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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

23 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
374 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best vacuum cleaners under $100

Last Updated April 2020

There are many reasons why you might want a vacuum cleaner under $100. It could be you’re on a tight budget. It could be you’re buying for a dorm room or small apartment. The first question on your mind might be whether a low-cost vacuum cleaner could be effective.

First, consider why a vacuum can cost well over $100. (Many stretch into the $400 range.) A pricey vacuum tends to have sensors that eliminate the need for manual control, a longer cord that automatically rewinds into place, and/or extra parts. Expensive vacuums are often made with advanced materials that cost more to manufacture.

A vacuum under $100 may perform just as well at picking up dirt as its costly cousins. Many are much lighter in weight, too, because they don’t have the bells and whistles of pricier vacuums.

There are plenty of low-cost vacuums that offer great value for the money. Some are bagged; others have bagless dust cups. Some are sticks; others have canisters. Our shopping guide helps you choose the best vacuum that has both pickup power and at least a couple other features to lighten your cleaning load.

Before vacuuming, dust your blinds, furniture, baseboards, and decorative accessories. Whatever particles you don’t capture in a rag will likely fall to the floor to be picked up by your vacuum.

Key considerations

Stick, upright, and canister vacs

A canister vacuum cleaner may be much easier to move around than an upright, but sticks are the lightest vacuums. Which of these three will you choose?

Many swear that canisters are quieter and more powerful than uprights. An upright vacuum may be too heavy and awkward to bring up and down stairs. However, a lighter and less-expensive stick vacuum is a great alternative if you need a portable unit.

Bag vs. bagless

A bagged vacuum sucks dirt into a bag, and the bag needs to be periodically changed. These bags contain the larger particles, so the motor is protected. Bagged models are best for those who suffer from allergies, as the dust is contained. However, consider the costs that you’ll incur when buying new bags. Bagless vacuums have dust cups that need emptying, which could cause problems for those sensitive to dust. Larger dust particles may also circulate outside the dust cup and potentially become trapped in the motor, resulting in damage.

Weight of appliance

Most vacuums aren’t considered featherweight, but stick vacuums are the lightest in weight. Stick vacuums under $100 tend to weigh less than 10 pounds. They’re ideal for those with mobility issues. A vacuum that weighs up to 15 pounds is generally easy enough to carry up and down the stairs.

Powerful pickup for pet hair

The Bissell 1831 offers a lot of quality technology for its price tag. This value vac has a 13.5-inch cleaning path that sucks up lots of dirt into its large-capacity holding tank. It can remove most surface dirt on the first pass, and its multi-cyclonic suction technology grabs and traps dirt and dust faster than the speed of light.

Easy to troubleshoot

Vacuum cleaners clog, and that means you’ll have to play detective to find the trouble. Not every vacuum cleaner, regardless of how much it costs, is easy to take apart and put back together. Though you’ll find videos online to help you troubleshoot your particular vacuum, it helps to have a model that is somewhat intuitive to fix when it loses suction.

Noise level

Regardless of whether you’re using a stick, upright, or canister, vacuum cleaners are notoriously noisy. However, stick vacuums tend to be the least noisy because they’re compact with smaller motors. If you want to be able to vacuum when everyone in the house is asleep, consider a stick model first.

Corded vs. cordless

A corded vacuum relies on outlet power, but on the plus side, a corded vacuum never runs out of juice in the middle of a cleaning. With a cordless vacuum, however, you don’t have to bother with a plug, and you don’t have to worry about tripping over a cord while cleaning.

The beauty of a bagless vacuum cleaner is that you’re able to see how full your dirt cup or container is becoming.

Features

HEPA filter: A HEPA filter traps tiny allergens that can’t be captured by regular vacuum filters. However, they can be more expensive to replace than non-HEPA filters.

Washable filter: You might prefer a vacuum with easily accessible foam filters that can be taken out and washed in the sink. This is ideal if you want a machine that’s easy to maintain. Fortunately, you can find packs of replacement filters for many lower-priced vacuums.

Extended cord reach: The average length of a vacuum cord is 25 to 30 feet. Most vacuums under $100 have this length of cord; anything less would prevent you from moving seamlessly around a room. Notably, you might not find the automatic retractable cord feature on a vacuum that costs less than $100.

Extended hose reach: A vacuum hose is meant to extend to help you clean underneath furniture and overhead, where cobwebs lurk. The average reach of an extended hose is 6 to 7 feet, though there are some that stretch greater than 10 feet. It pays to look for a vacuum under $100 with a long-reaching hose.

Attachments: A budget-friendly vacuum might still have one or two attachments. An important one is a crevice tool, which helps you nab flotsam from ridges, corners, and between the cushions of your upholstered furniture. A brush attachment is ideal for loosening pet hair from upholstered surfaces.

Dust cup design: A vacuum’s dust cup design is critical to ease of use. Bagless dust cups that empty from the bottom generally cause less mess. A dust cup that opens with the press of a button is nice, as you don’t need to wrestle it to empty it.

Multiple surface switch: Since a low-cost vacuum typically won’t have a sensor to determine what type of flooring or pile it’s on, you’ll need to manually adjust the height of the head. If you don’t want to bend down to adjust the dial, look for a vacuum with a setting switch that’s easy to reach.

Versatile handles: Some low-cost stick vacuums have folding handles. You can shrink down the appliance for better storage, which is ideal if you live in a small space. Other models have a removable handle and nozzle. This type of appliance can convert to a handheld vacuum.

Rotating brush switch: A rotating brush gives pile carpets a deeper cleaning. However, it’s best to turn off this feature when vacuuming bare floors, as the spinning brush could damage bare flooring.

EXPERT TIP

Use your soft brush attachment to clean your baseboards and bookshelves. The brush stops the hair and dust from flying around.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Many new vacuum cleaners come in pieces and need to be assembled. If you have trouble, consult the internet for a video tutorial.


Staff  | BestReviews

Vacuum cleaners under $100: prices

For as little as $25 to $50, you can snag a name-brand handheld vacuum. You’ll even find a few name-brand stick vacuums for about $30. Between $50 and $100, you’ll see more full-size upright and canister vacuum cleaners that you could potentially use as a main vacuum. Those closer to $100 have more attachments and a few more bells and whistles, such as a scented filter option or a pet hair removal brush.

Lightweight and easy to use

The Eureka PowerSpeed has impressive pick-up power, even on layers of pet hair. With a washable filter and a dust cup that’s easy to access, you won’t mind cleaning it after you fill it. It’s even light enough to carry up and down your stairs.

Tips

  • One pass is usually not enough to grab all the dust and dirt on your floor or carpet. Vacuum a few times over the same area to do a thorough job. Change directions and do a crisscross pattern as you’re vacuuming to attack dirt and pet hair from all angles.
  • Pay attention to your filter. Read up on how your particular brand of vacuum will alert you when it’s time to clean the filter. If you let it get too dirty, your vacuum will stop sucking up dirt.
  • Adjust the height of your vacuum head when cleaning. A vacuum needs to be a different height when passing over a high pile shag rug than it does when cleaning hardwood flooring. If you don’t tailor the height to the task, your vacuum won’t suction efficiently.

Other products we considered

The bigger brands sell vacuums at all price points, and sometimes, the less-expensive ones perform on par with ultra-pricey versions that have more luxury amenities. For example, if you’re partial to Hoover, check out the Hoover T-Series WindTunnelRewind Upright. It has a HEPA filter that traps small dust and pollen particles under 0.3 microns.

Take a look at Black+Decker’s Ultra LightWeight BDASP103 Airswivel, too. It’s a lightweight upright with an extra-large dust cup meant to hold lots of pet hair. Black+Decker is known for its line of tools and hand vacs, so it’s no wonder that this model rates highly in many areas.

Remove larger pieces of debris from the floor instead of relying on your vacuum to suck them up. Leaving these pieces on your floor could damage your vacuum.

FAQ

Q. What kinds of cleaning jobs is a stick vacuum best used for?
A.
A stick vacuum quickly cleans bare floors and low-pile carpets that need freshening up. You wouldn’t want to lug your regular vacuum around just to zap up a few stray hairs from your bathroom’s tile floor, but a stick vac is perfect for the job. Many stick models are cordless, which means they’re convenient to take around your home for quick pick-ups.


Q. What is cyclonic technology, and do inexpensive vacuums have it?
A.
There is straight suction that simply draws in debris into a bag, and there is cyclonic action that sucks and separates heavy dirt into a bin and miniscule specks into a filter. Cyclonic is relatively new technology; it requires a vacuum’s fan to spin trapped air at a high rate of speed. There are dual-cyclonic and multi-cyclonic vacuums. You can absolutely find some cyclonic technology in inexpensive models.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Marilyn
    Marilyn
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
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