Shopping for a vacuum cleaner can be a mind-numbing experience because there are so many makes and models to choose from and with price tags from $25 to $1,500 or more. But don’t worry.  Even the most neat-freaky of neat freaks need not spend four-figures on a vacuum to ensure a clean house.

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To identify the best inexpensive vacuum cleaner out there, I came up with this criteria: A great vacuum has to be lightweight, bagless, easily cleanable and most importantly—have consistent suction power.

Lightweight. The test for me is if I can pick it up with one hand and carry it up a flight of stairs. If it takes two people to lift, you know that’s a machine that will knock the paint off door jambs and slam into legs of furniture because it is just too heavy.

Bagless. Disposable vacuum cleaner bags, while designed to be neat, clean and convenient, are not always. Worse, they’re pricey! My ideal vacuum must be bagless but designed in a way that emptying the canister is a neat and clean operation.

Cleanable. Am I the only one who cannot stand the smell of a dirty vacuum? That’s why I want a vacuum cleaner that comes apart so I can wash it out. Is that too much to ask?

Suction power. The best-looking vacuum in the world is a piece of junk if it cannot suck dirt out of carpet and upholstery and pick up every last crumb and speck of dust, dirt and pet hair in a home. And it needs to have consistent suction regardless if the dirt collection canister is empty or nearly full.

After a great deal of research and personal experience, the coveted designation as Everyday Cheapskate’s Best Inexpensive™ Vacuum goes to Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional. What an amazing piece of engineering and ingenuity. Weighing in at under 15 pounds, it certainly can be called lightweight.

Shark Navigator Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner NV22L

Shark Navigator is bagless and boy can it collect a shocking amount of dirt, dust, and other disgusting looking stuff. The canister lifts off the machine to be held over a trash can. Pushing a single button releases the bottom of the canister, and everything simply falls out. Neat, clean and quite tidy.

This canister is completely washable. I run a sink of hot soapy water and put that emptied canister right in. And I wash the filters at the same time, then roll them in a towel and allow them a couple of hours to air dry.

Last, no vacuum I have ever used can measure up to Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional when it comes to powerful suction. I think it might actually suck the paint off a wall if put to the test!

This baby handles like a dream, too, with its swivel action, onboard crevice tools, on/off brush roll for carpet and hard-surface floors and hose that stretches to 12-feet. The power cord is 30 feet long and stores easily on the back. I’m so sold on Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional, I bought two: one for home and one for the EC office.

Regular retail for this machine is $249, but you can be sure I didn’t pay that. In fact, Shark Navigator is currently available here for $179 with Prime shipping.

Updated 3-23-18
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