In a Sea of Shark Vacuums, These 6 Are the Best
Sucking up everything from pet hair to spills.
Published Sep 14, 2022 5:25 PM
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Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
While some might enjoy vacuuming, for the rest of us it’s an actual chore that has to be done, and with not much fanfare. The reality, though, is that vacuuming is necessary (especially when there are crumb-dropping, fur-shedding creatures in the house). So the vacuum has to be worth the effort: smartly designed, easy to handle, easy to clean, and actually good at, well, sucking.
Shark has been around since 1995, and over the years it has gained a following for its impressive variety of vacuums and the fact that they consistently perform well in product tests. But which Shark vacuum is the best? Well, that of course depends on what you need yours to do. Here, we’re breaking things down and adding more as we test each one. Read on for which Shark vacuum best suits your home and cleaning goals.
- Best overall: Navigator Lift Away
- Best for pet hair: UltraCyclone Pet Pro
- Best canister: CZ2001 Vertex Canister
- Best value: S2 Navigator Lift-Away Upright Vacuum
- Best wet vac: HydroVac Cordless Pro XL
- Best robot: AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Self-Empty XL
Best Overall: Navigator Lift Away
Surface: Carpet, hard floors, upholstery | Filter type: Foam | Weight: 12.5 pounds
What we like:
- Swivels easily
- Can be hard to balance because of canister size
Why we chose it: An economical vacuum that doesn’t have bells and whistles but does its job well.
When our product tester first reviewed the Shark Navigator Lift Away, he liked that it was a budget option that effectively does its job. It’s easy to navigate around furniture on both carpet and hard floors, and, despite its strength, it’s easy to carry around. It’s also worth noting that the filters are washable and HEPA rated, and help to minimize allergies.
Samantha Weiss-Hills, Domino’s deputy commerce editor, has also owned this vacuum. She found that it was great for small spaces, could powerfully suck up pet hair, and was easy to clean out. It can be quickly configured at various connection points, so taking the canister off the apparatus and reaching the ceiling or vacuuming blinds is supereasy.
Best for Pet Hair: UltraCyclone Pet Pro
Surface: Carpet, hard floors | Filter type: Fabric | Weight: 2.8 pounds
What we like:
- Pet hair doesn’t get wrapped around the brush
- Brush attachment
- Battery dies quickly
Why we chose it: This one swiftly sucks up pet hair.
Our product tester found that the Shark UltraCyclone PetPro cordless is a wiz at sucking up pet hair without it getting tangled around the brush. The Pet Power brush attachment is motorized and self-cleaning, which makes the lives of pet owners much easier. It also has a washable filter and extra-large dust bin. Other attachments included were found to be great for cleaning grout and ground-in dirt. It should be noted, though, that the battery life for this petite vacuum is quite short, about 10 minutes. If you need a cordless vacuum on hand to get stray crumbs, and you happen to have a pet that drops the occasional clump of fur, this vacuum is a no brainer.
Best Canister: CZ2001 Vertex Canister
Surface: Carpet, hard floors, upholstery | Filter type: HEPA, foam, felt | Weight: 17.8 pounds
What we like:
- LED headlight
- Speed settings are on handle
- Flexible wand
- Wand is heavy
Why we chose it: An effective canister with handy design features.
In our story on the best canister vacuums, we found that the Shark Vertex Canister has tons of smart details—and actually puts them to good use. The canister only weighs 9 pounds, so it’s easy to move around the house, and the LED headlamp helps illuminate dust. What’s especially cool about this vacuum is that the on/off button is on the handle, which also has buttons that allow you to switch up which surface you’re trying to vacuum. That way, you can stay in the flow as you work.
Surface: Carpet, hard floors | Filter type: Foam | Weight: 13.7 pounds
What we like:
- Floor-head strikes balance between gentle and strong
- HEPA filter
- Cord doesn’t retract automatically
Why we chose it: Well rounded for the price.
The Shark S2 Navigator Lift-Away is a champ at sucking up debris on both hardwood floors and carpet. It’s not cordless, but our product tester found that the 30-foot-long cord provided enough room to go the distance (and then you don’t have to worry about the vacuum dying on you mid-cleaning session). It’s not only great for floors. We found that it works brilliantly on blinds, stairs, curtains, and shelves. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, if you ask us.
Best Wet Vac: HydroVac Cordless Pro XL
Surface: Carpet, hard floors | Filter type: Foam | Weight: 8.46 pounds
What we like:
- Mops hardwood or tile and sucks up debris at the same time
- Easy to assemble
- Easy to clean the reservoir
- Can only use when there’s liquid in the reservoir
Why we chose it: This one leaves your home’s floors feeling refreshed.
If you think vacuuming is bad, then you might think that mopping is even worse. Who wants to schlep a bucket of water around the house? Shark’s HydroVac makes it easy to clean floors (splashed milk was mopped up in seconds) and nab debris at the same time. Our tester loved using it in her bathroom and kitchen; a quick walk-through left floors—hardwood and tile—looking rather shiny. The vacuum is cordless, but note that it does need to be charged on a charging dock, which takes up a bit of space.
This vacuum can only be used when there’s liquid in the reservoir (it will not run without; our tester tried), so it might not make sense if you have limited space and don’t always need your floors to be mopped. If you do have space, though, this is a great bonus vacuum that’ll make your floors sparkle in a cinch.
Best Robot: AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Self-Empty XL
Surface: Carpet, hard floors | Filter type: Nonwashable filter | Weight: 15 pounds
What we like:
- Hands-off cleaning experience
- Controlled by an app
- Takes time to set up
- Needs space around the charging dock
Why we chose it: A vacuum that cleans for us? Yes, please.
Robot vacuums have come a long way, and the newest Shark model is seriously impressive. It’s easy to assemble out of the box (you just snap together a couple of pieces and attach the brushes) and then charge it on the dock. It does take a bit of time to set up—you need to first make sure it can live in an area of your home with plenty of space for it to leave the dock, and then you need to have it create a map of your home. This part takes a while (it took our tester two rounds to perfectly nail the map of her open-concept ’70s house), but once it’s complete, the robot just does its thing.
This little guy is powerful and easily whisks up dirt and other schmutz. While you’ll want to make sure that the floor is free of cords, it does back away from objects, like toys, in its path. You can also mark off “no-go” zones if you absolutely do not want the robot near, say, an air vent or gaggle of guitars. When it’s done cleaning, the vacuum goes back to its dock and empties the dust into the bin, which holds several days’ worth of dust, all by itself. For people who don’t want to drag a vacuum around the house and would rather have a robot do it for them (even with minor setbacks, like not getting debris along the edge of the wall), then this is a great investment. It won’t take care of every nook, but if you run it every day or so, it’ll keep your home looking neater in between deep cleans.
How We Chose These Products
Shark products frequently top best-of lists when it comes to vacuums. They’re known for being sturdy, reliable, and simply great at doing the job that’s asked of them. For this list, we turned to previous reviews conducted by product testers and tapped an expert to share some insight about how to maximize cleaning. We’ll continue to add to this story as we test through the suite of Shark vacuums.
Our Shopping Checklist
Suction is the power of the airflow. You can get a sense of this by looking at the watts of a vacuum’s motor (for example, the Shark Cordless Pet Pro+ has 80 watts), but suction power isn’t everything. It’s also about which attachments you use, says Danielle Lessing, senior vice president of global product development at SharkNinja. When cleaning bare floors, for example, a soft brush roll will get those large particles and small crumbs. You’ll use a different brush roll on carpet, which will nab deeply embedded dirt.
Size and Weight
If you’re tight on storage space, then you’ll definitely want to check the dimensions of your vacuum. A larger vacuum can hold more debris, of course, but it’s going to take up more room. Similarly, if you’re dealing with stairs or other limitations that might make schlepping a heavy vacuum difficult, you’ll want to pay attention to the weight of the vacuum (though the average weight is 13 to 18 pounds).
Cord vs. Cordless
When it comes to choosing between a corded or cordless vacuum cleaner, you need to consider what you want out of your vacuum and its run time, weight, and functionality, says Lessing. Cordless vacuums tend to be lighter in weight and are portable, but have less run time. A corded vacuum has no limit on run time and can powerfully clean a whole house—but it’s heavier.
Attachments and Accessories
What’s an appliance without an accessory? While most Shark vacuums are the total package already, you might want to consider adding on attachments and accessories based on your needs. The type of accessory will vary based on the vacuum. “Consumers with a Shark WandVac Cordless Handheld can purchase additional attachments like a crevice tool or accessory storage,” says Lessing. She also suggests considering additional replacement parts such as filters and odor-neutralizer cartridges.
Q: How do I clean a Shark vacuum filter?
It’s important to regularly rinse and replace your filters, says Lessing. Be mindful that some filters should be washed using water only, and all filters should air-dry for up to 48 hours before reinstalling them to prevent liquid from being drawn into electric parts. Of course, read your vacuum’s instruction manual for specifics.
Q: How do I take a Shark vacuum apart?
How you take your Shark vacuum apart will depend on the specific model. But, Lessing points out, there are always obvious and “intuitive” touch points. For those of us who don’t want to empty bins after each use, Lessing suggests checking out the Shark AI Ultra Robot Self-Empty XL, which holds about 60 days’ worth of dirt and debris.
Q: How do I choose which vacuum is right for me?
We know, there are so many options (and we’re only talking about one brand!). Start by thinking about your immediate needs. Are you just trying to catch a few crumbs in the kitchen? Or maybe you need a workhorse that can clean the whole house. Also, consider your space situation—cordless vacuums, for example, are great all-purpose vacuums but take up less room than their canister counterparts.
The Last Word
The world of vacuums is wide, but Shark chomps most of its competition by offering reliable and durable cleaning devices at good prices. While the best vacuum for you depends on your needs, our pick for best overall Shark vacuum is the Shark Navigator Lift Away because it is powerful but light (and affordable, to boot).