Feb. 19, 2014 at 12:59 PM ET
An upright vacuum is a no-brainer if you live on one level with wall-to-wall carpeting. But lugging it upstairs? Not to mention cleaning the stairs themselves and keeping bare floors scratch-free. Canister vacuums, with their myriad attachments and long hoses, can spruce up most any surface, crevice or cranny and go easily from floor to couch to car. The best cheap models cost well under $100.
Here are four top picks from Cheapism.com.
The Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G (starting at $57) is the lightest of the bunch, at 8.6 pounds, and has a 20-foot-long cord. Hundreds of online reviews testify to its ease of use and effective cleaning, whether the task is carpeted stairs, mini-blinds or some other hard-to-reach nook. This canister vacuum comes with a bare-floor brush, crevice tool and dusting brush. Another practical feature: a blower port for clearing away debris instead of sucking it up. (Where to buy)
The Dirt Devil Featherlite Cyclonic SD40100 (starting at $59) may not quite live up to its name, but at 9.5 pounds it’s very light compared with other vacuums. This model has a bare-floor nozzle with a retractable brush, as well as a two-in-one crevice tool/dusting brush. Reviews highlight the included upholstery tool and retractable cord, which consumers can’t always find in this price range. (Where to buy)
The Panasonic MC-CL310 (starting at $85) uses a multi-angle floor nozzle to easily negotiate furniture and other obstacles. There’s also a combination crevice tool and dusting brush with flip-up bristles and a so-called Edge Grabber attachment designed specifically for baseboards. Reviewers appreciate the easy-to-grip handle and easy-to-empty bagless design. (Where to buy)
The Eureka ReadyForce 900A (starting at $57) earns kudos in reviews for powerful suction — although, like other low-cost canister vacuums, it doesn’t have quite enough oomph for deep-pile carpet. With a 10.5-inch cleaning path, users can cover a lot of ground quickly using the floor brush. A combination tool slot/dusting brush and upholstery nozzle round out the accessories. (Where to buy)
Bagless models, like the Dirt Devil and Panasonic listed above, are currently in vogue as consumers seek to avoid the hassle and expense of replacement bags. But emptying the dirt cup from a bagless vacuum can send up a puff of dust (Apartment Therapy readers have some tips to help prevent this). The advantage of a bag is that dust remains contained.
All four canister vacuums featured here have filters to keep from blowing collected debris back into the air. The Dirt Devil and Panasonic models boast high-efficiency particulate air filters. HEPA filters claim to trap 99.97 percent of particles above a certain size (0.3 microns), including potential irritants such as pet dander and dust mites. Other filters may also prove effective, experts say, but a HEPA filter is the safest bet for consumers with severe allergies or asthma.
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