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Finding the best vacuum for your home

April 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
We've all hear commercials for vacuums that promise to really clean up messy carpets, floors, and stairs. But is it worth spending hundreds, even thousands, on a high-end vacuum?Each year, there are some $4 billion worth of vacuums sold in the U.S. Most of them are uprights. Eyewitness News teamed up with Consumer Reports to put them to the test.

Click in the Eyewitness News story window above to watch the accompanying video to this story.

With bright colors and high-tech designs, today's vacuums are anything but your grandmother's vacuum.

Consumer Reports tested more than 60 vacuums, including 37 uprights. There were ones from Kenmore, Hoover, and Dirt Devil, as well as lesser-known vacuums from Halo and Riccar. They cost anywhere from about $60 all the way up to $1,900.

"A lot of new vacuums have unique folding and storing features designed to make them easier to use," said Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports.

Plus, they're easier to store. Some offer handles you can remove and use as a canister-style wand. One vacuum tested even has a special cleaning system designed to keep the filter clean and running smoothly.

"The problem is that some of the vacuums with the fanciest features aren't the best at cleaning. And if you're like most people, you want a vacuum that does a great job on carpets," said Markovich.

Consumer Reports' John McAloon uses a variety of tests to size up a vacuum. He uses a sound meter to measure the noise level. Another device determines the force needed to push and pull a vacuum -- an important consideration.

To determine how effectively a vacuum cleans, testers sprinkle 100 grams of sand and talcum powder onto a test carpet. Then they use a roller to push the dirt down into the carpet. Testers then run a vacuum back and forth 16 times to see how much dirt it picks up.

The top-rated upright is the Kenmore Progressive with Direct Drive, model number 35922. And at $300, Consumer Reports named it a best buy.

In general, uprights are better for carpets and are easier to store than canister vacuums. Those tend to be better for tool use and tough-to-reach places, but they can be awkward to store.

For more information, visit Consumer Reports for buying advice for vacuum cleaners

 

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