Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
Initially being an engineering specialist, Tom has never stopped learning and acquiring other knowledge and skills. Now he’s involved in technical support for a well-known household appliances manufacturer, so no wonder he knows everything about almost everything you buy for your home.
Last updated: August 07, 2021
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The fact that vacuum cleaners are some of the most convenient and time-saving appliances is not in doubt. Multi-surface vacuum cleaners take vacuuming a notch higher with their ability to vacuum different types of surfaces. Instead of buying different vacuums and cleaning appliances, you only need one of these to clean the entire house and keep your surfaces squeaky clean. The best multi-surface vacuum will clean your hard floors, area rugs, carpets and other upholstery, ceiling fans, blinds and window sills, and even the couch and underneath the couch.
In our mission to identify the best vacuum cleaners, we considered important features like the type, power in relation to the vacuum cleaner motor, and the weight, and how each of these impacts the performance of the vacuum cleaner. We also tell you how to go for value by evaluating the warranty, so you can get the best deal.
It’s taken us months to compile this report. A large part of this time was spent trying out the different vacuum cleaners we’ve documented here on different surfaces and talking to home owners and cleaning professionals on what their experience using these vacuum cleaners has been like. We learned what worked, what didn’t, and which vacuum cleaners were best for what kind of cleaning. We present our discovery in an easy-to-follow formula that includes a comparison table, an in-detail review of each vacuum cleaner we’ve tested, and a comprehensive buying guide.
The revolutionary Dyson DC65 Animal was designed to take all the hard work out of vacuuming. It features a number of patented technologies that deliver massive cleaning power. Some favorites that stood out for us were the 2-in-1 combination tool that vacuums in any setting; the Stair Tool with velour strips that picks up hairs and lifts carpet pile; the up-top tool, which twists into different angles and positions for easy cleaning in high-reach areas; the reach under tool, which vacuums even the most awkward of spaces; the mattress tool with lint pickers; and the tangle-free turbine tool.
The combination of Radial Root Cyclone technology and counter-rotating heads with strategically-placed brushes ensures that dirt is pulled in from all directions.
Rather than using a fixed base plate, Dyson uses a self-adjusting sole plate that ensures the brushes are in contact with the surface at all times. For this, the vacuum cleaner moves seamlessly from carpet to hard carpet and vice versa.
If you’ve been following your old vacuum just so you make sure it catches all the dirt around corners, this Dyson will give you a breather. It has great range of motion and maneuverability, which means you can simply push it into corners and clean without having to step close to the vacuum and manipulate it to vacuum corners.
Dyson issues a 2-year warranty on this unit.
What are its best features?
Tangle-free turbine tool
Self-adjusting sole plate that seals in the suction
Moves seamlessly from carpet to hard floor and vice versa
Great maneuverability and range of motion in corners
The Sebo X5 incorporates the best of technology to deliver a flawless vacuuming experience. It has a 15-inch power head and relies on three on-board tools to vacuum and clean: a dusting brush, crevice device, and an upholstery nozzle, which give it the capability to clean on any setting.
One of the things we loved most about this vacuum cleaner is the liberal use of indicator lights to send a warning when something is off. There’s a stationary use light, brush adjustment indicator lights, a worn brush indicator light, a brush obstruction indicator light, and a clog light that initiates automatic shut off when the dust bag is full. Together, these arrest the problem before it develops into a monster that damages your vacuum and will ensure you get decades of unmatched service from the vacuum.
Its 40-inch cord makes vacuuming large rooms easy, and automatic height adjustment makes easy work of cleaning on any setting. A HEPA filtration system gets rid of allergens while keeping the air clean. And with the 1.4 gallon dust bag, you can clean without having to worry about making frequent stops to empty the bin. Sebo gives a 5-year warranty on motor, with lifetime belt warranty, a 3-year warranty on non-wear parts, and a 1-year warranty on labor.
The iRobot Roomba 694 is a compilation of modern cleaning technologies in one easy-to-use compact device. One of the features that makes it a top-tier device is the irobot home app. Notably, you can use it for scheduling how often the machine should clean your home. If not, you can use your voice assistant, whether Google or Alexa, to tell the machine when to clean.
As for the cleaning technology, it includes dual multi-surface brushes and an edge-sweeping brush. The former should be able to loosen dirt from carpets and hard floors. As for the latter, it works better for corners and edges. This allows the machine an easier time as it suctions the dirt and debris from the floor.
Additionally, the machine has an impressive array of sensors to help with navigation and cleaning around the house. For example, some of these sensors will tell the machine the dirtiest spots on the floor so it can focus more on cleaning them. Other sensors detect obstacles such as furniture, therefore, allowing the device to work around them.
There are even sensors to help differentiate between hard floors and soft carpets so the machine can auto-adjust its height accordingly. Additionally, we were very impressed by the cliff-detect sensors that should keep your vacuum from falling down the stairs.
Over time the machine will learn all about your cleaning routine and even offer up cleaning schedules to match it. Lastly, the device typically cleans for 90 minutes before docking again to recharge.
Why are we impressed?
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
Features an edge-sweeping brush
Automatic height adjustment
Incorporated dirt sensors
Cliff-detect to keep it from falling down the stairs
What negatives must you be aware of?
Due to the random movement around the house, we noticed the machine might miss some spots
Also, the sensitive cliff-detect might keep the machine from cleaning some spots
If you only have 10 minutes to clean your space before jumping onto another pressing task, you’d most likely choose the Dyson V8 Absolute. It’s light, stick slender, and cordless, so you can move it around with ease and transform it into a handheld to vacuum high-reach areas. It weighs only 6 pounds, meaning you won’t feel its weight as you navigate the various surfaces that need vacuuming.
Dyson V8 Absolute relies on a Direct Drive Cleaner head to dislodge trapped dirt by driving its stiff nylon brushes deep into carpets to loose and pull deep-seated dirt. Its driven by a Dyson digital V8 motor that’s optimized to pick up ground-in dirt and fine dust. The vacuum is just as efficient on hard floors as on upholstered surfaces.
With a suction power of 115 AW, it gives you 40 minutes of runtime in sustained Powerful suction mode when using a non-motorized tool, up to 30 minutes of fade-free power with the soft roller head cleaner, and up to 8 minutes of fade-free power in Max mode. The manufacturer recommends charging for 4 hours before first use.
The vacuum cleaner uses fully-sealed whole-machine HEPA filtration to capture allergens and keep the air around the home clean. The filter is washable and offers a lifetime of use.
It comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
What makes it special?
Cordless, easy handling
Transforms into handheld vacuum
40-minutes runtime in suction mode
Fully sealed HEPA filtration system traps up to 99.9% of dirt
Miele Classic C1 is a classically-designed canister vacuum that is powered by a 1,200W Vortex Motor by Miele with a 29.5-foot operating radius that makes it perfect for vacuuming large areas. Select the power level at which you want to vacuum and the motor will efficiently adjust to deliver high suction power at your chosen level. There are 6 power settings for different surface types and you can switch from one to another by simply adjusting the Rotary Dial on the vacuum. The C1’s combination floor head is engineered for both hard floors and low-pile carpets. Although it doesn’t adjust automatically when the surface changes, it has a floor switch that allows you to smoothly switch from hard floor to carpeting and vice versa. There is also a dedicated Parquet-3 floor head attachment for tiles, hard floors, and textured surfaces that uses soft premium bristles and a wide suction inlet to suck in all the dirt.
Miele includes three cleaning attachments for added versatility: an upholstery tool, a crevice tool, and a dusting brush. With these, you have a vacuum that competently cleans all those hard-to-reach places. The adjustable stainless steel telescopic tube allows you to adjust your working height accordingly.
It uses a multi-layered AirClean filtering system that includes a dust bag, motor protection filter, and an exhaust filter. The self-sealing collar in the system ensures no dirt can escape once it’s in the dust bag.
Comes with a 1-year warranty.
Why did it make our list?
High suction power
Effortless large area vacuuming
Adjustable working height
Metal handle with anti-static discharge device
What is not ideal about it?
Vacuums low-pile carpeting only; not for medium pile carpets
The Shark Navigator is what you go for when you want a lightweight vacuum that is easy to maneuver and works on both hard surfaces and carpeting. It moves effortlessly from hard floor to carpet and vice versa. A brush roll shutoff feature allows you to turn off the brush roll when cleaning on sensitive surfaces. What stood out for us is the high suction power this seemingly little unit unleashed. It’s like an unassuming mini powerhouse. And the suction release valve makes any cleaning operation smooth. The manufacturer attributes this to the No Loss of Suction technology used.
Shark Ninja gives you the option to vacuum without the brush, which is great for picking larger objects. You can switch back to the brush when you need to catch dust and dirt. To increase the vacuum cleaner versatility, they include a dusting brush and a 5.5-inch crevice tool. There is also a pet power brush engineered to pick up pet hair and deep-clean debris from all surfaces. The dust bag is large capacity and, in low traffic areas, it will probably take you days to fill it up.
The vacuum comes with a 5-year limited warranty on the motor and non-wear parts.
What are its best features?
Strong suction power
Brushroll shut off
Large capacity dust cup
Premium Pet Power Brush and cleaning attachments
Washable, reusable filter
5-year warranty on motor and non-wear parts
What could be improved?
Floor brushes may need to be replaced after a while
And now, the details of how to get yourself the finest multi-surface vacuum cleaner you can afford.
Vacuum types for multi-surface use
Handheld vacuums – These are ideal for cleaning small surfaces that are above the floor: window sills, blinds, closets, upholstery, and other surfaces. They are perfect for reaching the corners in high places, and because of their portability, you can use them to clean your car.
Handheld and stick vacuums – Handheld and stick vacuums are the smallest, lightest vacuums available. Because they’re cordless, they are easy to move around the house and especially handy at cleaning a wide range of surfaces in multilevel spaces.
Upright vacuums – The most popular type of vacuum, upright vacuums are a perfect choice for cleaning area rugs, carpets and hard floors. They are excellent at removing dirt and dust and will clean large areas of the carpet at a time, making your cleaning swift and efficient. Upright vacuums come as single motor and dual motor. In single motor models, a single motor runs the vacuum and brush. In dual motor upright vacuums, two motors separately drive the brush and the vacuum. Because of the dedicated motors for each function, this second type tends to be more powerful, with better suction for meticulous cleaning.
Stick vacuums – Stick vacuums look a lot like upright vacuums, except they are lighter, slimmer, and don’t have attachments. Some come with handheld extensions that make it easy to clean in corners and high surfaces like ceiling fans.
Canister vacuums – Also known as cylinder vacuums, these have a canister attached to the vacuum head by a hose. They are powerful and versatile, and can be used to clean a wide range of surfaces, including hard-to-reach areas. Canister vacuums come with one of three floor tools. The first is a non-revolving brush, the second is a turbine floor tool with a revolving brush, and the third is a power brush floor tool with a revolving brush roll.
Robots – Robots or autonomous vacuums are the perfect choice for areas that require frequent cleaning, as you can program the robot to start and stop cleaning at specific times. Because this type of vacuum is self-propelled, it doesn’t require your input to clean and is a fitting choice for busy folks. It’s great for reaching tight spaces, even under the couches, beds, and other furniture.
Vacuuming tips for every household
Here are some vacuuming best practices to help you get the most out of your vacuuming sessions:
Change the vacuuming angle and direction each time you vacuum so that you don’t miss any spot.
Turn off the beater bar or brush roll when vacuuming delicate surfaces, such as looped carpets. It can damage these.
Still on the beater bar, inspect it regularly for tangled hair or threads that may impede its performance.
Always use an upholstery attachment with your vacuum cleaner when vacuuming rugs.
Handle the cord, even a self-retracting one, with care to minimize risk of damage.
Pick up small metal and plastic objects; don’t vacuum them. They may damage your vacuum cleaner.
Features to consider while buying the best multi-surface vacuum
Let’s now see what features you ought to consider when choosing a vacuum for multi-surface cleaning. We explain the role each feature plays and why it matters.
Vacuums range in size from compact and light to bulky and heavy. When choosing the size of your vacuum, consider whether you’ll be carrying the vacuum around the house or out into the garage or car often, in which case a small vacuum is more appropriate. If not, you can opt for one of the bigger models. Something else to consider when looking at the size is storage space. Do you have ample space for the model you’re eyeing? Small, slim vacuums can be tucked into a corner of any storage space; not so with big vacuums.
Wet and dry cleaning
Do you have young children who regularly spill drinks on surfaces? Or pets who sometimes mess on your floors? Then a wet and dry vacuum is a better choice than a regular vacuum because it will clean up any liquid spills and still pick up dirt and debris. While this type of vacuum offers exceptional wet and dry cleaning, it may be limited in other aspects. For example, it may not have many attachments or it may not ably reach tight spaces. So consider how multifunctional the vacuum is and whether, in addition to the wet and dry cleaning capability, it is going to meet your expectations in other vacuuming aspects.
The more power the vacuum draws from the power outlet, the more powerful it is likely to be. The maximum amperage that your appliances can draw from your home outlets is 12 amp, so choose a vacuum cleaner with an amp value that’s as close to this figure as possible. Consider also the air watts indicated. Air watts give the wattage after factoring in resistance to suction. The higher the air watts, the more powerful the vacuum will be. Aim for at least 200 air watts. A top choice for great power is the Miele Classic C1.
Is the filter reusable or does it need to be replaced regularly? If you don’t mind replacing the filter often, then a model with a replaceable filter will work for you. Otherwise, vacuums like the Dyson DC65 Animal, Dyson V8 Absolute, and the Shark Navigator have reusable, washable filters that will last years. Different manufacturers may have different recommendations for when the filter should be replaced, but it’s generally about every six months when it’s likely to be saturated with dust.
Some vacuum cleaners have revolving brush rolls; others use non-evolving brushes. A non-revolving brush is rigid in the cleaning options it avails, but a revolving brush offers you greater versatility in the surfaces you can clean. It’s also important to check whether the brush feature can be turned off, so you can turn it off whenever vacuuming delicate surfaces that can be damaged by the brush.
Corded vs cordless
Corded vacuum cleaners are mostly bulky, heavier than the cordless variety, and they are best suited for vacuuming large areas. If you’re looking for a vacuum that is portable, opt for a cordless model as it is easy to carry around. It’ll be great for vacuuming hard-to-reach areas and spot cleaning, too.
Bag, container capacity
Some vacuums have bags for collecting dirt and some are bagless. The bagless variety is usually also cordless, but not always. For the bagless variety, dirt and debris collect in a container which you have to empty into the trash bin. If you’re worried about the dirt filling up the container without you knowing, choose a model with a clear dust container so you can see the level of dirt in the container at all times.
If you or anyone in the house is allergic to pet hair, pollen, smoke, or dust, choose a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to absorb these and other allergens. HEPA filters are designed to eliminate allergens in the room. The best of them eliminate more than 99% of allergens. Choosing a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter ensures that you never have to worry about allergens and other pollutants for health’s sake, even if no one in the house is allergic to any pollutant.
Most multi-surface vacuum cleaners come with warranties. A number of manufacturers give 5-year warranties, with the rest issuing warranties that range from 1 year to 3 years. Always scrutinize the warranty beforehand to know exactly what’s included, whether it’s the motor only, non-wear parts only, or just labor.
Some vacuum cleaners come with specific brushes for pet hair. If possible, choose one of these because they are engineered to remove animal hair from different surfaces, even deep-seated hairs on carpets and crevices. Some excellent choices are the Dyson DC65 Animal, iRobot Roomba 694, and Shark Navigator.
With good maintenance, you don’t have to, and by maintenance, we mean having the vacuum cleaner serviced every two years. Generally, with good care, vacuum cleaners last a long time, so you don’t need to upgrade yours frequently, unless you’re doing it to keep up with the latest in vacuuming technology.
That depends on how quickly dust builds up, particularly in high-traffic areas of the house, which may mean vacuuming a couple of times a week or weekly. If someone in the house is allergic to dust or any other common allergen, it’s important to vacuum more frequently for their sake; likewise if you have a pet. This could mean doing it every other day or every day.
This was a close run, given that all the vacuum cleaners we tested displayed above-average capabilities. When it came to filtering how premium the technology on each was, ease of use, and versatility, it became much easier to choose winners. The best overall is without a doubt the Dyson DC65 Animal, which had many good points, including the self-adjusting head cleaner, 2-in-combination tool, reach under tool, and maneuverability.
Our number two pick is the Sebo X5, which has a diverse suite of in-built technologies. We especially liked the high-efficiency HEPA filter, indicator lights paired with automatic shut off, on-board cleaning tools, the 40-inch cord, high-capacity dust bag, and the warranties.
Our third best multi-surface vacuum is the Shark Navigator, a lightweight, corded upright vacuum with suction power far greater than its small size implies. We like how it runs quietly, the brush roll shutoff, large dust bag, low price tag, and the 5-year warranty.