Wednesday , September 1 2021

Best vacuum cleaners for 2021

We tested many popular cordless and robot vacuum cleaners to find out which ones are the best.

Cleaning your carpets and flooring can be a chore, but it doesn’t have to be an onerous one. Modern cordless vacuums are much easier to use than the heavy and unwieldy monsters from decades past. Now they’re lightweight and compact, but still powerful enough to do the job well. 

If you’d rather not lift a finger at all, robot vacuum cleaners have you covered. The most advanced models autonomously navigate and avoid obstacles with the aid of lasers, cameras and other sensors. Some of these robot vacs can even empty their dustbins on their own.

Read more: How to clean your living room in 10 minutes or less

You don’t have to spend big bucks, either. There are quality cordless and robot vacuums at various price points. No matter if you’re looking for the ultimate cleaning machine, midtier, or entry level model, there’s a vacuum on this list that’ll suit your needs.

We’ve conducted rounds of testing to find the best cordless vacuums and the best robot vacuums. You can dig into each of those articles for in-depth recommendations on each sub-category. In this list, we’ve compiled our top picks into one handy location. We will keep all of these lists updated as new models come on the market and we test new categories. 

As the newest cordless vacuum in Dyson’s lineup, the V15 Detect in one impressive machine. It’s the best performing appliance of its kind that we’ve ever tested. It excels at removing pet hair from multiple floor surfaces. It also pulled 88.4% of test sand we placed on midpile carpeting. Also impressive, the V15 pulled 95.3% of sand particles we dropped onto low-pile carpeting. 

The vacuum’s “Laser Slim Fluffy” cleaner head is unique as well. It’s designed specifically for hard flooring, and shines a green laser out onto the floor ahead as you clean. Its purpose is to highlight dust and other small bits of debris otherwise hard to spot with the naked eye. The system does work, and we observed plenty of dirt we’d normally miss. One drawback, though, is that the laser isn’t visible under strong indoor lighting or sunlight.

We also like the readout on the back of the vacuum. This report lists the ratio of dirt collected by particle size. The machine’s battery is easy to remove too, and its dustbin is a snap to empty. 

Priced at $1,099, the Roomba S9 Plus is the most expensive product on this list. Still, you do get a lot of bang for all those bucks. This vacuum delivers powerful suction and superb dirt and dust removal. 

On hardwood floors this Roomba picked up an average of 93% of our test sand, the highest amount in our test group, but it struggled a bit cleaning sand from low-pile carpeting and area rugs, earning a low average dust and sand pickup of 28%. 

That said, the Roomba robot vac removed an average 71% of sand from our medium pile carpet while vacuuming. Again, this is the best result that we saw on this specific test. It also cleaned up more dog hair, pet dander and allergens than any vacuum in this test group, and the bot navigates and maps multiple rooms and floors. iRobot has also updated its app to let you designate “keep-out zones” that you want the S9 Plus to avoid when cleaning. The app also lets you use voice commands to immediately clean a room using Alexa or Google Voice Assistant.

The robot flew through our test room in a short average time of 25 minutes, too. You can link the S9 Plus to the Roomba app and your home Wi-Fi as well. Best of all is the Roomba S9 Plus’ CleanBase docking station. The dock both charges the robot’s battery and empties its dustbin automatically, making cleaning even easier and keeping you from worrying about battery life. Now that’s convenient.

Read our first impressions of the Roomba S9 Plus.

As the second-best performer in our current cordless vacuum test group, the Tineco A11 Hero represents an outstanding deal. So much so that it has officially bumped the Shark Rocket Pet Pro Cordless out of our top pick for best midrange cordless vacuum. With an average 72.5% sand pick up from midpile carpeting, and 82.5% sand removal from low-pile carpet, the Hero performs better. This cordless stick vac also costs less than the Shark, a fact that’s hard to overlook.

The A11 Hero tackled pet hair without too much trouble as well. Barely a trace of the material remained after the machine vacuumed midpile carpeting and hardwood floors. The Hero left some strands visible when traveling across our low-pile test carpet. Midpile carpeting usually causes vacuums more problems. 

The design of the Hero isn’t too shabby either. Its dustbin is almost as easy to empty as the Rocket Pet Pro. The bin’s release valve is tricky to engage compared with Shark’s. That said, its battery pack is removable. There’s also a handy trigger lock lever to keep the vacuum running without constant finger pressure.

For less than half the list price of the Roomba S9 Plus, the $600 Neato’s D7 vacuums up dirt, dust and messes almost as well, making it the best robot vacuum at a midrange cost. On average this robotic cleaner picked up a greater amount of sand (36%) across low-pile carpet and rugs than the Roomba did. 

This automatic vacuum cleaner narrowly beat the S9 Plus for cleaning power on hardwood bare floors, too, collecting an average of 95% of the sand we put down. The vac cleaned dirt, dust and sand from midpile rugs less effectively though, notching a pickup average of 47% while cleaning. 

While the Neato can’t match the Roomba’s prowess at removing pet hair or empty its own dust bin, the D7 navigates more efficiently around furniture yet covers more ground, thanks to smart robot vacuum built-in lidar laser navigation mapping. You can also control the cleaning robot using the Neato app as a remote control, as well as link it to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The app allows you to designate areas of your home as off-limits to cleaning, too.

Moosoo may not be a household name. Even so, the Moosoo M X6 cordless vacuum packs a respectable punch, considering its low price. Despite costing much less than competing cordless vacuum cleaner options, the M X6 was the fourth-best performer in our test group of eight models.

The stick vac picked up 99% (on average) of our test sand from hardwood. On low-pile carpet, that figure sank to 41.3%. The M X6 fared better across thicker midpile carpet though, earning a higher sand pickup average of 52.2%.

Black rice, our large particle test soil, was a breeze for the Moosoo vacuum. It managed pickup averages above 90% on hardwood, low-pile and midpile carpet (95.4, 96.8 and 94%, respectively).

Don’t buy the Moosoo M X6, though, if you’re a pet owner. Cons are that at least some visible dander remained after vacuuming, no matter the test surface. The brush roll tends to wrap strands of hair around itself as well.

If you want cordless vacuuming on a tight budget, however, consider the Moosoo M X6. This cordless stick vacuum cleaner just might fit the bill, and for much less cash.

Even though the Robovac 11S Max costs just $226 right now, it cleans floors effectively. That’s especially true when cleaning bare hardwood floors. 

It managed to remove an average of 71% of our test sand from this type of surface. The bot didn’t work as well cleaning carpets, earning sand-pickup averages of 21% and 27% on low-pile and midpile, respectively. 

And thanks to this vacuum’s basic navigation system, it took well over an hour to negotiate our test room. Compared to its competition, that’s a lot. Still, the Eufy used its runtime wisely. The vacuum covered the space well, cleaning up and leaving almost no spots untouched. The Eufy is also self-charging, so again, no need to worry about battery life or factor that into overall cleaning time. It’s the best robot vacuum for value.

As Dyson’s latest and greatest stick vac, the V15 Detect has lots of bells and whistles, plus a huge sticker price to match. It’s also the best-performing cordless vacuum we’ve ever tested. In our experience, the V15 is excellent at pulling pet hair from various floor surfaces. 

No matter if it was vacuuming across hardwood, low-pile, or midpile carpeting, the V15 barely left a tuft in its wake. It also removed 88.4% of test sand we placed on midpile carpeting. Also impressive, the V15 pulled 95.3% of sand particles we dropped onto low-pile carpeting. 

The vacuum’s “Laser Slim Fluffy” cleaner head is unique as well. It’s designed specifically for hard flooring, and shines a green laser out onto the floor ahead as you clean. Its purpose is to highlight dust and other small bits of debris otherwise hard to spot with the naked eye. The system does work and we observed plenty of dirt we’d normally miss. One drawback, though, is that the laser isn’t visible under strong indoor lighting or sunlight.

Also nice is a readout on the back of the vacuum. This report lists the ratio of dirt collected by particle size. The machine’s battery is easy to remove too, and its dustbin is a snap to empty.

At $1,099 the Roomba S9 Plus from iRobot doesn’t come cheap. However, for that sky-high price it delivers powerful suction, plus superb dirt and pet hair removal. On hardwood floors this Roomba picked up an average of 93% of our test sand, the highest amount we’ve seen from a robot vacuum.

The robot vac removed an average 71% of sand from our medium pile carpet while vacuuming. Again, this is the best result that we observed on this specific test. It also cleaned up more dog hair, pet dander and allergens than any robot vacuum we’ve tested to date. It did struggle a bit cleaning sand from low-pile carpeting, earning a low average sand pickup of 28%. 

This bot also navigates and maps multiple rooms and floors. In fact, the vacuum zipped through our test room in a short average time of 25 minutes. Best of all is the Roomba S9 Plus’ CleanBase docking station. The dock both charges the robot’s battery and empties its dustbin automatically, making cleaning even easier and keeping you from worrying about battery life. Now that’s convenient. Read our first impressions of the Roomba S9 Plus.

Our method for evaluating robot vacuums is straightforward, yet grueling. There are two types of tests we run. The first trial is to figure out how well a robot covers the floor while it’s cleaning. We built an industry-standard testing room as specified by the International Electrotechnical Commission, just for this purpose. The IEC is an international standards body responsible for managing robot vacuum testing procedures, among other things, for vacuum manufacturers. 

Obstacles in our test room mimic what robot vacuums run into in the real world.

Inside this room are objects designed to simulate typical obstacles a robot vac encounters for navigation as it cleans. These obstacles include wall edges, table and chair legs, couches and other furniture, and so on, plus bare tile and hardwood floors, as well as carpet. We mount LED lights to the top of each vacuum cleaner. The dimensions of the lights correspond to the measured nozzle width of each particular robot vacuum we test. 

Read more: How to clean your kitchen in under 15 minutes

As robots move through the room while cleaning, a camera overhead captures a long-exposure image of the entire room in low light. That photo will then have a light trail, created by the LEDs, that shows the exact areas where the robot traveled (and its nozzle position) during its runtime. We can also see areas of the floor the vacuum may have missed or gotten stuck. You can see the navigation results of all the robot vacuums in our test group in the gallery below.

The second type of test reveals exactly how much physical debris a vacuum is able to pick up off of the floor. To mimic dirt of small particle size, we use a mixture of play-sand and landscaping sand. For bigger particle soil, we use grains of uncooked black rice. Robots then run in straight line mode across three types of flooring (low-pile carpet, medium-pile carpet and hardwood bare floors).

We test robot vacuums on three types of floor surfaces.

We control for the specific nozzle width of each vacuum, too. We constructed an adjustable tool to soil our test floors. It lets us lay down a strip of precise area of soil to match the nozzle dimensions for every robot. The mass of soil isn’t chosen at random either. We measure a proportional amount that’s related to the flooring material, type of debris, plus each vacuum’s nozzle width.

Our custom-built tool lets us match soil area to a robot vacuum’s nozzle width.

We conduct three cleaning runs (at minimum) on each floor type. We also perform cleaning tests with sand and rice separately. That comes to at least 18 tests per robot vac. We weigh the robot’s dust bin both before and after each run. From there we can calculate the percentage of debris pickup for every cleaning run and the average amount of soil a machine manages to remove. Additionally we run anecdotal (visual) pet hair tests for each robot, on all three floor types. 

Read more: How to clean your bathroom in 10 minutes or less

We run robot vacuums in a straight line during the debris pickup tests.

Our rice-based, medium-size particle test didn’t show enough differentiation between each cleaner, which says they can all handle larger particles without trouble. For fur removal for pet owners, we judged anecdotally.

Putting cordless vacuums through their paces isn’t as complicated as testing a robot vacuum cleaner, but it still takes lots of time and careful effort to find the best cordless vacuum. We run each vacuum in a straight line across three different surfaces (hardwood, low-pile carpet, midpile carpet). On all three test beds, the test area is the same length (30.25 inches).

We run tests in a straight line across all three floor types.

Just like in robot tests, the width of the test bed is proportional to the vacuum’s nozzle width. We measure this width ourselves. We also use nozzle width, plus the flooring type, to calculate the soil density for each test, per International Electrotechnical Commission guidelines. The IEC is an international standards body responsible for managing vacuum testing procedures, among other things, for vacuum manufacturers.

We use the same soil types here as well; sand, rice, and pet hair. We perform three runs (at minimum) on each floor type. We also test suction power with sand and rice separately. That comes to at least 18 tests per vacuum. We weigh the vacuum’s dust bin both before and after each run. 

From there we can calculate the percentage of dirt and debris pickup for every run and the average amount of soil a vacuum manages to remove. Additionally, we run anecdotal (visual) pet hair tests for each vacuum, on all three floor types to help us select the best cordless vacuum.

This Article was first published on cnet.com

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