Dirt on a Dime: Are These Budget Vacuum Cleaners Worth It?

Have you seen the prices of vacuum cleaners these days? You have some going for hundreds (if not thousands), and then you got some going for under a hundred. Then you get this one person saying this one budget vacuum was great and another person saying it was horrible.

— Makes you want to pull your hair out when searching for a vacuum cleaner doesn’t it?

I know the feeling. The truth is that most people go about looking for vacuums all wrong and don’t even consider one of the best options I talk about below. Let me show you what you should be considering when you ask yourself if one vacuum cleaner is worth it over another one.

Buy Based on Needs

When it comes to getting a vacuum cleaner, we tend to buy it like we buy other things – on emotion. We think that this expensive brand of vacuum must be worth it because of the price. Or we believe that this one vacuum cleaner will do because they always break anyway.

When it comes to vacuums, we just settle. This is not how you should start any relationship, but that is what happens.

We do this because it’s hard to find the perfect vacuum because as we mention everyone has an opinion on them that goes either way.

Instead, you need to focus on your needs when buying a vacuum cleaner. Not just one vacuum is perfect for everyone. Before I got into vacuums, I thought they were all the same, but they’re not.

You have vacuums that clean just hardwood floors, vacuums for carpets, vacuums for business floors, vacuums that do a little bit of everything, and vacuums that do a single thing well 

It is important at this point to consider what you need or how you’ll use your vacuum cleaner. Here are some guidelines to help you pick the correct vacuum for your needs.

–Mostly Carpet

Dyson – I’m a fan of the Dyson V6 Animal Cord-free Vacuum, but that is because I like to clean without having cords. Dyson can be known for being a little bit more on price but they’re great vacuums. I often get asked what compares to a Dyson so I have a little post on that here.

–Mostly Hardwood

Canister Vacuum – A canister vacuum or really any vacuum without a beater brush (the rotating brush under the vacuum) is ideal for hardwood floors.

–Big Family/Large Home

BackPack Vacuum – I bet many of you never even heard of or even consider a backpack vacuum. If you have a large home, like 2-stories or more, then this thing will be amazing. Some even come with a battery option and make cleaning so much easier. I can talk days about how I love backpack vacuums and I have, here is the cord version, and here is the cordless version of backpack vacuums. 


Shop Vacuum – A shop vacuum is a must have for a family with pets and even if you have kids. Messes are normal and you never know what you’ll be cleaning next. I would recommend checking out the Vacmaster 4 Gallon here*. 

With a shop vacuum, you can clean up the mud that the dog drags in or broken glass that the dog’s tail knocked over. You just never know what mess you’ll be cleaning with our furry friends but a shop vacuum can handle most of the messes you’ll come across. Works well with pet hair that hides in odd places too. 


Backpack Vacuum – They work great for cleaning low pile carpet you see in businesses and allow you to clean more efficiently too.

–General All-Around Vacuum

Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away – I get asked what is my go-to vacuum for general cleaning and it has to be the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away*. There is nothing else like it and you can’t beat the general reviews people have on it. I would still get a shop vacuum for all the heavier stuff that you shouldn’t vacuum like we talk about later in this post.

$200 Golden Number

There seems to be a golden number that everyone goes after when looking at a vacuum. They want to pay under $200 for a new vacuum, and that is why you’ll see many department store vacuums for under that price. 

Having bought many department store vacuums, I recommend not getting them. Sure it looks fine, and sure it’s a vacuum cleaner, but things that matter like cord length is never mentioned. Do you know how annoying it is to unplug and replug in to clean your entire home? A long cord is essential if you have a large home and that is why I often recommend a backpack vacuum to those who need that.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that the number is not set in stone

Often, people are willing to spend a little more to get a good vacuum cleaner. The mantra of “buy it cheap, buy it twice” often rings in people’s heads. While this is true in many cases, you can still get some affordable vacuum cleaners that work just as well as the more expensive models.

From my experiences, a super cheap vacuum won’t perform as well as a $500 or more vacuum cleaner. But I’ve seen $200 vacuums work just as fine as $500 vacuum cleaners. Just keep that in mind when shopping. I will say the perks of buying the more expensive models is that they’re easier to repair and last longer because of that.

Stop thinking about what is a single best vacuum

What I often tell people is to stop thinking about what is a single best vacuum and instead consider what the best combination of vacuum cleaners is. I know for most people buying two is just plain crazy, but it makes sense for some people.

If you have a family or pets, then messes are the norm. But you clean those messes with your store-bought budget vacuum cleaner, and over time it dies because it can’t handle it. A regular department store vacuum is only made to suck up little things in carpets and dust. Sucking up the spilled flower pot, dog urine, broken glass, and all the other life messes is not what it’s suited for. This is where I would recommend getting a shop vacuum like this one here* for around the home. A shop vacuum (also called a wet/dry vac) can clean up those messes without issue. A shop vacuum is made to take that abuse.

And for some odd reason shop vacuums are often ignored because people think they’re for cleaning shops or garages. Nope, they’re made to clean all the odd and tough messes you run into. Having worked a shop, I can say that a family can make just as much of a mess if not more 

What You’re Missing When Going Budget

If all you care about is going with a budget vacuum cleaner and nothing else then you are missing out on things.

Sure, I recommend getting two vacuum cleaners with one being a shop vacuum and the other one can be a budget vacuum, and that would be worth it. Like we stated earlier this is only good if it fits your needs. If you don’t suffer from allergies, then this is an excellent way to go about it.

If you do suffer from allergies, then you’ll need to get another vacuum cleaner that is made for allergies.

When shopping for a vacuum that works for allergies keep in mind the lingo they use. You want a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and not one that has “HEPA-like filter.” Also, the best vacuums with HEPA filters will also be a closed system with gaskets around it to keep dust from blowing back out. 

If allergies are a problem, then bagless vacuums might not be an option for you. You can find bagless vacuums that are allergy-ready but I recommend sticking with bagged vacuums. Usually, bagless vacuums don’t have the sealed system you would need if you suffer from allergies.

Watch Out For Reusables

There seems to be a new thing of vacuums here lately, and it appears to be models that require you to buy something to keep it going. I’m not talking vacuum bags as those can be used multiple times before needing to be replaced. 

I’m talking about those things that require you to have a new cleaning pad before using it. Some people have opted-in to use these duster-type things that clean with a cleaning pad that you must replace or throw away after every use.

Not only is that bad for the environment but you end up spending way more to keep those things going than anything else. Sure it was cheap to get them, but they require expensive replacements, kind of how the razor companies will sell you the razor for cheap but the blades are expensive.

These cleaning pads have gone as far as having vacuums attached to them, and let’s be honest; those vacuums are not the best.

You would be better off getting a good vacuum cleaner instead of those cheap sweepers that cost you an arm and a leg every time you need a new cleaning pad.

If you mostly have hardwood floors, then a canister vacuum is ideal for you if you want to get a vacuum instead of a dust mop or ones with washable pads. You can learn more about vacuum cleaners without a beater brush here.

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