So Disgusting I’m Embarrassed to Tell – Best Inexpensive Vacuum

While I am a very busy person and not 100 percent organized, I do pride myself on cleanliness to the point of having been accused a time or two of being a wee bit compulsive. Which brings me to the matter of vacuum cleaners. I’m freakish if not particular about my vacuum. And I wear them out, regularly.

I just blew out my third Hoover Wind Tunnel, and I mean I wore that thing out down to its last gasp. I carried it in pieces to the trash. I was planning to replace it with the latest and greatest from Hoover … that is, until I heard about the Shark Navigator.

I wasn’t that impressed as I looked it over at the store. It was on the smallish side, lightweight—certainly not the hefty, beefy Hoover I’ve been used to. But based on the recommendation from a trusted friend, I decided to give it a try, knowing I’d just bring it back to the store if it couldn’t live up to my standard.

Oh, my. This is probably where I should end this column. It’s that embarrassing.

I plugged that puppy in and started to vacuum my family room, which is carpeted with 100 percent wool Karastan carpet. Look, I love this carpet and have babied it from the day it was installed. It looks like new, which you need to take with a grain of salt because I never wear my glasses when I vacuum. Still, I think of it as pristine.

Within minutes, that canister filled to the top. And I was vacuuming a fairly small area. I was so shocked, disgusted hardly describes the feeling. I took the canister out to the trash to dump it out, hoping the neighbors wouldn’t be peering over the fence to see what was coming out of my home.

Look, this room is not small, but it’s not massive, either. I filled that canister four times before I put Sharky away for the day. Since then, I’ve vacuumed it a couple more times, and still I’m sucking out who-knows-what from this carpet. Even my husband was shaking his head.

Last night, finally, I vacuumed the room once again and the canister remained empty. Finally.

I’ll admit to the carpet being 10 years old, but it’s been vacuumed to death over the decade. And cleaned routinely. All for naught, apparently.

The price for a Shark Navigator ranges from about $170 to $200. It’s the best money I’ve spent since I got my carpet-cleaning steam vac, which I still use all the time and as recently as yesterday. I’ve written about my steam vac many times. See? I am a little compulsive about having to be clean, especially my carpet.

I am stunned at the power and light weight of my Shark Navigator. But more than that, I am so happy to know that the carpet in my home is really clean. I mean, probably as clean as the day it was installed.

And my bonus? No more bags!


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  • Kristen P

    so funny that I just saw this on my newsfeed! After years of using a Roomba, I couldn’t believe how much the Navigator picked up! My coworker and I both just purchased Navigators and are so far very pleased! I got a great deal on the internet at, plus free shipping.

  • Lori W

    I just recently purchased one also. We got it for our upstairs and love it just as much as my Dyson that we use downstairs at less than 1/2 the price of the Dyson. Whoo Hoo.

  • Deborah W

    Mary, I am going to have to get one of these babies. I have an old Kirby which was pricey (almost $1,000) and the best you could get back in the late 90s but it’s seen better days. Thanks for the tip, Kristen P! I’m headed to

  • Deborah W

    which model did you get?

  • amy

    I bought a Shark Navigator about a year ago after my 11 year old Eureka quit working. I decided on this vacuum after reading lots of customer reviews about lots of different vacuums. I considered getting a Dyson but this Shark Navigator was so much more affordable and had so many positive comments I decided to give it a try. I have loved it! I love that it is light weight, it means my kids can use it with ease! I do not regret the purchase at all, it works great!

  • Reeni Stezaker

    You can buy the Shark Navigator at Costco for $119.99 or on Ebay for $109.99. Sounds good to me. 🙂

  • Janet K.

    Does anyone have any experience with how long the Shark Navigator lasts? I have owned three Hoover Wind Tunnels. I loved them but the last one I owned burned out very quickly. Was told by a vacuum cleaner salesman that bagless cleaners just do not last. Now my husband does not want me to buy any more bagless cleaners. I would love to hear some other people’s “take” on this subject. The Shark Navigator sounds really great.

    • Char

      I have had mine for almost four years now. MUCH longer than my Hoover lasted.

      • Janet K.

        Wow, that’s a long time. Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  • phj44

    I am hoping to purchase the Shark Navigator PRO, as it is suppose to pick up pet hair with ease.. and i have PET hair. without doubt a totally new fully grown dog could be made from the hair on our floor from our two 9 pound pom and a 50 pound Huskey! Yes, it is Huskey hair that makes my oak flooring vintage 55 yrs, look like a light covering of snow! Because of physical limitations, my daughter in Dallas called to recommend a new ‘auto’ vac which uses swifter-like pads to remove pet hair as well as ability to use wet pads for mopping.. this is NOT a vac, only a motorized navigation system room cleaner, but it might make my day simpler.. currently i use 3-4 swifter pads a day to keep dog hair controlled and off the floor, still need vac ( Shark Navigator) for vaccum day, but I hope someone may have recomendation or comments on the auto type. meantime, I am off to buy the Navigator Plus.. BBB carries it, not sure if costco has the Plus or not. thanks for your ‘ confession”. I too am a bit compulsive about the floors i walk on…

  • DBeasley

    Which model number?

    • Karen

      It’s the Navigator Lift Away Upright Vac. NV350 series

  • Susan

    Beat ya to it Mary. I got one last winter and I love it!! I love the feature of being able to vacuum my hardwood floor with out the brush going around. And I also found out you can rinse the dirt container out!! Just make sure you let it dry completely before putting it back on.

  • Char

    Mary, I love my Shark Navigator! A friend referred the Kirby company to me. Two young ladies came to my house to try to sell me a new Kirby vacuum with a $2,000 price tag. They asked me to do a side by side comparison, and my Shark kept up with the Kirby…they couldn’t believe it!
    The only option I wish I had was the detachable canister that allows you to vacuum stairs and ceilings, etc.

  • LisaD in upstate NY

    I agree with all who bought the Navigator! I’ve had mine for a few months and it IS wonderful. I bought the larger of the two.

  • Diana

    I got another, larger unit because I have all carpet now….whew! I traded because I have no extra storage space and don’t mind doing a little at a time, well, I saw more cat hair than I ever had before, it is a dustbuster size Shark, bagless, and I love it beyond the beyond.

  • Karen

    The Shark Navigator is the the best vacuum ever made! My Oreck gave out and I had seen the ad for the Shark on TV and decided to buy one, thinking it couldn’t be as strong and lightweight as they advertised. I love this vaccuum! I was amazed, like Mary said, at how much dirt came out of my carpeting that I vacuum every other day. I have 2 dogs and lots of hair, too, and the pet hair attachment works great, too! I recommended it to two of my friends and they love it, too!

    • john Govols

      You must be smoking weed if you think any Shark vacuum is the best vacuum ever made.

  • Char

    So I had to come back & post again. Susan mentioned you can rinse out the dirt canister. Foam filters are located just above the dirt canister and should be rinsed and dried every few months. This helps prevent that stale, musty smell.

  • Cris

    Shark is made by Euro-pro. I hope you have better luck with them than we did. I love their products but their customer service is the worst! I will not buy another Shark product because of their customer service. : (

  • Ginger

    What country is it made in?

  • PEG


  • Disappointed

    Sorry Mary, I love you column and read it daily…therefore I was disappointed to see that now you are doing “advertisements.

    • morgan

      yes i feel the same way.

    • Everyday Cheapskate has always contained ads from the wonderful people who sponsor it and make it possible for us to pay the bills. I think you would be surprised how much it costs to send out a daily email and to keep this blog site up and running. I don’t do this by myself. I have a staff of employees and they have families. And, I’ve discovered, they like to get a regular paycheck. Everyday Cheapskate and Debt-Proof Living will continue to offer ads, products,and services that are congruent with our brand–goods and services that I use personally and that I believe will add value to my readers.

    • Mary Hunt

      Everyday Cheapskate has always contained ads from the wonderful people who sponsor it and make it possible for us to pay the bills. I think you would be surprised how much it costs to send out a daily email and to keep this blog site up and running. I don’t do this by myself. I have a staff of employees and they have families. And, I’ve discovered, they like to get a regular paycheck. Everyday Cheapskate and Debt-Proof Living will continue to offer ads, products,and services that are congruent with our brand–goods and services that I use personally and that I believe will add value to my readers.

      • Mary

        I’m very happy you talked about your Navigator. I was saving to buy a Dyson. No way, now because I have enough money for the Navigator. Thank you, Thank you. Now we will have money left over to get other neccessities.

  • Coastymom

    Same here. Bought the same one. Had a Dyson and it didn’t even work as well as the Shark. That sweeper is fantastic

  • Michelle

    Mary, I don’t mind you “advertising” a product, because I know you sincerely want to help your readers and I trust what you tell us (as long as you’re not getting “paid” by companies to advertise their products). Thanks for the tip on the Navigator. – I wasn’t even thinking of buying a new vac but now maybe I will.

  • Euvonna

    I do agree this is the best vacuum cleaner available. It is amazing how much it picks up and how light weight it is. I love how you can lean the body of it from side to side to go under and around things.

  • Euvonna

    Don’t get the smaller one, get the Lift Away one model NV350. I have a friend who bought the smaller one, and I do not like it nearly as well as my NV350

  • Cindy H.

    I also just bought the Shark Navigator Pro and was appalled at what it sucked out of my seemingly clean carpet. This vacuum is amazing! And mine came with a free Shark steam iron. It also reconfigures to make a canister vacuum and has a hard floor attachment that sweeps and dusts the floor at the same time. I love it.

  • Lisa from Calgary

    Did you get paid to write this one? I’m even more skeptic than usual. Love your posts but not your product pushes.

    • Betty

      Lisa… I got a navigator lift away when I bought my condo since it was lots lighter than my Kirby.. so much cheaper and I just bought a rocket for the 5 flights of stairs I have… They are that good…

  • bigmama-chicago

    I have this machine. I call it the “beast” Best thing since sliced bread, running water, etc. I have cats–beautiful longhaired cats, tripled. Before the Shark I had to use a carpet rake and vacumn and the hair still didn’t all come out. No more not since the Shark. Don’t waste your money on thoise high priced machines….this one works. Its the “cats meow” And to Lisa from Calgary
    just keep breaking your back. while the rest of us have happy cleaning. I have the Lift Away NV 350. Its even cheaper on QVC last time I looked

  • Dave

    Re: product pushes, etc.
    If Mary knows about a v good product…heck, I’m more than glad to hear about. Thank you Mary, for another informative Email.

  • Diane

    I agree 100%. I have the original & the lift a way & sorry to say I didn’t realize how dirty my rug was. I use one for the 1st & 2nd floor & the other one for the lower floor. Di

  • QuiltMama

    I too, require an exceptional vacuum. We have pets who shed, and we live in the country and have a lot of dust from surrounding farmland. Last year when it was time yet again to get a new vacuum I did extensive online research. I had been wanting a Dyson for years and was so sure that was the brand I would end up purchasing. Not so! My research all ended up pointing to the Shark Navigator which I had never even heard of. Got a great deal on it too, at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% coupon. The Shark Navigator is by far the BEST vacuum I’ve ever owned.

  • Byron

    Mary, has anyone come up with a good use for the extremely strong plastic bags inside of dry cereal boxes?
    I know they are resealable and I just hate to keep throwing them out.
    Byron B.

    • Christine

      I’ve seen some people recommend saving them to put the meat in to hammer it flatter…

      • Byron


        I assume you mean ground meat.

    • Judy G.

      I use cereal bags to store greens and vegetables in the frig that i want to breathe so they have a longer storage life. I also use them to pack chicken in before I put the chicken in freezer bags.

      • Byron

        Also, these bags and potato chip bags can be resealed using a Seal-A-Meal sealer.


  • Pam

    It’s also a plus to know that if you have an air compressor you can blow the dirt out of the ends of the canister after you empty the dirt out. It keep the suction excellent.

  • hipunkydoodle

    Our old Oreck died shortly before I got your Shark article, and since I’m not as “neat” as you with the carpet, I knew based on your comments, it would be enough for me. We bought our Shark at Target and Holy Cow, this thing really gets the dirt/hair/ick that my carpet was hosting! Thanks for the tip!

  • jeannie

    can this Shark Navigator
    be used on both carpeted and hard floors, like my kitchen floor?

    • Mavei

      This is what I would like to find out also. Our house has no carpet,only laminate wood ,terrazzo and some linoleum.Mohawk,the manufacturer of the laminate says not to use a vacuum with a beater bar on it,but I know the Shark navigator Lift-Away and Lift Away Pro have a setting to shut off the brush roll off. Will this work OK on this flooring? Or am I better off getting another canister when the motor burns out in our old 1960s Compact(TriStar) canister? A new motor can be ordered online for $80 -$120 and I can put it in myself.

  • Lo

    After you steam clean your carpet, do you use any scotchguard or anything else?

  • Char

    What I’m interested in is replacement parts. I had one of their small hand helds and it worked well. It had a special rotary attachment for pet hair. When the belt on it stretched, there was no where to get a replacement…not at vacuum shops, not anywhere on the internet (searched exhaustively). They are basically throwaways and that is the big drawback.

  • vcolle

    I purchased a Dyson about 7 years ago. I love it and it has served me well. However, we have a large house and after reading your post I decided I would buy a Shark to use either upstairs or move the Dyson upstairs. I got a great deal on it this week, on sale and an extra discount so it was about $130. I vaccumed the entire main level yesterday plus the stairs, which are carpeted and not cleaned that often. I have to admit, I was quite pleased with the amount of dirt it pulled. Comparing your post, I still think my Dyson did an great job as I got one canister full (with the shark) and most of that was not on the carpeted area I vacuum often. The Shark is light weight and easy to maneuver. However, being I have a lot of surface to vacuum I needed to keep plugging it into different outlets to reach. The canister is not very large so I can see how you could fill it up in no time. I also liked how easy it is to change cleaning surfaces, only change the switch and you can continue to vacuum hard floors. Thanks for the recommendation! It is a bargain compared to the Dyson (although I will continue to use it, also!) I can’t wait to use it under my refrigerator!

  • Ellen

    Thank you Mary for this article – I just purchased this brand vacuum from Costco and it works just as you advertised. Our sofa has dog hair on it that is impossible to completely remove and the Shark did the trick – it looks like new! It cleans our new tile floor and carpet runners. And like you, when I ran it over our carpeted areas it filled with lots of dust and hair even after vacuuming with what I considered a very good vacuum. Love you column and great advice!

  • lyane

    hi mary,

    thanks for the tip. i bought my shark navigator about 3 weeks ago and i love it! it works soooo well!!!!! i actually look forward to vacuuming now and it amazes me how much dirt the navigator picks up! i got mine on sale at costco (your article was so timely) and i couldn’t be happier!

  • Karen

    I have one of these too and LOVE it! I got a factory refurbished one for only $100 and couldn’t be happier…I actually kind of “like” using it!

  • Carolg

    LOL I can’t believe this post is up again today of all days. I saved it from months ago and just bought my shark last nite. I’m going to test it out tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • Carolg

    I’ve had an Electrolux for 30 yrs, maintained it, put out good money on tuneups etc. and all that but lately felt that it was done. I sure didn’t want to spend major money on a vacuum, so what to do. I read a post some time ago from Mary Hunt recommending a Shark Navigator. I saved it and bought one yesterday on sale. I did a test. I ran my old Electrolux over the living room floor, a space about 6×8. The pile from the Electrolux was barely visible to the naked eye. Then I vacuumed they same space, no more, with the navigator. The pile was more than ten times at least larger! Gosh! Funny that Mary would repost this today as I’m running my test!

    • john Govols

      Carolg – have you replaced the brush roll on your Electrolux? A thirty year old brush roll will not agitate like a brand new one. I’d bet you’ll miss the convenience and sanitation of the Electrolux bags. Keep in mind that you’ll have to clean the filthy bin out on the Navigator and also clean the lint off the screen.

  • Amanda M

    I have a Rainbow and love it because the water cleans the air. However, it’s weighty bulk is tiresome, especially now that I need to vac at least 3 times a week for my asthmatic child. So, I’m looking for an inexpensive lightweight upright vac to use 2 days a week and save the Rainbow for deeper vac’ing once a week. I am really impressed by your description of the Shark and will now seriously consider it.

  • KimD

    I need help cleaning the canister?? Any ideas as they say not to put water in the canister to clean it!!

    • I’ve run into this problem with my dyson as well! I need to spend time playing games and kicking butt, but instead I’m scrubbing it out after my dog sheds a lot.

  • Deb

    I love mine! I’m waiting for my Wind Tunnel to die, so I can buy another one!

  • Karen

    I am needing new vacuum and was wondering if you still like your Shark. Also, do you know what the comparable model would be now in 2015? thank you

    • Betty

      Hey karen. Check out. If you don’t mind refurbished there is nothing that even hits 150

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