Shopping for a vacuum cleaner can be a mind-numbing experience because there are so many makes and models to choose from -- and with price tags from $25 to $1,500 or more. But don't worry. Even the most neat-freaky of neat freaks need not spend four figures on a vacuum to ensure a clean house.
To identify the best inexpensive vacuum cleaner out there, I came up with this criteria: A great vacuum has to be lightweight, be bagless, be easily cleanable and, most importantly, have consistent suction power.
--Lightweight. The test for me is whether I can pick it up with one hand and carry it up a flight of stairs. If it takes two people to lift, you know that's a machine that will knock the paint off doorjambs and slam into legs of furniture because it's just too heavy.
--Bagless. Disposable vacuum cleaner bags -- though designed to be neat, clean and convenient -- are not always so. Worse, they're pricey! My ideal vacuum must be bagless but designed in such a way that emptying the canister is a neat and clean operation.
--Cleanable. Am I the only one who cannot stand the smell of a dirty vacuum? That's why I want a vacuum cleaner that comes apart so I can wash it out. Is that too much to ask?
--Suction power. The best-looking vacuum in the world is a piece of junk if it cannot suck dirt out of carpet and upholstery and pick up every last crumb and speck of dust, dirt and pet hair in a home. And it needs to have consistent suction regardless of whether the dirt collection canister is empty or nearly full.
After a great deal of research and personal experience, the coveted designation of "Everyday Cheapskate's Best Inexpensive Vacuum" goes to Shark Navigator. What an amazing piece of engineering and ingenuity. Weighing in at less than 15 pounds, it certainly can be called lightweight.
Shark Navigator is bagless, and boy, can it collect a shocking amount of dirt, dust and other disgusting-looking stuff. The canister lifts off the machine to be held over a trash can. Pushing a single button releases the bottom of the canister, and everything simply falls out. Neat, clean and quite tidy.
This canister is completely washable. I run a sink with hot soapy water and put that emptied canister right in. And I wash the felt and foam filters at the same time and then roll them in a towel and allow them a couple of hours to air-dry.
Lastly, no vacuum I have ever used can measure up to Shark Navigator when it comes to powerful suction. I think it might actually suck paint off the wall if put to the test.
This baby handles like a dream, too, with its swivel action, on-board crevice tools, on/off brush roll for carpet and hard-surface floors and hose that stretches to 12 feet. The power cord is 30 feet long and stores easily on the back. I'm so sold on Shark Navigator that I bought two -- one for home and one for the "Everyday Cheapskate" office.
Regular retail for this machine is $249, but you can be sure I didn't pay that. I paid $149 with free shipping. That's a deal! To learn more and to read others' reviews, go to http://EverydayCheapskate.com/sharkvacuum.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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