Top 9 Best Vacuums for an Apartment in 2019: Buying Guide

Apartments, detached houses, townhomes – They all have floors that need to be cleaned. For that, a vacuum cleaner is a must-have. No matter where you live and what kind of floors you have, the vacuum you use should be reliable and efficient.

Best Vacuums for an Apartment

However, as an apartment dweller, you know that living in an apartment home is somewhat different than living in a detached house. You have neighbors who live above and/or below you, which means keeping the noise at a respectful level. Often, the HVAC systems aren’t airtight even though each apartment has its own, so allergens float in from adjoining apartments. Plus, apartments aren’t known for offering tons of storage space.


If you don’t live alone, there are other issues. Having roommates really saves on rent, but communal-living tends to bring extra messes, especially after parties. If you have a cat, you probably keep it indoors 24/7. Similarly, with a dog, Fido’s outdoor time is limited to when you can take him outside for a walk or a potty break.

What does all that mean in relation to vacuum cleaners? In addition to efficiency, you need a vacuum that’s relatively quiet and compact. The vacuum should also have a great filtration system and a large dirt capacity. However, those aren’t the only considerations.

Best Vacuums For Apartment Living

Let us help you choose the right vacuum for your apartment. In this guide, you’ll find information about different full-power vacuums and a comparison between corded and cordless vacuums. Since no two living situations are exactly the same, we give you a rundown of the best vacuum cleaner features according to criteria such as apartment size, surfaces, floor level and more.

The Best Types of Vacuum Cleaners for Apartments

Even though hand vacuums are great for picking up small messes and robot vacuums are convenient, we’ve chosen to focus on the three major types of full-size vacuums. Upright, canister and stick vacuums are best suited for vacuuming from wall to wall in a timely fashion.

As opposed to robotic vacuums, they produce enough suction to thoroughly clean plush carpet and lift ground-in dirt. Uprights, canisters and sticks are also equipped with the more effective filtration systems than handheld and robotic models.

Upright Vacuums – An Overview

Uprights are the traditional choice of vacuum cleaner. Like the name suggests, upright vacuum cleaners stand on their floor head. A set of four wheels allows them to roll across carpeted and hard floors while the head’s suction inlet pulls debris into the vacuum.

These vacuums also have a brushroll with bristles that help lift stubborn dirt. Most upright vacs have a detachable hose that pairs with detailing tools and provide a way for the user to adjust the floor head’s height. Some models are equipped with a toggle switch that controls the power to the brushroll.

Upright Vacuums - Pros and Cons

Upright Vacuums – Pros and Cons

Upright vacuums are popular for a reason. Their powerful suction along with a brushroll means they can handle any kind of carpet. You don’t have to bend over because the handle on an upright comes to waist level or higher. Uprights don’t take up much storage space, and their floor heads are wide enough to cover about a foot-wide path per pass.

While uprights have a lot going for them, there are some downsides. Uprights are the heaviest type of full-size vacuum cleaner. They are also the loudest. Due to their weight, some upright vacuums may be difficult to maneuver, particularly around corners and furniture.

Our Recommended Upright Vacuums for an Apartment

Bissell Cleanview Upright Bagless Vacuum 1831

Unlike other vacuums that require you to go over the same floor area multiple times before they vacuum up all of the debris, the BISSELL Cleanview upright vacuum is… More

Bissell 9595A CleanView Bagless Vacuum

The lightweight vacuum features OnePass Technology with a powerful suction and innovative brush design. Bottom Easy Empty dirt tank and a washable foam filter… More

Shark Rotator Professional Upright Corded Bagless Vacuum (NV501)

This Lift-Away upright vacuum features a detachable canister, LED lights, advanced swivel steering, XL-capacity dust cup, Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology and a… More

Canister Vacuums – An Overview

Canister vacuums are the contemporary peers of uprights. Although the suction and filtration functions are basically the same, canister vacuums differ from upright vacuums in terms of appearance. The floor head on a canister vacuum connects to a sturdy wand, which is attached to the hose. The other end of the hose leads to the canister, which contains the motor, filter and bag or cup.

The user holds the wand at the handle to push the floor head across the floor. As the user moves to a different area of the room, he drags the canister behind him. Some canister vacs have brushroll-equipped floor heads while others are straight-suction varieties. Many models come with brushroll and brushless nozzles that you can interchange.

Canister Vacuums - Pros and Cons

Canister Vacuums – Pros and Cons

As far as suction power goes, canister vacuums rival (and some even surpass) that of upright vacuums. Despite their suction strength, canister vacs tend to make less noise due to better-insulated housings. They are also easy to guide around awkward corners and tight spots.

Canister vacuums aren’t perfectly designed. Many of these vacuum cleaners come with accessories, but most models offer no onboard storage. Canister vacuums also take up a lot of floor space in a storage closet. Additionally, the canisters themselves are notorious for toppling over while rolling and getting hung up when turning corners.

Our Recommended Canister Vacuums for an Apartment

Bissell Zing Bagged Canister Vacuum 4122

The Bissell Zing bagged canister vacuum makes any cleaning task seem effortless. The lightweight design and carry handle provide portable convenience. The Multi-Surface… More

Dyson BAll
Dyson Big Ball Multi Floor Canister Vacuum

Self-rights when toppled other vacuums fall down and stay down. Only Dyson big ball canister vacuums pick themselves up. Hygienic dirt ejector drives out trapped… More

Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G Corded Canister Vacuum Cleaner

The Mighty Mite canister vacuum is equipped with powerful brush rolls to deep clean carpets and a full set of tools are provided for specialty cleaning such as stairs… More

Stick Vacuums – An Overview

Stick vacs resemble upright vacuums in that they both stand vertically. The setup is the same as that of upright models. As the user pushes the vacuum, the floor head draws in debris via its suction inlet. Then, the debris go through a filter, or two, and into a bag or a cup.

There are some stick vacuums that have a brushroll just like uprights. Other models don’t have one or give you a way to turn off the brushroll. These vacuum cleaners come in corded and cordless versions. Those that are sans a power cord must be recharged on a dock or with an adapter.

Stick Vacuums - Pros and Cons

Stick Vacuums – Pros and Cons

In the category of size, stick vacs have a clear advantage. They are lightweight and rather compact in comparison to uprights and canisters. People find these vacuums easy to maneuver because of their size and weight, and they don’t hog a lot of storage space.

One of the major cons of a stick vac is its suction power. Its small size means there is not enough space to put a motor that produces suction equivalent to that of uprights and canisters; some models struggle on high-pile carpet. Also, the floor head is narrower. Therefore, you must make more passes to vacuum a room.

Our Recommended Stick Vacuums for an Apartment

Shark Rocket Ultra-Light Corded Bagless Vacuum (HV302)

Ultra-lightweight. At under 8 pounds, it converts into a hand vac for versatile floor-to-ceiling cleaning. Home & Car Detail Kit. Micro tools that clean the tiniest… More

Tineco A10 Hero Cordless Stick Vacuum

25mins runtime in regular mode, which is upgradable with optional spare battery (separately sold), and your machine can be rejuvenated after years just by changing… More

Dyson V8 Stick
Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner

150 percent more brush bar power than the Dyson V6 cord-free vacuum. Two cleaner heads. Extra tools and whole machine HEPA filtration. Cord-free. Hassle-free…. More

The Two Biggest Vacuum Cleaner Debates

The power source and the dirt-collection system are two components of vacuum cleaners people constantly debate. Bagged or bagless? Corded or cordless? Which one is better? Well, the “best” one really depends on what you need from a vacuum cleaner. Here’s our take on each of these debates.

Bagged vs. Bagless

Bagless models hit the market decades after bagged vacuums. This style of vacuum cleaner has a plastic cup. When the cup is full of dirt, you simply remove the cup and empty its contents into the garbage can.

The cup is reusable and requires no maintenance except for an occasional wipe down. The major con to a bagless vacuum is that airborne allergens are released into the air when the cup is emptied. However, cups with a bottom-release door reduce the volume of particles.

Best Vacuum for an Apartment

Bagged vacuum cleaners contain a cloth or paper bag to hold debris. The bag connects to the suction inlet, and it’s accessible by removing the vacuum’s front cover. One problem that occurs in some bagged vacuums is a weak seal at the connection point. Another negative is the ongoing cost of replacement bags.

Although bagless vacuum cleaners are arguably more used than bagged models, bagged vacuums do offer one unique benefit. When the bag is full and it’s time to replace it, dust and other allergens won’t fly into the air.

If you want the most convenient and cost-friendly option, go for a bagless vacuum. If you suffer from allergies, a bagged vacuum cleaner is a better choice.

Corded vs. Cordless

The debate over corded versus cordless vacuums never ends. This is a non-issue for upright and canister vacuums as both types only come in corded models. Only stick vacuums that come in corded and cordless varieties.

Corded stick vacs work like any other vacuum cleaner. You plug the cord into the nearest electrical outlet, and you unplug it when you’re done. The suction strength never fluctuates. However, the vacuum’s cleaning radius is limited by the length of the cord.

Corded vs. Cordless

Inside of a cordless vacuum, there is a battery that you must recharge when it’s low on power. You either do this by placing the vacuum on a dock or connecting it an adapter. With a cordless stick vacuum, there is no cord to shorten the vacuum cleaner.

Despite its limitless reach, there can be up to a few hours of downtime when the battery is recharging. The suction may also waver as the battery level depletes unless the battery has lithium-ion cells.

For large spaces, cordless vacuum cleaners are great. If you’re too busy to put cleaning on pause to recharge a battery, get a corded vacuum.

Vacuum Cleaner Recommendations

The right vacuum cleaner for you may be different than the right kind of vacuum for your neighbor below. Your apartment’s floor plan and location play a role. The type of flooring in your apartment is also important. Plus, there are personal considerations that will affect your decision, such as your health problems, pets and amount of spare time.

Do you live in a studio, one-bedroom or efficiency apartment of about 400 to 800 square feet? If so, we suggest a corded stick vacuum.

Out of all three types, stick vacs take up the least space. Since you don’t have a lot of flooring to clean, you don’t need a vacuum with a wide cleaning path. A cordless model is unnecessary for the same reason you don’t need the wide floor nozzle of an upright or canister vacuum – There isn’t a lot of square footage to cover. Hence, no need to play musical outlets.

Are your digs bigger? You can go corded or cordless if your apartment measures 800 to 1,500 square feet (or more). It depends on the specific square footage.

If your apartment is huge, a cordless vacuum may not be able to clean all your floors before it’s time for a recharge. That doesn’t mean you can use a cordless vac, but you will have to deal with some downtime.

Both corded and cordless vacuums are great for use in the average two or three-bedroom apartment. Chances are, you’ll be able to vacuum your entire apartment without the cordless vac’s battery dying. With a corded vacuum, you will probably have to change electrical outlets at least once, but you’re guaranteed to have no downtime.

Having neighbors who live above you can be maddening. We feel your pain because we’ve been there. The tradeoff is that you can walk as heavy-footed as you want. You can also use any vacuum you want with little worry of disturbing your upstairs neighbor.

An upright is no problem because there are no neighbors underneath you to complain about you wheeling around a heavy vacuum cleaner. If your canister vacuum falls over while you’re cleaning, so what? The noise won’t reverberate to a lower-level apartment.

Best Small Vacuum Cleaners For Tiny Apartments

If you live in an upper-level apartment, you need to choose your vacuum cleaner more carefully. Upright vacs are the loudest, and canister vacuums have a tendency to topple.

If you have a sound-sensitive neighbor, you may want to stick with a stick vacuum. If you need more suction power, go with an upright. While an upright vacuum’s suction is louder than that of a canister’s, the continual sound of the upright’s suction won’t be jarring like the random noise of a canister falling over.

Medium-pile carpet is commonly used in apartments. Especially for apartments on upper floors, wall-to-wall carpeting dampens the noise made from footsteps.

Apartments that have standard residential carpeting require a vacuum with a lot of suction strength. An upright or a canister vacuum is your best bet if your apartment has wall-to-wall carpeting. Either type of vacuum is a must-have if the carpet is plush.

Plenty of historic apartment buildings have hardwood or parquet floors. This is also the case for bottom-floor units in luxury apartment buildings.

Uprights, canisters and sticks are all viable options for hard floors. However, you’ll want a model without a brushroll or one that lets you turn off the brushroll, so the bristles won’t scratch the flooring. The vacuum should also have soft wheels that don’t leave marks.

Best Vacuum for Small Apartment and Studios

Even if your apartment’s bedrooms, living room and dining area are carpeted, the kitchen and bathroom have hard floors. If you want to use the same vacuum in all the rooms of your apartment, you have two options. A canister or an upright with a brushroll-toggle feature, or a canister vac with interchangeable floor nozzles.
Area rugs are lovely decorative pieces, and they serve as a sound barrier between apartment floors. However, area rugs require certain care.

Due to their delicate nature, you don’t want to use a floor head with a brushroll. The ideal vacuum cleaner will be a suction-only or brushroll-toggle model. It will also have a button, slider or dial that lets you adjust the suction to a lower level that won’t damage the rug.

Let’s face it. Storage space in an apartment comes at a premium. If you’re lucky, you manage to shove all your cleaning supplies and linens into a tiny box of a closet in the hallway. Uprights have a wide floor head, and canister vacuums take up twice the space with their canister and their wand. When it comes to vacuums that take up the least space, stick vacuums win hands down.

Best Vacuum for Apartment

Different apartment buildings offer residents different ways to dispose of trash. Some buildings have communal garbage shoots while others make you carry your trash bag to an outside dumpster.

If you walk your trash to a dumpster or toss it in your trunk and drive it there, you want to make as few trips as possible. Look for a vacuum cleaner with a large dirt capacity. There are some models that can hold as much as 2 liters of debris in their cups. These vacuums cleaners are uprights and canisters.

The benefit of sharing an apartment with a roommate or two is being able to afford a place in a nice area. No matter how careful everyone is, the more people in an apartment, the more messes there are to clean. Therefore, you’ll want a vacuum with powerful suction that can do detailed cleaning jobs. An upright with a varied selection of attachments is an excellent choice.
When 40 hours is a light workweek, and you keep an active social life, your time is valuable and limited. You don’t have time to spend on maintaining your vacuum cleaner.

Canister vacuums suit your need to save time in two ways. Their dirt capacity is decent, so you won’t have to empty the cup or replace the bag frequently. They are all also less likely to clog than an upright or stick due to their airflow path, which means fewer breakdowns and clean-out sessions.

Best vacuum cleaners for small apartments and studios

Cats and dogs bring companionship and funny moments. They also bring problems like shedding fur and dander.

To combat those problems, you’ll need a canister or an upright vacuum cleaner. Only those vacuums have enough suction strength to lift clingy fur from carpets. Additionally, the vacuum will need an excellent filtration system. Since fur can easily reduce a filter’s efficiency, get a vacuum cleaner that produces cyclonic suction, which separates fine particles from larger ones like hair.

A vacuum with a top-notch filtration system is a game changer for those who suffer from allergies. The style of vacuum – upright, canister, stick – doesn’t matter. It’s the filter inside that counts. Vacuum cleaners that contain a HEPA filter are the only ones able to trap pollen, dust and other allergens. It also helps if there is an exhaust filter to capture stray particles that make it past the HEPA.

In terms of dirt collection, bagged vacuums are more allergy-friendly than bagless models. If you are dead set on buying a bagless vacuum cleaner, make sure the dust cup opens from the bottom. A cup with a bottom-release door protects you from breathing in harmful dust.

Whether you have back pain, arthritis or some other type of mobility issue, you need a vacuum cleaner that won’t be rough on your body.

Above all other features, the vacuum should be lightweight. Stick vacuums usually weigh less than 10 pounds. The vacuum cleaner should also have an ergonomic handle that’s angled to prevent hand and wrist fatigue. If the handle has a rubber grip, that’s even better. Many people find a D-shaped handle to be the most comfortable.

Best Apartment Vacuum

Like everyone else, you have sofas, chairs and other upholstered surfaces in your apartment. From time to time, you may find that your furniture needs a little freshening up, especially if your pets like to nap on your couch.

While there are stick and canister vacuums that come with accessories, uprights tend to come with the widest variety of tools. For vacuuming upholstery, you need a specialized tool. The best kind is one that has a miniature motorized brushroll similar to the large on the vacuum’s floor head. If you want to use your vacuum for dusting and detailing, most uprights come with a soft brush and a crevice tool.

Wrap-Up

Due to certain constraints that are par for the course with apartment living, choosing a vacuum cleaner isn’t the easiest task. When shopping around for a vacuum, there are four general factors that should drive your decision making. First, the size of your apartment. Second, the location of your apartment in the building. Finally, there is the type of flooring and the lifestyle you lead to consider.

After all, your vacuum should fit your needs. You shouldn’t have to modify your life just to clean your floors.



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