Multi-surface vacuum cleaners are designed to take on the tasks that would normally require two or even three different cleaning products. The right multi-surface vacuum cleaner can pick up dirt like a vacuum, tackle wet messes like a shop vacuum, and even deep clean and condition your carpets like a carpet cleaner.
Unlike their shop vacuum counterparts, multi-surface vacuums are designed to better handle carpets as well as hardwood, concrete, and other hard surfaces. Some are designed for portability, and others for capability. Depending upon your home or apartment space, not every multi-surface vacuum may be right for you.
We’ll be breaking down the top four multi-surface vacuum cleaners that we think could handle any type of home. After our overview, we’ll also be going over what you need to know before purchasing a vacuum, and we’ll also talk about our top all-around and budget picks for consumers.
Canister | 18ft cord | Bagless | Water + HEPA filtration | 35 lbs | 8 ft Hose | ✓ Brush Roll | ✓ Wet/Dry Capable
Bissell’s proven brand doesn’t disappoint with the Big Green, which combines powerful suction and excellent pet hair removal in its canister design. While wet/dry capable, Big Green is much more valuable as a carpet cleaning solution rather than as a vacuum.
- Wet carpet cleaning
- 3-stage filtration
- Easy to maneuver
- Limited vacuum functionality
- Can be heavy
- Weak warranty
- Deep carpet cleaner
- Built-in heater
- Attachments: Tough stain tool, bare floor tool, crevice tool, rustic brush, TurboBrush tool, 4” tool
- Warranty: 1-year Limited
Although very similar to Water Filtration Vacuum Cleaners, the Bissell Big Green Complete 7700 has the distinction of being the only canister vacuum on our list. By fully utilizing the strengths of a canister vacuum with few of the weaknesses, this product proves to outperform in many categories.
Utilizing both HEPA filtration as well as water filtration, the Big Green can pick up wet and dry messes simultaneously. This product also deep cleans carpet, washes hardwood, and has no issues picking up pet hair. The canister design also makes it simple to swap out attachments and move under low-clearance furniture without much hassle.
The Big Green also heats the water it uses to clean your carpets, which can leave them smelling fresh and clean. Likewise, the attachments and suction power make this one of the best products for picking up dog and cat hair.
Not all is perfect with the Big Green, however. Due to the water filtration as well as the canister design, moving the Big Green throughout the home is going to take a significant amount of effort. Likewise, there’s no real dedicated vacuum feature for simple vacuum cleaning, which makes this more of a carpet cleaner than a multi-surface vacuum at times. Still, if you have a smaller stick or upright vacuum cleaner to supplement the Big Green’s weakness, its strengths are some of the strongest across the board.
Stick/Handheld | 40 min Battery | Bagless | HEPA filtration | 5.75 lbs | X Hose | ✓ Brush Roll (on/off) | X Wet/Dry Capable
Much like it’s more powerful cousin, the V10, Dyson’s V8 Absolute Cordless stick vacuum cleaner is our lightest and arguably most powerful product for multi-surface cleaning. A myriad of attachments make this a great product for floors, carpets, crevices, and more. Just don’t expect to pick up any wet stains or messes with this Dyson product.
- Multiple power modes
- Soft roller head makes hardwood cleaning a breeze
- Easily transforms into a handheld vacuum cleaner
- Capable and powerful battery
- Cannot swap out batteries for continued cleaning
- No hose
- Three power modes
- Soft roller head
- Cyclonic debris ejector
- Attachments: Crevice tool, motorized pet tool
- Warranty: 2-Year Limited
Dyson’s V8 Absolute Cordless Stick vacuum seems to circumvent all of the previous problems with this type of vacuum and boasts some ridiculously powerful suction power. Using a battery that only cleans when it needs to, the V8 can last up to 40 minutes and can recharge in under 4 hours. While it comes with a powerful brush roll for carpet cleaning, one of the primary selling points is Dyson’s proprietary soft roller head, which makes cleaning hardwood floors simple and doesn’t use damaging brush roll fibers.
The Dyson V8 also comes with several attachments that function with the vacuum in its handheld setting. By ejecting the brush roll and tubing, you can take advantage of the vacuum’s light weight and pick up debris in corners, upholstery, countertops, and more. The lack of hose does make this corner cleaning more difficult, however, and also limits the model’s multi-surface capability.
Likewise, Dyson products tend to run on the more expensive side. The larger and more powerful V10 is perfect to larger homes, for instance, but will cost a fair amount more. The batteries also cannot be swapped out, so if your V8 dies on the job, you’ll need to wait four hours before picking work back up. All of this in mind, however, the Dyson V8 is still a powerful vacuum with a dedicated following for some very good reasons. Plus, a motorized pet tool and cyclonic debris ejector rounds out the feature set and proves that there’s more to this stick vacuum than meets the eye.
Wet/Dry Stick | 25 ft cord | Bagless | Filtration | 11 lbs | X Hose | ✓ Brush Roll | ✓ Wet/Dry Capable
Bissell’s one-of-a-kind multi-surface vacuum cleaner is virtually uncontested for its capabilities. Functioning like a shop vacuum but in the shape of a stick, the CrossWave uses a unique brush roll to tackle just about any mess, spill, and debris you could think of. A lack of attachments holds this product back from critical acclaim, but the lower price range might make up for it.
- Unique brush with multi-surface capability
- Two-tank system for dirty and clean water
- Smart touch controls make going from carpets to hardwood a cinch
- No real attachments rule out crevice and upholstery cleaning
- Smaller capacity means more trips to the sink for refills and dumps.
- CrossWave brush
- Two-tank system
- Attachments: N/A
- Warranty: 2-Year Limited
Other vacuums might boast different functionality, but perhaps no vacuum on the market looks and functions quite like the Bissell CrossWave. The CrossWave is an eclectic mix of a wet/dry shop vacuum cleaner in a stick vacuum’s body. It uses a unique brush that’s designed to gently clean hardwood floors, pull out deep-seeded dirt in carpet, or simply operate as a vacuum cleaner. To transfer between different flooring, the CrossWave uses a simple switch and transfers all of its mess into an easy-to-remove water bin. Simply dump out the contents into the sink or the trash and keep moving to the next floor.
If we’re talking specifically about the multi-surface cleaning of floors, perhaps there’s no need to look beyond this product. The cleaning and vacuuming functionality cannot be beaten, but unfortunately, this seems to come at the cost of above-ground functionality. There are no hoses, attachments, or tools to speak of when it comes to the CrossWave, so you’ll need to supplement with a handheld or stick vacuum cleaner when it comes to tight spots and furniture. Still, the affordable cost combined with unique design makes the Bissell CrossWave our top recommendation for an affordable multi-surface vacuum cleaner. There are few vacuums like the CrossWave and arguably none that could provide a unique feature set at this price point.
Building off of their highly successful Lift-Away brand, Shark chose to merge their Lift-Away technology with the DuoClean to produce an upright vacuum designed to tackle messes on any level of your home. Using this DuoClean technology, you can easily maneuver the vacuum from carpets to hardwood. The secondary soft brush, much like the soft brush on the Dyson V8, cleans your hardwood floors without risking their long-term vitality.
The Lift-Away mode is also a great feature, which allows users to lift the product from the floor brushes and carry the canister and motor with them as they clean staircases, upholstery, and more. Using the vacuum in this mode can be a little unwieldy, but the additional power brush and attachments can make this mode more than worth it. Beyond this, the DuoClean Lift-Away also comes with Shark’s proprietary filtration that’s said to provide 10x better filtration than HEPA standards. With a 7-year Limited warranty, you might be able to put this claim to the test. Either way, the number of pet tools and DuoClean functionality makes this a valuable purchase for pet owners.
The under appliance wand is unique to this product and can make getting under larger appliances like fridges and stoves much easier. Unfortunately, no amount of attachments can change the lack of wet/dry capability on this product, but much like with the Dyson V8, the focus is on attachments over this capability. The Shark APEX DuoClean Lift-Away is a top of the line product at a middle-tier price—and while its status as best multi-surface vacuum is debatable, its claim as the best Shark vacuum is secure.
As you can see from our above picks, there is no real symmetry between products when it comes to a multi-surface vacuum cleaner. From canister and handheld to stick and wet/dry hybrids, companies try to create products that match a specific type of home. With that in mind, you should consider the following before purchasing one of our picks to ensure you get a vacuum that’s the closest fit for you.
Having wet/dry capability is usually the first thought many have when considering a multi-surface vacuum cleaner, but it may not be a need for every home. Pet owners that are still trying to house train their family members will definitely benefit from products like the CrossWave as well as the Big Green that can deep clean carpets and handle messes on hardwood. For couples, single-occupant living situations, and others, though, you may prefer the benefits of a carpet/hardwood vacuum over one that tackles wet messes.
Vacuums that circumvent the wet/dry capability also tend to come with more attachments and more varied features to aid in cleaning surfaces above the ground. At the same time, some of our wet/dry functional picks might require a secondary vacuum cleaner to offset some of the inherent shortcomings. It’ll be up to you to decide whether or not wet/dry capability is necessary for you.
Brush Rolls & Batteries
Three of our products—the Bissell CrossWave, Dyson V8 & Shark APEX—feature specially designed brush rolls for hardwood. This is a must-have for any vacuum cleaner or product for hardwood floors, and for a very good reason. Traditional brush rolls are comprised of thick, nylon bristles that agitate carpet and push dirt and debris into the air—where they can be sucked into the vacuum. On hardwood flooring, this brush roll is not only unnecessary, but can damage floors over time. This problem can be eliminated by brush rolls that can be turned off, which our picks can do. Still, you’ll need to keep a close eye on that brush roll and ensure you’re not posing a risk to your flooring by going through your daily chores.
At the same time, products like the Dyson V8 utilize built-in batteries to handle their power source. This is great for apartments and smaller locations in which maneuvering a cord around would be unwieldy, but in bigger homes, it may pose a problem.
Consider the size of your home and whether or not a cordless vacuum is right for you. Generally, we recommend apartment owners and those with lighter cleaning jobs give greater weight to cordless vacuums than those without.
Capacity & Pet Hair
Finally, there’s the all-important issue of pet hair, and depending on your current pet scenario, this might be your biggest concern.
The larger weight of products like the Bissell Big Green or, to a lesser extent the Shark APEX DuoClean Lift-Away, might deter some from fully committing. That extra loftiness and larger capacity, however, can aid significantly in picking up pet hair. The larger the capacity and stronger the vacuum, the less time you’ll spend pulling clogged pet hairs from your bins and tanks.
Pet hairs also pose a risk of clogging up brush rolls, which will need periodic attention to keep them spinning unimpeded. While pet hair-centric vacuums can be a little less versatile when it comes to attachments and hardwood, the trade-off just might be worth it to manage your furry friends during shedding season.
The best multi-surface vacuum cleaner for you will depend on the surfaces in your home. From hardwood and carpet to furniture and staircases, you’ll need to consider any and all of the above for your next purchase.
That being said, one product on our list manages to outperform the rest regarding capability, versatility, and raw power. The Bissell Big Green Complete 7700 is the most reliable vacuum on our list for any surface and is one of the best overall picks. If cost is a concern, then the adept Bissell CrossWave is also worth consideration.
Whether you’re picking up after pet messes or just want your studio cleaned, the vacuums included in our four picks will serve you well no matter what type of surface you throw at it.