If you run a local cleaning business, you know that owning at least one superb vacuum cleaner is essential.
But if you are just starting out, you may want recommendations. Or perhaps you’re a small operation. You may be realizing a residential vacuum isn’t cutting it.
Switching to a commercial vacuum cleaner can radically improve the quality of your work and productivity. And increased productivity boosts your bottom line.
Here’s a detailed look at how commercial vacuum cleaners are vital for professional cleaners of all kinds. You’ll also learn what makes them different from residential-grade vacuums.
Want to know what to look for in a commercial vacuum cleaner? Look over our handy checklist. Once you understand what you need, review our recommendations for the six best commercial vacuum cleaners. Use these selections to find the best model for your cleaning business.
The Difference Between a Commercial-Grade Vacuum Cleaner and Home Vacuum Cleaner
You might wonder how commercial vacuum cleaners differ from home models. Why not just save money and buy a regular home version, right?
Not so fast. Commercial-grade vacuums are a different product. It’s like comparing a dishwasher you might run every few days in your home kitchen to one for a restaurant. The restaurant dishwasher is going to take a lot more abuse.
If you run a cleaning business, the differences can be substantial. Below are a few to consider:
When you operate a vacuum cleaner for your livelihood, you need it to withstand daily wear and tear. That’s why commercial vacuum cleaners are made for heavy-duty use.
Commercial vacuums feature more durable exteriors. They are also built with industrial parts to withstand daily use.
The heavy-duty intention is vital when your income depends on your vacuum working properly. You can’t afford to have your vacuum cleaner conk out in the middle of a job. That could cost you a client or earn you a bad online review.
These vacuums hold more debris, so you don’t have to empty them as often. They also have a much larger interface with the floor.
More contact allows professional cleaners to cover larger areas with fewer passes. This lets you fit more appointments into every day.
Commercial-grade vacuum cleaners are designed with pros in mind.
The cords are longer for larger rooms. You’ll spend less time unplugging and replugging, too. Another gain for efficiency.
The handles are more ergonomic, and some are designed as backpacks. That’s important if you’re holding one for hours at a time. You don’t want you or your employees to be unable to work because of repetitive use injuries.
One study showed that at least one-third of janitors found their work equipment “poor” or “fair.” Equipment slowed them down or made the job harder. Working harder can contribute to injuries.
You can read about more features in detail below. But rest assured that commercial vacuums are constructed for maximum use, comfort, and convenience.
What to Look for in a Commercial Vacuum Cleaner
Now you know a little more about commercial vacuum cleaners. Ready to purchase one? Here’s what to think about when you’re shopping:
Portability and maneuverability
When purchasing a commercial vacuum, the first question is: Who will use it and where? The answer determines other factors, like size and weight.
Maybe a small person will use the vacuum, or you must climb many stairs. You probably want something that’s not too heavy. And maneuverability is key if you need to go around a lot of furniture.
Other features, like angle adjustment and handle controls, are also important. When you walk through a typical workday, what makes sense for your business?
Commercial-level vacuums come in a variety of styles. Which one is best suited to the kind of cleaning you do?
Upright: This is a more heavy-duty version of the classic home vacuum. It’s fairly self-contained and fits easily in a closet or vehicle.
Stick: A subcategory of uprights, this vacuum is slim and lightweight. Stick vacuums are cordless and must be charged between uses, which has pros and cons. But they’re ideal for tight spaces and limiting weight.
Canister: Similar to a shop vac, it has a canister on wheels with a long hose that provides suction on the end.
Backpack: Like a canister vac, but you wear the collection receptacle on your back for ultra-portability. If you ever have to climb a ladder to clean, it might be for you.
Wet/dry: These can handle both wet and dry material. This type overlaps with other vacuum styles, like canister vacuums.
Floor sweepers: Picture quasi-vacuums that look similar to lawnmowers for picking up dirt and crumbs. They come in push and self-propelled versions.
Handheld: Sometimes called “dust busters,” these are tiny vacuums for small spills. They are also popular for cleaning drapes, upholstery, and high spaces.
Depending on your business, you might find that owning several styles of commercial vacuum cleaners is best.
For example, an upright is great for homes and small offices. But a floor sweeper is what you need to cover a hotel ballroom or apartment lobby.
A wet/dry vac might be perfect for indoor and outdoor use. This is a popular option when combined with a backpack style for cleaning gutters.
Intended uses and surfaces
Your intention for use will additionally affect other criteria. Ask yourself these questions:
- Will I be vacuuming both hard floors and carpets? If so, do I need to think about varying carpet heights?
- Do I vacuum drapery, upholstery, or ceilings and moldings?
- What kind of attachments and what length hose will I need?
- What volume capacity do I need for dirt and debris collection?
- What about outside surfaces?
- Do I need a vacuum that can handle wet material?
- What is my biggest challenge when vacuuming at present?
Not having enough suction power can mean missing dirty spots. You may also have to make extra passes when vacuuming. This reduces your quality and efficiency.
Look for a vacuum that offers powerful suction even when working on deep pile carpets and corners or crevices.
Suction usually falls between 250 and 450 watts. Look for something on the upper end of that spectrum. If shopping in person, ask for a demo to see the machine’s suction in action.
Think about the type of debris you most often pick up. For instance, if you clean a motel by the beach, you want something that can handle sand. Restaurant debris is chunkier, like bits of food. Make sure your chosen vacuum can get it all.
Type and level of filtration
Commercial vacuums today typically come with a variety of filtration methods. Some have multiple filtration systems for extra protection.
Many professional cleaners opt for a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing/arresting) filter. This helps catch smaller particles rather than move them around in the air. HEPA filters are ideal to reduce allergies and asthma.
A noisy vacuum is an issue for both operators and people in the environment. Ideally, you don’t want to wear earplugs when vacuuming. And you don’t want clients complaining about the noise you make when cleaning.
Try to balance efficiency with noise. If you work in an office building after hours, it’s probably not a big deal. But if you clean hotels or apartments, look for quieter models that still provide superior suction.
Commercial vacuums have many features that might make one model more or less attractive to you. These include:
- Extra long cords with holders/retractors
- Cordless power
- Power usage and outlet requirements
- Extra long or telescoping hoses
- Special attachments
- Washable filters
- Easy-open or bagless canisters
- UV (ultraviolet) cleaning for germs
- Built-in magnet for metal items
Those extras may come with a price, but you might make up for it with a few cleaning jobs. The added efficiency of the right commercial vacuum cleaner pays for itself quickly.
Some tips for getting the best price:
- Shop online and in person.
- Wait for vacuum sales.
- Consider last year’s models.
- Buy multiple vacs at once.
Durability and warranty
A good commercial vacuum should last you at least five years. You may get 10 or more years from the best models.
When shopping for a commercial vacuum, read reviews carefully regarding durability.
Think about users. Will it just be you? A small team? Or multiple cleaners, many of whom might be rough on your equipment?
Having a solid warranty is critical. Understand what’s covered and what’s not, in case you need repairs or a replacement.
The Top 6 Commercial Vacuum Cleaners
When you begin shopping for commercial vacuum cleaners, you’ll see how many are on the market. Feeling overwhelmed by the selection? Here are six models of different types we recommend:
Uprights are always popular for their agility and ease of use. This Oreck model shows up on virtually everyone’s list of top commercial vacuum cleaners.
It’s very lightweight at 9 pounds. Yet this Oreck vacuum sacrifices nothing when it comes to suction power.
Users love how easy it is to navigate around furniture. Height adjustment is automatic when moving from floors to carpeting. Also, the cord is 35 feet long, which makes use even simpler.
It does use a bag, but it offers a large capacity for collecting dust and dirt.
- Ultra-fast roller brush
- Side brushes
- Non-marring bumpers
- Handle that eliminates strain
It retails between $170 and $220, depending on when and where you buy it.
The Oreck Commercial XL Upright is ideal for cleaning homes, hotel rooms, retail outlets, and crowded office spaces.
This durable yet lightweight Bissell is another model often chosen by professional cleaners.
This model comes in at just over 11 pounds.
Rather than using a bag that must be replaced, this vacuum collects dirt in a dustbin that holds four quarts of debris. The dustbin can be washed whenever it needs cleaning.
It has 30-foot cord that can be replaced without rewiring, which is a huge bonus.
Height adjustment for the Bissell Commercial ProCup Upright Vacuum is manual with five settings.
Unlike the Oreck described above, this vacuum provides attachments:
- crevice tool
- dusting brush
- extension wand
This Bissell is affordable at under $200.
If your commercial cleaning duties don’t involve a ton of vacuuming, this model might be right for you.
Excellent for small, quick jobs, this vac weighs only 5 pounds.
It’s a cordless 2-in-1 device that gives you both a stick vac and a handheld.
A 22.2-volt removable lithium battery provides the Bissell BigGreen 45 minutes of cleaning on a full charge.
There’s no bag to empty. The handheld vac functions as a receptacle.
Users get two-speed options with LED light indicators. Remove the handheld when you want to pick up a spill quickly, or give furniture a once-over.
Typically found for under $150, it won’t break the bank.
This model won’t be powerful or last long enough for a day of vacuuming. But it’s ideal for supplementing other services or even cleaning your own business vehicle.
Hoover Commercial PortaPOWER Lightweight Vacuum Cleaner
Looking for a lightweight canister vacuum? The Hoover PortaPOWER might be right up your alley.
At only 8.3 pounds, you can carry this model in your hand or use the included shoulder strap. There are no wheels, however.
Users appreciate the cord that reaches 35.5 feet and comes with a bundling strap. You can collect debris in either disposable paper bags or reusable cloth bags.
What many professional cleaners like most about this model is the variety of attachments:
- Rug and floor nozzle
- Furniture nozzle
- Crevice tool
- Dusting brush
- Two metal wands
- Stretch hose
You can usually find it for less than $200.
The versatility of this model makes it perfect for many types of cleaning jobs.
Hoover Commercial Shoulder Vac Pro Backpack Vacuum
If you want a portable vacuum but seek an alternative to canister styles, how about a backpack vacuum?
You get the best of both worlds with this model, which combines great suction with a light weight of 9.2 pounds.
It’s easy to maneuver. The backpack canister is carried over the shoulders with a chiropractor-designed harness.
Users also rave about its HEPA filter and extra-long, quick-change cord. This model also excels on hard floors.
At over $300, the Hoover Commercial Shoulder Vac Pro Backpack Vacuum is a bit of an investment.
This Hoover is ideal for use in schools, healthcare settings, and other locations without carpet.
Vacmaster Professional Beast Series 14-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum
The Vacmaster Pro can easily handle the messiest—and wettest—jobs. An extra large capacity tank makes even the biggest jobs a breeze.
The stainless steel construction that makes it so durable also makes it pretty hefty at 31 pounds. However, the padded push handle and large rear wheels make moving it easy.
A 14-gallon capacity holds a lot of wet or dry debris. The 6.5 peak HP motor makes sure it has great suction.
The blower function is also terrific for cleaning gutters and outdoor spaces.
It also includes:
- 20-foot power cord
- On-board hose, cord, and accessory storage
- Two extension wands
- Utility nozzle
- Crevice tool
- Floor brush and squeegee nozzle
- Air/noise diffuser
- Fine dust and foam wet filters
- Non-marring wheels and locking casters
Super durable and versatile, the Vacmaster Professional Beast is surprisingly affordable. It rings in at just $230.
If you clean up construction sites or outdoor/wet environments, this may be your solution.