll want a vacuum with a large dust cup, but that’s not a necessity. What is non-negotiable is a cup that opens from the bottom – This setup prevents dust clouds from floating in the air.
Shop by Surface
Flooring like hardwoods and tile are susceptible to scratches and marks – even vinyl and linoleum floors aren’t immune. Vacuums with soft rubber wheels are unlikely to damage hard floors. You’ll also want the vacuum to have a variable-speed brushroll or a shutoff option for the brushroll.
It’s easier for a vacuum to lift dirt and allergens from Berber and low-pile carpet due to their pile height. With medium and high-pile carpeting, it takes a vacuum cleaner with tough, long bristles to get the job done.
Area rugs are often delicate, especially if they have fringe. To safely clean your area rugs, you’ll need a vacuum with a brushroll you can raise or stop (or one with an interchangeable straight-suction floor head). The vacuum should also offer suction control that lets you lower the suction speed.
Whether they’re carpeted or bare, stairs need vacuuming too. The easiest vacuum cleaner to use on stairs is one that’s lightweight. It should also have a stair-specific or upholstery tool – motorized is best but air-powered also works.
|Best of the Best!||Most Popular||Budget Pick (< $100)|
|18.7 pounds||11.6 pounds||5 pounds|
|16.7 x 9.6 x 9.1 in||9 x 17.5 x 11.6 in||13.5 x 5.2 x 8 in|