In this Guide
As your vacuum experts, we’ve gone on a quest to find inexpensive, functional models for all sorts of households! We took extra care to make sure all of our recommendations can handle pet hair. After comparing dozens of popular models, we narrowed the field down to our 3 favorite models under the most affordable category.
You can see our in-depth reviews of each winner below. We’ve broken down all the important features, and walked you through how these options are better than the competition in their price range.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll find our handy guide for how to shop for a cheap vacuum. We’ll help you figure out how much you really need to spend to get a decent model, and walk you through some important things to look for in any vacuum, regardless of price.
Before we get down to the details, here’s a quick glance at our 3 top winners:
Everybody wants a great vacuum that saves time and energy during cleaning. Sadly, a lot of us can’t spend $500 on a Miele or Dyson. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll know the struggle of trying to find an inexpensive vacuum that isn’t junky!
Many machines under $100 are cheap, flimsy products that work only somewhat and have spotty track records. Many sound like airplanes taking off, and feel like they’re about to break when you take them out of the box. While you’re not going to get one that’ll last a lifetime under $100, there’s no reason to sacrifice quality completely!
Best Cheap Vacuum Cleaner Reviews 2018
- VonHaus: for hard floors
- Bissell Cleanview: for carpets
- Shark Navigator: for both
This extremely budget-friendly choice is our recommendation for people who want to spend as little as possible on an effective machine. It’s ideal for small apartments and homes with primarily hard floors. And at a price tag that’s easy on the pocket, it’s accessible to just about everyone!
It’s perfect for hard floors. There are no brushes to scratch delicate hardwoods, and the suction head gives you nice, wide coverage. The suction lock is particularly impressive. It’s much more effective on hardwood flooring compared to other stick cleaners we’ve reviewed (looking at you, Bissell!).
It can also do fairly well on flat woven rugs or low pile carpeting. While there are no brushes to work into fibers, the suction is enough to yank dirt up from most low and flat carpets.
For the size (and the price), it’s very powerful. The motor is a full 600 watts, which is more than capable of picking up surface debris, as well as dust and hair from between the cracks of your flooring.
The wand is adjustable to suit users of any height. This makes the VonHaus much more ergonomic in practice than many other budget stick options, which have a set wand length. At full length, it’s 48” from the ground.
The dust bin is fairly large, with a 1.2 liter capacity. That’s an advantage over other stick models when it comes to dealing with pet hair.
It stands up well on its own. How rare is that for a stick vac? Little things like this really make a vacuum for us.
It’s very light, which makes it a great choice for people with back pain. The whole thing weighs just under 3 pounds. The power cord is 18 feet, which gives you plenty of reach for cleaning in nooks and crannies, as well as overhead spaces.
The suction system comes loaded with HEPA filtration, to trap dust molecules and allergens. It also eliminates many bacteria that other budget versions would re-release to the air around you. HEPA filtration is now a standard in vacuum cleaners so don’t settle for less.
Our favorite feature on the VonHaus is the attachment hose, which is a rarity among stick models. While lots of other stick models are designed to be used as handhelds with attachments, the Von Haus has superior maneuverability thanks to the hose. It fits in a lot of places in your house and in your car that the bulky suction unit won’t fit into.
It comes with a few useful attachments for cleaning hard-to-reach areas. There’s a crevice tool, a brush attachment, and a shoulder strap for helping you vacuum overhead without taxing your back or shoulders.
It can’t handle any serious carpeting. While the Von Haus will work fairly well on flat-weave rugs and very low-pile carpets, it doesn’t have any sort of brush head for getting stuck-in dirt.
Replacement parts aren’t readily available. That makes sense given the price, but people who are more inclined to fix it rather than buy a new one might be put off by the disposable nature of the Von Haus.
Likewise, there’s no warranty to speak of. With something this cheap, you’ll be buying a new unit rather than trying to repair it.
It’s not durable enough for daily cleaning on a large scale. While it’s certainly a capable choice for weekly cleanups, some previous buyers who tried to use it more industrially (for a daycare, in one case) found that some parts deteriorated faster than they expected.
We did see a few reviews in which the dust chamber cracked after being dropped, so you’ll want to be careful with that part in particular.
2. BISSELL CleanView
This new offering from BISSELL continues to improve the quality benchmark of vacuums that fall under the cheapest price range. It’s a full-size upright that can handle carpets and hard flooring, as well as upholstery and stairs with the attachment set.
We recommend it for people with a mix of flooring, or people with multiple pets who need a more heavy-duty model than our other recommendations.
BISSELL’s OnePass technology is meant to ensure that your flooring is clear the first time you cross it with the CleanView. It works by integrating the suction system with redesigned scrubber brushes. The motor is also extra powerful. The sucking and cleaning power is fantastic despite for something so inexpensive!
The cyclonic suction system uses multiple intake cones to create non-stop suction. It cleans very well, especially on soft flooring. We were astounded at how much dirt came out of carpets after the first vacuuming session with the BISSELL. Of course, you’ll probably need more than one pass on grimy carpet or intense messes.
Pet owners in particular will appreciate the CleanView’s performance on carpets. It kicks butt on pet hair and it works very well on sofas, chairs and couches.
The CleanView has an integrated multi-layer filtration system. It traps allergens and fine dust or dander particles to prevent them from being released back into the air. Plus, the pre-motor filter is extremely easy to clean. It looks just like a dish sponge, and can be washed in the sink. It’s an easy way to keep your air cleaner, and preserve the life of its motor at the same time.
It’s bagless. That means there’s no maintenance cost going forward. The dirt canister empties by pressing a button on the side, so you can dump out all the dirt and fuzz without touching anything gross.
The dirt compartment can hold a lot of dirt and debris, too. You can easily get through your whole house, if not several entire cleanings, on one filling. Most of the space on the CleanView’s body is devoted to the dirt compartment, which stays nicely compressed, thanks to the cyclonic suction system.
It’s quiet. That’s a big plus for us, especially for a cheap vacuum! Most of them (including some older Bissell’s) sound like rocket engines. This one’s not exactly a purr, but it’s not obnoxious either.
The scrubber brush head is adjustable. You can change the height to suit multiple flooring types. That’s more convenient than a lot of budget models, which are tricky to get right on specific carpeting.
It’s covered by a 2-year warranty. That means this won’t be a disposable purchase, even though it’s inexpensive.
The power cord is 25 feet long. That gives you plenty of reach to clean around the corner, and into the next room.
The attachment hose gives you a bit more versatility for cleaning stairs and tight spots. The CleanView comes with a crevice tool and upholstery brush, both of which can be stored onboard the vacuum.
Our favorite attachment is the TurboBrush. It’s an air-powered scrubber that’s perfect for getting dirt and hair off upholstery, curtains, or carpeted stairs. The best thing about it is it doesn’t tangle!
Since it’s designed to be a single-pass vacuum, you may find that the OnePass system cleans a little too intensely for your flooring. This one probably isn’t the best choice for tackling delicate hardwoods or heirloom rugs. In any case, we always suggest using machines without brush heads on hardwoods!
We’re pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Bissell, given the price and the weight. However, this definitely won’t last as long as a Miele or Dyson.
3. Shark Bagless Navigator Stick
This best-selling budget offering from Shark falls somewhere between an upright vacuum and a stick model. It’s a thin, lightweight machine with a nice big dust tank and fully powered brush heads. This Navigator is also a Consumer Reports Top Pick for dealing with pet hair! We love it for its combination of power and maneuverability.
It’s cordless. The charge lasts for about 15 minutes of constant runtime, depending on whether you’re using the power heads. The charging station also shuts off automatically when the battery is fully recharged.
It takes about 4 hours to charge. While that’s still a fair amount of time, it means you could easily vacuum 2 or 3 times in a day, tackling a few rooms at a time.
The brush head is motorized. It has thick bristles to really work into carpet fibers. The motor is adjustable, for handling different floor surfaces, with a setting for bare floors and carpets.
We appreciate the bare floor setting, as it stops the brushes from damaging hardwoods or tile. It’s a nice change from other cheap stick options, which can scratch and scuff hardwoods in seconds flat.
The swivel neck makes it easy to maneuver. The head is also low profile, which makes it easy to vacuum under couches, tables, and cabinets. We love this aspect of the Shark because it means you can vacuum areas that would be inaccessible with most uprights.
The dirt bin is oversized, and empties with a side button. We love how big it is, since stick vacuums usually have tiny compartments. The Shark has room for lots of pet hair and dirt.
It’s great on stairs–particularly carpeted stairs. The brush head is smaller than most uprights, which allows it to fit on each step. Plus, the whole thing is light enough to lift up each step without hurting your back. Since there’s no cord, you won’t have to worry about finding an outlet halfway up the stairs.
It’s only 7 pounds–about half the weight of the BISSELL.
It’s pretty loud. That’s par for the course at this price, sadly. There’s absolutely no noise insulation on this one. When you’ve got it running with the brushroll engaged, it’s going to produce quite a racket.
It’s also quite rickety. Touching this one doesn’t give one the feeling of quality, to put it mildly. While the Shark certainly does the trick from a cleaning perspective, it’s not very well-made. This won’t be the last vacuum you buy.
Nickel cadmium batteries like this one are a bit outdated. They don’t last as long as lithium ion batteries, and they don’t offer fade-free suction. That’s something to keep in mind. You’ll spend significantly more for a Dyson with lithium ion batteries, though.
It doesn’t come with any attachments or tools. That makes it hard to really clean the edges of carpeting. You’ll also have to dust manually, since there’s no hose to reach above floor level. So, don’t plan on cleaning anything besides your floors with a Navigator Freestyle.
Some older incarnations of this model had durability issues with the battery dying prematurely. That appears to be resolved with the latest model. Customer service has also improved recently, according to recent buyer reviews. However, Shark’s customer service has a pretty poor reputation in general.
How to Shop for an Inexpensive Budget Vacuum
Try to walk the line between “inexpensive” and “cheap”:
While it’s important to find a vacuum that won’t put a hole in your pocketbook, you’ll want to maintain a certain standard of quality. You want an inexpensive vacuum, but you don’t want to have to replace it quickly. After all, a $75 vacuum is cheap, but not if you have to buy another one in 6 months.
We found some great options, but you’re obviously going to have a bit lower standard for build quality than you would above with a vacuum above $100. None of these vacuums are going to last a lifetime, but they’ll certainly get the job done while you’re on a budget!
Our experience has continually warned us away from cheap canister vacuums. They tend to have very flimsy hoses that break quickly and destroy suction power. We also found that their cheap plastic wheels can scratch hard floors. That’s why we’ve recommended only upright and stick vacuums here. You’re better off with making do with one of those than shelling out for a super crappy canister model.
If you’re set on a canister vacuum, we do recommend one for just under $300 in our dedicated canister guide. Have a look at that to see the most accessible model we can confidently recommend in that category! If you’re sticking to your budget for less than $100, though, we really recommend that you run screaming from canister vacuums.
Look for a vacuum with a powerful motor first:
While filtration, various cleaning modes, and lots of adjustable features are great additions to a vacuum, the most important feature on a vacuum is suction. You want to spend your money where it counts–on the motor.
Many budget vacuums designed to compete with higher-end models have a lot of the same attachments and features as their more expensive counterparts–but they’re badly made and under-powered. If you have enough suction, you can make your vacuum work on nearly anything without any cheap, gimmicky add-ons. So, make sure you get as much sheer power as you can!
The best approach is to keep it simple as you shop. Don’t get distracted by features and accessories! Find something with lots of power, a decent suction lock, and relatively sturdy components.
Find a bagless model:
If you’re looking for a budget-priced vacuum, you’re probably not going to want to have to pay maintenance costs for upkeep on bags and filters. You’ll want a bagless model with washable, reusable filters. That’s the most cost-effective way to go over the long term.
Cyclonic suction is an excellent feature to look for on a bagless vac. Cyclonic suction helps to preserve filters and maintain suction, since it keeps finer debris away from the filters. Having said that, vacuums in this price range do tend to clog a bit more quickly (due to their weaker motors).
Keep your flooring in mind as you shop:
Depending on whether you have hardwoods, carpets, tile, or all three in your flooring, you’ll need a different type of vacuum. We recommend getting a vacuum that can do a decent job on all of them.
If you have carpets, you’ll want powered beater brushes that can really dig into carpet fibers to remove dirt and hair. If you have hardwoods, you’ll want a floor attachment with soft bristles to protect your floor as you clean.
Look for basic warranty coverage:
Of course, none of these vacuums will have the durability of a $300-$500 model. They also don’t have the same warranty coverage, which can be as long as 5-7 years on some nicer vacuums. However, if you’re going to spend more than $50 on a vacuum, we always recommend making sure you have at least a year or two in warranty coverage.
Which Cheap, Inexpensive Vacuum is Best for Your Home?
Now that you’ve seen our recommendations for budget vacuums, which one is right for you and your house?
The VonHaus is a surprisingly capable stick vacuum with more versatility than many of its competitors. Its jumbo dust chamber and attachment set won us over. We recommend it for people who live in apartments or smaller houses with primarily hard flooring. However, its small design and light build quality mean it’s probably not a good idea for people who need to vacuum a whole house.
The BISSELL is our top quality pick for people who have limited budget. It works well on carpets, hard floors, and has attachments to handle stairs, corners, nooks and crannies. Its size and power make it a capable choice for people with multiple pets, or busy households.
If you’re looking for a smaller vacuum, or prefer the flexibility of a cordless vacuum, our recommendation to you is the Shark Freestyle. While the limitations of charge time mean it’s not going to clean your whole house at once, it’s a great choice for an apartment or smaller house with varied flooring types. We also recommend it as a vacuum for spot cleaning, or for vacuuming a few rooms at a time in a larger house.
If you haven’t found quite what you’re looking for, check out Amazon’s top selling vacuums or get back to https://bestpethairvacuum.reviews/ for more options.