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. tricia marie Avatar
    tricia marie

    Thank you for the your opinion which is the best brand, Eureka Forbes or Karcher.

  2. Jo Avatar

    It’s just me and a couple pets. I’ve always come back to Oreck vacuums and have the Oreck Magnesium. Love it for same reasons you state. And the HEPA bags are 6 for about $30. I’m a Consumer Reports subscriber and they said the reason it scores lower is because it doesn’t come with “connector” tools in comparison with the other vacuums rated at the time. You have to purchase then separately.

  3. Rachel Avatar

    Thank you! This post is exactly what I needed. Just added this ugly vacuum to my Christmas list in hopes that it will last longer and help me keep sane with 3 little boys and a big dog. ?

  4. Elizabeth Avatar

    I know this post is old, but each time I get an update on a new comment about a dry filter vacuum, I am bewildered all over again! Every single dry filter vacuum blows the dirt back into the air for you to breathe then fall back down onto all the surfaces in your home you just worked so hard to clean. And what’s even grosser is all the germs/bacteria/dust mites/dust mite poop, etc that blows out with the dirt, that have been growing/multiplying in the bag/container every time you store it in your closet! Not to mention, you are losing the majority of your cleaning power soon after you start vacuuming because the dry filter holes get clogged SO quickly. Like within minutes. I mean seriously you are truly just wasting your precious time (and money) with any dry filter system out there! I see people’s comments about emptying the water… but I don’t get that either because don’t we all empty our vacuums either way, dry or wet?.. Wouldn’t you rather empty water, where the dirt & bacteria are contained, and ensure it all gets out of your home instead of it going back into the air to breathe/dirty up your home again as you change it?… Anyways, so sorry for the rant Katie! I usually love all your stuff, have followed your site for years, often recommend your site to others, and hate to leave a comment that is less than positive, but I just continue to be surprised and saddened by this post and all the comments in favor of unhealthy dry filter vacuums!

  5. Julie Avatar

    Have you ever tried a Kirby? I got it when my oldest (now 13) was a baby and it is still going strong.

  6. sam Avatar

    excellent blog. thank you for the information. i bought a vacuum cleaner from i-vacuumclears.

  7. Alice Shepherd Avatar
    Alice Shepherd

    I did some research about some light weighted vacuums for children and after purchasing one, taught my son (he is 4) to vacuum. He does it every day now, not much of a help, but the mess he makes he cleans on his own cause it makes him so exited and happy that all things disappear inside the device. =) And this is like the most genius thing i’ve ever done XD

  8. Charles Brown Avatar
    Charles Brown

    I can understand how an ineffective vacuum cleaner can take away your peace of mind.
    Even I have bought vacuum cleaners of some good brands multiple times, but none of them was durable.
    I prefer hygiene and so vacuuming the carpets is a regular task. I am looking forward to buy one which is durable, light in weight, and inexpensive too. I will definitely buy the one you have mentioned and see how it helps me in carpet cleaning.

  9. Vee Avatar

    This is the best post ever!!! I have the same problem. I’ll ry this one next! Thank you

  10. Denise Avatar

    I prefer the HYLA Air & Room Cleaning System. All of the filth is trapped into a water basin which is dumped after cleaning. No filthy particles are blown back into the home. It is also an air purification unit, has air flow control to protect drapes , and has attachments for every cleaning need. NO dirt in the air or in our lungs. When they came and did a demonstration, I was Shocked because I had just cleaned. My reward to myself is seeing all the dirt in the water.

  11. Tony Avatar

    I have hands-on experience with different vacuum cleaners, and one of my most favorite ones is that Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Vacuum. One of the best vacuums on the market which has an excellent filtration system for homes with allergy sufferers, swivel steering, detachable canister, 3 versatile cleaning configurations, heavy-duty suction and can clean carpet and bare floors. It’s an amazing product, totally worth its price. Hope it helps!

  12. CarolAnn Avatar

    Thank you for posting about this. I have a Sears Kenmore vacuum that works well but is too heavy for me to use. And I can’t always get my husband to use it LOL.
    Now that I know what works for you when I get a new vacuum I’m going to definitely get an Oreck.

  13. Sarah Avatar

    Thank you! I read this post a few months ago and kept it in mind since I knew our vacuum cleaner would soon bite the dust (ha!). My husband and I were at Bed Bath and Beyond tonight looking at vacuum cleaners and looking up reviews on our phones at the same time, then I remembered reading this post recently and told him about it. I have been following you for years and know I can trust you so we didn’t have to do much research, but like you said there are mostly very positive reviews on Amazon. AND, the price has gone down almost $50 since I last looked at it. I ordered one this evening so I hope you get an afiliate marketing credit for my purchase. Again thanks for making our purchase decision easier!

  14. Jo Ann Boyd Avatar
    Jo Ann Boyd

    Because of my age and size, need light weight, good cleaning and dependable vacuum in moderate price range. Seriously looking at Oreck which was highly recommended, but was told original owner sold company and quality was no longer there. Oreck no longer made in US. What do more recent owners of Oreck say about them?

  15. Annie Avatar

    I’ve been through dozens of vacuums in the 40 years I’ve been married, and have tried many. My latest Kirby is the best. Yes, it’s expensive, but the ones now are self propelled, so no problem being heavy, and it came with a life time guarantee. I bought it with tax return money, and don’t plan to have to buy another vacuum ever again, with the life time guarantee. I also do own a shop vac as well, for things that it is better suited for, like when our washer broke and leaked water everywhere. It sucked it all up very efficiently!

  16. Nancy Avatar

    I have the Gtech but it is wrecking my loop carpets with the brushes. Is there a cordless upright that doesn’t have brushes please? My Miele corded head doesn’t have brushes (just a push down edge for hard floors).

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