If you live in a smaller apartment or condo, finding the right vacuum cleaner to meet your needs without taking up too much valuable space can be tricky. It can be trickier still if you have pets, since pet hair can be tougher to vacuum than the usual household dust. If allergies are a concern for you or your guests, that adds another layer to the problem. Understanding some vacuum cleaner essentials along with your own needs based on your space and surfaces can help ease the chore of wading through the many different models available. Make sure you have an upper spending limit in mind, too, as some models can get pretty pricey without necessarily providing more value.
Canister versus upright
A canister vacuum might make the most sense if you are really short on space, as they tend to take up a bit less space than their upright counterparts. They can be a little harder to maneuver than uprights, but smaller spaces can mean that you have less ground to cover, minimizing this negative aspect. Both versions can be accompanied by any number of attachments designed to help make cleaning baseboards, blinds, drapes, and corners easier, so make sure you know what attachments will make your life easier. Buying a model that has attachments you’ll never use takes up precious space and often means spending more money.
Carpets or bare floors
Carpets require a good roller brush to get down below the surface. This type of brush can have a hard time getting into the seams and texturing of hard floors and could even pose a scratching risk. Heads designed for hard floors generally aren’t very good at getting below a carpet’s surface. Some models switch readily from one type of flooring to the other, so you might not have to choose; just keep your flooring type in mind as you shop.
Filtration and capacity
Making sure your new vacuum cleaner has a good quality filtration system can mean the difference between trapping allergens (like pet dander) and dust or sending much of it back into your nice clean apartment. Models with the best filtration systems tend to cost a bit more because maintaining quality airflow and suction requires more power, which, naturally, drives up price. If allergies aren’t an issue and if you vacuum several times a week, a good filtration system is less critical than if you struggle with allergies or vacuum once a week or less often. How much dirt your machine needs to hold depends largely on your cleaning frequency. If you vacuum more often, a smaller bag or canister will suffice. Less frequent cleaning means you’ll want a larger capacity bag or canister.
If you live in a building where you’re concerned about upsetting the neighbors with too much noise, make sure you understand how noisy any prospective machines are. Stronger motors tend to lead to noisier vacuums, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t models that perform well without being heard through the walls.
Attachments and cords
Since space is likely to be a major concern, you might want to look for models with retractable cords or, at the very least, hooks that allow the cord to be wrapped around or along the machine. The same is true of attachments. Try to find a model that has attachments that can be stored on the vacuum cleaner’s handle or base. Again, this saves space and keeps you from wasting time trying to find unattached attachments.
Consider a handheld
If you don’t have carpet and are happier sweeping and mopping floors the old-fashioned way or even with a simple electric sweeper, you might want to consider a smaller handheld vacuum cleaner. A handheld model can be ideal for tackling furniture, blinds, and curtains. There are even versions that come with attachments that can help with baseboards and tight spaces. As an added bonus, a handheld is great for vacuuming the car. Handhelds are available in corded and rechargeable models. This type of vacuum cleaner also takes up much less space than a typical household vac. Many are small enough to fit on a closet shelf, thereby saving valuable floor space.