Why Use a Budget Vacuum?
The top performers in our review are Bissell CleanView, the Gold Award winner; Hoover Tempo WidePath, the Silver Award winner; and Dirt Devil Dynamite Plus, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a budget vacuum to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these top 10 budget vacuums.
Why Use a Budget Vacuum?
Vacuums are necessary for a clean home, but that doesn’t mean you need the most expensive model to keep it spotless. You could spend hundreds of dollars for a top-of-the-line vacuum, but there are many reasons why a budget vacuum will take care of all your needs. Students with small living spaces, newlyweds on a budget or anyone looking to save money can benefit from an inexpensive vacuum. It could also be a secondary, cheaper vacuum for the upstairs of a larger home.
Budget vacuums are also a better choice than a used or refurbished vacuum. In most cases, a used vacuum will no longer be under warranty, meaning you’ll be stuck if the motor fails.
Most major vacuum manufacturers offer affordable models, meaning you can find a good vacuum for under $120. If you're interested in spending more than that, consider our rankings of the best upright vacuums. For information on other models or choosing the right type of vacuum for your situation, visit our vacuum learning center.
Budget Vacuums: What We Tested, What We Found
Although budget vacuums are more affordable than other uprights or canisters, they should still be able to clean common messes in your home. For this reason, cleaning performance was the most important factor of the vacuums we tested. Our in-house team tested each of the inexpensive vacuums on our lineup, focusing on low-pile and medium-pile carpets. We didn't test the vacuums' effectiveness on hardwood floors, as several models aren't recommended for this type of flooring.
To test the performance of each vacuum, we used a variety of materials on a test patch of low-pile and medium-pile carpet, including flour to simulate dust and kitty litter for larger debris. We counted the number of passes it took each vacuum to suck up the debris. We then emptied the bag and measured how much material was actually suctioned up. From here, we awarded the vacuum a percentage score based on its suction performance.
Our team also ran the vacuums through a series of movement tests to gauge how well they maneuvered on and around different surfaces. We also evaluated the design of each vacuum, including if they had ergonomic, versatile handles and if they fit into small, tight spaces. Finally, we also cleaned out the canisters (or bags) to determine which vacuum was the easiest to clean.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate products in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experience of the typical consumer. Our testers offered unbiased opinions on the subjective tests. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. The results of our evaluation were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else Is Important in Selecting a Budget Vacuum?
Features & Accessories: What Extras Does the Vacuum Offer?
Every home has areas that are more difficult to clean than others, whether it's those tight spaces between furniture; high, hard-to-reach ceilings; or upholstery that is invariably covered in pet hair. Budget vacuums won't have as many accessories as higher-priced models, but the essentials should still be included. For high ceilings, you should consider a vacuum with an extension wand. Upholstery and dusting brushes are important for couches, other furniture and blinds. A crevice tool will help you reach into tight corners and vents.
Beyond this, the accessories should be convenient. The best budget vacuums have onboard attachment housing, meaning the attachments fit on the vacuum handle or base. Some vacuums store the attachments in a separate bag, which isn't the best choice. In a busy household, they tend to get lost. In addition to convenient storage, vacuum accessories should also be easy to attach to and detach from the hose.
Help & Support: Peace of Mind from the Manufacturer
Budget vacuums typically require more assembly than higher-priced models. While assembly is usually straightforward, it still is additional work you should plan on doing before you can use your vacuum. Therefore, if you have questions or run into a problem, receiving support from the manufacturer is of utmost importance.
The best budget vacuum manufacturers have customer service that is accessible through multiple avenues, such as phone, email and live chat. They also offer extended hours. Whether it's the night or a weekend, customer service can help you with assembly, teach you more about different features or help you resolve any technical issues. Finally and more importantly, a good manufacturer warranty will provide you peace of mind. Most manufacturers provide at least a one-year warranty, but the best budget vacuum manufacturers provide a warranty of two years or more.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
After spending time with each of the vacuums on our lineup, we concluded that three particular budget vacuums stood out. The Bissell CleanView was nearly perfect in all of our categories: Vacuuming Performance, Convenience and Design, Design Extras, and Help and Support. It has one of the largest canisters, a low-cost bagless design and a full range of attachments. The Hoover Tempo WidePath was the easiest vacuum to clean and had a strong, capable motor. The Dirt Devil Dynamite Plus excelled in our Vacuuming Performance tests, receiving high marks for suction while also receiving points for providing automatic height adjustment, a feature that adjusts the height of the vacuum head depending on whether you're vacuuming thick carpet or bare floor.
Budget vacuums are ideal for many situations, whether you're starting out in a small space to needing an extra vacuum on a separate floor so you don't have to haul a vacuum up and down stairs. Sure, more expensive vacuums have specialized features you won't find with the models in this lineup, but you don't have to spend a lot of money to get high-quality performance as long as you're willing to sacrifice a few minor extras.