Despite my publicly admitted passion for vacuums, I didn’t buy my first vacuum until rather recently. Before that, I used whatever vacuum my roommate – or wife – had already acquired. Therefore, I’ve had a lot of experience with “first vacuums” – that is, vacuums people bought the first time they were on their own and needed to clean more than 100 square feet. I’ve suffered so you don’t have to.
I have two main rules to follow when purchasing your first vacuum. Stick with these and vacuuming won’t seem like a terrible chore.
Rule No. 1: The vacuum must have a cord. There are loads of cordless vacuums that are advertised as being easier to use because they don’t require plugging in. This is crazy. You want wall-socket power when vacuuming. Cordless stick vacuums tend to be a little cheaper than plug-in vacuums, but not that much cheaper. Buy a cordless vacuum and you’ll end up kicking yourself two weeks later when the battery starts dying.
Rule No. 2: The vacuum must have an agitator brush. Otherwise known as “that spinny thing that kicks up dirt,” an agitator brush is absolutely essential for a carpet vacuum. For that reason alone, don’t bother trying to enlist a hardwood-floor vacuum for carpet duty. With no brush the vacuum simply won’t be able to get the dust and dirt that’s been ground into the carpet.
Follow those two rules and you’ll be most of the way there. A couple more things: I like using a bagless vacuum; it’s easier to empty. I’ve found the cutoff for a good vacuum is about $100. Spend less and the quality goes down significantly, quickly. What’s great is that for only $100 you can get a fantastic vacuum. I haven’t tried a Dyson, the well-known brand of vacuums with purported superior suction power. I balked at the $400 purchase price.
The most popular upright vacuum on Amazon, a Hoover WindTunnel model, also has the best rating from Consumer Reports (subscription required). It costs between $100 and $130. I have an earlier version of the same model and it’s great. It has a cord, an agitator brush (plus a bunch of other cool features) and it cleans my carpets. What more could a guy ask for?