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How to Choose the Best Vacuum for a Small Apartment

April 12, 2017

If your current vacuum is on its last legs, you might be wondering how to choose a new model. Apartments provide unique challenges, so the best “all-round” vacuum might not be the right choice. But with hundreds of vacuums on the market, how do you start narrowing down your options? Here are a few tips you can use to choose the best vacuum for a small apartment.

Floor Space and Type

One of the advantages of upright vacuums is they can quickly clean large areas of the floor. This isn’t so important in a small apartment, however, so a cylinder vacuum is often a better choice. Cylinder vacs are often quieter, have larger dust capacities and a wider cleaning radius. The hose can also make it easier to clean in tight spots.

You also need to consider the type of floors in your apartment though. If you have carpets, a vacuum with a motorised beater bar is vital for removing dirt that’s ground into fibres. For hard floors, a vacuum can rely on suction alone.

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Noise Level

Vacuums are loud – there’s no escaping that fact. But some vacs are considerably louder than others. If you’re worried about waking your neighbours, a quiet vacuum is important.

The average upright vacuum, for example, has a noise level of more than 85dB. In comparison, the quietest cylinders are less than 70dB. This can be the difference between holding a conversation while vacuuming and not being able to hear someone across the room.

I recommend a vacuum with a noise output of 75dB or less for apartments. This provides a balance between sound level and cleaning performance.

Bagged or Bagless

Bagless vacuums have a number of advantages, but I recommend looking for a bagged model if you live in an apartment. Emptying a bagless vacuum can be a messy task, so it’s best to do it outside. In contrast, most bagged vacuums have a self-sealing system so you can dispose of a full bag without spraying dust around your apartment.

A bagged vacuum – ideally with a HEPA filter – is especially important if you have allergies. The confined space of an apartment can mean even a small amount of allergens can cause a reaction.

Physical Size

Apartments don’t have large storage spaces, so check the dimensions of a vacuum before you buy. Upright vacuum often has a smaller footprint but are much taller, so they can’t be stored in small cupboards. Cylinder vacs are usually easier to store for this reason – although make sure you take into account the size of the hose.

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Do you have pets in your apartment? If so, you should consider buying a vacuum with a turbo tool. These tools can make removing hair from upholstery and carpets much easier.

People with pets should also look for a vacuum with excellent filtration. This prevents pet dander spreading around your apartment, which can cause allergic reactions.

Should You Go Cordless?

I don’t usually recommend a cordless vacuum for apartments for several reasons. All cordless vacs are bagless with small capacities, so they need to be emptied regularly. This can be frustrating if you need to go down several flights of stairs to get rid of dust and dirt. The best cordless vacuums are also expensive – especially if you need a model with enough power to clean carpets.

There are some advantages to cordless vacuums though. They are much more convenient to use, especially in cluttered apartments. The small floor space of apartments also means you don’t need to worry so much about a limited battery life.

Despite these advantages, I still think a corded vacuum is the best option for most people living in an apartment. If you like the convenience of a cordless and don’t have a dust allergy, however, they might be worth considering.


While there isn’t a “best” vacuum for apartments, you can use the guidelines in this post to narrow down your options. Most people should look for a bagged cylinder vacuum with a low noise output and small physical size. If you own pets, make sure you choose a vacuum with a turbo tool.

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