Cleaning a store, hotel or your office requires something more that your regular home vacuum. You need more power. And, something heavy duty. This is where the best commercial vacuum comes in.
These devices may look like your standard upright cleaner. But, they’re meant for frequent heavy duty use. This means you can put them to work for hours at a time without them heating up or breaking down. Plus, you can use them every day.
That’s something businesses need. Otherwise, your customers may get turned off by the untidy environment.
Our Picks: Top Options for Commercial Vacuum Cleaners
For Upright Commerical Vacuums
- Oreck Commercial XL2100RHS – Top Choice for Upright
- ProTeam ProForce 1500XP – High Power, High Capacity; For larger spaces
- Oreck Commercial U2000R-1
For Commercial Canister Vacuums
- Sanitaire SC3683B – Top Choice for Canister
- Hoover CH30000 PortaPower – Lightweight over the shoulder canister
For Commercial Backpack Vacuums
- Hoover Commercial C2401 Shoulder Vac Pro – Top Choice for Backpack
- ProTeam Super CoachVac – High Power, High Capacity; For large spaces
What Is a Commercial Vacuum?
Commercial vacuum cleaners may look similar to the one you use at home. They are different though. These machines come with a few extra modifications that make them ideal for heavy duty cleaning.
Commercial vacuums are designed to pack more power, they’re also made to be more durable. This allows then to run continuously without getting hot. It also lets you use them frequently without breaking down. This is something that’s not recommended for home vacuums.
One other feature you’ll notice with these appliances is they come with longer commercial power cords.
Categories of Commercial Vacuums
When it comes to commercial vacuums, you’ll often find them in 4 different classes.
- Small area, high traffic vacuums. These look like your regular home upright vacuum. They’re compact, quiet and lightweight. They’re designed as such because they’re used for cleaning public areas during hours of operation. You’ll find them in hotel lobbies, restaurants and many retail & service establishments. What makes them different from residential vacuums is their high cleaning capacity.
- All-around use. These do all the grunt work. They’re capable of handling hard surfaces and carpets. They run a lot often. These vacuums come in many shapes and sizes. One thing they do have in common is they do heavy duty cleaning effectively. These are the devices used by cleaning and janitorial services as well as hotel housekeeping.
- Wide area vacuums. This class of vacuum are what you may call “big boy” upright vacuums. They’re larger, more powerful and have a bigger mouth. They’re ideal for large areas like stadiums and auditoriums. More on them below.
- Wet/Dry Vacuums. These let you clean up liquids as well as large dry objects. They also have much larger capacities. We’ll discuss them more below.
When Do You Need One?
A commercial vacuum is an important piece of cleaning equipment for many businesses. It helps you keep your premises clean and tidy in an efficient manner. This saves you time and effort, which you can use to do something more productive to help your business grow.
Should you get one?
- The answer lies in whether you need to clean large areas or many smaller areas.
- The next question is, will you need to do this regularly.
If your answer to both is yes, then it probably time to invest in a commercial vacuum cleaner.
Here’s a few popular instances where a commercial vacuum is your best option.
- Cleaning service
- Janitorial services
- Office buildings
- Retail establishments
Commercial vs. Home/Residential Vacuum
- Residential vacuums are generally designed to clean small spaces. This includes rooms and living rooms. They’re meant to run for a few minutes at a time about once or twice a week.
- Commercial vacuums are made for heavy duty work. They’re used every day or almost every day. And, for long periods of time each session.
The difference between them is the amount of work and frequency they can handle without getting hot and eventually breaking down. The components used in commercial units allow them to be tougher and more rugged. They’re designed for heavy use and durability.
There’s also the issue of efficiency. When you’re in a commercial setting, you want to be as efficient as possible. Commercial vacuums give you this. After all, time is money.
A simple analogy that shows the difference between residential and commercial vacuums is the weekend warrior vs. the professional athlete. One works out every day making them better them better at their craft. The other, less often, but still very good at what they do.
Types Of Commercial Vacuums
Upright vacuums are a great choice for commercial cleaning. Their design lets you cover a large amount of space with less effort. The pushing motion allows you to use your body instead of your arms. This makes it easier especially if you need to clean many rooms or big areas.
It works very well as a commercial vacuum because uprights are versatile. Many of them are equipped to handle multiple floor types including hardwood, bare floors and carpets.
One other advantage of upright vacuum cleaners when cleaning commercial spaces is they’re easy to push from one location to another. If you use housekeeping carts, many will fit within the cart as well. This beats having to carry a canister and tangle with the hose as you move from room to room.
Canister vacuums have the distinct advantage of a hose and attachment tools. The flexible hose allows them to clean areas above the floor. This makes them efficient for vacuuming tabletops, walls and ceilings.
Many high quality canister vacuums also use a bagged design. This makes them more efficient in keeping dirt particles from escaping back into the air.
Using the canister’s hose to vacuum makes it much lighter and easier than an upright. This slimmer hose and attachments also make them better for cleaning under beds, tables and furniture.
If you do decide to go with a canister model, we do recommend choosing a product that has different floor tools. This lets you handle hard surfaces and carpets.
Wide Area Vacuums
These aren’t as common as upright and canister vacuums because they’re not used in homes. They do work better for large open spaces. Wide area vacuums are upright vacuums with high suction, a larger vacuum head and very long cord.
This makes them ideal when you want to clean a lot of area quickly. Places like warehouses, banquet rooms and auditoriums are some examples where this kind of vacuum cleaner excels.
Many cleaning services use backpack vacuum cleaners because they’re lightweight and more convenient.
These work like school backpacks where you strap on the pack, in this case the vacuum’s body, on your back. Attached to the body is a long hose similar to that of a canister vacuum.
Backpack vacuums are convenient because your hands are free. They’re also easy to carry because our backs are strong and the machine is lightweight.
The advantage of backpack vacuums is that you can clean continuously for long periods. This is because there no re-positioning, moving or pushing involved. The pack moves with your body as you walk from one area to another.
Backpack vacuums often come with a blower feature. This lets you switch from vacuuming to blowing when needed.
For smaller jobs or specific areas that the bigger cleaners aren’t able to clean properly portable vacuums work.
These devices are much smaller than your standard vacuum cleaner. They’re lighter and come with less suction power.
They’re main purpose is portability. This lets you clean many flights of stairs easily. They’re lighter than canisters. And, they’re bigger than handhelds. This makes them more efficient. They also work well for drapes and upholstery.
Shop Vacs or Wet/Dry Vacuums
This type of vacuum is unique in that it doesn’t only handle dry particles but wet ones as well. This ability makes them the best choice if you need to clean larger objects, fluids and food.
They look like large drums with a hose attached to them. You’ll also notice that the hose diameters are bigger than what you’d find in regular canisters. These features allow the device to store a lot of dirt and fluids. It also lets you vacuum big objects.
Almost all professional cleaning services have this. Even if you deal with homes, you’re bound to end up cleaning someone’s garage or toolshed.
Wet/dry vacuums are ideal for garages, workshops, and any area with construction or remodeling.
Bagged vs. Bagless
Besides choosing the kind of vacuum you need, you’ll have to decide whether you want a bagged or bagless vacuum.
- Bagless vacuum cleaners save you money because you don’t need to keep replacing the bags when they get almost full. They do have more filters, some of which aren’t washable or reusable. This means you’ll need to replace them from time to time.
- Emptying bagless vacuums can release dirt and dust back into the surroundings. In addition, the person who’s doing the emptying also breathes in the dust from this.
Here’s a quick comparison between bagged and bagless vacuums.
- Cleaner. Dirt and dust are kept in the bag.
- Disposal is simple and more hygienic. Just throw the bag in the trash.
- Less cleaning and replacing of filters.
- Added cost of replacing vacuum bags
- No need to replace bags. Saves you money
- Additional filter to trap the dirt in the container. These need to be cleaned and replaced.
- Emptying the dirt container can release dirt and dust back into the air.
Choosing a Commercial Vacuum: Buying Guide
1. Suction Power and Performance
Suction power is key when it comes to cleaning commercial establishments. A good quality vacuum will let you pick up the smallest pieces of dirt on the floor. It also has enough suction to pull out debris that’s stuck deep in rugs and carpets.
If you’ve used a vacuum cleaner before, you know that suction between products vary a lot. While it isn’t necessary to get the most powerful vacuum around because they’re often loud as well, getting one with high end power is important.
This lets you vacuum different surfaces effectively without blowing the small dirt around or leaving a carpet dirty.
In addition to suction power, reliability is key. It needs to be able to withstand heavy duty use regularly.
Vacuum cleaners use filters in order to trap dirt and dust that’s picked up by the machine. These filters prevent the particles from going with the clean air out the vacuum’s exhaust.
As such, it is important to choose vacuums that come with high quality filtration. Many models offer multiple stage filtration. This enhances their dirt trapping ability.
With filters there are a few of them available. The most useful of which is the HEPA filter.
HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air, are filters that are finer that regular mesh filters. This allows them to remove higher amounts of particles from the air. More importantly, they’re also able to capture microscopically small particles, up to 0.3 microns in size. To give you a comparison, human hair is 100 microns thick.
With HEPA filters, your vacuum is able to trap 99.97% of all the particles that are 0.3 microns or bigger. This enables it to keep bacteria, mold spores and pet dander from getting back into the surroundings.
Another useful filter are carbon filters. These help neutralize odors and deodorize. Because you never know where your next job is, you want to be able to leave a smelly room fresh.
Besides hard flooring, the other common surface you’ll be vacuuming are rugs and carpets. Many homes have this. All hotels and hospitality establishments do as well.
Some vacuums are certified by institutions to be effective and safe for use on these surfaces. This ensures you that you can clean different kinds of rugs and carpeting thoroughly without damaging them.
One such institution is the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). It seal of approval tells you that they’ve tested the product to be safe and effective for cleaning carpets and rugs.
Important Features to Consider
Depending on where you’ll be using the vacuum cleaners, you may need to get one that’s more versatile. This is especially true if you run a cleaning or janitorial service.
In this case, you’ll be hired for different types of jobs. This means you should be able to handle all kinds of floors these homes or businesses may have. These include hard floors, carpets and rugs of different thickness.
If you’re buying a commercial vacuum for your home/s or own business, the choice may be simpler. This is because you know what kind of floors you will be dealing with. This lets you choose the specific product that specializes in this.
Here are some important features to have if when choosing your commercial vacuums. Note that you don’t need to have them all. This is true if you know what floors you’ll be cleaning. Otherwise, a broad coverage gives you the ability to be more versatile.
1. Hard Floor Cleaning Ability
A lot of homes and businesses will have hard flooring. These include tiles, concrete, wood and marble to name a few. Except for the hospitality industry, like hotels, this is probably the most common type of flooring you’ll be cleaning.
- Upright vacuums generally work well for both hard floors and carpeting.
- Canister vacuums often need special cleaning heads to handle certain floor types.
More importantly, certain vacuums only work well in picking up dirt from hard surfaces or carpets only.
2. Head Height Adjustment
This is a necessary feature if you’re going to be vacuuming rugs and carpets. Being able to increase or lower the vacuum head lets you clean short and high pile carpets without tangling with or damaging the fibers.
When vacuuming high and thick carpets, you will need to pull the vacuum’s head up to give enough clearance for the fibers. Otherwise, it’ll be like you’re mowing the carpet. That’s not good!
- Many vacuums offer manual height adjustment. This means you’ll be able to turn a switch that increases and lowers the vacuum’s head.
- Others, like those from Dyson, come with automatic height adjustment. These devices automatically detect the surface and raise or lower the head without you having to do anything.
Whichever kind you get, both work. We do recommend that you check the highest clearance the head can go and compare it to the thickest rugs or carpets you plan on cleaning. This ensures you are able to get that job done.
3. Brush Roller with On/Off
For carpet cleaning a good brush roll is key. It helps you vacuum get a thorough clean in these surfaces.
Brush rolls turn at high speeds when the vacuum is operating. The bristles on them agitate and jar loose debris that are stuck deep inside the fibers. This makes it easier for the vacuum’s suction to pick them up.
- If you plan on taking on thicker, tougher carpeting and rugs, you’ll want to go with motorized brush rolls. Some devices use rollers that are powered by the vacuum’s suction. That works for lighter carpeting. But may not be enough for thicker ones.
- We also recommend you choose a device that lets you turn the brush roll on and off. This is a necessary feature if you plan on cleaning carpets as well as more delicate floors like hardwood and laminate. Delicate and expensive flooring often get damaged much easier. Keeping the brush rolling when vacuuming these surfaces can scratch and destroy them.
4. Ability to Clean Edges and Corners
Edge cleaning is the bane of many vacuum cleaners. They’re hard to get to. Certain vacuums do have heads that work better for getting to the edges along baseboards and walls.
We also suggest in choosing cleaners that are easy to maneuver. Many come with easy swivel heads for smooth turning and rotation. This makes it easier to navigate the machine.
While this feature helps with efficiency, it isn’t a deal breaker. You can still find ways of cleaning edges and corners effective with skill, experience and creativity. Plus, there’s always the extension wands and crevice tools.
If you choose to go with an upright vacuum, having a hose extension makes cleaning much more convenient.
This is especially true if you want to get a thorough clean. Or, if you’re offering a service that isn’t limited to floor cleaning. The hose allows you to clean areas that are above the ground. This includes stairs, walls and upholstery.
Canister and backpack vacuums don’t have this problem since they’re designed to with a hose.
When it comes to using the hose, it’s also important to consider the hose diameter. This tells you how big the opening of the hose is. A bigger opening means it can pick up larger objects.
- Most vacuums offer hoses that have 1.25 to 2 inch diameters.
How big a hose opening you’ll need will depend on the kinds of jobs you’ll be doing.
- For light cleaning, like in homes or hotels, a hose with a 1.25 inch opening works well.
- For bigger cleanups, like in garages, construction or renovation, you’re better off with a bigger 2 inch hose.
6. Easy to Use & Reach On/Off Switch
At first glance, the on/off switch is probably very trivial. But it’s the one component that can stop you from doing any work at all. An unreliable switch or one that easily breaks isn’t going to let you get work done.
In the same manner, it’s important to have an on/off switch that’s easy to reach with your fingertips. You or your employees will be using this switch several times a day. Being able to easily get to it helps.
7. Long Cord
This isn’t a necessary deal breaker. That’s because you can always get a very long extension cord. A long cord however, does save you time in setting up and taking out the extension cord.
Depending on the spaces you’ll be cleaning, you may need to get something with an extra-long cord.
For rooms, homes and offices, the standard 25 to 30 foot power cords will work.
For bigger spaces, like restaurants and hotel hallways, a longer power cord between 35 to 40 feet is better.
For very large areas, including ballrooms or warehouses, the extra long 50 foot cords do best.
Again, a good commercial vacuum with a short cord works. It’s better than a poor quality vacuum with a long cord. The former can be easily fixed with a longer extension cord. The latter poses a bigger problem.
8. Dirt Cup or Dust Bag Capacity
A lot of commercial cleaners use bagged vacuums for a couple of reasons.
- Vacuum bags offer larger dirt capacity. This means less dumping of the dirt content, which isn’t always easy when you’re in the middle of a commercial establishment.
- They’re more hygienic. Bagged vacuums are better at keeping dust and debris collected in the machine. They’re also cleaner to dump into the trash. There’s no outflow of dust particles like when you open a dirt cup onto the trash can.
Bigger dirt capacities mean less down time and faster cleaning. It
If you’ve done some home vacuuming, you’ll know the convenience of a lightweight vacuum compared to a heavier machine. Weight isn’t much of an issue during the first 5 minutes of cleaning. After that, it becomes exponentially burdensome.
With commercial cleaning, you’ll be spending more time with the device. This is especially true if you need to clean multi-story buildings or large spaces.
A lightweight vacuum helps keep you and your staff happy. Plus, it’s easier to maneuver, carry and store away.
10. Noise Level
One of the differences between cleaning your home and something commercial is that you don’t get to choose when you do the cleaning.
In many cases, you’ll be cleaning when people are working or guests are in the premises. This is true with offices as well as hotels.
In these situations, a quiet vacuum is essential. Making a lot of noise that bothers people is sure way to get fired and not retain clients.
Vacuum noise levels range from the very quiet (50+ dB) to the really noisy (90dB). To give you an idea, 50 or so decibels is around the noise level you get in regular conversations. Ninety decibels meanwhile sounds like a busy street with a truck just passing by you.
11. Useful Tools & Attachments
Next to your vacuum’s features are its tools. Tools and attachments can make up for certain shortcomings. They also make specific situations much easier to clean effectively.
Here are some important tools and attachments that are useful in commercial cleaning settings.
- Crevice tool: this is for the tight, hard to reach areas like creases and edges.
- Upholstery tool: designed to pick up dirt and dust from fabric as well as plush furniture.
- Extension wand: increases your reach to the higher areas like cabinets.
- Specific floor tools: if your vacuum’s head doesn’t have multiple floor cleaning ability, you’ll want to get tools that let you cover hard surfaces and carpets. These attach to the hose.
- Dust brushes: for delicate cleaning.
- Pet tool/brushes: for handling pet hair and dander.
12. Consider the Costs & Availability of Bags & Replacement Parts
Because you’ll be putting your commercial vacuums to work much more than a home vacuum, it’s worth considering the ongoing costs of your machine. After all, most people will be getting a commercial unit for business purposes. This means it needs to be factored into your expenses.
Some products are inexpensive. But, you may soon find out that replacing each vacuum bag eventually costs so much more than the cleaner itself. Others may be economical, but are difficult to get replacement vacuum bags or spare parts.
The most replaced components of this kind of vacuum cleaner are:
- Vacuum bags (if you’re using a bagged vacuum).
- Filters that trap the dust and dirt particles in the machine.
You’ll be replacing the bags more often since the fuller they get, the less suction you’re going have. This makes using empty bags more efficient.
Vacuum bags and filters are consumables. They’re expected to be replaced when used up.
There are also certain spare parts that do require replacing after much use. This is due to wear and tear over time. The most commonly replaced part in vacuum cleaners are the belts. Checking them regularly and replacing them before they get too worn out ensures you don’t end up with a broken belt in the middle of a job. A good way to avoid this is to have replacement belts on hand as backup.
Best Commercial Vacuum Reviews
For better cleaning ability, it is uses vacuum bags. This means you’ll need to replace the bags as they get close to full. The advantage of using dust bags is that there’s less dust that escapes the vacuum.
We like this device for bare floors and low pile carpets. It excels in both areas. Its ability to deep clean rugs and carpets is due to its double helix designed brush roll which spins at 6,500 RPM. The presence of an automatic floor adjustment also lets it go from carpets to hard floors smoothly.
The unit weighs just 8 pounds. It measures 35 inches tall, is 13 inches wide in the front and 6 inches deep. You get a 12 inch cleaning path and 35 foot power cord.
Overall, we like its durability and performance. The Oreck XL2100RHS lets you vacuum carpets and floors without having to stop to manually change the settings. It does this automatically. Because it’s designed for commercial use, you can easily clean spaces of over 5,000 square feet in one session without any problems.
The unit is slightly lighter, and does a better job cleaning as well. It is easier to carry with the extra handle. And, you get a pigtail in power cord. This lets you extend the power cord for extra range and mobility while cleaning. In total, you get 40 feet of power cord to play with.
The unit boasts of the same large space cleaning ability. And it can vacuum different types of floors effectively as well. This lets you use it at home or commercially.
The soft bumpers on the sides lets you get close to baseboards and cabinets to clean the edges of the room. The automatic floor adjustment also makes cleaning different surfaces seamless. You can go from carpet to laminate to marble without having to manually change any settings. This is a time saver.
In addition to the large space cleaning ability, we also like that it has a big dust bag. It uses a 630 cubic inch bag to collect debris and dust. Unlike many regular bagged vacuums, this one uses a “top fill” design.
As with the Oreck commercial vacuum above, you get excellent cleaning with this product. It lets you clean big areas and cover multiple floor types. The hypo allergenic filtration and dust bag also ensures that allergens don’t get back out of the vacuum.
The Hoover Shoulder Vac Pro makes it easier to carry the device. This is vital if you need to clean a lot of offices or go from floor to floor. Pushing an upright or carrying a canister can be tiring. With this, you just strap it on your back and walk.
1. Get the hose that’s connected to your backpack vacuum.
2. Then clip on the attachment you want to use. This will depend on what kind of cleaning you’ll be doing.
3. When you’re ready turn the power on.
4. Start vacuuming as you walk holding the wand with one hand to control it.
The Hoover Commercial Shoulder Vac Pro makes it easy to clean carpets, bare floors, stairs, and above floor areas like walls. It also comes with a long 48 foot power cord that lets you cover the entire hallways without re-plugging.
The unit weighs just 9 pounds and comes with a floor tool, upholstery tool, dusting brush and crevice tool. It runs fairly quietly and the vacuum’s exhaust blows away from the user.
It is designed for commercial use like the Shoulder Vac Pro above. Its design is different though. Instead of having a full strap on backpack, this canister can be slung over your shoulder like a messenger bag. This makes it easy to carry the device as you clean through hallways.
We also like that it is a 2 in 1 tool. It works as a vacuum and has a built in blower to help with your cleaning and detailing.
The Hoover CH30000 PortaPower weighs 8.3 pounds. It has a long 35 foot power cord.
To use it:
1. Sling the device over your shoulder
2. Attach the extension wand to the stretch hose.
3. Then clip on the attachment you wish to use. This will depend on what kind of surface you’re cleaning.
4. Turn on the vacuum.
This commercial canister vacuum comes with a wide 10 inch cleaning path to save you time. Its 7.4 amp motor and light weight make it easy to pick up debris and dust from floors, carpets, stairs and other home or office rooms.
Overall, this is a handy lightweight vacuum that’s suited for commercial use. It’s a more practical option to the Shoulder Vac Pro if the space you’re cleaning isn’t very big. It’s also easier to use compared to pushing or carrying upright vacuums if you have to clean more than one story.