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Commercial Vacuum Cleaners Buying Guide

Whether you run a hotel, a janitorial service, or a restaurant of any size, there is one piece of cleaning equipment that you can’t do without: a vacuum cleaner. By choosing the best vacuum for your application, you can keep your floors sparkling, create an efficient cleaning system, and ensure the safety of employees and customers so your business will always leave a positive impression.

What Makes a Vacuum Cleaner Commercial Grade?


While home vacuum cleaners do the job when used infrequently, a commercial grade vacuum is generally more durable, powerful, and built for continuous use. Where a residential unit would wear out quickly in a professional cleaning application, commercial vacuums are intended for heavy use and last longer.

Plus, most commercial units will come with a commercial power cord which is helpful for keeping your business within safety guidelines.

Types of Vacuum Cleaners

Upright Vacuum

With a powered cleaning head, a bag or canister on the handle, and a long power cord, upright vacuum cleaners are great for general purpose cleaning in hotel rooms, offices, and open restaurant areas.

The self-contained design is ideal for applications where your cleaning crew will be going from one area to another since they only need to roll the vacuum cleaner to the next room and plug it in. With this style, there is no need to wrangle a separate canister or unwieldy hose. Plus, many upright vacuum cleaners will fit on housekeeping carts so that they can easily be transported with the rest of your hotel cleaning supplies.

Canister Vacuum

A canister vacuum has a cleaning head which is attached to the dirt bag and motor by a rigid wand and a long, flexible hose. The vacuum head is much lighter and more maneuverable than an upright vacuum cleaner since you don’t need to move the canister with every pass. Also, canister vacuums in general tend to be quieter than other styles.

Since they have smaller and more maneuverable cleaning heads, canister vacuums are perfect for cleaning under furniture and are easier to handle when vacuuming staircases. Though storing the hose and wand along with the canister may take up more space, the convenience of using a canister vacuum may outweigh storage concerns when you need to clean under chairs and tables in a restaurant setting.

Wide Area Vacuum
Wide Area

Basically an upright vacuum cleaner on steroids, a wide area vacuum offers the ability to clean much more floor space in a single pass. Plus an extra long power cord, like the Hoover CH8600 Ground Command's 75' power cord, means that you can clean large open rooms.

Often used in auditoriums, banquet halls, and large event venues that don’t have permanent furnishings, wide area vacuums are the perfect choice if you have wide open floors that must be cleaned on a regular basis.

Backpack Vacuum

Designed to be lightweight and easy to carry, backpack vacuums make it easy for employees to continuously clean for long periods of time. Most models come with ergonomic pads and back supports for employee safety, plus they are light enough for people of various statures to use. Since employees wear this type of vacuum just like a backpack, it keeps their hands free to manage the wand and power cord or to move furniture out of the way.

Some backpack vacuum cleaners also have a feature that allows users to switch the unit from a vacuum cleaner to a blower as needed. Offering convenience, maneuverability, versatility, and the added benefit of being lightweight, backpack vacuums are great not only for janitorial services but also for industrial cleaning applications.

Handheld Vacuum

If you need a small vacuum to clean stairs, drapes, or upholstery in restaurant, hotel, or office settings, a handheld portable vacuum cleaner is a great choice! Small and lightweight, these vacuums are easy to carry from one task to the next.

For example, the Hoover CH30000 PortaPower weighs only 8.3 lb. and is perfect for above-the-floor cleaning of upholstery, molding, or window treatments. Though not a good option for cleaning large areas, portable vacuums do work well for quick cleanups and spot cleaning in between regular vacuuming.

Wet / Dry Vac
Wet / Dry

These specialized machines can sweep up any type of mess, from dust and debris at construction sites to liquids from a flood or accidental spill. A must-have for professional cleaning services, wet / dry vacs are the perfect tools for cleaning up after a renovation or a natural disaster. After a storm or burst water pipe, wet / dry vacuum cleaners can eliminate much of the mop and bucket work to make cleanup go faster.

Many wet / dry vacuums tend to be louder than other varieties, so consider the decibel level of each unit before purchasing and be prepared with ear protection for your employees. Another specialized consideration for wet / dry vacuums is the method of emptying. Look for a unit that comes with a drain valve or drain hose, like the ProTeam 107130 15 Gallon ProGuard, for easy emptying when you are cleaning up wet messes.

Bagged vs. Bagless

When considering whether your business should go bagless, here are some things to think about. First, while it is true that eliminating disposable vacuum bags can reduce expenses, bagless units do have additional filters that will need to be cleaned and replaced every so often. Second, emptying a bagless vacuum cleaner can be a dusty job so you’ll want workers to be aware that this might cause symptoms in those with allergies or asthma. On the other hand, a bagged vacuum cleaner ensures that most of the dust and debris will stay inside the bag for disposal.

  • Dirt and dust stay contained when the bag is removed
  • Reduced frequency of filter maintenance
  • Cost of bags
  • Less eco-friendly
  • Possible downtime if you run out of bags
  • No cost of bags
  • Less waste since there’s no bag to throw away
  • Additional filters that will need to be cleaned and replaced periodically
  • Emptying canisters may cause symptoms in those with allergies or asthma


HEPA Filter

What is HEPA?

An acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air or High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance, HEPA refers to filters that have been tested and certified to remove a high percentage of microscopic particulates and meet certain other standards.

While HEPA filters are used in a variety of applications, like the automotive industry and HVAC systems, using HEPA filtration in vacuum cleaners produces cleaner air and helps to contain pollen, dust, and other common triggers of allergy and asthma symptoms so that they aren’t kicked up into the air during cleaning.

All vacuum cleaners have some sort of filter but not all are HEPA filters. If you are concerned about allergens in the air you may want to consider purchasing a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filtration.

CRI Certifications


The Carpet and Rug Institute, or CRI, is one of the foremost sources for information about carpet and they lead many initiatives that help to protect air quality and extend carpet’s lifespan. The CRI Seal of Approval program tests carpet cleaning equipment and chemicals to evaluate whether they are effective at removing soil without damaging the carpet itself.

Seeing the CRI logo related to a vacuum cleaner means that the unit complies with the Carpet and Rug Institute’s performance standards for proper soil removal, dust containment, and carpet texture protection. By using a CRI approved vacuum cleaner in your business, you’ll ensure better air quality and longer carpet life.



Hard floor option

If you’re going to be cleaning a lot of hard floors, be sure to choose a vacuum cleaner that is equipped to handle them. Many upright vacuum cleaners will do well on either carpet or hard floors, but some canister vacuum cleaners may need a special cleaning head to clean hard floors. Also, some other types of vacuums will not perform efficiently on hard surfaces.

Edge cleaning

Some upright models feature extra brushes along the right and left edges of the power head. These allow better cleaning along walls and baseboards.

Height adjustment

If you will be using your new vacuum cleaner for more than one type of floor surface, consider the type of height adjustment when making a purchase. Some units need to be manually adjusted in between cleaning carpets with thicker and shorter piles. Others will adjust automatically so that you can go from thick carpet to a hard floor without skipping a beat.

Roller brush type

Also called a brushroll, the type of roller should be considered when buying a vacuum cleaner. Some brushes are powered by the motor, while others are powered merely by suction. Some may be turned on and off, while others have power level settings. Being able to turn the brush on and off is ideal when cleaning hard floors since a powered brush can scatter dirt on these surfaces.

Easy-to-use on/off

It might seem like a simple thing, but if your employees are going to use a vacuum cleaner for several hours a day then the location of the power switch is pretty important. For continuous use, having an easy-to-use on/off switch right at your fingertips is a must.

Hose diameter

Most of the commercial vacuums that you see will have a hose diameter listed. In general, these fall somewhere between 1 1/4" and 2". What difference does less than an inch make? Well, while a narrower hose can be easier to store, the smaller diameter of a 1 1/4" hose won’t be able to handle as much debris as a 1 1/2" or 1 3/4" hose. If you are going to do light cleaning in a hotel, the 1 1/4" hose may be just what you need, but heavy-duty cleanup after renovation or construction projects is a job for a larger hose.


Will you be working in very large rooms or in old buildings where power outlets are few and far between? If so, consider the length of the power cord when choosing a vacuum cleaner for your business. In many applications, like hotel suites or business offices, the standard 35' or 40' cord may be adequate. If you are going to be cleaning large rooms where outlets are scarce, consider a unit with a longer 50' power cord so that you can reach a larger area without needing to find another power source.

For applications where you don’t have easy access to any electrical outlets or don't want to bother with power cords, consider a cordless vacuum. The Hoover CH20110 11" Task Vac, for example, uses a rechargeable battery system instead of an unwieldy cord to power the brushroll and collect dirt.


Bag / canister capacity

Compare the capacities of the vacuums you are looking at to see which will hold more dirt before needing to be emptied. Those with smaller capacities will need to be emptied more often, which can run into downtime and extra labor expenses. Plus, if you opt for a bagged model, then a smaller capacity would mean purchasing bags more often.


In general, it’s hard to go wrong with a lightweight vacuum cleaner. This is especially important, though, if you’re planning to use your vacuum in multi-story buildings, for cleaning stairs, or as an accessory on a housekeeping cart. Not only will the lighter weight reduce strain on your staff but a lighter vacuum is easier to maneuver, lift, and store.

Noise level

If you are going to be cleaning in areas where people are working or relaxing, like office spaces or hotels, you may want an especially quiet vacuum cleaner. Some units, like the ProTeam 107152 10 Qt. QuietPro canister vacuum, operate with sound levels below 55 dB which is in the same range as most normal conversations. At the same time, other models like Hoover’s C-1660-900 Hush 15" bagless upright vacuum cleaner offer several different power settings that allow for quiet, normal, and more powerful cleaning.

Tools and Attachments

If you only need a vacuum cleaner to perform the most basic tasks, buying a unit without the additional attachments and tools may be a good way for you to come in on budget. But if you need your vacuum cleaner to arrive ready for anything then choosing a unit with the right attachment kit is a convenient option. If you decide later to add the complete attachment kit to your vacuum cleaner, our selection includes a wide variety of tool kits. Plus, you can also find just the tool you want rather than buying a complete set of attachments you may never use.

Some common tools and attachments are:

  • Dust brushes: intended for high, detailed, or delicate cleaning
  • Crevice tools: designed to get into hard-to-reach spots like along baseboards
  • Upholstery tools: made to remove dust and allergens from plush furniture
  • Additional wands: help you reach higher spots and behind or under furniture
  • Specialty floor tools: designed for more effective cleaning of carpets or hard floors, or picking up large debris

When purchasing attachments, it is important to be sure that they will fit your machine. If you have a 1 1/4" vacuum hose, you’ll want to make sure the attachments are made to fit a 1 1/4" hose.

Bags and Replacement Parts


The most replaced components of any vacuum cleaner will be the bags and filters used to trap dust. When bags get full they greatly reduce your vacuum’s ability to pick up and contain debris so it’s important to make sure that you always have fresh bags and filters on hand to avoid downtime. Our selection of commercial vacuum bags and filters covers many of the available commercial brands.

After bags and filters, belts are the next component that will often need to be replaced. As with belts on any other type of equipment, vacuum cleaner belts develop wear and tear and can break at the most inconvenient times. To make sure that you aren’t left with a broken belt in the middle of a job, you can take proactive steps by replacing your vacuum cleaner belts at regular intervals or by keeping an extra one with the machine when it is in use.

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