Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum review

Can the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum stand up to the dirtiest surfaces?

Image shows the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum.
(Image: © Marah Eakin.)

Top Ten Reviews Verdict

The Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum is incredibly powerful and can suck up just about anything, but it’s heavy and cumbersome and the attachments are just okay.


  • +

    Great for a variety of surfaces

  • +

    Strong suction

  • +

    Easy to clean


  • -

    Slightly confusing assembly process

  • -

    Awkward attachments

  • -

    Cord is too long

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The Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface vacuum is marketed as an all-in-one cleaning solution. The manufacturer claims that it has the ability to detect different types of surfaces and clean them accordingly. It's also designed to fit into tight spaces and effectively pick up any debris, from fine dust to larger particles. However, I decided to put it to the test myself. I conducted various tests to assess its maneuverability, cleaning performance, and ease of use. I even had my kids try it out to provide additional feedback on its usability. 

This vacuum cleaner comes with a price tag of around $250, which is a significant investment. While it's not as expensive as a Dyson, it's also not the cheapest option available. However, it does offer several cleaning tools and replacement filters in the package, which makes it a decent value for the price. 

My goal was to evaluate whether the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface vacuum could be considered one of the best vacuums for pet hair or one of the best vacuum cleaners on the market. In this review, I'll outline my thoughts on its performance and features.

Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface: Key specs

  • Type: Bagless upright vacuum
  • Power: Corded (30ft. cord)
  • Attachments: 7.5 ft. hose, dusting brush, LED light up crevice tool, Pet TurboEraser tool
  • Suitable for: All floor types
  • Dimensions: 34.3 x 13.6 x 12.1 inches
  • Weight: 16 lbs
  • Storage: Freestanding

Bissell SurfaceSense Pet: Price & Availability

  • RRP $299.99

Considering all the attachments you get, the Bissell SurfaceSense seems like good value. While there are other top-rated and cheaper vacuums on the market (The Shark Navigator Lift, for example), the Bissell SurfaceSense is a fine choice if you’re looking for something that actually does really get your floors clean. 

The Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum is available direct from the manufacturer or from retailers like Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and Kohl’s

Bissell SurfaceSense Pet: Setup & assembly

The SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum comes tightly packaged in a decently sized box. Inside, there’s sustainable egg carton-like pressed cardboard keeping the vacuum and its attachment in place, which is nice because it can go right into the recycling when you’ve opened the box. On the flip side, each vacuum accessory in the package is entirely wrapped in plastic, which seems unnecessary and wasteful. 

When all the vacuum’s parts were out of the box, it was fairly easy to assemble, though I did stumble a bit when the easy-assembly instructions asked us to attach the hose to the canister. There’s a bracket on the end of the hose and a corresponding bracket on the body of the vacuum, so it seems easy enough, but I just couldn’t get them to go together.

Eventually, I realized that I needed to remove the canister and then slide them together before reattaching the canister, but for about 10 minutes, I was very confused. (To Bissell’s credit, the actual instruction manual does make that step pretty clear, but on the “easy assembly” tag, that step was excluded).

I had the whole thing together in about 15 minutes, 10 of which were spent messing with the hose. If I didn’t get stuck there, I could have had it out of the box and well on its way to vacuuming in under five minutes.

Bissell SurfaceSense Pet: Design

The Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum Cleaner doesn’t really reinvent the wheel when it comes to vacuum design (leave that stuff to Dyson). Instead, it tries to do the basics well, with an easy tilt body and a pivoting base. 

It’s made of hard teal and silver plastic, and it feels sturdy and durable. It comes with a 7.5-foot hose attachment, as well as three different nozzles you could attach to the end of the hose: a small dusting brush, an LED-lighted crevice tool that also works for baseboards, and something the company calls its Pet TurboEraser (basically, a pet hair attachment). 

Image shows the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum.

(Image credit: Marah Eakin.)

The Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum Cleaner is easy to handle and gets into corners just about as well as any comparably sized canister vac, but it can get stuck if you’re going from wood floor to plush area rug, and at 16 lbs, it can feel heavy when you have to pick it up and move it around.

One other downside to the Bissell SurfaceSense is that it has a 30-foot-long power cord. While this is great in some cases — no one likes having to switch plugs three times in one room — it’s a little cumbersome in practice. A cord that long inevitably gets in the way when you’re vacuuming a room, and it was frustrating to have to keep track and make sure all 30 feet were out of the way at any given time. Also, when I did run over the cord, I had to stop what I was doing and get it untangled, which just gets tedious if you’re cleaning a whole house.

Bissell SurfaceSense Pet: Features & Accessories

The Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum has a couple of notable features, including what the company touts as the ability to “automatically adjust speed based on floor type for optimal cleaning across all surfaces.” While I don’t have any reason to believe this isn’t true, I also couldn’t really tell the difference between what the vacuum was doing between my plush rugs and my linoleum floors. 

There’s a switch on the vacuum’s handle that you can use to toggle between modes according to whether you’re cleaning hard floors, lighter rugs, or more plush floor coverings. That seemed to make the vacuum’s brushes spin at different speeds depending on which setting I used, but I never noticed the vacuum doing it on its own when I went from surface to surface. That being said, it cleaned pretty much every surface very well, so I'm not sure how necessary this feature is to begin with.

The vacuum also comes with the previously mentioned hose and three other attachments:  

A “2-in-1 pet dusting brush”, which I pretty much just used to get spiderwebs out of corners. It’s great for when you want a softer touch to your vacuuming, but it’s not the most handy tool. I'm also not entirely sure what the “pet” part means either because the vacuum has another tool that works better for pet hair.
That tool, of course, is the “Pet TurboEraser Tool,” which attaches to the end of the hose and is great for pet-hair-covered upholstery and rugs. It’s got its own spinning brushes inside, too, which is a nice touch, especially for hair that’s really ground into whatever you’re cleaning
Lastly, the vacuum also has an “LED lighted crevice tool”, which works well on baseboards, behind bookshelves, and in between couch cushions. The LED light is a bit gimmicky and requires its own batteries to even work, but I was glad to have it when I was lying on my stomach trying to vacuum underneath the couch.

Image shows the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum.

(Image credit: Marah Eakin.)

Bissell SurfaceSense Pet: Performance

Over the course of the testing process, I really put the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum through its paces, attempting to simulate some of the hardest and most ridiculous messes I could think of. 

While I was a bit nervous when I ground flour and baking soda into my area rugs, the vacuum handled all the messes I made with aplomb, even pulling squished and matted pet hair intentionally right off the couch upholstery. 

Image shows the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum.

(Image credit: Marah Eakin.)

The vacuum actually sucked up quite a bit of dust and dirt, even on just a brief run through the living room, which I thought was pretty clean. Turns out that having kids makes for a lot of dirt, grime, and crumbs. Who knew, right?

Image shows the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum.

(Image credit: Marah Eakin.)

While the SurfaceSense isn’t the loudest vacuum I’ve ever heard, it’s also not the quietest. I could still hear the TV over its roar, but I did have to turn it up a couple of notches. It wasn’t so loud that it scared my kids or my dogs, but it was also not whisper-quiet.

Cleaning the SurfaceSense was pretty easy, as well. The canister snaps right off, and the bottom opens with the press of a button, meaning I could just place it over the garbage can and dump it without having to flip over a canister full of a bunch of dust, inevitably getting it in the space around the garbage can. The filters were easy to access and clean as well.

The Bissell SurfaceSense vacuum takes about as much space as any traditional bagless vacuum. Its hinge holds the body of the vacuum up vertically very well, meaning it could be easily tucked inside a closet or put in the corner of a room. 

Rudy Vega, owner of Vacuum Experts in the Chicago Suburbs, says that, like other upright bagless vacuums, the Bissell SurfaceSense should be taken for maintenance every couple of years and, if possible, the filters inside the vacuum should be washed at least once every three months and replaced every year. 

It's good practice to replace them on a yearly basis in order to have good airflow out of the vacuum cleaner as well as good filtration so all those fine particles don't get back out to the surfaces and to the air as you vacuum. If the filters are not properly maintained, the machine is going to lose suction because the filters are clogged and it puts more stress on the motors, which might lead to overheating.

Rudy Vega, owner of Vacuum Experts

If you have pets, Vega recommends opting for maintenance every year — including a once-over of the attachments that come with the vacuum.

The SurfaceSense does have a five-year limited warranty, which means that if something should go wrong on the vacuum naturally — meaning you didn’t run it over with your car or something — the company will repair or replace the product or its parts at the company’s expense. Notably, the warranty doesn’t apply to filters, belts, or brushes, which are usually the parts that most require maintenance on a vacuum.

Bissell SurfaceSense Pet: User reviews

Overall, the SurfaceSense vacuum seems to have mostly positive reviews online. At the time of writing, it has 4.5 stars on Amazon with over 300 reviews, as well as 4.5 stars from reviews on Bissell’s own website. 

Most users seem to think that the vacuum is easy to maneuver and handle and are impressed with the way it cleans in corners. A few reviewers mentioned that the vacuum is heavier than they’d like, but pet owners, in particular, seem happy with the vacuum, with one five-star Amazon reviewer noting, “I purchased this vacuum when my Kenmore Canister vacuum of 20+ years died... I have indoor shedding dogs, and the Bissell cleaned up the hair on the low-pile carpet very well. I found it had great suction power and maneuverability.” 

Another wrote, “I have two Bernese Mountain Dogs, and this vacuum is amazing. I use it on the carpet and the hardwood floor every day, and sometimes twice a day. The quick-release hose is handy for hard-to-reach areas. I highly recommend it even if you don’t have pets.” 

Should you buy the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum?

If you’re in the market for a well-made bagless vacuum with powerful suction and pet hair-clobbering attachments, the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum is a solid choice. There are certainly cheaper vacs on the market, but the number of attachments and power of this one makes it worth the price. 

  • First reviewed: February 2023

How does the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum compare?

While our favorite overall vacuum is the Dyson V12 Detect Slim, the Bissell SurfaceSense Pet Multi-Surface Vacuum is about $300 cheaper, making it a much more economical choice. 

In terms of upright vacs, we also like the Shark Navigator Lift-Away, which is just $199.99 and can tackle just about any dirty situation. The Bissell SurfaceSense does offer more attachments, though, which is a nice perk for the price.

Freelance Reviewer