The 5 Best Vacuums for Allergies of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Pet hair, dust, and dander are no match for our top pick, the Kenmore Pet Friendly Pop-N-Go Canister Vacuum.

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Best Vacuums for Allergies

Target / Amazon / Walmart

If you took a magnifying glass to your carpet and rugs, you might be disturbed at what you’d find. Carpeted floors contain more dust and allergens than non-carpeted floors, and they’re associated with lower indoor air quality, according to a review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Smooth surfaces like hardwood floors are considered a more allergy-friendly alternative, but if you don’t keep up with regular vacuum cleaning, allergens could accumulate.

Tested & Approved

The Kenmore Pet Friendly Pop-N-Go Canister Vacuum wowed our tester with its unmatched effectiveness at removing pet hair—a common allergen—from carpets. For something a bit more compact and budget-friendly, the WORX WX030L 20V Power Share Cordless Cube Vac is small but mighty.

But, those with allergies—up to 60 million people per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—aren’t too excited about the idea of vacuuming. For many allergy-sufferers, a run in with the vacuum cleaner turns into a fit of sneezing; fortunately, there’s a workaround: allergy-friendly vacuum cleaners. “It is best to look for a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter if you have allergies,” says Lakiea Wright, MD, a board-certified allergist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts. “Vacuum at least once a week to reduce the level of indoor allergens, which helps reduce symptoms to your allergy triggers.”

To find the best vacuums for allergies, our testers went to work in our lab. Testers personally gave each vacuum a go, diligently testing each model for effectiveness, ease of setup, maneuverability, portability, ease of emptying, noise level, and value.

Here are the best vacuums for allergies, backed by our testing.

Best Overall: Kenmore Pet Friendly Pop-N-Go Canister Vacuum

Kenmore Pet Friendly Pop-N-Go Canister Vacuum

Target

Why We Like It: Even on the highest settings, it’s surprisingly quiet.

It’s Worth Noting: Though the high suction level performs well on carpet and hard floors, the low suction level requires a few passes on hard floors.

The Kenmore Pet Friendly Pop-N-Go Canister Vacuum is our top pick because it earned perfect ratings across the board from our tester, and it’s no match for one of the most common sources of indoor allergies: pets. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of the population is allergic to cats and dogs, making pet allergies a prominent health concern. While avoidance is the best way to manage pet allergies, this can be difficult for households with beloved pets. High-efficiency vacuum cleaners and cleaners with HEPA filters can help keep symptoms at bay, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. That’s where this Kenmore vacuum cleaner comes in.

The performance was “impressive,” per our tester, who found it effective at cleaning up debris and dog hair on both carpeted and hard floors. During the dog hair test, it recovered every strand of dog hair, and none got stuck in the brush or wheels. The motorized brush is designed to pick up pet hair, and our tests confirmed that this vacuum lives up to its claims.

Like any household appliance, vacuums can be difficult to assemble, but this one is intuitive. Our tester found it “super simple” to set up, access and change out the bag, and switch out attachments. It includes a few essential attachments—such as a long tool for hard-to-reach crevices—which are all stored on the unit itself so nothing gets lost. And, of course, it’s complete with a HEPA filter so as to not stir up allergens while vacuuming.

Despite having a separate canister, our tester found it very easy to transport, though it’s a two-handed job to carry the canister and hold the handle. Still, it earns perfect 5 ratings for portability and maneuverability—even on stairs and landings. 

Overall, our tester found this vacuum, which is on the pricier side, “worth the money” since it sucked up pet hair in just one or two passes.

Price at time of publication: $320

Product Details:

  • HEPA Filter: Yes
  • Power Source: Electric
  • Bag Type: Bagged
  • Weight: 22.64 pounds

Best Budget: WORX WX030L 20V Power Share Cordless Cube Vac

WORX WX030L 20V Power Share Cordless Cube Vac

Amazon

Why We Like It: Lightweight and battery-operated, this is the vacuum for ultimate portability.

It’s Worth Noting: Due to the noise level, you likely couldn’t hold a conversation while it’s in use.

Looking for something compact and affordable? This budget pick is suitable for small spaces—it can even fit in a backpack—but doesn’t skimp on power. Our tester found it “super easy” to carry, and with it weighing just three pounds, we can understand why. Small but mighty, hairy messes were cleaned up quickly and easily, but fine debris like flour took a little longer to clean up.

It can run for 15 consecutive minutes on a single charge, collecting up to six ounces of dry debris. When it’s time to empty, it empties from the bottom with the touch of a button, which our tester appreciated because this doesn’t require you to get your hands dirty. With its washable cloth HEPA filter, it doesn’t kick up debris and allergens either. 

A compact vacuum isn’t designed to replace your full-size one, so this isn’t the model to grab to clean large areas. But, you’ll find yourself reaching for this nifty machine to clean couch cushions, office chairs, and car crevices—you know, all the places where crumbs hide.

Price at time of publication: $114

Product Details:

  • HEPA Filter: Yes
  • Power Source: Battery
  • Bag Type: Bagless
  • Weight: 3.53 pounds

Best Stick: Kenmore DS4095 Elite

Kenmore DS4095 Elite CSV Max 21.6V Cordless Stick Vacuum

Walmart

Why We Like It: Our tester was blown away by the low noise level and maneuverability of this vacuum.

It’s Worth Noting: It’s top heavy, so it can’t stand upright on its own.

If a lighter weight is important to you, this Kenmore stick vacuum weighs a fraction of the Pop-N-Go model and costs less, too. When fully assembled, it weighs in at less than six pounds, so it got good marks on portability and maneuverability. It’s also versatile, with two speed settings and a detachable handheld vacuum.

What’s more, this vacuum is “by far the quietest” our tester had ever heard. It was “barely audible,” so our tester was able to hear conversations over the hum of the vacuum—a rare feat for this type of appliance.

In terms of performance, it “outperformed more expensive” vacuums and performed similarly to leading brands that cost more than double. At this price, our tester was satisfied with the value but notes that assembly could have been more straightforward and cleaning upholstery could be improved.

On a full charge, this battery has a runtime of up to 40 consecutive minutes. During this time, the extra-large dust cup lets you cover more cleaning areas without taking breaks to empty the contents. The HEPA filter adds an extra layer of protection for those with allergies who don’t want dander, dust, and pollen circulating in the air after loosening them from carpets and floors.

Price at time of publication: $180

Product Details:

  • HEPA Filter: Yes
  • Power Source: Battery
  • Bag Type: Bagless
  • Weight: 6 pounds

Best Car Vacuum: DEWALT 20-Volt Max Stick Vacuum

DEWALT 20-Volt Max Stick Vacuum

Amazon

Why We Like It: Its small size makes it easy to move around and get into crevices and narrow spaces, like the underside of car seats.

It’s Worth Noting: It gets heavy after a few minutes, so your arm may get tired during longer cleanup jobs.

Dust accumulates wherever you spend time, including your car. It can be a hotspot for pet hair, dust, pollen, and good old dirt and debris, so a handheld vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is a must if vacuuming aggravates your allergies. This one is battery-powered, so there’s no need to run an extension cord to your driveway—just be sure to charge ahead of time for up to 21 minutes of runtime.

Your car isn’t the only place where this handheld vacuum would come in handy. It comes with six accessory nozzles (complete with accessory bag to keep everything tidy), great for easy access to small areas. Fine debris may take a little more work, though; our tester found that only a single pass is needed for food crumbs and hair but sand requires a couple passes.

Some of the downsides? If you have sensitive ears, the high noise level may bother you. Our tester described it was being “quite loud” but ultimately didn’t have any complaints. You may also have to purchase a battery pack and charger separately as this model doesn’t come with one.

Price at time of publication: $139

Product Details:

  • HEPA Filter: Yes
  • Power Source: Battery
  • Bag Type: Bagged
  • Weight: 7.09 pounds

Best Robot: 21 Coredy R380 Robot Vacuum

Coredy R380 Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Amazon

Why We Like It: This affordable and hands-free option takes dust kickback out of the equation.

It’s Worth Noting: It tends to get stuck at floor transitions, so it’s best for an open floor plan.

Those with allergies typically avoid vacuuming due to the dreaded kickback of dust and particles. A HEPA filter goes a long way to reduce this, but a robot vacuum really reduces your exposure to allergens that are kicked loose during cleaning. They often come at a premium price, but this one by Coredy is affordable and (mostly) hands-free.

Our tester found it “really great at sucking up pet hair” and easy to set up. The instructions were clear, and our tester appreciated its ease of avoiding small objects like toys and cords.

Technical difficulties, annoying as they are, are to be expected with robots, however. Despite its strong maneuverability and ability to avoid obstacles, our tester noticed the robot struggled to return to its charging dock and had some issues with the responsiveness of the remote. Our tester also had to guide it to reach the edges of wooden surfaces.

In the end, the ability to set it and forget it (for the 140-minute runtime, at least) reigned supreme. Our tester ruled this as a “definite buy” at the price point, considering all the features, such as a HEPA filter and smartphone app. 

Price at time of publication: $175

Product Details:

  • HEPA Filter: Yes
  • Power Source: Electric and battery
  • Bag Type: Bagless
  • Weight: 7.65 pounds

Our Testing Process

To find the best vacuums for allergies, we had our testers put several models through extensive testing. Our testers reviewed vacuums by conducting several tests to determine the ease of setup, noise level, portability, ease of emptying, maneuverability, and overall effectiveness. 

To test the ease of setup, our testers used a stopwatch to time how long it takes to get the vacuum ready to use from the moment of opening the box. While this doesn’t include charging time for cordless models, it includes time to read instructions and install any bags or attachments.

Vacuums are notoriously loud cleaners, but our testers set out to find the quietest models. Our testers used a decibel meter to measure the noise output of the vacuum on its highest setting and quiet mode, if applicable. Then, our tester determined if a conversation could be held amidst the noise level.

Our testers thoroughly tested each vacuum for effectiveness and runtime—some of the most important factors when choosing the best vacuum. Our testers first created messes by sprinkling the same amount of popcorn kernels, Cheerios, and hair on both bare and carpeted surfaces. Only handheld vacuums were tested on upholstery. Using a stopwatch, our testers recorded the runtime to clean up the messes, noting how many passes it takes to clean each surface, which attachments or suction settings are needed for each job, and how the vacuum transitions between surfaces.

Most vacuum manufacturers recommend emptying the debris after each use, so our testers reported on how simple or complicated this is per model.

Throughout the testing process, our testers also paid close attention to factors like battery depletion, ease and comfort of holding, hair tangling in brushroll, and ease of removing and replacing filters.

What to Know About Vacuums for Allergies

What is a HEPA Filter and How Does it Help with Allergies

HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air.” A HEPA filter can remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles like dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria with a size of 0.3 microns (µm), according to the Environmental Protection Agency.[5] They’re commonly used in air filters, which remove airborne allergens, but they can also be used in vacuum cleaners.

When you vacuum, especially on carpeted surfaces, you temporarily stir up the allergens in the air. For those with allergies, this can be disastrous. Allergists recommend masking up while vacuuming to combat symptoms, but the allergens loosened from carpet and upholstery can remain in the air for a couple of hours before settling. That’s where a HEPA filter can help.

“HEPA filters help with certain allergens, such as mold and animal dander, but don’t always capture all pollen and dust mites,” explains Purvi Parikh, MD, an adult and pediatric allergist and immunologist at allergy and asthma associates of Murray Hill in New York City. “A vacuum with a HEPA filter helps remove allergens from the environment to alleviate allergy symptoms like itchy eyes, skin, throat, nasal congestion, and asthma.”

For allergy sufferers, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends vacuuming once per week with a HEPA filter.[6] You can wear a mask and gloves and empty the vacuum bag outside to reduce your exposure to allergens.

It’s important to note, however, that vacuuming doesn’t clean the air. “A vacuum may reduce the particulate load in an indoor environment, but a reduction of the source of the exposure is more important,” says James L. Sublett, MD, a board-certified allergist in Louisville, KY. While it doesn’t clean the air, he adds that a HEPA filter can reduce the amount of particulates coming out of the vacuum, which can trigger symptoms in people with allergies.

What to Look for When Shopping for Vacuums

According to our research and interviews with allergists, the number one criteria when shopping for a new vacuum is a HEPA filter. You can improve the air quality in your home by using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce allergens like dust and pet dander, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.[7]

Bagged versus bagless vacuums can also make a difference. Bagged vacuums don’t need to be changed as frequently, thereby reducing your exposure to potential allergens.

Other considerations include the power source—whether a vacuum is cordless and battery-powered or corded and electric. Both have their pros and cons, but this usually comes down to personal preference. Electric vacuums are best for indoor use since you’ll need to stay near a power source, but they can run all day since there’s no battery that could potentially run out. With battery-powered vacuums, there aren’t any inconvenient cords getting in the way and you don’t need an outlet, so you can take it outside to clean your car, for example. But, you’ll have to work quickly because some only last for 15 minutes before needing another charge.

Depending on how you’ll use your vacuum, you may want to consider its weight and whether it’s handheld. Compact vacuums aren’t practical for large spaces, but they’re easier to use than full-size vacuums when it comes to cleaning crevices like couch cushions and car seats. They’re also easier to carry throughout your house and up stairs. Full-size vacuums are best for big jobs, such as large bedrooms. They can be heavy, so if size is an issue, look for one that converts into a handheld vacuum for versatility.

What to Avoid When Shopping for Vacuums 

If allergies are a concern—and for millions of people, they absolutely are—avoid vacuum cleaners that don’t have a HEPA filter. “Vacuuming temporarily causes the allergens to stir up in the space, so it’s important to stick to cleaners with HEPA filters,” notes Dr. Wright. Other factors, such as size and type, mostly come down to personal preference.

How Much You Can Expect to Pay for a Vacuum

There’s a wide range of pricing for vacuums. There are affordable vacuums starting at $25 and more premium models that retail for more than $500. Our picks range from $99 to $320, but most fall in the range of $130 to $180.

More Vacuums to Consider

Tineco PWRHERO11 Snap Cordless Lightweight Stick Vacuum Cleaner: A stick vacuum like this one is lightweight and easy to assemble. This Tineco model is affordable, but the performance didn’t compare to others we tested. Our tester found it performed poorly on upholstery and was difficult to empty.

Shark Stratos™ Cordless with Clean Sense IQ: Shark is a leading vacuum brand, so our testers were surprised it didn’t perform as expected. It’s portable and has the convenience of a cordless vacuum, and our tester found it easy to transition between flooring. However, when moving backwards, it spits out debris, making the job that much longer.

12 OKP Life K3 Robot Vacuum Cleaner/Mop: This robot vacuum cleanser is easy to set up and empty, and it’s “fairly quiet,” per our tester. It’s fun to watch robot vacuums at work—except when they struggle to do the tasks they were designed to do, as was the case with this model. It struggled to clean up cereal, hair, and sand.

Your Questions, Answered

What type of vacuum is best for allergies? 

A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is best for allergies. To further reduce your exposure to potential allergens, opt for a bagged vacuum.

Are bagged vacuums better for allergies? 

Both bagged and bagless vacuum cleaners can help with allergies as long as they have a HEPA filter. But, the allergists we spoke to are partial to bagged vacuums. “You don’t have to change the HEPA filter as frequently with bagged vacuums compared to bagless, which can reduce your exposure to allergens and potential allergy triggers,” Dr. Wright says.

Who We Are

Lacey Muinos is a health and wellness writer who masters a variety of topics from acne treatments to gut health and more. She has personally tested and reported on a variety of products, such as air fryers and moisturizers. Between in-depth research and expert interviews, she’s a wizard at finding information and getting it in front of the people who need it most.

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  1. Becher R, Øvrevik J, Schwarze PE, Nilsen S, Hongslo JK, Bakke JV. Do carpets impair indoor air quality and cause adverse health outcomes: A review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(2):184. doi:10.3390/ijerph15020184

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Allergens and pollen.

  3. Chan SK, Leung DYM. Dog and cat allergies: Current state of diagnostic approaches and challenges. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2018;10(2):97-105. doi:10.4168/aair.2018.10.2.97

  4. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Pet allergies.

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