Got pets? Consumer Reports' new, more-challenging pet-hair vacuum tests recently revealed some of the best uprights and canisters that suck up fur without clawing too deeply into the budget. CR tested more than 80 upright and canister vacuums, highlighting top picks that breeze through pet-hair pickup and other key cleaning chores for all homes.
Pet-hair pickup is especially challenging. CR's testers used a special rake with a series of rolling washers to push tufts of long, Maine Coon cat fur deeper into carpet so this test matched the cleanup that pet owners face. Kenmore's Intuition 31100, a CR Best Buy at $250, is among the uprights that aced the new test without disappointing on regular carpet cleaning, which is still a vacuum's toughest challenge.
Prefer pulling a hose and wand to pushing and pulling an upright? Kenmore's Progressive 27514 canister, $300, a CR Best Buy, was also impressive in the pet-hair and carpet tests. Panasonic's MC-CG902, $210, also a CR Best Buy, cleaned carpets comparably for less. And like all of the other vacuums on the Recommended list, it did well on bare floors, a top concern for canister owners who've been surveyed.
Other top picks among canisters are the Kenmore Intuition 28014, $500; the Hoover WindTunnel S3670, $300; the Miele S 2120 Olympus, $300; and the Hoover Platinum Bagless Canister S3865, $365.
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CR also tested LG's first uprights, the LuV300, $400, and LuV200, $300. They feature what LG calls a Kompressor -- essentially a rotating blade designed to press dust and direct it into less space and make emptying the bin less messy, a challenge with bagless vacuums. It worked on lint, hair and other compressible debris. But the LuV300 was only so-so at delivering the tool airflow needed for cleaning couches. And those uprights were beaten by others that cost less.
How to choose
Before you buy, CR offers the following tips for choosing a vacuum that truly meets your needs:
Upright or canister? Uprights tested better for overall carpet cleaning, but canisters offer easier pushing and maneuverability, especially on stairs. Start by deciding which would better suit your home's needs.
Check the features. Look for edge-cleaning tools, along with suction control to protect drapes and a brush on/off switch to safeguard bare floors and prevent scattered dust and debris. For canisters, look for motor-driven heads, which clean carpets more powerfully than air-driven versions. And don't choose a vacuum just for its HEPA filter claims; some models with regular filters kept in dust just as well.
Don't assume green means cleaner. The $300 Electrolux Ultra Silencer Green canister uses partially recycled plastic for its housing, but the lack of a powered head meant middling carpet cleaning. Eureka's Environvac 3041 upright, $70, uses one-third less amperage than usual. But that amounts to roughly $3 in annual energy savings if you vacuum an hour per week, with middling carpet cleaning.
Try before buying. Even if you're buying online, visit a store first to try out an upright or canister. Push, pull, turn and lift to see how it feels.