Best HEPA vacuum: breathe easy

Breathe Easy: Best HEPA vacuum

The last thing you want after you’ve finished cleaning is for all of that dirt to go right into the air you breathe, but that’s exactly what happens with a poorly-filtered vacuum cleaner. A vacuum with HEPA filtration can help you breathe easier. Allergy sufferers especially are probably looking for the best HEPA vacuum they can get their hands on so they can get relief from their symptoms in their home.

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You’ll find a lot of different vacuum models offering HEPA filtration, enough so that the options can sometimes seem overwhelming. We’ve picked out eight of our favorites below, spanning the gamut of price ranges and features so there’s something for everyone.

 

Comparison Table

Product Review

Miele Complete C3 Marin Canister Vacuum

Miele Complete C3 review

The C3 Marin from Miele is a powerful vacuum, first of all. It has an adjustable six-speed motor that’s based on a vortex system. The suction power is consistent whether you’re on hardwood or carpet, and it can dig deep into fibers for a complete clean. We were most impressed by the Automatic setting. It gives you more suction when it’s on carpet then decreases it on smooth floors. This is perfect for rooms with rugs, saving you the hassle of manual adjustments.

The filtration is our main focus in this article, of course, and the C3 Marin has an exceptional system. Its AirClean filter surpasses HEPA standards. Over 99.9% of airborne particles are trapped within the fully-sealed canister. The C3 is designed to rid your home of dust. It has a telescoping wand that lets you vacuum even up high, making it much easier to clean ceiling fans or curtain rods—places dust loves to hide.

The C3 Miele isn’t the lightest vacuum, weighing in at almost 20 pounds, and some users do find canister vacuums in general to be unwieldy, particularly on thicker carpets. Weight aside, this Miele vacuum is easy to use. Along with the long reach mentioned above, its bottom-heavy design and nimble steering making it feel lighter than it is when you’re moving it. It also comes with some useful accessories. The Parquet Twister is a head that will rotate to fit in tight spaces. It also comes with helpful dusting, upholstery, and crevice tools.

PROS

What we like:

  • Sealed AirClean HEPA filter is over 99.9% efficient
  • Six-speed vortex motor with adjustable suction
  • Automatic setting adjusts to floor type automatically
  • Telescoping wand has an impressive 36-foot reach
  • Helpful included accessories

CONS

What we didn't like:

  • Heavy at around 20 pounds
  • One of the most expensive options

Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away Upright Vacuum

Shark Lift-Away vacuums are known primarily for the convenience of their 2-in-1 design. The upright version gives you swivel steering for complete control and good maneuverability. Press a button and you can detach the canister, giving you a more portable option with a longer reach for stairs or harder to reach areas.

The Shark Rotator is an especially appealing option for pet owners. The Pet Power brush that comes included is perfect for dander, shed hair, and other pet messes. Any pet-friendly vacuum has to have a good filter, and the Rotator delivers with a sealed HEPA-grade system.

 

When used in upright mode, the Rotator is designed to handle whole-home cleaning. The dust bin has an extra large capacity, so you won’t need to stop in the middle of your session to empty it. The LED lights on the front of the brush head are helpful when you’re maneuvering around and under furniture, illuminating dark corners to let you see what you missed.

Ease of use is maybe the best quality of the Shark Rotator. It’s easy to put together out of the box—you’ll be able to start using it just minutes after you open it. It’s just as intuitive to use once it’s assembled. Whether it’s changing the filter, emptying the bin, or detaching the canister, you’ll be able to do it quickly and easily, even if you’re not an expert with mechanical things. No matter what kind of home you have, the Shark Rotator can give it a top to bottom clean, eliminating dander, dust, and other potential allergens.

PROS

What we like:

  • Convertible design changes from an upright to a canister
  • Highly maneuverable in upright mode
  • Great at picking up pet hair and dander
  • Large dust bin won’t need to be emptied as often
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Easily picks up both large and small particles

CONS

What we didn't like:

  • Slightly narrow cleaning path
  • Casing looks a bit cheap and isn’t very attractive

Hoover WindTunnel 3 Pro Pet Bagless Corded Upright Vacuum

Hoover WindTunnel 3 Pro review

Most vacuum cleaners require you to periodically change the filter to keep the vacuum functioning properly. The Hoover WindTunnel instead uses washable filters. Just rinse them off now and then and they’ll last for a good long while. This lowers the long-term maintenance costs—and the initial cost isn’t much, either, at right around $125. The filter itself has an added carbon layer that absorbs unwanted odors, and traps microscopic particles as small as .3 microns.

Hoover’s patented three-channel suction is ideal for low- and medium-pile carpets. It digs out ground-in dirt, pulling dust from deep between the fibers. There is also a pedal-operated on/off switch for the brushroll, so you can change easily from carpets to smooth surfaces.

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If you have pets, you’ll love the included pet-themed accessories. The turbo tool is great for getting pet hair off of steps and carpets, and there’s a special tool just for upholstery. The vacuum has an impressive reach with these accessories thanks to its ten-foot hose and telescoping wand.

 

Hoover vacuums are built to last, and the WindTunnel 3 is no exception. It will give you the same high suction power every time you use it, and isn’t likely to fall victim to annoying clogs or tangles. It’s a bit bulkier than some of the other models on this list, and can be tricky to steer on carpets; these maneuverability complaints are the only down-side of this vacuum. Otherwise, it gives you high power and great filtration for a low price.

PROS

What we like:

  • Re-usable filter means lower maintenance costs
  • Eliminates unwanted odors
  • Filter traps even the smallest particles
  • Excellent value
  • Long reach with the ten-foot hose
  • Great range of accessories for pet owners.

CONS

What we didn't like:

  • Slightly hard to maneuver
  • Heavy and hard to push across carpets
  • Slightly top heavy and can tip over when using the hose

Hoover WindTunnel Max Bagged Corded Upright

Hoover WindTunnel Max Upright vacuum

The WindTunnel Max is another very affordable option from Hoover that can give you professional-level filtration without the high price tag. A bagged option can be a better choice for people with allergies since you won’t come into contact with the dust again when it’s time to empty it. The WindTunnel Max takes this a step further with their Clean Drop system. You can throw the full bags away without even touching them, and each bag comes with HEPA filtration built right in.

Like other Hoover vacuums, the WindTunnel Max uses three channels of suction for a truly deep clean. The cleaning path is an impressive 15 inches, letting you clean the same space in less time. You’ll only need to do one pass, too. The brushroll has seven different height settings for any carpet depth, making it a versatile as well as a powerful cleaning machine.

You’ll love the attachments, too. There are more of them than you might expect from such an affordable vacuum cleaner. There’s an air-powered tool that’s great for stairs and a brush for dusting furniture, along with the standard telescoping wand and crevice tool. Between these tools and the long power cord, this vacuum has all the necessary features for an easy whole-room clean.

The main complaint against this vacuum is that it’s not the easiest model to use. The suction power is so high it can be hard to push it over thick carpets. It’s around 15 pounds, too, so it’s on the heavier side overall. What it does well is give you an affordable deep clean, with a much more powerful motor than you might expect in the price point.

PROS

What we like:

  • Very affordable
  • Wide cleaning path for more efficient cleaning sessions
  • No-touch bag removal system
  • 30-foot power cord, stretch hose, and telescoping wand give you a long reach
  • Foot pedal control for the brushroll is easy to use
  • Adjustable three-channel suction picks up all sizes of dirt and debris

CONS

What we didn't like:

  • Not easy to maneuver on carpets
  • Specialized bags cost more to replace
  • Some users report a loud whistling noise during operation

Kenmore Elite 31150 Pet Friendly Upright Vacuum

Kenmore Elite 31150 Pet review

The Kenmore Elite might be the best HEPA vacuum, and the medical experts generally agree. It’s one of only a few vacuums that have been certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, so you know it will keep your home free of allergens and other airborne irritants. It’s a bagged model, too, so you’ll never have to touch the dirt you clean from your floors.

The Elite uses two motors. The inducer motor enhances the suction power, as much as 20% over similar upright models. This also makes sure that you’ll have consistent suction power throughout your cleaning session, no matter what surface you’re going over. There are five different height settings for the brush that work for the majority of home flooring options.

The Kenmore Elite also has a lot of advanced technological features. One of these is its dirt sensing ability. It uses an infrared reading to tell you when there’s dirt in the vacuum’s path, automatically activating the LED headlights so you can get a better look at what you need to clean. It has a sleek, modern look to go along with these advanced features.

There are three included attachments with the Kenmore Elite: a crevice tool, a dusting brush, and a powered pet tool. The only problem is that the hose for attachments is very short, limiting the usefulness of the tools, even with the telescoping wand.

While the Kenmore Elite is heavy, at around 20 pounds, the low center of gravity and adjustable brushroll make it easy to navigate even over carpets. It’s not as effortless to steer around corners or furniture as swivel-steering models, but if you have a fairly straightforward home layout, it’s easy to handle and steer.

PROS

What we like:

  • Certified by the Allergy and Asthma Foundation
  • Sensors automatically activate headlights when dirt is detected
  • Multi-level brush adjustment gives you options for all floor types
  • Twin motors give you more suction power
  • Good-looking modern styling
  • Adjustable three-channel suction picks up all sizes of dirt and debris

CONS

What we didn't like:

  • Short accessory wand
  • Not as good at navigating around furniture

Electrolux EL4335B Ultra Flex Canister Vacuum

Electrolux EL4335B review

If you’re looking for a canister vacuum in the under $300 range, the Electrolux Ultra Flex is a great choice. It’s a surprisingly portable canister, weighing just under 12 pounds and built with a convenient carrying handle for easy transportation. Between the 21-foot power cord and the 8-foot reach of the hose and wand, you can easily clean any room without switching outlets, then move on to the next without a fuss.

All of the vacuums on this list have exceptional filtration systems, but the Electrolux Ultra Flex also keeps you from encountering the dirt after you’ve cleaned. The brushroll cleans itself, so you won’t have to get your hands dirty clearing out a tangle. The dustbin is designed to empty in one clean motion without making a mess. It isn’t the largest dust bin, which users with larger homes may find frustrating, but when you do need to empty it, it’s a quick and easy process.

You’ll find all the features on the Ultra Flex that you expect from a high-end vacuum. This includes a manual on/off switch for the brushroll and an adjustable height setting for different kinds of flooring. It also comes with a full range of accessories, all of which can be stored right on the vacuum. The suction power is cyclonic, giving it an impressive consistency across flooring types. The automatic cord rewind is convenient and the compact design makes it easy to store.

PROS

What we like:

  • Lightweight and affordable canister option
  • Larger wheels for easier maneuvering on carpets
  • Self-cleaning brushroll reduces maintenance
  • Adjustable cyclonic suction power
  • Controls and accessories conveniently located on the handle
  • Quiet operation even at higher settings

CONS

What we didn't like:

  • Hose can be awkward to move and adjust
  • Relatively small dustbin

Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Pet Bagged Upright

Hoover T-Series WindTunnel Pet review

This is the best HEPA vacuum if you have pets but you’re on a budget. It’s the cheapest PAWS Approved vacuum cleaner, with an extra carbon filter for odor absorption and a motorized rubber tool designed for removing pet hair from furniture. Basically it has all the design elements you need as a pet owner for just over $125.

The WindTunnel Pet is a practical and straightforward vacuum. It has a five-level height adjustment for the brushroll, with air-powered tools for more advanced and complex cleaning needs. It’s also well-built and won’t need a lot of maintenance. If you need to reach the brushroll or change a belt or filter, it’s simple matter of flipping a couple levers. To empty the bin, there’s a simple one-button release. There’s even an indicator light to tell you when the bag is full so you don’t have to guess.

The WindTunnel Pet is a bagged vacuum, giving it the typical pros and cons of the type. All of the dust is completely trapped in the bag so it’s easier to empty, but you’ll spend more over the life of the vacuum in replacement bags. It is also a slightly heavier and bulkier option. You might find it frustrating if your home has a lot of narrow spaces or tight corners. For an affordable vacuum with the power to handle pet messes, though, the WindTunnel Pet is a top choice.

PROS

What we like:

  • Easy to maintain
  • Included accessories perfect for pet owners
  • One-touch bag release and bag indicator light
  • Very affordable
  • 12-foot stretching hose cleans anywhere

CONS

What we didn't like:

  • Extra weight and bulk make it harder to use and store

Oreck Magnesium RS Swivel-Steering Bagged Upright

Oreck Magnesium RS review

If you’re looking for the best HEPA vacuum that’s also the most convenient, the Oreck Magnesium is a good choice. The vacuum’s design uses SlimSwivel technology that makes it far more nimble and maneuverable than traditional uprights. It also has a very low profile on the cleaning head, so it can get underneath furniture along with navigating around it. The attached edge brush makes sure that nothing gets lost or trapped in the corners.

The controls of the Oreck Magnesium are also both convenient and intuitive. The motor power can be adjusted using a QuickSwitch right on the handle. The brushroll has impressive power, turning as fast as 7,000 revolutions per minute when it’s at top speed. This makes the Oreck Magnesium incredibly versatile, too, since it can clean everything from delicate hardwood to the thickest high-pile carpet without an issue. It also makes it easy to push across even difficult floors. With so much power in the motor, it often feels like it’s pushing itself.

Of course, this article is about the HEPA filtration, so you’re probably interested how the vacuum holds up in that regard. As a bagged model, it offers total containment of dirt. It uses a Saniseal system that allows for zero dust to escape the bag, and the filters trap 99.97% of all dust and particles larger than .3 microns.

This Oreck vacuum is designed to give you maximum cleaning power and convenience in a durable package. It’s not the cheapest option on the list, but considering it’s built to last you for several years (with a 7-year warranty to back it up), you’ll likely find it to be a better value in the long run.

PROS

What we like:

  • Has enough power to handle high-pile carpets
  • Convenient controls located right on the handle
  • Swivel steering and low profile for easy navigation
  • Saniseal bags don’t let any dirt escape
  • LED headlights for easier dirt detection
  • Durable and rugged construction

CONS

What we didn't like:

  • Price is on the higher side
  • No hose for detail cleaning of furniture and stairs

The verdict

All of these vacuum cleaners offer you top performance and air-tight filtration. If you’re looking for the overall best HEPA vacuum, though, our top pick has to be the Kenmore Elite. It’s been vetted by the professionals and all but guaranteed to be the most comprehensive option in terms of allergen elimination. It’s also just an overall fantastic value, with top-notch performance at a very reasonable price.

Having said that, though, these are all exceptional vacuums, and any one might be the right choice for a certain kind of user. Consider what you’re looking for beyond the filtration abilities, whether that’s convenience, power, value, or some combination of these factors. Given the variety of options in the eight models above, one of them is likely to match your needs.

About the Author Jason

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