Ask Design Mom: Vacuums

Dear Gabrielle, I am shopping for a new vacuum. Is it worth splurging on an expensive one? Or are they just a lot of hype? I’d love your opinion or recommendation. Thanks! — Sara

Great question, Sara. I made do with a $40 vacuum I picked up at Costco for like 6 years or something. It wasn’t great, but it was fine. I only had a couple of area rugs that needed vacuuming. So the short answer is, if you’re not doing much vacuuming, a budget option is probably fine.

But my real answer is: I adore Dyson vacuums. (This is not a shocking statement, I’m sure. Design-centric people have long loved the Dyson.) We finally splurged on one when we moved here to Denver because we have mucho wall-to-wall carpeting. My sister advised me to buy it at Bed Bath & Beyond with one of their 20% coupons to help take the edge off the high price. It helped, but it’s still a big purchase. Like you’re buying a major appliance.

But man oh man, it’s such a great vacuum! It picks up so much more than any other vacuum I’ve tried. It’s built well and it’s easy to empty and maneuver. We chose the DC24, because it’s a manageable size for both the kids and the grownups to handle. If you’re in an apartment or other small space, my assistant Melanie swears by the new Dyson City. It’s super compact and made for all floor types.

What about you, Dear Readers? Any favorite vacuums you want to recommend to Sara?

131 thoughts on “Ask Design Mom: Vacuums”

  1. I have a Dyson and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!! I agree- it is totally worth the money. I actually MAY be selling mine as we currently have two Dyson’s in our household and I am moving to Chicago so I may be going with a smaller model for a city apartment. Email me if you’re interested, Sara, or any other readers :)

  2. The one useable thing Ed brought to our marriage was his orek vacuum. 10 years, 4 kids, a dog and a cat later, it is still running amazingly well. The amount of dust, debris and polly pocket shoes it manages to pick absolutely thrills me and I highly reccomend. Oh the things I get excited about!

  3. Sandra Gonzales

    You’re spot on with this recommendation. I LOVE my Dyson!
    My Dyson even has a Hello Kitty sticker on it from when my daughter was going through her sticker phase.

  4. I couldn’t stomach the price of a Dyson, though I’m sure I’d love it!

    I’ve had a Bissell Liftoff Revolution for 3 or 4 years now, and I can’t believe what a great job it does. When we moved to our new house in April, I know that the previous owner was sad to leave her central vacuum behind. It’s no comparison to my Bissell though! I got it for around $150 on sale at Kohl’s, I think, and I’d highly recommend it.

  5. I’ve had a dyson for about 6 years now and I can not even begin to say how much I love it! One of my top 10 things I ever invested in.

  6. The Shark Navigator is said to work just as well as the Dyson. I don’t have a Dyson to compare but I LOOOOVE it. Picked it up at Costco and it comes with a zillion attachments (all in a nice bag so they’re not scattered everywhere). I was amazed at how much it picked up after I’d just vacuumed with my old one.

    One day I’ll own a Dyson, but for now this is fantastic.

  7. I have a DC25 Animal Dyson and OH MY GOSH is it amazing. I vacuum almost every day and almost every day the canister is FULL of dog hair. It was $700 but SO worth it.

  8. I’d have to say as great as a Dyson is…i am going to recommend the Miele line of canister vacuums. Now before you dismiss it because it is more than a dyson. This vacuum sucks everything up and leaves no dust on the vacuum like most vacuums do. It also doesn’t leave your room smelling like dust after you’ve vacuumed. They have some basic models that start around $400 and should do pretty well…since I plan on keeping this vacuum for a long time, we sprung for a more expensive model. So far, we love it. love not sneezing everytime we vacuum.

  9. Have had my Dyson for several years. Bought it refurbished on ebay. It has worked like a champ. Have you ever seen their hand-driers in public restrooms? Awesome!

  10. my husband recently surprised me with a new vacuum (isn’t he romantic?) and brought home a dyson. I totally love it. it’s easy to maneuver, gets my floors really clean, and has all the right attachments in all the right places. Even a really great stair attachment which I love. I was afraid he’d spent too much, but he found it at Costco for a screaming deal, like 30% less than regular retail. I’m not sure which model it is, though. It’s not huge, but it’s not compact.

  11. At our Co-op School, little could inspire more passion amongst our parent volunteers/cleaners than a new vacuum purchase.

    We’re loving our new Hoover – great on the kids and dog hair and it was so inexpensive I can buy a new one every year if I feel like it!

  12. As the daughter of a very successful vacuum business owner, i highly recommend Miele or Simplicity over Dyson, although I am sure Dysons are also great! Good luck choosing, but I think it is worth a little bit more to get a good, sturdy vacuum that picks up more (for health reasons).

  13. We got a Dyson a few years ago and the first day we used it, we emptied it 4 times because it was picking up SO MUCH MORE than our old vacuum. I also got it at BB&B with a 20% off coupon, and it was one of the best purchases we’ve made.

  14. I LOVE my Dyson!! We got it as a gift so I didn’t have to see the bill, but I love cleaning the house now. Sounds silly but it’s just so much cleaner with a Dyson! Especially if you have pets that shed…

  15. I find this pretty surprising… I’d heard the Dysons don’t work super well. Consumer Reports certainly doesn’t like them. We went with one of Consumer Reports top picks (some kind of Hoover) and it works great… I think it was aroud $200. Maybe it’s because we were specifically looking for a vaccuum that could handle pet dander?

  16. My husband bought our miele over 20 years ago and it does a fantastic job. I have had a few minor repairs and bought some of the newer attachments but the motor keeps on ticking. Great hepa filters in it as well.

  17. I come from an electrolux family, my mother got hers as a wedding present and it died about 25 years later. she replaced it with an electrolux. still going strong (over 10 years on that one) I have one too, but now that I live in a house that is 100% terrazzo, I got a hoover floormate, and I am IN LOVE with it.

  18. I use the Hoover Tempo Widepath Upright Vacuum, and even though it takes bags, its the worlds greatest vacuum, as far as I’m concerned. Only $75 and it nearly attacks carpets.

  19. I am not a fan of the Dyson. I think it works well for wall-to-wall carpets, but it has damages 3 rugs of mine by pulling fibers from the ends or sides. I also do not think it performs well on bare floors (despite the bare floor setting). I retired my Dyson to the basement where I have only wall-to-wall carpet and purchased a canister that I’m not entirely please with either.

    I’ve been hearing a lot about Kirby vacuums lately and would be curious to hear about anyone’s experience with a Kirby . . .

  20. I LOVE my dyson. I totally think it’s worth it although I got mine refurbished through amazon and only paid about $200 for mine. Also, I have a dog so a high quality vacuum was a must for our household.

  21. I love my Dyson. I am VERY frugal so making the splurge was hard, but I have zero regrets. It’s been an amazing vacuum.

  22. I have been married 39 years and have had 2 (the 2nd one is still going strong) Electrolux vaccuums…they are expensive, but if you look at how long they last they are worth it.

  23. Ive had sooo many vacuums, and even msde money vacuuming at one point. Nothing beats a Dyson, and I mean NOTHING! Vacuum your entire house with your favorite OTHER vacuum, then borrow your friends Dyson, and vacuum again. You wont believe what your other vacuum left behind. You will then want to invest in your own Dyson. It will be your best purchase ever. If you children with allergies or asthma, buy it for their sake. I have the DC25.

  24. After upgrading, I was shocked at what I was picking up in my vaccum cleaner. Seriously? Had I been living so long in such grossness? Apparently I had. Just be ready to be amazed at the stuff hidden in your home’s crevices!

  25. I have to say, I have a Miele and LOVE it! The suction is great, lightweight. It may be a bit pricey but I have had it over 10 years and it works just like new. I have heard from my local vacuum store that Dysons are actually not that great of a machine. But to each his own.

  26. I had a Dyson. I thought it worked ok, then I got sold on a Kirby. The only down-side is it is much heavier, but I think will last much longer than the Dyson. And I have the shampooer attachment for the Kirby, which I love. My carpets look great after shampooing them with the Kirby. It was very expensive though. I use the Hepa filters and I think they work great. I saw one review that said the Dyson looks like it’s picking up a lot because of all the air circulating in the canister, but it’s just fluffing up the dust and hair, so it seems like more.

  27. Our vacuum just broke as well (wasn’t a very good one) and I have to admit I am very drawn to the Dyson, but I have been doing my research (you have to do something while you are saving your money for a good one!!! they aren’t cheap!!!) and I think I will be going with a higher end Simplicity. It does both hard floors and carpeting and here in the west with all the dust the bagless machines don’t really do that well (actually burns out the motors)…and its made in the USA!!! Yipee!!

  28. I had a bunch of stuff in storage, out-of-state, including my Dyson vacuum that was 6 years old. So I bought a Bissell (the pet hair kind) from Costco and used that until I got my belongings from the storage unit (about 6 months). The difference was night and day. The “old” Dyson is a far superior vacuum to the other. I wouldn’t go with anything else.

  29. I love the design of Dyson as well. And yeah, they’re pricey. But here’s where I hang my head and confess…

    We just bought a Roomba. One that has on board scheduling. That means it vacuums my floors during the day while we’re gone. I was skeptical about spending the money. But I’m totally sold. The only disadvantage? It doesn’t do stairs. : ) (In my defense, we did buy a model that was being discontinued so we picked it up on the cheap.)

  30. I’ve had a Meile vacuum cleaner with a Hepa filter since my daughter was born (25 years ago). It costs more, but I have never had any mechanical problems and boy, can that machine clean. Over the years, I’ve replaced the cord once or twice – otherwise, it hasn’t cost us more than the bags. I highly recommend Meile for usefulness, longevity and design.

    Someone gave me a Roomba as a gift and it was OK at cleaning up the dog hair, but it did not clean everything well and I had to go over spaces with the Meile. I gave it away.

    1. I second the Miele. Of course, I inherited mine from a wealthy relative (they keep one on each floor and had an extra, woo hoo!), so I’ve experienced only it’s amazing suction and not it’s heavy blow to the wallet.
      I’d seen them in Williams-Sonoma catalogs and always wondered, Why would someone spend THAT MUCH on a vacuum? But then I tried ours and I understood. I hope this thing lasts forever with only minor part replacements, as others seem to say. Because I’d really hate to buy one new.

  31. I was given a Dyson for christmas and couldn’t agree with you more! this vacuum is simply AMAZING! I can not get over how much it picks up, how easy it is to manoeuvre, and how gorgeous it is! I have the DC23 (animal) and would highly recommend it to anyone with a pet! You should have seen what it picked up when I vacuumed with it right after vacuuming with my old vacuum (a little test I did), unreal!

  32. I highly recommend the Bissel vacuum for Pets. I’ve had it for 3 years now and haven’t had any problems. It’s super powerful, moderately priced, and works amazingly well. I have 2 big dogs and 1 cat.

  33. I am completely obsssed with my Dyson Pet Vacuum…it is like another member of the family! I still always make my husband watch as I empty the container when I’m done…it never ceases to amaze!!

    My only advice…I bought mine at Kohls on my Kohls card when they had a 30% off coupon, which saved even more than the 20% at BB&B. And, I bought it online with free shipping. The trick I’ve found with Kohls is that they constantly mail out those “peel off” coupons that are worth 15%, 20%, or 30% off, and the only difference in the code is the # part. So, the codes are always something like Save15, Save20, and Save30. So, when I bought my Dyson, I think I really only had a 15% coupon, but by using it online, I made it a 30% savings instead!! :)

  34. We love Dyson, too! I loathe vacuuming, and this makes it tolerable. When we got married, we pooled all of our target cards to buy the vacuum. We have the ‘pet’ version. Not sure how it compares, but with two dogs and a cat we figured it was the right choice for us. :) Still going strong after 4 years.

    Also, my mom has a rule of thumb that a vacuum lasts 1 year per $100. Not sure where she heard that or how it plays out. :)

  35. I LOVE my Oreck, but my brother swears by his Dyson. I think that with vacuums it is worth it to pay the big bucks – otherwise you end up buying a new one every year or so.

  36. I’ve heard good things about they Dyson, but when I was picking out carpet for my basement there were signs ALL OVER the carpet store stating that using a Dyson on any of their carpeting would void the warranty.

    Personally, I L O V E my Miele. Best vacuum I’ve ever used.

  37. We to have a Dyson and got it refurbished so I think it was ‘only’ $200. I like it, but I do have one design complaint…but it’s too hard to explain without actually seeing it in person. Overall it’s a great vacuum and there are ways around the price.

  38. I love my Dyson! We have the one with the ball technology. It’s a double bonus, because my engineer husband thinks it’s cool and does all the vacuuming. It’s also nice because it supposedly keeps all the air dust in the vacuum instead of letting it back into the air which is why we invested in the first place. Prior to, my husband would sneeze like crazy during and after vacuuming.

  39. Our Dyson is great. It is so well thought-out and easy to use it amazes me sometimes. However the rotating brush often gets full of gunk and makes a terrible sound when it gets stuck. It happens way too often. Other than that, it’s a keeper.

  40. I had LONG desired a Dyson…but not the price tag. So when Black Friday rolled around and I saw that Target was selling the DC 17 Animal for only $267 instead of the usual $499 sticker price I JUMPED on it.

    Long story short, my life is now a lot better and seriously, our carpets are 10 times cleaner. Dyson really IS worth the money, but it pays to watch for deals and coupons and all that because like Design Mom said, it is like buying a major appliance, sticker shock and all :)

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