How to Buy the Best Vacuum Cleaner

Kristen Stensby
Written by Kristen Stensby
Updated May 3, 2016
upright vacuum cleaner
The best upright vacuum cleaner for you should have adjustable height, adjustable suction and a beater bar with bristles that aren't too tough.
Eldon Lindsay

When shopping for the best upright vacuum cleaner, don't get swept up in unnecessary features.

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Every day I help people buy thousands of dollars worth of carpet. We talk at length about the right pad to use, the fiber, the nap, the seaming, etc. As a buyer, you do research on brands and read reviews. You make the purchase, and installers put in your new carpet. Then you go to the closet and grab your vacuum.

Whether it’s a brand new wedding gift or a tried-and-true treasure, that vacuum could ruin your investment. Let’s take a quick look at what your vacuum cleaner should be able to do, what certifications your vacuum should have and why it all matters.

Choose a vacuum with an adjustable beater bar

No matter what carpet fiber or construction, you should be able to adjust the height of a vacuum's beater bar to match your carpet.

If your beater bar is too high, the vacuum cleaner will be unable to suck the dirt and grit from the carpet. Beater bars set too low will damage the carpet fibers and will lead to fuzzing, fraying, pilling and worn carpet tips. Most of the time, you want the beater bar to just "kiss" the top of the carpet, not actually "beat" the fibers. 

Vacuum cleaner bristles

Check out and feel the bristles. You want firm but soft bristles on the beater bar. Imagine combing your favorite sweater with a steel wool pad. That’s what stiff, spiky bristles on a vacuum will do to your carpet. You will see the wear and tear almost immediately.

Vacuum cleaners need adjustable suction

Adjustable suction speed also is important. Some vacuums are so powerful that without the ability to reduce the suction, they can actually pull the fibers out of the backing!

Some vacuum brands pride themselves on their products' sucking power. But when choosing the best vacuum cleaner, remember there is such a thing as too much power.

Research to find the best vacuum cleaner

Search for the Carpet and Rug Institute's Seal of Approval and Green Label vacuums. Carpet manufactures use these CRI guidelines when writing warranties and vacuum recommendations, too.

Why is it important for you, as the end user of both the carpet and the vacuum cleaner, to do this much research? Well, using the wrong vacuum could mean you are voiding your warranty. It might mean you are not getting your carpet as clean as it could be. Doing the research will confirm you are not doing anything wrong — or maybe it will just confirm you have been using the right tools all along.

At the very least, you should ask your flooring contractor about the best vacuum for your carpet. Good flooring retailers know where to find the information and how to help you safeguard your carpet and your warranty.

What features are you looking for in a new vacuum cleaner? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

As of May 3, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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