Vacuum cleaners designed for hard commercial use are often completely different in design and functionality than their private counterparts. While machines for use in the home or apartment are going to focus on ease of use, versatility of attachments, and overall usability, commercial vacuum cleaners are often designed to take a beating while still maintaining an effective level of power and ergonomics.
Commercial vacuums are also highly specialized, so you won’t see any upright/stick hybrids or products with a host of attachments and features to clean several different types of flooring. For each of the four products below, we’ve chosen the best professional vacuum cleaner in each major category: backpack, wet/dry, upright, and canister. After reviewing why each is the best in its prospective category, we’ll then cover the pros and cons of each vacuum type, note several key features, and explain why a bagged vacuum might just be your best option.
50ft cord | Bagged | HEPA filtration | 11 lbs | 4.5ft Hose | X Brush Roll | Backpack
This powerful commercial backpack vacuum checks all of the boxes in volume control, capacity, and overall suction power. You might want to skip the ProTeam and other backpack vacuums for carpet cleaning solutions, but low-pile rugs, tile, and hardwood cleaning is a pinch with this product’s many attachments and long cord.
- Great for larger areas and hardwood
- Long cord means less time finding new outlets
- Large canister makes cleaning more efficient
- Poor performance on high-pile carpets
- Large canister can be bulky and unwieldy at first
- Can be hot/uncomfortable during extended use
- Four-level advanced filtration with HEPA
- Low 66dB operation volume
- Attachments: Extension wands, cover multi-surface floor tool, upholstery tool, crevice tool
- Warranty: Lifetime molded parts, 3-year limited motor, labor, other parts
The ProTeam Super CoachVac outshines other backpack vacuums, making it the HowtoHome pick for Best Backpack vacuum cleaner. This ProTeam model operates with a simple plastic canister that holds an impressive 10 quarts worth of debris. It may sound a bit like overkill, but with a massive 50-foot hose, you’ll be able to clean a massive space without having to change outlets constantly.
Like other backpack vacuums, the CoachVac is a great cleaning solution for office spaces and sales floors that utilize primarily hardwood flooring. The various attachments also make getting into corners a breeze, and the extension wands keep you from having to stoop over to get into those hard-to-reach places. Unfortunately, high-pile carpets aren’t well serviced by most vacuums in this category. Likewise, the additional weight (plus the weight of the debris) over time can make you break a sweat or even cause your back some discomfort. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve adjusted the straps to keep you from misaligning your spine during the cleaning process.
We highly recommend the ProTeam Super CoachVac as a cleaning solution for large, hard flooring. With effective filtration, a generous warranty and quiet operation volume, you can depend on this product to work hard without disturbing your peers’ work.
18ft cord | Bagged or Bagless | Cartridge filtration | 19 lbs | 7ft Hose | X Brush Roll | Wet/Dry Vac
A wet/dry vacuum is a must-have for tool sheds, warehouse spaces, and anywhere where large spills are common. This sturdy wet/dry vacuum cleaner features a strong build and high capacity and can be adjusted for wet and dry cleaning as well as bagged or bagless operation. Smaller or carpeted spaces might not be a great fit, but for most other cleaning solutions, this is a versatile and effective option.
- Durable stainless steel canister
- 6 horsepower motor picks up most wet and dry messes
- Can be used either bagged or bagless
- No brush, roll hurts performance on carpets
- Low profile can be uncomfortable for extended use
- Shorter cord will require extension in larger workspaces
- Tank drain
- Attachments: Extension wands, crevice tool, gulper nozzle, floor nozzle
- Warranty: 3-year Limited
Wet/dry vacuums are great commercial vacuums with an equal amount of versatility in the house. Our pick for best wet/dry vacuum for professional use, however, comes built to handle any mess you throw its way.
The Shop-Vac brand has single-handedly claimed the wet/dry vacuum market and in many ways has defined shop vacuums. Their stainless steel canister model, the 5989400, comes equipped with a 6 horsepower motor and can be adjusted for a variety of cleaning solutions. Larger debris and dirt won’t require bags. Simply turn on the vacuum, clean, and dump out the canister afterward. For fine dirt and debris, bags can be attached to supplement the filtration system, and a tank drain for wet messes allows for easy waste disposal without having to lift or tip the heavy canister.
This Shop-Vac is short and stout, and while the attached dolly makes maneuvering the product around easier, using this product over a long period might cause some lower back pain. In addition, while the 18-foot cord is considered long by home standards, when you’re dealing with a warehouse or tool shed, you might need to pull out the extension cord with each use.
We think the Shop-Vac 5989400 is a great wet/dry vacuum for commercial use and comes with all the nozzles and tools you’ll need to pick up just about everything. Wet/dry vacuums are also far more versatile than some of our other options, so if an all-in-one product is something you need for your business, keep in mind the potential advantages of a wet/dry vacuum alongside the other categories.
35ft cord | Bagged | Inner bag with Saniseal® automatic closing seal Filtration | 8.2 lbs | X Hose | ✓ Brush Roll | Upright
This bagged upright vacuum is the perfect solution for hotels, carpeted rooms, and any rugs that need a deep cleaning. You won’t get much use out of the product when it comes to hardwood flooring, but if a powerful brush roll is what you’re aiming for, it doesn’t get much better than this.
- Powerful brush roll is great for carpets
- Low profile helps to get under furniture
- Sturdy and intuitive design
- Can damage some hardwood flooring
- No attachments and limited adjustability
- Can struggle on pet hair
- 6,500 RPM motorized brush roll
- Automatic floor adjustment
- Attachments: N/A
- Warranty: 1-year limited
If this Oreck Commercial XL200RHS vacuum cleaner looks familiar to you, we wouldn’t be surprised. Oreck’s bagged upright vacuums have been a staple in many hotel rooms for their durability and quality. The Oreck Commercial XL200RHS is the latest in a long line of bagged uprights from the company. Using a top-loading bag system, this vacuum can quickly swap bags and keep running with little adjustments needed.
Carpeted floors are the main focus of this Oreck upright. With a 6,500 RPM motorized brush roll, this small but powerful vacuum promises to pick up just about anything from low and medium pile carpeting. While this brush roll is certainly powerful, it does need to be wielded responsibly. Since the Oreck focuses on carpeting, the brush roll won’t turn off. Any work environment with hardwood floors needs to be careful to keep this product off of them, as the high-velocity bristles in the roll can damage flooring.
Oreck also fails to give any attachments or real adjustability to this vacuum, but for the price and the overall value of the product, we think the Oreck Commercial XL200RHS goes above and beyond what it sets out to do.
33ft cord | Bagged | Washable Cloth Filtration | 8.3 lbs | 6 ft. Hose | X Brush Roll | Canister
Hoover CH30000 PortaPower is a commercial solution to the unwieldy nature of canister vacuums. Boasting lots of helpful attachments and coming in well under 10 pounds, this commercial canister is great for aisles, hard-to-reach places, and smaller shops.
- Include strap, helpful for quick portability
- Small frame and weight makes long-term use more comfortable
- Lots of attachments aid versatility
- Struggles on carpets and rugs
- Small size means more stopping to empty the canister
- Weak overall suction power
- Built-in blower
- Cloth bag compatible for sharp debris
- Attachments: Extension wand, 2 floor nozzles, crevice tool, upholstery tool, brush tool
- Warranty: 2-year limited
Canister vacuums are often too bulky to be carried around for work-related cleaning tasks, but the Hoover CH30000 PortaPower canister keeps a small enough frame to be worn like a messenger bag. This Hoover model is a small canister vacuum that comes with many attachments and lots of versatility. You can easily walk around most storefronts with the 33-foot cord without having to find another outlet, and with the built-in blower, cleaning out dirt and debris is a literal breeze.
With far enough reach, this vacuum is perfect for work sites that will require cleaning of both flooring and crevices. Like a few of the other products on our list, carpeted floors can be a problem, and the small canister size often means that you’ll be swapping out bags more often than you’d like. Still, this canister vacuum overs an easy way for small business owners specifically to manage their storefronts and clean both floors and furniture without needing a second vacuum. By walking the line between a canister and a handheld vacuum, this Hoover product proves worthy of the name and ready to tackle any mess.
As you can see from our above picks, not all professional vacuums are created equally. These four vacuums are specialized for a specific type of cleaning job or environment. They also skip the aesthetics and design choices of modern vacuum cleaners and stick with the basics: steel, plastic, and other metal.
The best professional vacuums are built for hard use and aren’t afraid to take a bit of a beating as the years go on. You’ll want to pay attention to warranty information as well, since many of the above companies are more than willing to repair their products in exchange for a little bit of brand loyalty.
Consider the following and think about your place of work before purchasing a professional vacuum cleaner:
All-In-One or Niche Design
While an all-in-one vacuum cleaner might sound better on paper, the niche design choices on professional vacuum cleaners work to the benefit of the consumer. By picking the right vacuum type to match your storefront, office, or warehouse, you’ll be best suited to tackle the job at hand. Backpack vacuum cleaners are best for larger workplaces that use either hard flooring or low-pile carpeting. They typically come with lengthy cords and large canisters to keep from constant adjustment and are often quiet enough to be used during working hours.
Wet/dry vacuums, or shop vacuums, are the product you’ll want to go for if your workplace is messy. Dirt, sawdust, water damage, and similar messes are best served by the larger canister, dolly design, and wet/dry versatility of one of these vacuums.
Upright vacuums are usually best for carpeted floors and are designed with maneuverability and brush rolls in mind. These are good for workplaces that have lots of carpets or need a quick, deep clean for incoming customers and guests.
Finally, canister vacuum cleaners are helpful for reaching the floor as well as other locations in your workplace. Their accessories make them prime for floor-to-ceiling cleaning, but a bit of a bulky design means you’ll want a smaller workspace to maneuver around in.
Ergonomics and Power
Since commercial vacuum cleaners are often used daily and for hours at a time, aesthetic features are circumvented for the only two components that matter: ergonomics and power.
The ergonomics of a machine, especially when it comes to wearable vacuums like the ProTeam Super CoachVac or Hoover CH30000, allow a user to clean without risking damage to their back or shoulders. Smaller workspaces can take advantage of the versatility of a hose-based vacuum like a wet/dry or canister model, but bigger places need something that will work as hard as their users do.
Suction power, warranty information, and long-term use and value are vital to picking a product that will reward you for years to come. All of our above picks are sturdy enough for commercial use, but be sure to do your research to make sure your vacuum can stand the test of time—without breaking your back.
You’ll also notice that— except for the wet/dry vacuum— all of these vacuums utilize bags.
Bagless vacuums have gained considerable popularity for use in the home since operating costs are cut significantly by reusable bins. Emptying a bin on a bagless vacuum can be a time-consuming and messy experience, though, which doesn’t appeal to the needs of most commercial settings.
With a bagged vacuum, users and employees can pick up the mess, throw away the bag, and keep moving. No time is wasted trying to pick out hidden debris in a bin, and the vacuum is primed for use for the next person. Even with the wet/dry vacuum, bags are more efficient and often do a better job at getting debris out of the workspace.
Choosing one of the above products as the best professional vacuum cleaner overall is next to impossible. Since our four picks range wildly regarding usage and application, we’ll trust that you’ll look through our Buyer’s Guide and pick out the best commercial vacuum that’s right for you.
Regardless of which type of vacuum you choose, remember that home-centric vacuums often aren’t built for the repetitive and hard use that you’ll be putting a vacuum through in the workplace. Be sure to look into your prospective products and make sure that they’re ready for the task ahead. With the right commercial vacuum at your side—literally or figuratively—you’ll be ready to make your workspace safe for your employees and clean for your customers.