There are a lot of factors to consider when buying a new cheap vacuum: weight, suction, extra accessories, floor types, and, of course, price. As a general rule, higher priced vacuums have more built-in modes and more powerful motors, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good cheap vacuums out there.
The key is being able to tell the value deals from the cheap junkers.
In fact, most of the vacuums on this list have suction to match all but the highest end vacuums. The only difference is that the high end models will often have more flexibility and quality-of-life features. That said, if you know what to look for, the right cheap vacuum can solve all your needs and do a great job on any floor type.
For cheap vacuums, there’s two main criterion we consider more important than the rest:
Once you have those two basics covered, you can start talking about automatic modes and custom settings. But for now, we’re going to dive into five of the most effective cheap vacuums that do their jobs well, and do them reliably.
BISSELL 9595A BAGLESS
HOOVER WINDTUNNEL MAX
BISSELL CLEANVIEW SWIVEL PET
HOOVER WINDTUNNEL 2 WHOLE HOUSE
SHARK NAVIGATOR FREESTYLE
Our list represents five of the most highly rated cheap vacuums on the market. We’ve found a few of the best all-around cleaners, and also have some specific suggestions for pet owners or those with smaller apartments. We reviewed the best we could find based on thousands of users feedback and constant appraisal.
We’ll start right off with the heavy hitters: The Bissell upright vacuum with OnePass. And oh, does it live up to its name!
The innovative OnePass system uses a unique brush design combined with amazing suction, and it really does deliver what it promises. Many users report the Bissell OnePass pulls up cup after cup of dirt and hair out of what looked like clean carpets. It’s not as strong as the high-end Bissells, but it really is an unbeatable amount of suction at this price point. You can also adjust the height and retract the roller, making it suitable for both carpets and hardwood floors.
The Bissell OnePass also has a multi-level filtration system that filters out progressively smaller particles to help keep your home smelling fresh. It’s not a HEPA filter specifically, but it does a great job of pulling finer particles like pet dander out of the air. One downside is the powerful suction means you’ll need to clean the filter frequently, especially on your first few uses. It’s easily washable, but the interruption to cleaning can be an annoyance.
The Bissell Upright OnePass, as its name implies, is best used as an upright vacuum. It has a detachable hose with a TurboBrush attachment for upholstery and stairs, but the hose often isn’t long enough and too stiff to reach up to high surfaces. It still provides a great clean, it just isn’t the most versatile vacuum in our lineup.
All in all, the Bissell 9595A Vacuum with OnePass is the strongest cheap vacuum on the market. It provides an unparalleled deep clean on both hard surfaces and carpeted floors, but is best used as an upright unit.
Sometimes, you need a vacuum that just works.
Carpets, hardwood floors, stairs, you name it. The Hoover WindTunnel Max is the best all-around cheap vacuum to take on just about any task. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the top end Hoovers or Dysons, but it delivers solid performance on all the basics.
For starters, it's powered by Hoover’s WindTunnel technology which provides excellent suction on both high pile carpets and hardwood floors alike. It also comes with 5 variable height settings to ensure the best seal on any floor type. The brushes are stiff enough to pull up deep-set dirt and hairs from carpet, but also gentle enough for use on hardwood floors.
For your multi-surface needs, the WindTunnel Max also comes with a crevice tool, dusting brush, and Multi-Purpose tool. The hose is a tad bit longer than the Bissell OnePass, and flexible enough that using the attachments feels natural and easy. The powered hand brush also does a great job pulling up pet hair off furniture and upholstery.
The only real downside of the WindTunnel Max performance-wise is that it isn’t a $300 vacuum. The height settings must be adjusted manually, and the unit’s constructions leaves a lot to be desired. It’s mostly lightweight plastic and feels too light for its size, if that can ever be a bad thing.
For its price point it has fantastic suction, a bunch of useful attachments, and works for years without requiring much special care or maintenance. All-in-all it’s a model you can’t go wrong with for all but the most demanding cleaning needs.
Sometimes, fighting pet shedding feels like a never-ending battle. You can spend an hour deep cleaning a single piece of furniture, only to have it fully covered in hair in less than 24 hours.
That’s why any vacuum designed for pet homes needs this one feature:
A powerful brushroll. Even the strongest vacuum suction can’t remove pet hair that’s tangled into the fibers of your carpet or upholstery. A good pet vacuum needs powerful brushes that will uproot deep-set pet hairs, while avoiding getting tangled in the process.
The Bissell CleanView delivers everything pet owners need at an unbeatable price point. The brushroll on the CleanView has two kinds of bristles - short, firm bristles to pull up difficult dirt, and long, fine bristles to loosen fine particles like dust and pet dander.
This model also comes with a Pet TurboEraser hand tool that’s designed to pull up any dirt or hair from furniture, stairs, and vehicle upholstery. The hose is average length at 6 feet long, but that should be plenty to reach onto car seats or furniture and remove those pesky pet hairs.
One small downside in the design of the Bissell CleanView is the power cord and switch placement. Both are at the bottom of the unit which can create some hassle when turning the unit on/off or reaching into tight corners. The other downside is it doesn’t come with a HEPA air filter. It has a multi-level filtration system to catch finer particles, but might not be the best choice for those with allergies.
Overall, a fantastically built vacuum with excellent brushes to combat pet hair and high-pile carpets. It can be a little cumbersome to move around with, but more than makes up for that with superb cleaning ability and a large canister makes the Bissell CleanView Plus Rewind a great choice for all kinds of pet owners.
So what about pet owners with allergies, you ask?
Allergens are tricky for vacuums to catch because many of the particles are so small, traditional vacuum filters can’t catch them. That’s why anyone with allergies needs to make sure their vacuum has a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, to weed out particles up to .5 microns in size.
The Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House not only has a HEPA filter to catch tiny allergens, but also has a washable secondary filter that catches larger particles and prolongs the life of your HEPA filter. This dual-filtration system is the best on any cheap vacuum we reviewed, guaranteed to provide the highest possible air quality for the best price point.
The high capacity dirt cup is also great for larger homes, allowing you to cover more ground without needing to stop and empty the cup. Although the extra capacity may not feel like much on your first clean with all the extra dirt the WindTunnel 2 pulls up!
The WindTunnel 2 Whole House also comes with 3 tools for the extension hose: a crevice tool, pivoting dusting toll, and Pet Turbo tool.
So while its suction may not be the absolute best, the dual-filtration system ensures the cleanest air of any of our budget vacuums. The added versatility of the hose attachments makes this a great option for those suffering from allergies or owners of multiple pets.
There are certain circumstances where a cordless vacuum shines:
Due to their limited battery life, cordless vacuums are best for smaller apartments or as secondary spot-cleaners in larger homes. The Shark Bagless Navigator Freestyle Cordless exemplifies these characteristics and is a great budget option for both smaller homes and as a emergency cleaner in larger homes.
At about 20-25 minutes, the Freestyle boasts a decent battery life for a cordless vacuum. That’s enough to clean ~1,000 sq ft of space, or 2-3 rooms on a single charge. And compared to the bulkier models on this list, the Shark Navigator Freestyle feels incredibly nimble and agile. The stick style combined with swivel steering means the Navigator Freestyle Cordless has no problems fitting under furniture or behind appliances.
Shark is also known for their large dust canisters, and this model is no exception. The extra-large dirt cup ensures you won’t waste any charge pausing to run to the trash can; you’ll definitely be able to clean for all 20 minutes in one go.
The one downside of cordless vacuums in general is they don’t have as much suction as larger, corded vacuums do. So while the Shark Navigator Cordless does a good job picking up dirt and debris, it’s definitely not as strong as the Bissell upright with OnePass or some other high end vacuum. The stick design means the Shark Navigator Freestyle is also only usable as an upright vacuum; there’s no hose for multi-level cleaning or detailing.
All things said, if you need a solid workhorse vacuum this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a fast, portable machine for regular light cleaning then the Shark Bagless Naviagtor Freestyle Cordless is an excellent choice. It excels at cleaning single-floor apartments and homes, and doing it quickly.
When it comes to the best cheap vacuums, this list is a pretty comprehensive overview. For raw power at an unbeatable price, there's the Bissell 9595A with OnePass. For better versatility and better hose attachments, there's the Hoover WindTunnel T-series Upright.
For pet owners or those with allergies, re recommend the Bissell CleanView Plus Rewind or Hoover Wind Tunnel High Capacity (in that order). And lastly, there's the Shark Navigator Freestyle which is a fantastic budget option if you really want a cordless vacuum.
So there you have it: 5 of the best cheap vacuums to meet any household's needs. Give one of these models a try and you'll be amazed at how well they clean compared to even the most expensive vacuums out there!