Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

If you or your children suffer from allergies, asthma or any respiratory condition aggravated by particle allergens, the type of vacuum cleaner you own can make a vast difference in your quality of life. A quality HEPA vacuum cleaner helps control dust mites, pet dander, pollen and other irritants by removing them from flooring, shelves, steps, and furniture then trapping them for disposal. The right vacuum can not only remove allergens and dirt from the physical surfaces in your home but can also make your indoor air cleaner and more breathable. However, all vacuums are not created equally. Some may be great at removing dirt and pet hair from carpet while spewing the most dangerous particles, fine particles, back into the air you breathe. This type of vacuum "clean for appearances," but at Achoo, we want you to have a vacuum that not only keeps your home looking nice, but one that actually allows you to "clean for your health" by removing allergens, not simply dispersing them. Here are some important factors to consider when shopping for a vacuum cleaner:

Standard Filtration vs. S-Class / HEPA Filtration

HEPA FiltrationSince filtration is such a large part of what makes a healthier type of vacuum, actually, healthy, which should you choose? Vacuum cleaners with a standard filter simply spread allergens around in the air you breathe by actually picking up particles that have settled in the carpet or on the smooth flooring then making them airborne again. They cannot effectively filter and trap fine particles like pollen or pet dander. If you have allergies, you need a tightly sealed vacuum cleaner with an S-Class or HEPA filter that meets the rigorous U.S. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) standards of removing 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns or larger. S-Class and HEPA filters are nearly identical in filtration standards, so for allergies and asthma, either will work well. Several brands we carry, including, Miele SEBO, Dyson, Soniclean (canisters), and some Electrolux models, offer a sealed systems with HEPA filtration. All of the SEBO vacuum cleaners we offer come standard with S-Class filtration (an upgrade to HEPA filter is available) while other models offer HEPA only.

In addition to the filters, some vacuums are beginning to offer filterbags. Miele was the first of our offering to push past the traditional paper bag and onto multilayer bags that offer multiple stages of filtration. The AirClean filterbags all feature 9-ply construction, and with each ply designed differently, this bag does the bulk of filtration, even capturing particles you cannot see. More recently, Soniclean took this a bit further. With their upright vacuum cleaners, there is no HEPA filter. Instead, each features a HEPA bag. In terms of convenience, this is a step in the right direction. Note though, the uprights lacked a sealed system, and though the canisters have that feature, they use a more more traditional-style dust bag/HEPA filter combo. With HEPA or S-Class filtration, filterbags or filters themselves, you can rest assured that your vacuum cleaner will effectively trap almost all of the household allergens.

Upright Vacuum Cleaners vs. Canister Vacuum Cleaners

Upright Vacuum Cleaners vs. Canister Vacuum CleanersUpright vacuum cleaners are best suited for cleaning carpet, but this type has traditionally been heavier and more difficult to maneuver than canister vacuum cleaners. Cleaning in tight spaces and under furniture was difficult with older upright vacuum cleaners, but the Miele S7 uprights are designed to specifically address maneuverability concerns. When lying flat on the floor, the Miele Swing has a slim 6" profile, and getting around furniture and turning is made simple with their patented Swivel-Neck design. The Soniclean and SEBO uprights can also lie flat and have a slim profile, though both feature a more traditional steering and maneuvering system. Dyson vacuums are designed to address maneuverability with their patented Ball feature.

Canisters tend to roll more freely, be lighter weight, and are often best geared towards smooth flooring like tile or laminate. More compact, canister vacuum cleaners can often be used with a variety of attachments and because of their compact nature, are often better for steps and other hard to reach places. Brands like Miele have blurred the lines between the traditional used of a canister and upright vacuum. Making each more versatile, and building innovative features has made the difference in choosing a canister versus an upright a question of personal choice. In terms of canister vacuums, the versatile Miele Marin is our most popular product.

Beyond the traditional upright vs. canister dichotomy, there are stick and handheld vacuum cleaners. Often the most lightweight and compact of all, these models are generally additional cleaning tools for quick spills or used in larger homes, as an additional vac. The most versatile of these models is the Miele Quickstep.

Bagged vs. Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

When it is time for dust disposal after vacuuming, bagged vacuum cleaners are better for allergy sufferers, because the dust is collected in a sealed bag. However, bagged vacuum cleaners can lose suction power as the bag fills up. Miele vacuum cleaners have special, high-quality bags that automatically seal themselves upon removal.  The new AirClean design filters dirt back into the bag increasing the lifespan of the bag while promoting airflow. Miele vacuums also let you know when it is time to change the dust bag with an indicator light located on the control panel of the vacuum. Though not spring load or self-sealing, many SEBO dust bags have a small plastic cap attached to the bag so that before removing it, you can seal in allergens, dirt and dander. Soniclean has a similar device, not not quite as effective, for some of their dustbags.

Bagless vacuum cleaners, like Dyson vacuums, have no bags to get clogged, so you do not have to worry about buying new bags. Bagless vacuum cleaners collect dust in a plastic bin for disposal. Some Electrolux models are designed similar to the Dyson uprights and have a dust bin instead of traditional vacuum bags. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, we recommend getting someone else to empty the dust bin for you whenever possible. And, it is best to go outdoors to empty the dust bin into the trash.

Other Factors to Consider

Vacuum Cleaners Ergonomics & Ease of Use

Easy to Use

Ask yourself: "Are all the buttons and tools on this vacuum intuitive and easy to reach? How easy is it to change the bag or empty the dust bin? How easy is it to maneuver the vacuum cleaner in tight spaces? Does your hand feel right on the handle?" Miele canisters are generally lightweight, particularly the S6 models, and much easier to maneuver than upright vacuum cleaners. Our SEBO vacuum cleaners are close, but the new Soniclean uprights are our lightest upright vacuum cleaners.  Some models have controls placed right at your fingers, while others will require you to bend over or are not as easy to use while cleaning.

Vacuum Cleaners Performance


The best way to test ergonomics and performance is to get your hands on the vacuum cleaner and see it for yourself. If you are in the Atlanta area, you can stop by our Atlanta show room to "test-drive" our vacuum cleaners. For all of our models, we test their ability to clean dirt and pet hair as well as remove odor and fine dust on both smooth and carpeted surfaces. In general, all of our vacuums offer powerful suction, and while some are better suited for different types of flooring, when you match the vacuum with what it is designed to clean, all are highly efficient cleaning machines.

Cleaning Power


Power measured in amps or watts tells us how much energy the vacuum cleaner uses. When choosing a vacuum cleaner, do not rely on the amount of amperage used as a deciding factor. Amperage is the amount of electricity the motor uses and has nothing do the suction power of the vacuum. The suction power is determined by the air flow and is rated as CFM, or, as in the case of Dyson, is rated by airwatts. Additionally, some vacuums have very powerful brushrolls. Of all the uprights we offer, only Miele is so strong that one carpet, with the brushroll engaged, it almost feels self-propelled!
Vacuum Cleaners Air Flow - CFM

Air Flow

Usually measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute), air flow is the force exerted by the moving air which picks up the dirt and moves it into the bag or dust container. Better vacuum cleaners have higher CFM ratings and are generally more expensive. Airwatts is also a measure of flow, but this measurement is used most often by Dyson. Since it is not a universal measurement, airwatts are most useful when for comparing Dyson models against each other.
Vacuum Power Head vs. Turbo Head

Powerhead vs. Turbohead

Turboheads are purely air-driven and work well in homes with some carpet, but more specifically, low pile or thinner carpet.  Powerheads have an additional electric motor that gives the brush roll more power to suck up dirt deep in thick or high pile carpet, and many vacuums give you the ability to turn off the brush roll on the powerhead and use straight suction over smooth flooring. Electrically powered heads, especially those with height adjustment, can be more expensive but are the most versatile in terms of cleaning all types of carpet.

Reach & Cleaning Radius


Be sure to check the cord length and make sure that it is long enough for your home or office. Also, think about all the hard-to-reach spots in your home and make sure you find a vacuum cleaner with the ability to reach them. With upright vacuums it is important to take into account the hose. The hose of a Miele S7 upright can stretch to well over 10 feet. This, combined with the crevice tool, makes these vacuums ideal for removing cobwebs from the corners of rooms or sucking up dirt and debris behind a dresser.

Vacuum Cleaners Attachments & Options

Attachments & Options

Do you need a headlight on your vacuum cleaner? Do you need an adjustable, electrified wand so that you can use accessories like upholstery tools and ceiling fan tools? Do you want automatic height adjustment to effortlessly switch from carpet to hardwood? If you decide to get a bagged vacuum cleaner, we recommend that you get one with a bag change indicator light since the vacuum cleaner will not work properly if the bag is too full. Are you looking for a model that provides the accessories for above-the-floor cleaning? Miele vacuum cleaners are regarded as one of the industry leaders when it comes to convenient, state-of-the-art tools and accessories.
Vacuum Cleaners Manufacturer's Reputation

Manufacturer's Reputation

A manufacturer's reputation and the experiences of past customers deserve consideration in your decision making process. Certain manufacturers and products are highly respected in the industry for a reason and the same goes for products which have garnered less respect. To do more research on your vacuum, check out our customer reviews and our product reviews located on each product page.
Vacuum Cleaners Durability & Warranty

Durability & Warranty

Miele vacuum cleaners offer a seven-year warranty for the motor and a one-year warranty for parts and labor, except the UniQ which is covered for 10 full years on the motor & housing and 5 years on parts and labor. SEBO vacuums have a five-year warranty on the motor, three-year warranty on parts, and one-year warranty for labor. Dyson vacuums come with a five-year warranty. Electrolux vacuum cleaners have a two-year warranty, and lastly, Soniclean vacuums are covered from 1-5 years, depending on the model.

Choose a Miele vacuum cleaner or SEBO vacuum cleaner, and you will not have to worry about buying a new vacuum cleaner for several years.
Vacuum Cleaner Replacement Bags and Filters