When it comes to buying an upright vacuum cleaner, the most important thing to keep in mind is what will work for you.

Every house or apartment is different, and each presents a wide range of cleaning needs. Are there pets in the home, shedding hair and dander all over the place? Does anyone living there have allergies or asthma? How much of the flooring is carpeted and how much consists of bare floors?

Other questions to consider before buying an upright vacuum are your personal standards of what constitutes a “clean” home and what makes you comfortable. Are you extremely meticulous about keeping every speck of lint and dust off the floors? Is your life so busy that a simple and basically good, but not “white glove treatment” cleaning job will satisfy you? Or are you somewhere in the middle?

Luckily, you have more choices in selecting an upright vacuum now than previous generations. In fact, your grandmother probably would be a little jealous of the expansive range of cleaning machines on the market today. Consumers now are presented with a vast and almost bewildering number of different vacuums, and the price range is dramatic, going from $50 to nearly $1,000.

For most people, powerful suction and a strong roller brush are the key basic elements for any vacuum, and many upright models include these features. However, if you have delicate and expensive rugs, you may want to investigate vacuums that permit you to adjust the suction power levels and also change the height of the roller brush to prevent damaging your valuable rugs.

The growing popularity of bagless vacuums is another factor to consider. Some bagless models do a superb job of pulling up dirt, dust, debris and lint, and they can be emptied simply by opening them over a garbage bin and letting the messy stuff fall out. For many consumers, that is a simple and easy task.

However, if you have allergies or asthma that is severe, even that short exposure to the vacuum’s contents could be bad for your health. Once again, the marketplace has choices to help you. You can opt for bagged models, and higher-end vacuums often feature bags that seal themselves or bags that you can quickly snap shut before you remove them.

If you choose a bagless model, there are vacuums that isolate the dirt into an easily opened dirt cup, and one particular model even compresses the debris into a “cake” that you can toss out with next to no exposure to potential allergens.

You probably will want to consider vacuum filters if you are spending hard-earned money on a vacuum. Many upright vacuums today feature HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, which meet standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy. These are excellent filters and do the job wonderfully well, often capturing dust, mold and allergens as small as .03 microns.

However, merely having a HEPA filter in the vacuum is not a solid guarantee that the air expelled back into your home will be clean. The vacuum’s design is extremely important; the HEPA filter does little to help allergy-sufferers if dust is still leaking out from other parts of the vacuum. If air quality is a significant consideration for you, try looking for machines that are “sealed” to prevent dust leakage.

The vacuum you buy, whether it is meant to last a short time or is a long-term investment, is not just some pedestrian purchase. Instead, it can make the difference between a cleaning job that you loathe or one that goes quickly and creates a home that is comfortable for you.

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