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. Jamie Avatar

    I have a Dirt Devil Envision I bought at Wal-Mart for about $30 almost 10 years ago still works great. Only problem I have is if a toy to big gets sucked up. I was vacuuming under a bed and a olaf figure ended up in tube. no problem just shook it out and kept cleaning. Will be replacing because I can no longer find filters and belts in stores. I have to order online but its still great vaccum. And I have 4 kids 4 dogs ( 1 is a long hair that I call dust mop)

  2. Leslie Avatar

    Love this topic- not boring to me.

    Just bought a Shark (Navigator Pro Lift-Away… the white one that looks like it’s made of PVC pipes) and I LOVE it. However, my last vacuum was 15 years old, so maybe I would have loved any vacuum. My parents had an Oreck and we all really liked it.

  3. Jessie Avatar

    I’ve been waiting to find a post like this for years. Four kids and counting and at least as many vacuums. Thanks!

  4. Lyn Avatar

    Hi , I have six kids, one husband and one dog that sheds….. I have tried Rainbow, Dyson, Hoover, Shark ,Kirby,and a few others in the 32 years I have been vacuuming my house. Ouch …. that’s a lot of vacuuming. The vacuum that I totally LOVE and have used for the last five years is…..SIMPLICITY ! I am so thrilled that it is made right here in the USA !!! Yeah , I got to support OUR OWN economy !!! They have at least 6 different models to fit different budgets….very HAPPY with it !!!

  5. Heather Avatar

    Don’t get a vacuum get a Rainbow! They are very expensive but well worth their value in longevity and health benefits. Plus, if you are able to get one of the programs, you practically get it for free. I will never own another vacuum 🙂

  6. Robert Kay Avatar
    Robert Kay

    Fantastic post! I disagree that this is a boring topic though! I love learning about vacuum cleaners, partly because I write about them, but I also grew up working in my Dad’s vac shop so that’s where it all began I guess! You offer a good insight into the problem with vacuum reviews on the net and I will certainly be looking into the Oreck and other brands (Kirby, Rainbow, Werteim, Riccar) that are noted in the comments here on one of my next posts! Miele is probably top of my list as the best brand cleaner at the moment. You can’t beat German quality engineering. Keep up the good work!

  7. John Avatar

    I’ve always been partial to Hoover Wind Tunnel vacs. They tested well in my home and have always had good reviews on Consumer Reports.

  8. Cheryl Avatar

    I have a Ridgid shop vac I use for the garage, vacuuming vehicles, spills and cleaning up after the boys’ haircuts. Their hair grows so fast, that the hair would fill up the bag too fast. For upstairs, kitchen, living room and bedrooms, I use a Miele with the beater brush. Quiet dependable and extremely light weight, it is a pleasure to use. It has a hepa filter, so I am not dumping all the dust back into the air. My husband does the maintenance on cleaning the beater bar, it is amazing how much hair I shed. He trims my hair for me, but there is way more on the beater bar than on the floor after a trim. He throws it outside for the birds. I have heard people have killed vacuums with shed hair, but if you keep up on cleaning the beater bar, it shouldn’t cause any damage. I like the Miele better than any vacuum I have used.

  9. Susie Goins Avatar
    Susie Goins

    I have 2 vacuum cleaners: a Dyson vacuum that I’ve had for about 10 years and it’s still going strong and a Roomba. With 2 kids and 2 dogs, I really want to vacuum every day, but I just don’t have the time. I set the Roomba to vacuum every day when no one is home and I’ve found that it’s all we need to keep up. The canister is full every day (which I’m still amazed at), so all I have to do is empty it and my floors are clean.

  10. Hannah Avatar

    I grew up with a Rainbow and have my own now. It is simply the best vacuum. Before I purchased my Rainbow I used a Dirt Devil and then a Simplicity both upright. They both picked up dirt but blew awful dust into the air and had nasty dusty bags to change. A Rainbow is so much more earth friendly! I love to put essential oils in the basin when vacuuming. It makes the house smell so clean! I also love to see everything it’s picked up in the basin knowing that dirt is no longer on my floors. I personally feel like anyone who doesn’t like to empty the basin is just lazy. It’s not fun but neither is cleaning. Ask your kids or husband to help!

    PS I have two boys (3rd on the way) and our home is less than 1000 SF. I don’t feel the vacuum is a pain to lug around at all and I am a very small person.

  11. Michelle Avatar

    We bought a Miele canister and we love it. Compact enough to not be a pain, has all the attachments on board. We Bought it new in 2001 and it is still going strong. It has a true Hepa filter. We had. a Rainbow growing up in our house when I was young and although it cleaned well, I despised how cumbersome it was to pull around and did not like emptying. For true allergy sufferers I think a rainbow is the way to go.

  12. Stacy Avatar

    I have an Oreck that I’ve had probably 16 years that we use in finished basement and a Simplicity for upstairs that I’ve had for about 10 years. What I love about the simplicity is its suction while the long hose is attached for the wood and ceramic floors. I take it in yearly or so for new belt and servicing and really have not had any problems with it. I would not say it’s kid friendly however. Bulky and heavy when cleaning the carpets and pulling around with attachments. But it has served our family well! Both have.

  13. Kim Avatar

    I just bought a Riccar. I looked st Orek right before. The Ricarr was expensive but I bought the floor model for about half price. It really has great suction. She demonstrated it next to a Dyson and it picked up what the Dyson left behind

  14. Claire Avatar

    Thanks, Katie! Super helpful. And congratulations on the new baby!! It is wonderful that you do all you do and also have a large family; great wittness! Would you mind listing the vac’s you have tried? Just bullet points, with a few words about how each one did? The comments have so many enthusiastic suggestions! But my criteria are like yours.

  15. Andrea hawkins Avatar
    Andrea hawkins

    Rainbow vacuums are the best! They don’t spew the dust and debris everywhere like a normal vacuum. Like Katie I have a big family and we have broken and/or outlasted every vacuum, including 2 Orecks. Rainbow is the only vacuum I’ll ever use again. They are expensive but, not as expensive as replacing a vacuum every few months to few years.

  16. Candi Avatar

    Wertheim Vacuum Cleaner with a powerhead – hands-down the best vacuum cleaner I have ever owned!

    I’d never heard of Wertheim until I went into a privately owned vacuum cleaner shop and ask the owner what vacuum cleaner his wife uses at home (I thought this would be a good strategy to determine the best buy).

    It cost around $850 (ten years ago) and is still going strong!

  17. Lorrie Avatar

    I have had Kirbys, shark, Hoover and Electrolux. Dyson wins hands down!!!! It lasts, it has good suction, it is easy to operate and it is light. I have been married for 38 years and it is by far the best vacuum I have used.

  18. Andrea Avatar

    So interesting everyone does not say Meile, as this is known as the “best”. I have to buy one soon (getting my dyson repaired under warranty – they do have good customer service), but will get something different after is breaks again. Hmmm… this helps me!

  19. diana Avatar

    We have a miele with hepa filter for about 6/7 years now, very happy with it tho have to buy bags but can get online. Live in europe tho so its not as expensive as it would be in usa

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