In this Guide
We all want a great vacuum. The problem is, many of us can’t afford to drop $400 on a Dyson or Miele. That means one thing: a budget vacuum.
Budget vacuums have a bad reputation for quality. When you look at lots of the models on the market, it’s easy to see why. Many cheaper models have weak suction, flimsy parts, and poor design which makes them a pain to use.
However, we don’t think you should have to settle for a low-quality machine, even if you’re on the tightest of budgets. That’s why we went on a search for the best vacuums under $100!
We kept a few basic criteria in mind: the best affordable vacuums should be powerful, rugged, and reliable. They should have enough suction to get all your floors and surfaces clean, without wasting your money on gimmicks that won’t make a real difference in your cleaning routine.
To choose our favorite models, we compared prices, features, and specs on dozens of budget models. We looked at professional lab test results from top publications, and then compared our findings with reviews from real buyers.
In the end, we’ve selected three models to recommend to you. They span a range of prices, and have a variety of different features to help you clean your whole house.
In our own in-depth reviews, we’ll talk you through all the important details about each one, and help you get a sense of which is the best choice for you. We’ve compiled all the most helpful results from our research, to help you quickly navigate the marketplace.
To get started, let’s take a quick look at our recommendations!
Best on a Budget
Reviews of the Best Cheap Vacuum Cleaners
Our most budget-friendly recommendation is this lightweight stick model from VonHaus.
While it’s priced down with the cheap-o models, this one is anything but! It’s light, powerful, and much more versatile than the competition.
We especially love the attachment kit and built-in filtration system. It’s a great choice for people who only have hard flooring.
It’s surprisingly powerful, for a lightweight stick model. This one has a 600-watt motor, which cranks out 130 air watts of suction power. It says something about VonHaus that they’re one of the only stick models who are proud to boast their power ratings!
The suction power makes for a better cleaning tool, especially on hardwood floors. Many people think they can skimp on suction with hard floors, but you need that power for taking up all the ground-in dirt and hair between floorboards and tile grout. The extra power is also convenient because you’ll suck all the dust bunnies to you, rather than having to chase them down.
This model has a much larger dust chamber than other stick models. It holds 1.2 liters. That’s especially convenient for pet owners, since fur balls can fill an average stick vacuum in no time. Plus, it means the rest of us won’t have to empty it as often.
It’s convertible. This one breaks down to work as a handheld as well as a stick model. It’s one of the only stick models on the market with an attachment hose. You can use it with the included crevice tool and dusting brush.
While some other stick models work as hand vacuums, they don’t work well for tight spots. The VonHaus is ideal for cleaning out all the nooks and crannies that you can’t reach with other lightweight stick vacuums.
It stands up on its own. That might seem like a given for any vacuum, but many stick vacuums are poorly balanced, and tip over all the time. That can cause breaks and damage really fast. It’s also just plain annoying.
It’s one of the only stick vacuums to feature full HEPA filtration. That means it does a better job at trapping allergens and fine dust particles than other lightweight vacuums and even some full-size vacuums.
We like that the filter is washable and reusable, so there’s no additional maintenance cost.
It provides plenty of range. The power cord is 18 feet. That makes this easy to use on stairs, and between rooms
It’s extremely inexpensive. The VonHaus is well under $100. In fact, it’s half that price.
It’s pretty useless on carpets. The VonHaus will do a reasonable job on flat-weave mats and rugs, but it’s not built for real carpeting. There’s no beater brush, and it’s simply too lightweight to deal with anything thick or plush.
It’s very lightly built. This is a big problem with any stick vacuum. They’re simply not very durable. The VonHaus is better than most, but previous buyers warned to be careful with the dust chamber. We found that people who dropped them sometimes found cracks. This isn’t a vacuum you can expect to keep for a long time.
This cordless stick vacuum from Shark is one of the most popular vacuums on the market, period!
It’s simple, affordable, and extremely convenient for people who live in apartments or small houses. It’s versatile enough to handle all your flooring, and it gives you the convenience of a cordless vacuum at the price of a corded one!
It’s cordless. The Shark is extremely convenient to use, since you never have to worry about plugging it in. The charging base shuts off automatically when the battery is topped up, so you can leave the Freestyle at home base overnight without damaging the battery system.
It’s powerful. While many stick vacuums have measly suction, the Shark is quite powerful. It uses Shark’s lossless suction feature, which uses a separate, dedicated intake feed to make sure that you don’t lose any suction as the dust chamber fills up.
It has a powered brush head. That makes it as carpet-ready as any upright vacuum, and much more so than most stick vacuums. The Shark’s roller brush is fully motorized, with stiff nylon bristles for digging into carpets and loosening up dirt and hair.
The brush head has two speed settings, so you can adjust for different flooring types. The high speed setting helps you deal with thick, plush carpeting without bogging down. The low speed setting loosens surface dirt and hair from your hard floors, without flinging bits of dirt around (something which happens a lot when you’ve only got a high speed setting.
It has swivel steering, for better maneuverability.
Consumer Reports rated this model the best stick vacuum for dealing with pet hair. We love the Shark’s brush head, extra-large dustbin, and lossless suction for pet hair projects.
It’s very light. The Shark is one of the easiest vacuums on the market to use, as far as ergonomics are concerned. It’s less than 10 pounds.
The dust chamber is larger than other stick vacuums. That makes it easier to get through all your cleaning without having to stop and empty the container. It’s easy to empty, as well. The dust bin lifts off, and empties by pushing a button.
It’s built pretty cheaply. Previous buyers had fairly good experiences with reliability, but they did say that the Freestyle didn’t feel very reassuring.
The battery system is nickel cadmium, not the more recent lithium ion kind. Nickel cadmium batteries work pretty well, but they die steadily throughout each charge, where lithium ion batteries run at full blast and then stop completely. It’s not a killer difference, but it does mean you’ll lose some suction as you clean.
It’s versatile enough to handle all your flooring. However, it can’t handle any other areas, like stairs or upholstery. The Shark doesn’t have any attachments or cleaning modes besides the floor head.
The BISSELL CleanView is our top recommendation under $100 for people with carpet.
It’s a high-powered, sturdily-built upright with lots of carpet-cleaning capability. We like the cyclonic suction system, as well as the turbo brush attachment. We think this one provides great value for money, and is a real winner on any carpets, no matter how deep.
This one is equipped with BISSELL’s OnePass technology. It’s designed to make sure that you don’t have to keep going over an area to get all the dirt. This vacuum will grab it all on the first pass, thanks to a combination of powerful suction and smart roller brushes.
Of course, that’s not going to be true every single time. Some buyers pointed out that they had to make one or two extra passes on occasion, to clean up the most difficult messes. And let’s face it–most of us vacuum more quickly than we probably ought to, so we don’t really give the machine much time to work with each pass. However, in most cases, the claim is backed up by solid performance.
It’s built around a cyclonic suction system. It creates several layered cyclones in the vacuum chamber, which means you get non-stop, smart suction. We love cyclonic suction because it directs fine dust and dirt (along with pet fur) away from the motor and filter assembly. It keeps all the debris at the edges of the chamber, so you get more constant suction.
You also get the added advantage of not having to clean the filters as often. That’s the same type of technology you’ll find in a $400 Dyson vacuum. On a vacuum well under $100, it’s a bargain.
It has a fully-powered brush head. We like the BISSELL’s brushes because they’re spiraled to make sure there’s always scrubbing happening as the roller turns around. Unlike brushes that are in a straight line, these provide overlapping coverage to help get the job done faster.
The CleanView comes with a standard crevice tool and dusting/upholstery combo brush. The crevice tool stores inside the extension wand, so it’s there right when you need it. You also get a 6-foot extension hose, to help you make the most out of the attachments.
It also comes with a smaller, turbo-brush tool for getting dirt and hair off of upholstery, carpeted stairs, and other fabric surfaces. We love that it’s air powered, so there’s no belt to get stuck or jammed. We’re especially pleased to see an attachment like this on a vacuum so inexpensive, given that turbo brushes usually come on $200+ vacuums.
It’s got a big dirt tank, which will get you through your whole cleaning session. It’s easy to empty, as well. The chamber lifts off the vacuum, and empties over the trash with the push of a button. We love that it’s clear, so you can see exactly when you need to empty it.
There are several filters built into the vacuum, and they’re all washable and reusable.
It’s a solid investment. The BISSELL is covered by a 2-year warranty. That’s especially impressive for a vacuum this cheap. Plus, we found that this one has a much better reliability record than other uprights at this price.
It provides plenty of reach, thanks to a 25-year power cord. It wraps around the handle, so it’s easy to store.
It’s not the best choice for hard floors. You can’t turn the brushes off, so this one does fling dirt around a bit. However, most buyers agreed that the suction was so powerful that the brushes didn’t matter. Still, the stiff bristles could scuff up delicate finishes on hardwoods.
Which is the Best Budget Vacuum for You?
The VonHaus is by far the most affordable model here. It’s a very cost-effective solution for people with all hard floorings. It’ll also do a decent job cleaning off your mats and rugs, though it won’t do much below the surface.
The BISSELL is the best choice for people with mostly carpet.
It’s by far the most powerful vacuum here, thanks to a cyclonic suction system. We also love the extra turbo brush, which is great for upholstery, carpeted stairs, and other fabric surfaces.
The CleanView is an ideal purchase for people who live in a carpeted house with pets. However, the spinning brushes make it less than perfect as a hard floor vacuum. It’s also pretty bulky, so you might have trouble using this one in an apartment or other tight space.
The Shark is the best choice for people who have a mix of flooring.
It combines the powerful carpet cleaning features of the BISSELL with the lightweight design and maneuverability of the VonHaus. It does a better job than the BISSELL on hard flooring, and cleans carpets that the VonHaus won’t touch.
We love the cordless convenience. However, it’s limited to cleaning your floors. If you live in a house with lots of nooks and crannies, you might want a vacuum with more attachments.
How to Choose the Right Cheap Vacuum
Look for warranty coverage and durable features:
If you’re buying a budget vacuum, you’re trying to save money. We get it.
However, we want to warn against buying something that’s so cheap that it won’t last. It might be cost-effective to spend $50 on a vacuum, but not if you’re going to have to buy it all over again in 6 months.
So, when you’re considering your options, make sure you think about durability. While vacuums under $100 aren’t going to have premium, metal parts, they should be made from rugged plastics.
Make sure all the important parts are sturdy. You’ll want to look at the attachment hose, the floor head, and the dust chamber in particular. Regardless of which one you buy, most vacuums in this price range have some weak points.
Generally, you want to watch out for clasps, latches, and other parts which will be pretty cheaply built. With a bit of extra care, you can make them last with no issues. Just don’t expect them to work like a Miele.
Prioritize suction power, not gimmicky features:
Lots of budget vacuums try to imitate the big boys in terms of their features and attachments. While you can find some bargain features under $100 (like cyclonic suction), most of these extras tend to be gimmicks. They’re not as well engineered or well built as the more expensive versions, and we’ve found that overall they won’t make much of a difference in terms of real cleaning power.
We prefer to spend our money where it really counts–on suction power. If you have a powerful enough vacuum, you can make it work for nearly any cleaning task.
While lots of attachments and tools might seem like good value, most vacuums at this price range with tools that look sophisticated don’t actually have enough power to make them work effectively. We’d recommend focusing on the motor and suction system above all else.
Consider your flooring type:
The type of vacuum you need depends primarily on the flooring in your house. If you’ve got mostly hard floors, you can get away with a vacuum that doesn’t have a powered brush head, or roller bar. You’ll want a wide suction head with either brushes or rubber wheels to protect the finish on your hard floors.
Remember not to skimp on suction! Hard floors need just as much power as carpets. You need suction to pull ground-in dirt and hair from between floorboards and tiles.
For carpets, you really need a powered roller brush to dig into fibers and loosen up dirt and filth. Make sure your carpet head is actually motorized, not air-powered.
Air-powered carpet heads are effective on low to medium carpets, but they won’t do much on deeper pile carpets.
Eliminate maintenance costs:
If you’re looking to save money, the last thing you want to do is buy a vacuum with lots of maintenance costs. That’s why we encourage budget buyers to get models without bags or filters.
You want to know that the only money you’ll have to spend is on the vacuum itself, right up front. This is another reason to make sure your new vacuum is covered by a warranty.
We’d recommend adding on coverage from Amazon when you buy. You can easily get another year or two without adding much to the price.