Updated February 01, 2020 by Karen Bennett

The 10 Best HEPA Vacuums

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This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in March of 2015. Allergies are no joke, especially when they flare up in your own home. If you're constantly being bothered by your sinuses, investing in a quality HEPA vacuum is a good way to get some relief. Our selections are powerful enough to suck up and retain dirt, dander, pet hair, and more, and many come with conveniences like telescoping wands, LED headlights, and self-adjusting heads. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.

1. Dyson Ball Animal 2

2. Shark Rotator NV752

3. Miele Complete C3 Calima

Editor's Notes

January 29, 2020:

Many updated models come on board today that are great for trapping allergens to provide your home with cleaner air that’s free of dust particles and pet hair. The high-power Dyson Ball Animal 2 is a force to be reckoned with, thanks to its strong suction, self-adjusting cleaning head, instant-release wand, and various useful attachments that make it great for cleaning ceilings, cushions, and stairs as well as carpets and hard floors. If you’re interested in the technical details on how it captures dust so well, it’s due to what the manufacturer describes as “radial root cyclone technology,” which channels airflow through the center of the assembly to maximize suction. It’s been known to suck up pet hair more thoroughly than any other alternative, and its generous five-year warranty is nothing to sneeze at, compared to what other manufacturers are offering. Another Dyson on our list, the Dyson V8 Animal, is also great for pet hair and trapping allergens. This cordless model is great for anyone who wants something that’s conveniently compact and easy to store, yet still packs significant power.

For a considerably more affordable model that holds its own impressively, look to the Shark Rotator NV752, which is great for making your way through your entire home quickly, thanks to its large dust cup and a hose that can be extended up to six feet for handling ceilings and corners. The canister can be removed easily in order to reach underneath tables and chairs. It’s got user-friendly fingertip controls, and its LED headlights (on both the handle and the nozzle) help you see what you’re picking up. For a reliable Shark model with a bagless design, consider the Shark Navigator NV360, which is lightweight and offers swivel steering, so it’s easy to maneuver around your home.

For a relatively affordable choice, check out the Hoover WindTunnel Max, which handles embedded dirt well and offers an extendable wand that lets you reach up to 17 feet above the floor, making it great for handling ceilings, fans, and crown molding. One caveat to note: It does produce a high-pitched whine that some find annoying. And rounding out our list is a commercial-grade model, the ProTeam Backpack, which can hold up to 10 quarts of debris and is lightweight and ergonomically designed, so as not to strain your back. It comes with two filter bags and features a quiet operation.

For more reliable options that help keep your home free of dust and debris, see our list of best vacuum cleaners and best upright vacuums.

Special Honors

Forzaspira C110_Plus This bagless cylinder model boasts 800-watt performance with four filtration stages and a HEPA filter that traps even the smallest dust particles, returning cleaner air to your home. The filter is washable and can be used many times. This sturdy machine boasts a conveniently compact size and comes with accessories including a small surfaces suction kit and a parquet brush that’s great for use on delicate flooring. Its two-position universal brush lets you vacuum carpets, rugs, and any hard floor like tile, ceramic, and marble. It offers a bagless design and is easy to empty of debris with the click of a button. polti.com

4. Shark Navigator NV360

5. ProTeam Backpack

6. Dyson V8 Animal

7. Hoover WindTunnel Max

8. Ovente ST2620B Bagless

9. Prolux LED

10. Soniclean Galaxy

Understanding The HEPA Vacuum

Other particles that HEPA vacuums are very effective at sucking up include mold spores, dust mites, and pollen, each of which is a common allergy and asthma trigger.

For years people have been vacuuming their homes thoroughly, and not understanding why their allergies would still act up. It was most likely because their vacuum cleaner was leaving tiny particles behind. A High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter vacuum can pick up any molecules as small as 0.3 microns. HEPA is really a type of filter more than it is a vacuum, and can even be found in many air purifiers. It can trap particles that are so small the human eye cannot see them. These particles hide in people's carpets long after they've been exposed to a regular vacuum. A piece of cat dander, for example, can be as small as one micron.

Many vacuums contain filters that cannot hold a particle that small. As a result, statistics show that 100 percent of American households test positive for some amount of pet dander. Other particles that HEPA vacuums are very effective at sucking up include mold spores, dust mites, and pollen, each of which is a common allergy and asthma trigger. The HEPA filter consists of very small fiberglass fibers. The vacuum's suction forces particles into the fiberglass mesh, but once they are in there, they cannot escape.

The filters in standard vacuums often have large enough openings that they allow particles out after they've sucked them in. For this reason, people often feel that the air quality in their home has improved immediately after vacuuming, but deteriorates quickly within the next day. A HEPA filter keeps contaminants from traveling out of the vacuum and back into the air and carpet. It can contribute to overall better air quality in a home and peace of mind that one's vacuum is doing a thorough job.

What To Look For In A HEPA Vacuum

If eliminating all allergens and bacteria in the home is already a concern, it's important that one's HEPA vacuum can reach into the tightest spaces. Even if people do not eat or even spend time in certain areas, that doesn't mean that allergens don't travel there. Think about fleas, for example, which do not stay in one place. Many of them hide under couch cushions and furniture after they hatch. Households with pets should purchase a HEPA vacuum that is either very compact or has slender attachments that can reach into tight places.

Think about fleas, for example, which do not stay in one place.

Spending the day vacuuming the entire house can be very tiresome, and it can cause back pain. Many HEPA vacuums come with shoulder straps and allow the user to wear the filter portion on their back, like a backpack. This not only relieves some strain on their back and shoulders but also leaves both of their hands entirely free to move the suctioning portion of the vacuum. It's not always easy to see if one has collected all of the dust in dark corners, which is why some HEPA vacuums include a lighted nozzle that illuminates the floor while you work.

Environmentally conscious homes might appreciate a bagless HEPA vacuum cleaner. These eliminate the need to throw away a bag after every vacuum cycle, contributing to the already massive amounts of waste households produce each year. While powerful, HEPA vacuums can also be very quiet. Those who live in small apartment buildings and don't want to disturb their neighbors should look for one with a 65-decibel or less rating.

History Of HEPA

The HEPA filter does not have its roots in domestic cleaning but rather in nuclear weapons. In the 1940s, the United States was involved in the Manhattan Project, a development initiative that created the first nuclear weapons during World War II. The HEPA filter's first job was to filter microscopic particles that had been contaminated by radioactive sources. The team behind the Manhattan Project discovered that the condensation of gasses and liquid aerosols created tiny solid particles about 0.3 microns in size, which is why modern HEPA filters can trap molecules of that size.

In the 1940s, the United States was involved in the Manhattan Project, a development initiative that created the first nuclear weapons during World War II.

HEPA filters did not become available for non-war purposes until after World War II. In the 1950s many medical facilities like pharmaceutical labs and surgical rooms began using them. HEPA filters are in fact required for the cleanup of asbestos, the removal of toxic lead and any sort of chemical cleaning. They're even utilized in computer chip manufacturing.

HEPA filters were a critical part of the first U.S. moon landing. This technology provided the air supply and recirculation astronauts need to survive in space. Without the HEPA filter, the development and testing of many devices, including the first silicon chip, would not have been possible. Today manufacturers recognize the value of HEPA filters in air purifiers, vacuums and other home devices.

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Karen Bennett
Last updated on February 01, 2020 by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.

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