When it comes to home cleaning appliances it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that a more expensive product will always perform better than mid-range competitors.
If you’re in the market for a quality vacuum cleaner but you don’t have hundreds of dollars to drop on top-line luxury models, the good news is you still have plenty of choices. In fact, affordable vacuum cleaners under $100 are often comparable in performance and efficiency to more expensive models.
If you know what to look for, it’s possible to get a great product without breaking the bank or going broke.
What to Expect From a Vacuum Under $100
The truth is that you can expect quite a lot from a vacuum costing below the $100 range, there’s no need to sacrifice quality for the price.
Often, the features that set high-end vacuums apart from their more affordable competitors is the inclusion of advanced features. Units that come with technology such as digital displays, additional sensors, automated height adjusters and a wide range of attachments will inevitably carry a much heftier price tag.
While these additional features certainly are nice, they usually aren’t necessary for simply getting the job done. Often, those extra attachments, bells and whistles aren’t worth the price buyers need to pay for them.
Affordable vacuums will have comparable motor powers and suctioning abilities, but with none of the frills – a trade-off that most budget buyers are perfectly satisfied with.
Types of Vacuum Cleaners Under $100
In the $20 to $100 range, you have plenty of options when it comes to vacuum cleaner types. Here are the three major categories and what each style is ideal for:
As the smallest and most portable option, handheld units are a classic choice for automobiles and a common model for the top mini car vacuum cleaner. Handheld units are often battery-powered and cordless and are sometimes better at navigating tight spots than their upright or canister competitors.
These units’ simplistic, abbreviated design makes them ideal for cleaning the tight spots in cars, but a nonsensical choice for vacuuming larger floor areas in homes or apartments.
They’re ideal for those who prioritize portability and simplicity and who don’t need a larger vacuum for the carpeting and flooring of their living area.
Upright models are the classic and traditional style of vacuum cleaners. They’re what most consumers imagine when asked to picture a vacuum.
They have an all-inclusive design that combines the cleaning apparatus, the filter, the vacuum head and the motor into an upright design.
To vacuum using an upright model, you must push the weight of the appliance as you go. All things considered, upright vacuums tend to be mid-powered, portable units that are stored easily in compact spaces.
The dual-style model of canister vacuums has a split design that separates the suctioning extension and the vacuum’s motor and bag. These units are generally more portable than upright models and ideal for use in cars or other vehicles.
Canister vacuums also tend to beat out their upright competitors when it comes to tight spaces and stairs because this model separates the weight of the motor from the suctioning extension which means users can navigate tight spaces with increased efficiency.
What Makes a Great and Affordable Vacuum
Scoring an effective vacuum cleaner at an affordable price does take some research and consideration. Here are some key factors to consider when shopping around for a budget unit that’ll still perform exceptionally:
While height isn’t exactly a factor in purchasing a handheld vacuum unit, it comes into play if you’re shopping around for a canister or upright model.
The height of a vacuum will determine how portable it is as well as how effectively it can maneuver tight spaces.
Taller vacuums increase reach, making them ideal and efficient for large, open spaces in a home or apartment. Shorter vacuums, however, are easier to store and better at working around furniture and other fixtures.
Measured in watts, a vacuum motor’s power describes how much electrical input is necessary to power the unit.
While motor size doesn’t always translate to more suctioning power, it’s true that vacuums with the higher suctioning abilities generally tend to have larger, more powerful motors.
When it comes to power in vacuum units, however, more isn’t always better. If you only need a vacuum unit to clean up ordinary messes like dirt and pet hair, a product with an especially hefty motor will only serve to drain your vacuum battery and waste electricity.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that products with higher wattages are unquestionably the best. Instead, focus on finding a project with effective air flow and suctioning.
Upright and canister units will also have wheels incorporated into their design in order to increase the unit’s mobility.
Wheels become especially important if you plan on using your vacuum on hard surfaces such as wood flooring or all types of plastic flooring. For example, when it comes to vinyl plank vs laminate flooring both flooring types will require a vacuum with a set of wheels to clean well.
If you intend on using your vacuum on hard floors, always check the wheel materials of potential purchases. The best hardwood floor vacuum cleaners will have soft rubber wheels that don’t scuff or scratch delicate flooring.
Padding is another vacuum element that’s especially important for those who have hardwood floors of any type, it’s not as important for those with exclusively carpeted homes and apartments.
Because the hard edges and plastic parts of many vacuum cleaners can scratch and damage delicate hardwood floors, some vacuums come equipped with padding.
While the padding isn’t a concern for rugs and other soft surfaces, it’s a must for vinyl, laminate, wood or any other hard surface.
Suctioning power is a key player in any vacuum model. Often, it’s measured in increments called water lift or vacuum.
A product’s water lift describes the unit’s overall pull of airflow on a specified amount of water. The higher the water lift, the more suction the device has.
While suction power is essential for all types of flooring, it’s especially important for any type of creviced or cracked surfaces.
For example, flooring types such as interlocking rubber tiles have crevices that collect dust and dirt. To clean these types, you need a unit with powerful suctioning capabilities that’ll lift the debris out of cracks and indents.
The same goes for wood floors with gaps, textured flooring and some laminate floors. Additionally, suctioning power is an essential feature for vacuums that are intended for picking up and removing pet hair.
Attachments are often the differentiating factor between a budget vacuum cleaner that gets the job done well and bells-and-whistle models that carry huge price tags.
Never be fooled into believing that more attachments equal higher quality. In most cases, a vacuum only needs its standard head, a crevice attachment for details and sometimes a soft-bristled brush head for removing dust from delicate areas.
If you purchase a no-frills vacuum with few or zero attachments, you always have the option to purchase them individually at a later date.
Whether or not you can get by with less will admittedly depend on your intended uses for your product. In most cases, users will never even notice or miss the additional fixtures beyond the standard few.
Vacuums work by using suctioning power to draw airflow into the device. When the dust and debris have been removed, that air exits through the unit’s exhaust.
The vacuum exhaust system is tied closely to its filtration system. It ensures that the dusty air which enters the vacuum initially will exit dust-free and clean. Otherwise, you’re simply spreading allergens and releasing dirt back into the air.
To ensure you purchase a vacuum with an effective, sanitary exhaust system, you’ll need to pay special attention to its filter quality.
Without a quality filter, your vacuum will only launch harmful, dirty allergens like dust mites and pet dander back into your home’s air, allowing it to re-settle on your flooring, carpet and furniture.
The best filtration systems are high-efficiency particulate air filters (commonly abbreviated to HEPA). These work by rushing the vacuumed air through an extremely fine mesh fixture, which traps harmful particles.
Ensuring your new vacuum has a HEPA filter can reduce seasonal allergies, improve your immune system and lung health and clean your home better than those who lack it. Vacuums with HEPA filters don’t just clean your floor, they also purify your air.
Wire vs Wireless
Wired and wireless units have their own pros and cons. When it comes to choosing one, there’s no right or wrong answer.
Wireless units are generally battery-powered and rechargeable. They’re extremely portable and eliminate the need to wrestle with a pesky cord.
The major downfall of wireless units is that they often have short battery lives and long charge times. Before purchasing a cordless vacuum unit, always be sure to look into its battery specifications.
Corded units tend to be higher-powered. They also have the advantage of reliability – because they’re integrated into a constant power source, they’ll never leave you with a half-cleaned car or apartment because your unit ran out of battery power.
When it comes to affordable vacuums, buyers are often able to get more for their money if they’re willing to choose a traditional corded model.
Wet vs Dry Vacuuming
Most traditional vacuums use dry suctioning to remove dust, dirt and pet hair. For some messes, however, dry suction simply isn’t enough.
To remove stains and odor more efficiently than with dry vacuums, you may want to consider a wet vacuum. These products use hot water and chemical solutions paired with intense scrubbing brushes to deep-clean carpet and rugs.
Wet vacuums are usually best paired with a high-strength spot remover like the best carpet stain remover for tough blemishes and soiling.
It should be noted that wet vacuums are almost never intended to replace dry vacuums. Before using a wet vacuum, it’s usually recommended that you clean away all dry debris and small particles. This allows the wet vacuum to accomplish its task better.
All things considered, if you’re after deep-cleaning stain remover that fights odors and scrubs carpet clean, then you’re after a wet vacuum. To lift dry particles off flooring and perform simple routine cleaning, dry vacuums are your best bet.
Are More Expensive Vacuums Higher in Quality
Often, what sets more expensive vacuums apart from their budget competitors isn’t the product’s true quality, it’s the additional bells and whistles.
It’s completely possible to find and select a quality unit that costs less than $100, you just might have to go without the extra features.
The good news is that these additional technologies (such as touch screens, dirt sensors, automated height adjusters and hordes of attachment) don’t directly impact a vacuum cleaner’s suctioning capabilities and overall performance.
While more expensive vacuums are sometimes higher in quality, it’s entirely possible to spend less money on a machine that can perform most tasks equally well.
Affordable Vacuum Cleaner on the Carpet
Carpet can be a tricky surface to clean, especially if you own a dog or cat and happen to be dealing with animal hair or pet dander.
If you’re looking for an affordable vacuum to tackle your carpet, two features you should never compromise on are the brush and spinners. These features serve to agitate debris, making it possible for them to become trapped by the vacuum’ cleaner’s suctioning power.
Fine particles and dirt can sink deeply into a carpet’s surface, making it harder to reach for low-powered units. This makes suctioning power a key player in the efficiency of a carpet vacuum cleaner.
When it comes to selecting an affordable unit for carpeting, never sacrifice suctioning power or rotating brushes – these are absolutely essential.
Vacuums vs Mops
Though they’re both used on a hard floor, vacuums and mops have entirely different purposes. The best home cleaning routines will utilize both.
While vacuums use suctioning power to lift dirt and dry particles off the floor, a mop is necessary for lifting stains or cleaning wet or sticky messes. Products such as steaming mops use heat to scrub away unwanted messes that vacuums are incapable of picking up.
It should be noted, however, that a mop can never stand in for a vacuum. While mops excel at cleaning up spills and dried-on gunk, they’ll only push around and smear the smaller particles that vacuums collect, making for an even larger mess.
Vacuums vs Brooms
While it may be commonly assumed that brooms are an old-fashioned, outdated cleaning tool that has been replaced entirely by vacuums, they still have their place in home cleaning methods.
It’s true that vacuums are more powerful and, in most cases, quicker and more effective. The one arena where manual brooms almost always excel over vacuums is for use with outdoor floorings such as concrete, brick and outdoor rubber flooring.
While they’re completely ineffective on carpets and rugs, they can help keep inside flooring clean. Their strengths include that they’re comparatively much more affordable, they don’t require a power source and they’re extremely good at navigating around furniture and other barriers.
Besides their relatively low-efficiency level, brooms also tend to kick up more dust and dirt than they’re able to collect.
This makes them a suitable tool for collecting larger particles, but pretty much useless in removing pet dander, pet hair and other debris. For these types of grime, you’ll need the power of a quality vacuum.
Vacuum vs Steam Cleaner
Though they both clean flooring, vacuums and steam cleaners have deceivingly different purposes and outcomes.
Vacuums excel at removing dry particles from cracks and crevices. They’re ideal for cleaning up messes like spilled cereal, crumbs, pet hair, animal dander and dust mites.
Unfortunately, most standard dry-suction vacuums are relatively useless in lifting stains and odors. That’s where steam cleaners come in.
Steam cleaners are never intended as a replacement or stand-in for vacuums. Instead, they’re intended for use after a carpet or hard surface has already been vacuumed.
After the surface area is cleared of all dry debris and loose particles, a steam cleaner uses rotating brushes, hot liquid and cleaning product to power-wash stains and odors.
Among it has many benefits, using a vacuum in combination with a steam cleaner will leave your carpet fresh, odorless and spot-free.
How to Use a Vacuum Cleaner
Step 1 – Clear Away Larger Debris
Coins, large pieces of metal and other big objects should be removed by hand as not to clog or stress your vacuum unit.
Step 2 – Move the Furniture
Push back or move away any furniture or fixtures that could be hiding dirt or debris.
Step 3 – Check Your Filtration System and Bag Area
If necessary, clean both. A dirty filter or jam-packed bag is the leading cause of suction loss and overheating in many vacuum units.
Step 4 – Check the Height Settings
If your vacuum has adjustable height settings, check to make sure it’s set appropriately for the floor surface you wish to clean.
Step 5 – Turn Off All the Rotators
If your vacuum has bristles or a brush, be sure that all rotators are off before vacuuming hardwood floors, as this can cause scratching and dents.
Step 6 – Begin Cleaning
Power on your vacuum and begin cleaning, taking special care to not run the vacuum over any cords, rug edges or other objects you don’t wish to pull into the vacuum suction.
Do’s and Don’ts to Do With a Vacuum Cleaner
- Empty the vacuum bag before you begin using the unit.
- Check the filter and clean it frequently.
- Remove hair and debris from brushes and bristles before use.
- Fully charge your battery-operated units before use.
- Vacuum with a dirty or soiled filter.
- Attempt to use your vacuum cleaner to pick up coins or other large, heavy objects.
- Use a vacuum with no pads on a hardwood floor.
- Vacuum with a full or dirty bag.
- Use a vacuum with spinning brushes on a delicate hardwood floor.
How to Clean and Maintain an Affordable Vacuum Cleaner
The vacuum bag and filtration system are arguably two of the most essential parts of any unit. They’re also the functions that require the most attention and maintenance.
Step 1 – Empty Vacuum Bags Frequently
Most vacuum units have a bag that’s either reusable or disposable.
Reusable bags must be emptied and cleaned when they fill, while disposable bags must be replaced frequently. Failing to do so will reduce your unit’s suctioning capabilities and put it in risk for overheating and breaking.
Step 2 – Check and Replace Filtration System
Your vacuum filtration system is what helps remove dust and other allergens from your home’s air. Without it, your vacuum will release pet dander, pollen and animal hair as it vacuums.
Filters come in all different shapes and sizes from canisters and bags to screens and cups. Before you turn on your unit, you should always make sure you’ve cleaned away the caked-on grime.
This promotes airflow for better suction and also helps keep your unit in working order. Depending on how frequently you use your vacuum, you’ll likely be required to replace your filter entirely in order to ensure your unit is removing unwanted particles.
When selecting a new filter, always choose a HEPA filtration system that purifies the air as you vacuum.
Step 3 – Clear Hair and Debris from Brush Bristles
Many vacuums come equipped with rotating brushes that serve to agitate dust and debris so it can more effectively be removed by suction. Sometimes, the bristles of these brushes will become wrapped with hair, string and animal fur.
To keep your vacuum running optimally, you’ll want to clip away and remove any grime that fastens itself to your unit’s brushes. This can often be done with a toothbrush and scissors or other similar cleaning tools.
What is the best filter for people with allergies?
Though all users will benefit from a HEPA filtration system, they’re a necessary staple for those with allergies.
Because HEPA systems work to remove dust, pollen, dander and other allergy-causing particles, they can severely reduce the symptoms of allergies and make you healthier and happier in your own home.
Does a bigger motor mean a more effective vacuum?
Contrary to what you may believe, having a bigger motor doesn’t necessarily make for a more powerful vacuum. Although power and effectiveness can be related, a vacuum motor strength (as indicated in watts) only describes how much energy the unit requires to function.
The most effective vacuum units will combine a powerful motor with top-notch suctioning abilities and airflow to deliver a deep and penetrating clean.
Can I use the same vacuum on the carpet and hard flooring?
In some cases, it’s possible to use a single vacuum unit on both the carpeted and hard-surfaced areas of your home.
Keep in mind, however, that carpets and rugs respond better to units which have brush features which rotate to agitate dust, making it easier to collect. These same brushes, if not disabled, will damage hardwood floors.
It’s still possible to use the same unit for both purposes, as long as the product’s brush rotation can be disabled and the body of the vacuum itself can be lowered or raised to match both carpeting and hard surfaces.
A little bit of money can go a long way when it comes to purchasing a solid vacuum cleaner.
While some models on the market carry price tags of $200 or more, the truth of the matter is that you can get a decent product at half the cost or even less.
If you’re willing to do your research and possibly forgo the unnecessary features and flashy ad-ons, it’s quite easy to find a vacuum cleaner that’ll match your needs and your budget.
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