Finding the Best Vacuum Cleaner For Our Family

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Cleaning with children in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating oreos
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To say that my kids are capable of making messes would be an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, they are also a great help around the house and in the kitchen, but the sheer nature of having 7+ people in our home means I have to deal with a lot of dust, little pieces of paper everywhere, and other small items on the floor constantly.

Many days, I feel like I’m losing the battle against this endless pile of little items on the floor, so this popular Pinterest quote sums up my feelings well:

Cleaning with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.

Part of my struggle has been finding a good vacuum that can actually stand up to my kids and their messes. We finally found a great vacuum that works and that is still running after a year of heavy use, and ironically, it was one of the last options I was willing to try.

We have literally tried dozens over the years, including all the popular name brands. I bought vacuums at yard sales, asked for them for Christmas presents, and saved up credit card reward points to buy them online. Some worked well for a while and then died. Others had problems from the beginning or weren’t strong enough to actually keep up with our floors.

Why A Post on Best Vacuum Cleaners?

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a long time because I felt silly chronicling our years-long vacuum saga, but all of the reviews and “best vacuum cleaner” lists and posts that I found while researching only covered the same name brands and none of those ended up working for us. In fact, I doubted that many of the websites actually tested those vacuum cleaners (or at least used them more than once) before reviewing, as they focused on the best features “out of the box” and the manufacturer data.

This post isn’t a review and none of the companies I’ve listed in this post even know I exist, I just hope it might be helpful to other moms who are looking for a good vacuum and who don’t want to over-spend on one that won’t work.

Don’t care about what I thought was the best vacuum cleaner?

I don’t blame you… it isn’t a very exciting topic! Go check out some recipes, or read about how adult coloring books can improve your brain or how tampons may be poisoning you

If you are looking for a vacuum that actually works, this is my attempt at making this mundane topic a little more interesting.

My Vacuum Cleaner Criteria

I wasn’t concerned with how many awards a vacuum had won or how many special features it had. In fact, from my experience over the years, more features just meant more things that could break. After years of trial and error, the only criteria I cared about were (in this order):

  1. Ability to clean
  2. Durability
  3. Weight (if possible, lighter weight was preferable so the kids could use it too)
  4. No expensive upkeep (some vacuums had expensive bags, filters etc.)
  5. Allergen-friendly (if possible, though many allergen and HEPA vacuums weren’t very effective)

Vacuum Cleaners I Tried:

  • Dirt Devils (they eventually broke)
  • Shark vacuums (not heavy duty enough)
  • Dyson Vacuums (they also broke)
  • Roomba Robotic vacuums (It worked well, but the noise drove me nuts and the canister wasn’t big enough so we had to constantly empty it)
  • Miele Vacuums (It worked pretty well but was really expensive and not easy to use for the kids)
  • Quite a few more from yard sales or hand-me-downs. The oldest ones seemed to be the most heavy duty but they eventually all died too!

I finally started looking at commercial vacuums, thinking they would be more durable and that is how we found the one that has actually worked for us.

The Best Vacuum Cleaner I’ve Found

The surprising vacuum that ended up being our best vacuum cleaner and the one we still use is…

An Oreck Commercial

I know, I know. I was surprised too. Especially because it was so inexpensive compared to many other options we’ve tried. It also wasn’t on any of the lists of best vacuum cleaners that I read while researching and I couldn’t find many reviews for it online (other than the 1,000+ on Amazon).

I put off trying this one for a really long time because I remembered the terrible commercials that used to air about “The 8-pound Oreck” and I doubted how well it would actually work. I eventually bought the commercial one on a Black Friday sale without high hopes for it.

It definitely met my criteria for ability to clean well, but I still wondered about its durability. It is lightweight so the kids can easily use it and there is no expensive upkeep (replacement bags are inexpensive). The one downside is that it isn’t specifically HEPA or allergy friendly, but since we use air filters in our home, I was less concerned about this than the vacuum’s actual ability to sweep things up.

Over a year later, and this vacuum is still going strong, despite quite a few bag changes and even a rough tumble down the stairs thanks to a certain 2-year-old (who was using it to vacuum the landing of our stairs).

It wasn’t the vacuum I expected to like. It certainly isn’t pretty and they had terrible commercials, but I do love that we finally found an option that works (and that cost much less than many of the others we tried).

I’d love to hear your opinion… What is the best vacuum you’ve ever owned?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


142 responses to “Finding the Best Vacuum Cleaner For Our Family”

  1. Savannah Avatar

    We bought a Kenmore cannister vaccum going on 6 years ago. Friends of mine owned several, which they used for their home cleaning service. We bought one of the better ones in the line, I believe it was between $300-$400. It is very light and not very loud, and easy to handle; even my 1 1/2 year old likes to help with it. The hose and cord are very long, so that I can vaccum a complete level in our home without having to move the plug. Bags and filters are easy to find at Sears, and reasonably priced.

  2. Mandy Avatar

    I read through most of the comments and I’m surprised no one mentioned Riccar vacuums, which are American made. They are very similar to Miele vacuums and are available in upright and canister form with different levels of HEPA bags. I’ve owned mine for about 7 years and I’ve only had to service it once. I chose it for several reasons, but mostly because it has a higher filtration level than Miele (tested at the vacuum store with a micron dust detector placed in front of the exhaust port). My whole family has dust allergies and we happen to live in the desert so high HEPA filtration is a requirement.

    I think one important factor when choosing a vacuum that was not discussed was the type of flooring in your house. If you have mostly wood floors or tile you need a canister because of where the exhaust ports are located on most uprights. What will happen with uprights is that the exhaust air will push the dust away before you can even vacuum it up and it will end up in corners or under furniture. With mostly carpeted floors you can go with whatever you prefer. Great topic Wellness Mama I’m glad you decided to write about it because the air we breath is important to our health.

  3. Carol Avatar

    Thank you so much for posting about this! It is quite a timely post for me as I’ve been fretting over getting a new one for a while. Ours has no hoses and it has expensive bags, so I have been searching for a more user friendly vacuum. I will look into the Oreck. Thanks again!

  4. Becky Dockrey Avatar
    Becky Dockrey

    I have had an Orek for years and love it…but also have a Shark, now that we have all solid floors and I thinks it does a terrific job too ! I like the weight and maneuverability of the Orek though.

  5. Jo Avatar

    Frankly, I hate them all! We have a whole-house vac, but the suction over the years has declined. And I’ve never had a free-standing one that didn’t smell bad and kick back so much dust that I end up with an asthma attack as a reward for trying to clean. I’ve tried a bunch of them – high end, low end, HEPA, you name it. And now reading this I’m even more confused. A few names I’ve not heard have come up in this discussion – time to hit the research and check them out. Thanks for starting the conversation!

  6. Mary Avatar

    I tried the Shark vacuum and it didn’t really work, the dust and stuff would be thrown back out in to the air, plus the filters, etc., had to be washed…every single day. A royal pain in the neck.

    I finally purchased, tried and liked the Kenmore Elite Canister, which I got on sale, and like it a great deal. Since I have a Congo African Grey Parrot, which produces a somewhat oily, sticky and fine white powder, which becomes airborne overtime the bird preens or ruffles her feathers, flaps her wings, or shakes her body, it, along with the necessary Austin HEPA Airfilter that I have going 24/7 2 feet from Aziza’s cage, has proven a god-send, if one gets the drift.

  7. Leah Avatar

    Regardless of which hoover is best, I just don’t understand the appeal of an upright hoover. I cannot bear them. They are always more heavy, bulky and awkward. I clean a neighbours house once a week and she owns an upright. Her house is large (by UK standards and I SWEAR I could be done 10-20 minutes earlier with a pull along type hoover instead. It also makes my back ache terribly.

    Pull along hoovers are much easier to use, to swap from the main head to pipe and are far quicker to maneuver. Upright hoovers actually put me in a bad mood, they are so damn awkward and it takes three or four manouvers to get them going in the direction you want them to – who has time for that?!

    Since carpet will never be a first choice of flooring and I don’t have children, I just need a hoover that works. I don’t care how good or much of a bargain an upright hoover is, I will NEVER buy one.

  8. Susan Avatar

    I’ve had a Rainbow and a Kirby, both powerful vacuums, but they are are big and cumbersome for my current tight quarters. My Dyson is also powerful, but its attachment set-up is too difficult to get put together quickly and easily. I’d buy an Orek in a heartbeat if they offered on board crevice and brush attachments. I just got a Shark Rotator Pro Performance Lightweight Lift-Away 3in1 Upright Vacuum (from QVC) and it is just perfect for my family: light weight, quick and easy access to on board attachments (how I do most of my vacuuming), and has a canister set up which my son prefers (like he rally vacuums all that much!). I have far more floor than wall to wall carpet in my home so the most intense suction isn’t as important to me as it might be to others, and I do think it’s a small amount less powerful than my Rainbow, Kirby, and Dyson were on the carpet.

  9. Beth Avatar

    I love my Rainbow. It is a heavy beast, but it gets my carpet and hard floors really clean. Hard to use a bag vacuum once you use a Rainbow.

  10. Dawn Avatar

    For allergen reduction, as well as for good performance and excellent durability, the best vacuum we’ve ever had is a whole-house vacuum. It’s the only vacuum we’ve had that lasted for more than a year (almost 20 years and still going strong). It vents directly outside, so no allergens are blown back into the house, and because there is no canister attached to the vacuum head, it’s very kid-friendly and easy to use due to its light weight and portability. The higher up-front cost is well worth it in the long-term, and we’ve had no regrets. We’ll never go back to a regular vacuum again!

    The other vacuum we’ve had that’s good for apartment living where a whole-house vacuum isn’t feasible is the Karcher Mediclean DS 6000 – it’s certified by the UK allergy foundation for not only dust mites and pet dander, but also for pollen and mold/fungi. It’s suprisingly effective and outperforms any other regular vacuum we’ve tried, even though it’s only 900W – the dirt actually runs to meet it! It uses a HEPA13 filter in addition to a water filter and is very easy to use.

  11. Jan Avatar

    Love my rainbow. It can be a pain to put water in and empty each time but then I realize how lucky I am to be able to clean up the dirt off the floors instead of living with dirt floors.

  12. Ian Tanner Avatar
    Ian Tanner

    I have been an Oreck user and destroyer for years. I can’t agree with you more. The oreck hands down is the lightest, heaviest duty and easiest to use vacuum around.

    I have been wanting to develop a bullet proof Oreck for years. I have worn out so many Orecks I know their weekneses in an out. I won’t go into detail but with the improvements that the Oreck needs it still out performs any type of vacuum out there wether for dollar for dollar or outright.

    It is true, you can upgrade to HEPA bags if that is what you want to do. I also agree that the Oreck models are basically the same. It’s window dressing and you will pay for it. Save your money and just buy the commercial XL online.


  13. Hazel Avatar

    Hi Katie. Thank you big time. This has been an eternal problem for me…I’ve been using vacuums for 60+ years.

    I won’t go into all the vacuums I’ve had, but some were seriously expensive, and sadly, I’ve hated most of them except the cheapie “electric brooms” and “stick vacuums” that worked wonderfully for as long as they lasted and had simple (but tiny) filters. Their lack of longevity was the problem.

    I’m going to check out the amazon reviews (which I find excellent, especially the one-star ones that point out things many other don’t cover) and if it looks good to reviewers, I’ll try the Oreck Commercial.

    I’m glad Stephanie’s comment mentioned HEPA filters available; so helpful.

  14. Alicia Avatar

    My Miele is 13 years old, and it is still the best vacuum I’ve ever used. It has a small footprint, easy to clean onboard tools, HEPA filter, and best of all–it’s quiet! My ex thought a loud vacuum meant it was powerful. When we split, I bought this Miele, and I’d buy another in a heartbeat–except that you can’t kill them!

    When I remarried, my husband had a Dyson. We did a month trial of which one worked better, was easiest to use; the Miele won. I hear people say they’re expensive, but for something we use every other day, this is worth every penny. You get what you pay for.

  15. Naomi Avatar

    I’ve used a Hoover wind tunnel for the past 8 years and have always loved it. It was $78 when I bought it, very affordable on a scraping-to-get-by salary. It’s survived 3 kids and a woodsy husband and has been easy to change bags, replace belts, and troubleshoot. Of course, I vacuum every single day, as my husband does outdoors stuff and kids are constantly in and out, dragging in mud, dirt, sand and various critters, not to mention firewood from a wood burning stove. I know nothing much about vacuums and filters, and I’m sure the filter quality is substandard compared to yours, Katie! But the suction is still strong, and that makes me happy! By the way, congrats on new baby! I’m looking forward to reading about his/her birth!

  16. Jody Avatar

    I live on a ranch, had five kids, now have 8 grandkids who come frequently, and I’ve used lots of different vacuum cleaners. I have the Orek Commercial XL and I love it. Light, sucks well, easy to use for me and for kids. I have another vacuum downstairs, a canister, called ProLux Stealth. It does a very good job and I can get underneath beds, chairs and use the hose for corner cleaner and upholstery.

    My mom has a Kenmore canister vac that she’s had for 30+ years that she loves. I hope I might inherit it one day!

  17. Heather MacCoy Avatar
    Heather MacCoy

    My husband bought a refurbished Oreck XL 23 years ago (before we knew each other), and it’s still our vacuum. He’s rebuilt it a few times (it’s nice having something that can be repaired when it breaks). It’s had lots of long hair around the beater bar. (mine’s long & we have girls).

  18. Brianne Avatar

    I love my Dyson! Same one 9 years. The auction is great. It’s not light but it’s fine. We only replaced the long hide twice and mostly it’s because I over stretch it!

  19. Suzanne Avatar

    I grew up with Miele vacuums, and my mom has had hers for 15+ years. I’ve had mine for 6 years and can’t imagine life without it. It’s light weight, easy to maneuver, has never broken, and stores so compactly in our tiny closet. They are an initial investment but well worth it in my opinion! I vacuum about 4 times a week esp bc we have carpet in the dining room of our rental house. We do have a small house but have a toddler and baby so much vacuuming is needed!

  20. Elizabeth Avatar

    I’ve been using an Orek for 10 years and absolutely love it! It has been great for cat litter and cat hair from two long hair cats. I would have never tried an Orek, but my mom decided to try one and told me how much she loved it when she knew how frustrated I was with all of the ones I had tried that couldn’t handle my kitties. Yes, it’s ugly, but it’s not heavy and it works great!!! Love it!!! It came with a free little canister vac that I use for the places the upright can’t reach, and it also has an attachment to vacuum furniture. I love their little canister as well. It has a strap so I just carry it on my shoulder as I go through the house. Orek is the best!

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