Test Run: Viva Las Vacuum

Vacuuming may be a household necessity, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. “If you don’t enjoy using your vacuum, you tend not to vacuum,” says Maitin Rhode, owner of Rhode Vacuum Cleaner Company in Philadelphia. “Vacuuming shouldn’t be hard, so if it is, something’s wrong.” Don’t settle for a mediocre machine. With everything from high-tech and sleek to heavy-duty and practical, there’s a vacuum out there for everybody.

If you’re looking for a new vac, consider what type of floors you have. “Some vacuums don’t work on bare floors,” says Steve Bekoff, store manager of George A. Schaper & Co., Inc., in Philadelphia, “and people with pets need a revolving brush to get hair off the floor.” Of the two main types of vacuums—uprights and canisters—uprights are best for carpets because of their rotating brushes, while canisters won’t scratch hard surfaces and are known for their long hoses, perfect for hard-to-reach places. For those who can’t decide between the two, many manufacturers offer hybrids, upright vacuums with detachable hoses and a variety of tools to get under beds and into corners.

Beyond these practical considerations, vacuums come in a variety of styles, sizes and even colors. So check out these high-tech marvels and take your pick.

Pretty and useful
ART. by Miele
This sleek machine comes in three different finishes—Mojito (above), Hot Chocolate and Red Roses—so you can coordinate the vacuum with the rooms it will be cleaning. This suction-only upright offers an automatic cord rewind, a 5-foot detachable hose, and a 7.5-foot wand. “It really is a beautiful vacuum,” says Bekoff. The ART. line offers more than good looks, however. These vacuums are known for being quiet and maneuverable, especially good for cleaning hard surfaces such as wood and tile floors.

Good things come in small packages
Eureka Mighty Mite (Model 3684A)
Mighty is right. This little canister vacuum comes with tools like a floor nozzle and a crevice tool for every surface and all the nooks and crannies in your home. Though it can clean any surface, many people use it as an adjunct to a primary upright carpet cleaner. Linda McElroy, co-owner of Quality Vac in Lansdowne, says it “does a good job for out-of-the-way places and quick cleanups.” In addition, it’s “lightweight, convenient and
well-made.” Take all that for a reasonable price, and you’ve got proof that size doesn’t matter.

The future’s looking cleaner
SEBO air belt C3.1
The ultramodern SEBO, a German canister vacuum with a sleek white casing and cosmic good looks, beats dirt Jetsons-style. With a three-part filtration system, including a hospital-grade micro-filter, it’s also a smart choice for those with allergies. “It’s a nice unit, a true sealed vac,” says Bekoff. It is completely air-proof and keeps in 99.9% of dust and allergens. The SEBO comes with a range of attachments and has four wheels that rotate 360 degrees for stability and easy maneuvering.

Suction at your service
Oreck XL2 Ultra
In red, yellow or traditional black, the Oreck XL2 Ultra partners a practical look with an impressive service plan: eight free annual check-ups that should keep your vacuum running like new. “It’s like an oil change for your car,” says the store manager of the Oreck Floor Care Center in Ardmore. “We suggest people bring in their vacuum once a year for a tune-up.” The Oreck’s Helping Hand handle was given the Ease-of-Use Commendation by the Arthritis Foundation, and though this 8-pound upright doesn’t have any fancy attachments, it comes with a free 5-pound Super Deluxe Compact Canister vacuum.

No-frills vacuuming
Royal 1038
Not looking for fancy? Try the Royal 1038, an industrial-quality metal machine. A popular choice with commercial cleaning people, this upright offers durability and cleaning power. According to Mark Ott, owner of Authorized Vacuum Center in Collingswood, this model is “good for overall carpet care” and sports a look “reminiscent of your grandmother’s Kirby.” Its 50-foot power cord allows you to clean large rooms and long hallways without unplugging.