If you have hard flooring, carpet or flat surfaces in your home, which just about covers every possibility—there are four specific vacuum cleaners that deserve your attention: an upright, a cordless stick vac , cordless handheld, and robot vacuum. These are the four worker bees that I own, love, and do not want to live without.
Once you familiarize yourself with these vacuums and their specific uses, you’ll know why each one gets my designation for Best Inexpensive in its specific category. Because life is uncertain and things can change with a minute’s notice, today I am updating and republishing this post with new and exciting information.
In the decade since I met and fell in love with my first Shark upright vacuum, I’ve purchased, tested, given as gifts, and worked nearly to death (it’s really hard to wear out a Shark) many Shark vacuums because the company comes out with a new model or two about every week, or so it seems. I can say with confidence, there is no better basic corded, upright vacuum cleaner on earth.
Now throw in the lift-away feature on some models (allows user to pop off the lightweight canister to easily carry and vacuum steps and staircases), an extended wand for high reaches, high-capacity dirt cup, anti-allergen HEPA filter, and 30-foot electrical cord and you’ve got yourself a Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Vacuum—a fantastic piece of housecleaning equipment.
When you walk into a store like Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, or Costco looking for my specific Shark vacuum, prepare to be confused. There are so many models—and some that are unique to that particular retailer.
Each Shark model has its own small differences—it could be the color, filter style, cord length, weight, etc. However, I can help you cut through all that noise. As long as it includes the words Shark, Navigator, and Lift-Away you can be super confident you’re getting my favorite.
Other descriptive words like Professional and Deluxe are lovely, but not critical in my opinion. Currently, I own and use three Shark upright vacuums, and each one is slightly different depending on when and where I got it. All three are lift-away models because I have multiple staircases in my home.
I’ll be honest. There are times I just don’t want to open the closet, pull out Sharkie, unwind the cord, plug it into an outlet to handle a small yet annoying situation like crumbs on my dark wood floors or dirt tracked in from the garden. I’m pretty sure those minor situations would just sit there until later—until some more convenient time. That’s how things used to be before I met Linx.
Please meet the newest member of my vac fam—the new upgraded model with a very long name: Hoover Onepwr Evolve Pet Cordless Small Upright Lightweight Stick Vac. Whew! I think I’ll stick with the shorter name, but know that this is the new upgraded model. The old model is out of production now.
We have no pets in our home, so I cannot vouch for the power it has to pick up pet hair. But if human hair and all manner of crumbs, debris, lint, dust, and you-name-it are an equal test, this baby takes the gold. Absolutely loving this latest upgrade:
I’ve been using my original Linx model every day for more than two years now—and yes, I purchased it myself as I have all of the vacuums I test. I did not receive review models from manufacturers. While EC may receive a small commission when you purchase these vacuums, you can be assured that my opinions are my own—I cannot be bought.
My new upgraded Linx (Amazon) is remarkable in that it has every feature I could hope for. Linx stands alone, has an On/Off switch; it is lightweight, quiet, easily emptied and washed. This stick vac comes with a powerful Li-ion removable and rechargeable battery, has a “fuel” gauge, long runtime, and swivel head. And if that’s not enough, it has two added features I could have only dreamed of :
Once the battery wears out and dies (which hasn’t happened for me but I’m sure one day it will), other competitive stick vacs like Eufy and Deik also die. We have no choice but to dispose of Eufy and Deik as hazardous household waste, as the entire stick vac becomes completely useless. The Eufy and Deik batteries are not replaceable. But Linx is different!
The Linx battery is replaceable! It is located at the back and pops out easily—no tools required. You can even buy Linx plus an extra battery from the get-go, or purchase a replacement battery later. Isn’t that awesome?
This was a big surprise for me and boy, was I excited. Linx has two settings: Suction Only for hard floor surfaces and Suction + Brush Roll for low pile carpet. I love this feature! Switching back and forth is a cinch, too. Just a flick of a button.
Linx weighs in at less than 9 lbs, but feels more like 2 lbs in run mode with it’s smooth swivel action. Hoover Linx is available both at Amazon and Walmart.
By the way, my original Linx is still in absolutely tip-top condition! It holds a charge, does the job as well as it did on day one. So yes, now I have two Linx. Some have asked what I do with all the items I test. Those I cannot reasonably justify storing and using, I donate.
NOTE: For my readers who own Eufy or Deik, let me assure you that both are still great stick vacs! Use it, love it, and keep it clean! Do not toss and replace with a Linx until the day comes that your stick vac has a total fail (the first sign is that the battery will no longer hold a full charge). When you replace it, I suggest you run to a Hoover Linx.
This little sweetheart of a handheld vacuum is the best I have ever owned. That says a lot once you understand that prior to this gem, I had a Dyson Root handheld, an early circa 1980 Dustbuster, a Bissell model, and a couple of other off-brand numbers. The problems were many, but the biggest one? Runtime. What’s the point of a cordless hand vac that only “vacs” for a few minutes? So annoying! And that Dyson Root weighed a ton. My arm would give out just about the time it would run out of power. Argh!
But then this Black + Decker Cordless Hand Vac with 16-volt Lithium battery came into my life. It’s the battery! Lithium is just the best thing that ever happened to the world of batteries for so many reasons, but mostly that it holds a charge until used. That gives this cordless vac a fabulously long runtime.
This Black + Decker Cordless Hand Vac is lightweight. And cleaning? So easy. It comes apart easily, with the filter and dust cup being completely washable! I do it right in my utility sink, allow it to dry for a few hours, and we’re back in business. It helps that I have three of these babies always at the ready in different parts of the house.
Here’s the thing: Housecleaning tools like vacuums need to be handy and ready to go. If I have to go up a flight of stairs to find a vac to clean up that little sprinkling of coffee grounds I just accidentally dumped into a drawer, will I? Or will I just close the drawer and tell myself that I’ll do it later when I’m up there anyway. I think you know the answer to that.
When I’m just feet from a vacuum because it’s in a handy place, all charged up and ready to go—that just makes me happy. It makes my drawers, floors, and bare feet happy, too!
NOTE: I need to let you know that my beloved model Dustbuster appears to be headed for extinction. Some days I can find it still available for sale, other days only as a “renewed” or refurbished option. I can only assume that it’s on its way out. That does not mean my three hand vacs (yes I have three and use them nearly to death, and they keep running and running and … running!) are ready for the landfill. I will keep using them to their final breath.
Dustbuster makes so many models of hand vacs, it’s quite confusing to figure out what will or has replaced this model. However, I can tell you that if I were faced today with replacing one of my three handhelds, I would upgrade to this 20-volt Black and Decker Dustbuster handheld vacuum. It has 2-speeds plus power boost (mine have only one speed, no boost), better power (20-volt vs. 16-volt lithium-ion battery) which means better suction. I have tested it and it is a beauty!
I will continue to monitor the situation. As Black + Decker Cordless Hand Vac completely disappears from the market, Black and Decker Dustbuster 20-volt Handheld Vacuum will take its place in my lineup of recommendations. But for how, if you can find this 16-volt Black + Decker Cordless Hand Vac as new (not renewed or refurbished) I recommend that it is still the Best Inexpensive option.
I’ve tried to love Roomba robot vacuums in the past. Super disappointed. I find them to be way too expensive, unreasonably noisy, and simply not worth the money.
But there’s a new robot vacuum in town and Eufy Anker RoboVac 30C Max, is its name. This is truly the best robot vacuum and my pick for Best Inexpensive robovac. It has renewed my faith that robotic vacuuming is not only possible—it can be amazing.
Eufy Anker RoboVac 30C Max is extremely quiet, super slim, and works like a champ on hard floors and low-to-medium pile carpet with its 2000Pa suction—and easily goes from one to the other without supervision. It’s programmable, has multiple functions, and a killer battery that offers up to 40 minutes runtime on maximum suction—the setting I use for my low-pile carpet, or up to an hour set to “auto.” I continue to be amazed by the quantity and “quality” of dust, dirt, and debris this little guy finds and so easily picks up!
Revised & Updated 6-14-21
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