Choosing a Commercial Vacuum Cleaner

Commercial vacuum cleaners are more powerful and durable than domestic versions and are designed for continuous, regular use. They are usually heavy-duty and will last longer without wearing out or breaking down.

Choosing the right commercial vacuum cleaner for your business can seem like a mammoth task. There’s a wealth of styles, models and other choices, so even narrowing it down can seem difficult. Thankfully, there are ways to narrow your choices to find the right machine for the job.

Broadly speaking, workplace vacuum cleaners can be split into three types. Once you know the pros and cons of each, you can find which type is the most suitable. From there, it’s relatively simple to narrow your choices based on the type of work you need to carry out, the weight, capacity, style of bag and any attachments you might need.

Follow this guide to get an overview of the types of vacuums available and some important considerations to think about when you’re making your purchase.

Types of Vacuum Cleaners


The most recognised type of vacuum cleaner, commercial versions of these don’t look so different from their domestic counterparts. Uprights are a self-contained design where the head is at the base of an upright handle with no need for an extra hose. They usually have long power cords that mean less unplugging as you move through an area, but as these are on two back wheels, they are easy to manoeuvre from room to room and are often used in the service, hotel and office industries.


These styles consist of a dirt bag and motor unit, with a long flexible hose and rigid wand attached to a cleaning head. Because the head is separate from the main unit, these are lighter and more manoeuvrable than uprights, which make them great for getting under furniture and for carpeted stairs. However, the greater bulk can make them more difficult to store, and you need to carry the hose and drag the unit together which makes getting in and out of a large number of rooms awkward and strenuous.

Wide area

These are a variation on the upright but the wide head makes it easier to cover a large space in a short time. Very long cords make cleaning large open rooms easier too. However, make sure you have plenty of storage space.


Backpack vacuum cleaners are lightweight and portable. As these are carried on the back, they allow for staff to clean for longer continuous periods of time without the strain of pulling or pushing a canister or upright. It also frees up a hand to make it easier to move furniture as you clean. Some types are battery powered for the even greater flexibility that comes with being freed from a cord plugged into a power socket. Certain models can also be configured to blow, so they can be used for leaf clearing as well.


These lightweight, battery operated or plugged in portable options are ideal if you have a lot of stairs to clean. They are also used for spot cleaning and above-the-floor vacuuming, for example curtains and upholstery, but they are not suitable for large areas as the short hose would mean bending for long periods which can cause harm over time.

Wet & Dry

These are specialised machines designed for specific purposes. They can vacuum both wet and dry areas and are designed for a heavy-duty task like vacuuming debris. This makes them highly suited to construction sites or laboratories, for example. However, the extra power they provide comes at a cost – they tend to be very noisy and wouldn’t be suitable for use while others are working. You will also need to provide operatives with ear protectors to ensure their health and safety.

Bagless vs Bagged vacuum cleaners

New models of vacuum cleaners are available with a bagless option. However, before you jump for the latest technology, you should consider the pros and cons of each type.

Bagless models cut down somewhat on the need for consumables in the form of replacement bags, but they still need filters which must be regularly cleaned and replaced. There is less waste and so they can be more environmentally friendly, however, be aware that when emptying the vacuum, they can spill a lot of dust into the air – this could have a detrimental effect on people with allergies.

Bagged models require regular bags to be fitted and are less ecologically friendly, however, they don’t need as much filter cleaning or replacement and the bags tend to contain the majority of dust.


All vacuum cleaners will contain some kind of filter. However, modern filter standards have improved and you should probably look for a vacuum that has the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air or High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) logo on it. Most often used in the automotive and heating, ventilation and air conditioning industries, these filters are nevertheless becoming more commonplace.

This is because they produce less dust and pollen as well as other allergy triggers which mean a healthier environment all round. HEPA filters are highly beneficial for operatives with asthma or other dust or pollen-related allergies, as well as those who will carry out a lot of vacuuming.


Now that you’ve narrowed down the broad types of vacuum cleaners available, you need to start thinking about how and where they will be used. This will help you to decide on a type, as well as to narrow down model choices within each type. Run through this checklist and you’ll find choosing a vacuum much easier:

  • Are you vacuuming on carpets or hard floors? If it’s the latter, make sure the vacuum you choose is designed to work on these surfaces without causing damage while maintaining efficiency.
  • Do you need to vacuum right to the edges? Depending on your premises, you might want to choose a model that has extra brushes at the sides, allowing it to clean right up to the walls and skirting.
  • Will you be vacuuming on a variety of surfaces? Height adjustable models mean you can raise or lower the head to adjust from thick to short pile carpets. Some models will even do this automatically.
  • Consider your roller brush options. Some models power these independently with a motor while others use suction to keep them rolling. It might also be worthwhile opting for a model that allows you to turn off the roller brush motor while vacuuming hard surfaces, or they can scatter dirt and debris.
  • Think about the diameter of hose you might need. Commercial vacuums usually list these in the technical specs. A narrower hose makes for easier storage but will struggle to lift some debris. A wide hose is essential for renovation or construction.
  • The length of the cord is an important consideration. Check the regularity of power outlets on the walls versus the size of the rooms. Large open spaces with few sockets need long cords. However, longer cords pose increased hazards in the likes of office spaces or busy factories. You can also opt for a rechargeable battery powered system and dispense with the cord entirely.
  • Another crucial factor is the capacity of the vacuum. Small capacity bagged systems will require more frequent replacement which could mean downtime, while narrow bagless systems will need to be regularly emptied in certain premises. Find the right balance between these.
  • It’s important for the health of your cleaning operatives that you carefully choose the weight of the vacuum. While heavy duty models may make cleaning a faster job, it could be at the expense of your employees’ overall health and wellbeing – dragging a heavy vacuum cleaner around for long periods of time will do damage to the back and other muscles.
  • Think about the noise level too. If you will be cleaning while others work, it’s important to keep noise levels to a minimum and it’s important that you protect the hearing of your cleaning operatives too. Check the decibel (dB) levels if you can and ask for advice if you’re not sure.


Vacuum cleaners often come with a number of optional tools and attachments included, or available as add-on purchases. These allow you to use the vacuum for a variety of separate jobs and can make one single purchase more flexible.

The most common attachments are:

  • Dust brushes
  • Crevice tools
  • Upholstery attachments
  • Additional wands in longer and shorter sizes
  • Specialised flooring tools

Always ensure these fit the machine you’ve purchased – check to see if the retailer provides these attachments as standard or at least stocks additional accessories to match your model.

We hope this guide has helped you in choosing a new vacuum cleaner for your commercial space. If you require further assistance on choosing a model, get in touch with our team who will be able to provide expert advice. 

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