The 6 Best Vacuums for Allergies of 2021

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Best Vacuums for Allergies

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Having indoor allergies can leave sufferers frustrated and drained. Allergies leave you in a congested haze with red, itchy eyes, and a cough. You dust and wipe down surfaces, but still come home and are triggered by dust or pet hair. The missing ingredient to help assuage indoor allergies could be the type of vacuum you are using. Because dust and animal allergies happen so often, the importance of having a powerful vacuum to suck up any debris that could cause an attack is so important. 

Allergist and Immunologist Jennifer E. Fergeson, D.O., tells Verywell Health that people with allergies should be looking to purchase vacuums with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters can pick up the smallest dust and dander particles, therefore vacuums with this tool are the best for indoor allergy sufferers. Below, we’ve listed some of the best vacuums to help you tackle sources of indoor allergies.

Our Top Picks
Built with a HEPA air filter, it stands out for its sealed air system that traps allergens inside the vacuum.
Budget-friendly without lacking in features, it features WindTunnel technology, an illuminating headlight, and a brushroll.
The splurge-worthy pick features an AirClean filtration system, which uses a HEPA filter and retains 99.9% of all particles.
If tangled cords are a pet peeve, this cordless cleaner packs a punch, featuring a 40-minute run time and two power modes.
Best for Pet Allergies and Dust:
Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner at Bed Bath & Beyond
Designed to maximize suction to capture dirt and dander, it also features tangle-free turbines that catch stubborn pet hair.
Best for anyone with a busy lifestyle, the robot cleaner has multi-surface brushes and five times the lifting and suction power.

Best Overall: Shark NV356E S2 Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum

Shark Navigator
Pros
  • Sealed air system

  • HEPA filtration

  • Lightweight

  • Includes extra accessories

Cons
  • Debris canister fills quickly

If you are looking for an anti-allergen, bagless vacuum, the Shark Navigator may be the choice for you. What sets this vacuum apart is the fact that it features a sealed air system that helps trap allergens inside the vacuum. Bagless and equipped with a HEPA air filter, this vacuum is perfect for allergy sufferers.

The Shark Navigator is perfect for both carpet and hard surfaces, which earns plenty of praise from users. Because of its easy, lightweight maneuverability and lift-away canister, cleaning tight spaces or specialized tasks, like stairs, becomes a simple task. The suction is also considered to be excellent, but keep in mind that it can fill the debris canister quickly.

Charge Type: Corded electric | Additional Features: Pet power brush, crevice tool

Best Budget: Hoover WindTunnel 3 Max Performance Pet Upright Vacuum Cleaner

Hoover WindTunnel 3 Max Performance Pet Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Pros
  • HEPA filtration

  • Has an illuminating headlight

  • Great suction power

Cons
  • Difficult to use on high pile carpet

Bad allergies, pets, and an active family are the perfect concoction for needing a strong vacuum. Luckily the WindTunnel 3 High-Performance Pet Upright Vacuum is perfect for the job and won’t break the bank. 

A combination of its QuickPass Brushroll and WindTunnel technology helps this vacuum provide a quick and consistent clean for users. The WindTunnel 3 is also great for pet owners because of its Filter Made with HEPA Media, odor-absorbing carbon, and Pet Turbo Tool. According to Dr. Fergeson, a good vacuum can really make or break symptoms for those suffering from indoor allergies, so a good consistent clean—which the Multi-Cyclonic Suction Technology ensures—is paramount.

Another cool feature the WindTunnel 3 offers is an Illuminating Headlight that helps users spot hard-to-see debris and dust in dimly lit areas for a better clean. Users of this vacuum rave about its suction power and ability to pick up animal hair, but a handful of users say that they experienced difficulty while used on high-pile carpets. 

Charge Type: Corded electric | Additional Features: Pet turbo tool, pivoting dusting tool, and crevice tool

Best High-End: Miele Complete C3 Marin Canister Vacuum Cleaner

Miele
Pros
  • HEPA filtration

  • Sealed air system

  • Works on various floor types

  • Quiet operation

Cons
  • Expensive

Miele vacuum cleaners, which are best known for their German engineering, have a reputation for their durability and fantastic performance. The Miele Complete C3 Marin Canister Vacuum is a pricey but popular choice for people with allergies who are looking for a high-end vacuum.

Because of its AirClean filtration system, which uses a HEPA filter and retains an impressive 99.9% of all particles, the C3 Marin is a great choice for allergy sufferers. According to Dr. Fergeson, sealed air systems such as the one offered in the C3 Marin are so vital to cleaning your home. “Some of the vacuums that don’t have the HEPA air filter can kick up the dust and particles in the air, and for some people that can make their allergies more extreme while they are cleaning.” 

Performance-wise, this canister vacuum has a variable motor speed with six settings, so it is versatile and can be used on all flooring types. The C3 is low-noise, has a 36-foot cleaning radius, and has a premium power brush for cleaning high-pile carpet. The powerful cleaning ability and versatility of this canister vacuum justify its expensive price tag.

Charge Type: Corded electric | Additional Features: L.E.D. lighting, dust bag, HEPA filtration

Best Cordless: Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Pros
  • HEPA filtration

  • Multiple power modes

  • Generous run time

Cons
  • Debris canister fills quickly

Get rid of tangled cords and welcome a sleek design with the Dyson V8 Animal Stick Vacuum Cleaner. This vacuum is the ultimate cleaning tool for people who suffer from allergies and are looking for something cordless.

Although this cordless vacuum is smaller in size compared to others, it still packs a punch. If you have allergies, you’ll appreciate this Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) certified vacuum. The HEPA filtration makes it easy to trap the tiny particles that trigger allergy attacks and is perfect for smaller spaces. The Dyson V8 Animal Stick is equipped with a direct-drive cleaner head, which means a motor inside the brush will keep the nylon bristles working overtime to churn up dirt, dust, and pet hair. The cordless machine also has a 40-minute run-time and two power modes so you can always kick things up a notch if need be. 

Although having two different power modes is a step up from other cordless vacuums, the V8 Animal’s battery run-time seems to reduce in max mode or when using attachments. One other con is the fact that you’ll need to empty the dustbin considerably sooner than other vacuums. However, to combat that, Dyson designed a hygienic dirt ejector that will make the job easier. 

Charge Type: Cordless | Additional Features: Handheld conversion, docking station

Best for Pet Allergies and Dust: Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner, Ball Animal 2

Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner, Ball Animal 2
Pros
  • Works on various floor types

  • Includes extra accessories

  • Great suction power

Cons
  • Heavy

Dyson is known for its versatility, style, and power, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the best vacuums on the market for pet allergies is the Dyson Ball Animal 2. 

Certified asthma and allergy friendly by the AAFA, the Ball Animal 2 is engineered to collect allergens on multiple surface types. It’s also equipped with tangle-free turbines that are perfect for catching the most stubborn pet hair from carpets and upholstery. The Ball Animal 2 is also host to Dyson’s Advanced Radial Root Cyclone Technology, which maximizes suction to capture microscopic dirt and dander. 

Not only is this vacuum great for pet owners, but it’s also boasted as being easy to use. Dyson’s signature ball makes navigating the machine around furniture and other obstacles easy. At the same time, the hose and wand attachment stretch up to 15 feet, reaching high surfaces and hard-to-reach crevasses.

Charge Type: Corded electric | Additional Features: Turbine, stair, and combination tool

Best Robot: iRobot Roomba 614 Robot Vacuum

iRobot Roomba 614 Robot Vacuum
Pros
  • Great suction power

  • Works on various floor types

  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant

Cons
  • Debris canister fills up quickly

Ever wish you could vacuum without actually having to lift a finger? If so, the iRobot Roomba 614 Robot Vacuum is perfect for you. 

It’s one of the only robot vacuums that have a High-Efficiency Filter, which traps 99% of cat and dog allergens. Compared to earlier models, the Roomba 960 Robot has multi-surface rubber brushes and five times the lifting and suction power, which makes picking up dirt, debris, and pet hair easy. 

This robot vacuum also intelligently maps your home, all while learning your cleaning habits and paying attention to the areas of your home that get the highest foot traffic. Patented iAdapt technology with vSLAM navigation actively captures thousands of precise measurements each millisecond to optimize coverage. You can also use Google Assistant or Alexa to command your iRobot to start cleaning from the sound of your voice.

Charge Type: Automatic docking and recharging | Additional Features: Automatic recharging

Final Verdict

For allergy sufferers who are looking to keep their home dust and dander free, try the certified asthma and allergy-friendly Dyson Ball Animal 2 (view at Dyson). If you are looking for something a little less pricey but equally effective, go for the WindTunnel 3 High-Performance Pet Upright Vacuum (view at Amazon). 

What to Look for in a Vacuum for Allergies

Filters

Experts overwhelmingly recommend people to consider a vacuum with a HEPA filter if a priority is to reduce allergens in their environment. “Most do well with vacuums that have a HEPA filter in it,” says Kevin McGrath, M.D., a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and allergist in Connecticut. “These would at least filter some of the allergens that come out the exhaust of a vacuum cleaner.” 

HEPA is an acronym for high-efficiency particulate air. This means that the filter can trap a large number of very small particles that vacuums with other filters would likely just recirculate into the air instead of capturing. HEPA vacuums are capable of minimizing dust and other allergens from the environment with their filters. But the devices can then also “expel cleaner air” into the environment, says Melanie Carver, the chief mission officer of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). 

Suction

High-powered suction is another important consideration when purchasing a vacuum because it dictates how well the machine is capable of actually removing particles from the environment. The more suction power the vacuum has then the more dirt, debris, and allergens the device is capable of removing, thus leading to a higher-performing machine. Product reviews can assist in determining how powerful the suction will be on a device. 

Dr. McGrath also recommends cleaning out the vacuum between uses, as a full canister or bag could lead to diminished efficiency of the device’s suction. “Filter bags in vacuums lose their efficiency and their suction as they start to fill up,” he says. 

Blowback

The purpose of vacuuming is completely defeated if allergens and other particles are released back into the environment while using the device. That is why it's important that the vacuum’s canister is sealed and provides no leaks that would lead to particles getting expelled back into the environment. Dr. McGrath also recommends cleaning out the canister or bag while outdoors instead of indoors in case any particles are released. This will help prevent the allergens from impacting people with allergies or resettling into the area that was just vacuumed. “Other options would be to open up doors and windows and allow the room to air out to relieve some of the allergen that’s in the air after vacuuming,” Dr. McGrath says. 

If you're experiencing blowback, make sure to clean the machine by following the manufacturer’s manual, as well as cleaning out the filter in the device. This can help prevent blowback during future vacuuming sessions. 

Smart Capabilities

There are several vacuums on the market that now include smart capabilities, such as the ability to connect to your smartphone device and to move throughout the home on its own while removing dirt and debris. These devices come with some benefits for the user, while also causing some drawbacks with the design. For people on the go, having a vacuum that can operate on its own with the simple touch of a button can be useful, especially if they are unable to vacuum at least once a week. But these devices, such as a Roomba (view at Amazon), often have smaller canisters to hold dirt and other particles, meaning they need to be cleaned out more often for optimal use. From AAFA’s perspective, the most important feature to look for when selecting a vacuum is “whether a product meets all of our certification testing standards,” says Carver. This includes the vacuum being able to “remove surface allergens” and that integrity is “maintained throughout the air filtration system.” All other added features are just extras that could provide some ease to the user. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is better for allergies: a bagged vacuum or a bagless vacuum?

    Vacuums come in several varieties but a key distinguisher between machines is if it's a bagged vacuum or bagless vacuum. Essentially, both options are capable of removing dirt, debris, and allergens from one’s environment. Dr. McGrath said a benefit to bagged vacuums is “you can get high-efficiency filter bags that would prevent many of the allergens from coming back out of the exhaust.” But this option can be more costly for users because it requires the purchase of new bags. “Filter bags in vacuums also lose their efficiency and their suction as they start to fill up,” Dr. McGrath adds. “For this reason and for convenience, most patients use the canister vacuums that are bagless.”

    Dr. McGrath recommends focusing on how the dirt and debris is removed from the machine versus if it is a bagged or bagless vacuum. “The best thing to do is to empty your vacuum no matter what type outside in open air and not in the home. Put it directly into a garbage bag, seal it, and put it in your garbage,” he says.

  • How often should you vacuum?

    Carver recommends for people to vacuum “once or twice a week” in an effort to “reduce allergens” in the environment most effectively. Besides vacuuming at least once per week, Carver recommends people find a vacuum certified by AAFA that shows its good for people with asthma or allergies. “Some poor quality vacuums release particles back into the air. That's why it’s important to find products proven to trap them,” she says. Selecting a vacuum that consistently releases particles back into the air will defeat the purpose of vacuuming, no matter how often the device is used throughout the week.

  • How do you clean a vacuum?

    Cleaning out a vacuum after each use, which includes emptying the bag or canister as well as wiping the machine down, is recommended for optimal use. Carver advises people with allergies or asthma to also wear a mask when doing housework, “especially when cleaning out your vacuum cleaner where particles may escape into the air.” The mask will add an extra layer of protection between the person and what’s being released as the vacuum is cleaned. 

    Additionally, using a damp cloth to clean out the vacuum canister can help between uses. “Sometimes you can clean the inside of vacuum canisters with a damp cloth which can also help keep particles from floating into the air,” she says. Changing or cleaning filters are also key when owning a vacuum. “This is often the best thing you can do with a bagless vacuum as they can clog easily if not cleaned regularly and emptied regularly,” Dr. McGrath says.

What the Experts Say

"The best thing to do is to empty your vacuum no matter what type outside in open air and not in the home. Put it directly into a garbage bag, seal it, and put it in your garbage.”—Kevin McGrath, M.D., a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and allergist in Connecticut

Why Trust Verywell Health?

As a health writer, Janae Price understands the importance of a knowledgeable and honest review. When there are so many different opinions out there, it's great to have a concise answer that cuts through all the junk online. Every product in this piece has been thoroughly researched and sourced by professionals with potential user needs in mind. 

Additional reporting to this story by Danielle Zoellner

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

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