Best Cheap Vacuum 2018

Angela Parkinson ·
Updated
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We have spent more than 120 hours since 2014 researching and testing some of the less expensive vacuum cleaners on the market, and we think the Shark Navigator is your best bet. It has great suction, especially for a machine that costs around $100. It has multiple accessories, which combined with its light weight, make it great for cleaning stairs, furniture and draperies. The swivel head improves maneuverability on floors, too, and it performed excellently on our low- and high-pile carpet suction tests.     

Best Overall

Shark Navigator

The swiveling head, good suction and impressive accessories make the Navigator versatile and easy to maneuver for cleaning not just floors, but stairwells, furniture and draperies, too.
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Best Value

Dirt Devil Dynamite

The Dirt Devil Dynamite does a decent job for its price, and it stores quite compactly because of its retractable handle. It is a bit loud compared to others, but not by much.
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Best for Suction

Hoover Tempo

This vacuum is relatively loud and bulky in terms of maneuverability, but the strong suction was impressive during our testing, and the wide cleaning head will help you clean quickly.
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Product
Price
$144.50Amazon
$82.75Amazon
$59.99Amazon
$66.46Amazon
$44.99Amazon
$59.99Amazon
$49.99Amazon
$76.23Amazon
$85.78Amazon
Overall Rating
9.1
9
8.3
8.2
7.9
7.9
7.8
7.5
7.4
Vacuuming Performance
8.8
10
8.8
9.3
8.5
9.3
7
7.8
6.8
Convenience & Design
10
7.3
8.8
8.5
8.5
5.8
9.3
8
7.8
Design Extras
8
10
8
8
8
8
8
8
10
Help & Support
10
8.5
6
3.5
3.5
8.5
6
3.5
3.5
Medium Carpet Performance
95%
100%
90%
90%
75%
90%
60%
80%
70%
Low Carpet Performance
85%
100%
80%
90%
85%
60%
90%
80%
70%
Pet Hair Test
85%
90%
75%
85%
80%
95%
50%
50%
50%
Maneuverability
100%
88%
79%
78%
80%
100%
50%
77%
95%
Height Adjustment
-
-
-
-
Suction Control
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Portability & Storage
95%
76%
87%
100%
88%
96%
100%
83%
93%
Ease of Cleaning
100%
100%
93%
88%
77%
73%
50%
78%
81%
Weight (pounds)
14
14.8
12.8
10.8
10.4
8
8
13
9.5
Power Cord Length (feet)
25
25
23
25
25
19
17
15
16
Canister/Bag Capacity (liters)
2.8
3.1
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
Noise Level (decibels)
83
93
90
92
87.5
92
86
87
89
Swiveling Head
-
-
-
-
-
Retractable Cord
-
-
-
-
-
-
Clean Filter or Bag Indicator
-
-
-
-
-
-
True HEPA Filtration
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Brush Roll Button
-
-
-
-
-
Bagless
-
-
Onboard Attachment Housing
-
-
Extension Wand
-
Crevice Tool
Dusting Brush
Upholstery Tool
-
-
-
-
Warranty
5 Years
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
Phone & Email
Online FAQs
-
-
-
-
Live Chat
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Best Overall

Shark Navigator

We tested all our favorite budget vacuum cleaners on flour, pet hair, sawdust and cereal to determine how they would perform on various types of debris, on both low- and medium-profile carpeting.
The Shark Navigator did a good job picking up all types of messes on the most common type of flooring – medium-pile. It cleaned quickly in all our tests, and had the added convenience of maneuverability. The swiveling head made it possible to get in and out of tight spots on our test floors. This vacuum comes with a nice collection of accessories and a long hose, so you can clean stairwells and other surfaces easily. The Navigator is both a canister and an upright. The body lifts off the frame and becomes a handheld canister for portability on stairways and furniture. At five years, the warranty is quite a bit longer than most of the others, and that naturally inspires confidence in the product. The long warranty is also good because this is one of the more expensive units in our comparison and may represent a significant investment if you are on a limited budget. You want to know that it will last.
Pros
  • The pull-apart design makes it portable for stairs and furniture.
  • This one comes with more tools than most in the lower price range.
  • A long warranty inspires confidence in the product.
Cons
  • This vacuum costs more than most in our lineup.
  • Other vacuum cleaners we tested were better at removing dog hair.
  • While suction was good, it was not the very best in our testing.
$140.02Amazon
Best Value

Dirt Devil Dynamite

The Dirt Devil Dynamite is incredibly compact and has a retractable handle that makes it easy to store. This one did a good job on our test messes, including kitty litter and flour.
This also was one of the best ones for picking up pet hair. It outscored all but two of our budget picks for that. It ties for the longest cord of the units we compared, reducing the need to plug and unplug over and over. The Dynamite has a bagless design, which is more convenient than the alternative because it is easy to empty and you don't have to buy bags. Some folks with allergies prefer a bagged vacuum, though, because those vacuums are generally better at removing and trapping irritants. This vacuum was one of the loudest in our comparison. No one expects a vacuum cleaner to be silent, so it might not be such a bad thing. But if you need to clean while the baby is down for a nap, this is not the right choice.
Pros
  • This is inexpensive even when compared with other budget vacuum cleaners.
  • Dynamite did a good job of cleaning up pet hair in our testing.
  • The retracting handle makes it extra-compact for storage.
Cons
  • This one was relatively loud.
  • The bagless design is not great for trapping allergens.
  • Other vacuum cleaners were easier to maneuver in our tests.
$73.60Amazon
Best for Suction

Hoover Tempo

Suction is arguably the most important feature in any vacuum cleaner, regardless of price range. The Hoover Tempo demonstrated impressive suction on all our tests.
It was more difficult to maneuver because it is heavy and the head does not swivel, but the wide cleaning path and strong suction might make up for that. You can cover a lot of territory in a short amount of time with the 15-inch cleaning head, but, again, that large cleaning head was difficult to maneuver. The suction was there, though, and this one lets you adjust the head height for carpeting or hard floors, so it does a decent job on various surfaces. This is the loudest vacuum cleaner we tested, so that could be a problem if noise is an issue. This is one of the few bagged models we considered, which is better for those with allergies. Bags trap dust and pollen better than bagless models. Buying bags and emptying them regularly is a bit of a chore, though, especially when compared with the canister designs that you can empty quickly.
Pros
  • This had the best scores in our suction tests.
  • You get a lot of attachments with this one.
  • The wide head means you can cover a lot of ground quickly.
Cons
  • This is the loudest budget vacuum cleaner we tested.
  • The lack of a swiveling head makes it less maneuverable.
  • It felt a little heavy during our tests.
$75.37Amazon

Why Trust Us?

Since 2014, we have spent more than 120 hours scouring manufacturer and review sites to find the best budget vacuum cleaners on the market. We narrowed down the features that mattered most and created charts to document the features of each vacuum — and this was all before we even started to test. We bought vacuum cleaners that cost around $100 or less and offer a strong feature set. We were looking for well-regarded models that can fit into any budget.

How We Tested

Once we had a strong set of contenders, we tested them on low- and medium-pile carpet on a range of “dirt.” We used flour to simulate fine dust and kitty litter to simulate large debris. We also used dog hair, grinding it into the test carpets. The vacuum cleaners that could clear away the dirt in the fewest passes scored better. We focused on different types of carpeting, but we did not include hard flooring in our tests. Some of the budget vacuum cleaners are adjustable to work on those surfaces, but others are not, and we wanted to keep an even playing field.

We also took each vacuum cleaner through an obstacle course to gauge how easy each is to maneuver around table legs, under furniture and around corners. We performed basic maintenance with each vacuum cleaner, too, emptying bags and replacing bags to score for user-friendliness. We made note of the hoses and attachments that come with each unit, and we measured the sound each one produced.

What to Look for When Buying a Cheap Vacuum Cleaner

Vacuuming Performance
Suction is important, and while you can’t test vacuums in the store, you can look at our test results to see how some of the best vacuums perform. We tested the best budget vacuum cleaners on different types of debris and scored them according to how fast they picked up the mess – the fewer passes it took to clean, the better the score.

Convenience & Design
Vacuum cleaners at every price range should be easy to transport and maintain. The process of emptying and cleaning should be quick and the overall weight low. Also, check our test results to see how much noise each vacuum generates.

Design Extras
Look for vacuum cleaners that allow you to clean more than just flooring. The ones that come with a long hose and lots of brushes and other tools allow you to clean furniture and draperies, in addition to flooring.

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