When shopping for a new vacuum cleaner, the range of products from just one brand like Shark can be staggering. Designed for effective cleaning with multiple styles and accessories, Shark vacuums also come at affordable price points. Choosing just one can be tough, so we personally tested several models and rated them based on our overall impressions, how well these machines picked up debris, and how easy they were to maneuver, among a variety of other factors.
The best Shark vacuum model for you will depend on the size of the area you need to clean, surface type, and whether you need a full-size device or something more compact. The Shark vacuums below represent top performers in their respective categories, based on efficacy, vacuum type, and overall value.
- BEST OVERALL: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional
- BEST FOR CARPET: Shark Vertex Upright Vacuum with TruePet Upgrade
- BEST FOR HARDWOOD FLOORS: Shark Rotator Professional Upright Vacuum
- BEST CORDLESS: Shark Vertex Cordless Vacuum with DuoClean PowerFins
- BEST ROBOTIC: Shark AI Robot Self-Empty XL
- BEST STICK: Shark Vertex Ultralight Corded Stick DuoClean Vacuum
- BEST HANDHELD: Shark WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum
Types of Shark Vacuums
Shark manufactures four main vacuum types: upright, stick, robotic, and handheld. Read on to learn about the characteristics of each type and the cleaning tasks they’re suitable for.
Upright Shark vacuums are the most powerful type, ideal for cleaning dust and debris stuck deep in carpet fibers. These vacuums typically have a large bag or canister to store the dirt, and the head of the vacuum is wide, making it easy to clean a large surface in a short period of time.
The upright Sharks offer corded and cordless options. Corded vacuums have the advantage in power and performance, while cordless ones are more versatile and easier to maneuver since they’re not attached to a power outlet. However, the larger size of this type of vacuum requires suitable storage space.
A stick Shark vacuum is essentially a smaller version of an upright Shark. Stick models can also be corded or cordless, though their main benefit is how lightweight they are compared to their upright Shark counterparts. They’re easier to lift over carpet transition bars or to carry up and down the stairs.
The motor on a stick Shark vacuum is typically less powerful, the vacuum head is not as wide, and the collection bin is smaller than that of an upright vacuum. These reductions may seem like a disadvantage at first, but because of their maneuverability, stick Shark vacuums are much better suited for apartment living and for houses with narrow rooms or hallways.
Robotic Shark vacuums don’t have a lot of power, but they make up for it by being relatively autonomous. You can set one of these vacuums on a timer to activate once a day and clean up the floor it’s on. While they can’t go up the stairs, they also won’t fall down the stairs due to sensors in the front of the device.
These vacuums work well in apartments or small houses with hardwood or tile floors. They’re not optimal for larger homes because the dust-collection bin is very small and they take a long time to cover every part of the floor. They also lack the power to effectively clean pet hair or very deep carpets.
Handheld Shark vacuums function well for cleaning a car or stairs or to reach more difficult areas around the home. They weigh less than stick, upright, and robotic models but will usually have more power than robotic vacuums and may feature pet-hair-specific functions.
Handheld vacuums are typically cordless, and some upright Shark vacuums have one built in as a helpful cleaning alternative. These handheld vacuums are great for cleaning upholstery, drapes, furniture, and mattresses.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Shark Vacuum
Beyond type, there are many other characteristics that differentiate Shark vacuums. Before buying a new Shark vacuum for your home, keep in mind these critical factors.
One-floor apartments or condos do not typically need a large upright Shark vacuum, though a stick, robotic, or handheld model would work well for the small space. However, large bungalow houses could use the robotic vacuum for ongoing cleaning and an upright Shark vacuum for concentrated cleanup.
For a home that has more than one floor, taking the weight of the machine into consideration is necessary because it needs to go up and down the stairs. Larger homes may still benefit from an upright/handheld combination, as robotic vacuums’ usefulness diminishes when stairs are involved. Homes with more than two or three stories would do better with a stick Shark vacuum instead of an upright one because a stick model is easier to carry up multiple flights of stairs.
The type of floor the vacuum must clean affects which type of vacuum is best suited for a home. The main types of flooring are nonfibrous solid flooring and fibrous flooring like rugs and carpeting.
- Tile, linoleum, hardwood, and other nonfibrous floors can be cleaned with any Shark vacuum, though the power of an upright Shark vacuum may not be necessary. Robotic Shark vacuums are ideal for nonfibrous flooring and some light area rugs.
- Area rugs can be more difficult to vacuum because of the suction power needed to clean the fibers. For multiple area rugs, consider a stick, robotic, or handheld Shark vacuum.
- Carpeting can have long or short carpet fibers. As the length of the carpet fibers increases, the power of the vacuum must also increase to ensure that enough suction power reaches the dirt and debris stuck deep down. For this reason, upright and stick Shark vacuums work best on carpeted flooring.
Corded vs. Cordless
The multiple types of Shark vacuums offer the choice between corded and cordless models.
- Corded Shark vacuums are typically heavier and more powerful than cordless ones, making them ideal for carpeted flooring. They may come with a retractable cord to store the vacuum away neatly after finishing up, and the cord lengths range from 15 feet to 30 feet. Corded Shark vacuums will never need to recharge, but they do require plugging into an electrical outlet and may limit mobility.
- Cordless Shark vacuums are a great option for smaller spaces, area rugs, and nonfibrous flooring like hardwood. While they usually have less power than corded Shark vacuums, they make up for it with increased maneuverability, with the occasional stoppage midway through vacuuming to recharge the battery.
Lithium-ion batteries and NiMH batteries are the two typical battery types used in cordless vacuums, and they have similar working times, lasting between 10 minutes to more than an hour depending on the vacuum type. Lithium-ion batteries charge faster and last longer than NiMH batteries.
The most common unit of measurement for motor power output across all Shark vacuum types is wattage (W).
- Upright Shark vacuums typically have the most powerful motors, with a range as low as 500W and reaching up to 1,300W, making them ideal for thick carpeting.
Stick Shark vacuums have a medium power rating suitable for light carpeting, area rugs, and nonfibrous flooring. Their power output usually falls between 200W and 600W.
- Handheld Shark vacuums are designed for short-term use at a low power output, good for spot-cleaning corners, behind furniture, upholstery, or a vehicle. They can also be a good option for area rugs, with a typical power range of 100W to 200W.
- Robotic Shark vacuums are the least powerful option. These vacuums are intended for over an hour of use on nonfibrous flooring, so they have a very low power range of just 25W to 100W. This low power output allows the battery to last for a long time while the vacuum moves autonomously about the home.
The difference between filters with and without allergy seals that trap pollen, dander, and pet hair is noticeable, especially for people who suffer from allergies or dust sensitivity. Asthma can weaken a person’s respiratory system, and excess household dust and debris can make it difficult to breathe.
If filtration is a priority for your household, ensure that the filter of the vacuum has a HEPA rating, which indicates it is capable of removing at least 99.97 percent of particles from the air that passes through the filter. Also worth considering is whether the filter is washable or if it needs to be replaced when it becomes ineffective.
The components and features that make up a Shark vacuum—including the weight, handle, wheels, and head—affect the maneuverability of the vacuum.
- Weight directly affects maneuverability because more weight is harder to move. Heavy Shark vacuums provide more power, but that also makes them more difficult to lift, carry, or turn—a poor choice for small homes, apartments, and narrow rooms or for people who find pushing and carrying heavy equipment is a challenge. For easier maneuverability, choose a lighter vacuum.
- The handle is long and narrow on a stick Shark vacuum, allowing for easy twisting and turning of the vacuum head. Upright vacuums, on the other hand, typically have a heavier handle that makes the vacuum easy to push but more difficult to turn.
- The wheels on a Shark vacuum can be small, single-direction wheels that are hard to turn, or it can have swivel wheels, like those often used on robotic Shark vacuums that can turn in any direction. For easiest maneuverability, look for omnidirectional wheels that can turn wherever needed.
- The vacuum head of a Shark vacuum comes in a range of widths, some of which can be hard to fit in tight corners. The vacuum may also have a swivel feature that will turn the head on a sharper angle than the handle, allowing for easy navigation around tight corners. If space is a concern, find a vacuum with a narrow swivel head for optimal maneuverability.
The noise produced by most vacuums is typically around 70 decibels, which isn’t enough to damage anyone’s hearing, especially when only vacuuming for about an hour at a time. However, for a noise-restricted neighborhood or apartment building, or for cleaning when household members are working or sleeping, a quieter machine can be a better option. Generally, as the power output of the vacuum increases, so does the potential for higher noise levels, unless mitigated by noise-buffering materials.
- Robotic Shark vacuums operate at about 50 to 60 decibels, though they lack power and are not as useful in homes with stairs.
- Handheld Shark vacuums have a compact body that doesn’t include a lot of noise-buffering material, so despite their low power they can produce a noise level between 60 and 70 decibels.
- Stick Shark vacuums will normally be more than double the power compared to a handheld vacuum, which also makes them louder. However, these vacuums still have a relatively low noise rating—between 65 and 75 decibels.
- Upright Shark vacuums have the largest motors and produce the most powerful suction, but all that power can produce noise levels between 70 and 80 decibels, making this style of vacuum a less suitable choice for quiet homes.
Shark vacuums come with a wide range of accessories, including pet-hair tools, dusting brushes, under-appliance wands, crevice tools, and upholstery tools.
- Pet-hair tools are designed to clean up pet hair and include simple attachments with thick fibers that pull hair in, powered rotating brushes to collect pet hair from the floor while the vacuum provides suction, or upholstery tools that lift pet hair off furniture.
- Dusting brushes have a thin layer of fabric around the outside to help collect and trap dust. These attachments are great for windowsills, baseboards, and picture frames.
- Under-appliance wands are intended for vacuuming under larger appliances, like a stove or refrigerator, that would be difficult to pull out for cleaning.
- Crevice tools are narrow tubes that are designed to clean the crack between floor and baseboard, the seams in stairs, and other crevices that can otherwise be challenging to clean.
- Upholstery tools are necessary for homes with pets to ensure the furniture remains clean. They’re also a good addition for cleaning mattresses, curtains, and blinds.
Our Top Picks
The top-of-the-line products below were chosen for quality, efficacy, and price to help you find the best Shark vacuum for your home. We also personally tested them on hard flooring as well as carpeting.
This upright Shark vacuum is powerful, versatile, and maneuverable and comes with a swivel head for increased mobility. Turn the motorized brush roll on or off depending on whether it’s cleaning carpet or hard surfaces. It also features a pet power brush, a motorized handheld brush roll to better gather pet hair, plus a crevice tool for cleaning difficult-to-reach areas.
The Shark vacuum has a 30-foot cord and 1,200W of power for deep-cleaning thick carpets. Despite this high motor power, the vacuum only weighs 13.7 pounds. The dust collection canister can be lifted off the vacuum base to enable better access under furniture. The canister is completely sealed and has a HEPA filter that traps 99.9 percent of dust and allergens that pass through.
The suction of this vacuum was incredibly impressive. While using it, we noticed that an object located inches away from the machine was being sucked in. So, while this isn’t one of Shark’s famed “pet” models, the price and features make it a solid choice for homes with pets.
The only thing we didn’t like about this vacuum is that while it was great on larger carpets, it isn’t the best choice for homes with delicate or multiple-area rugs. The canister also didn’t refasten very easily.
- Form factor: Upright
- Cordless: No
- Weight: 13.7 pounds
- Impressive suction
- Large dirt canister
- Very accessible price
- Dirt canister was difficult to reattach
- Not great for delicate area rugs
Get the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional on Amazon.
Designed for homes with pets, the Shark Vertex Upright Vacuum with TruePet Upgrade has a powerful motor that sucks up every last bit of pet hair and debris. This rose-gold-accented vacuum is packed with features including DuoClean Powerfins, a self-cleaning brush roll, dusting brush, an under-appliance wand, and a pet crevice tool. The 30-foot cord length makes it easy to clean without needing to unplug it when going from room to room.
While it has modes for Thick Carpet/Area Rugs and Hard Floor, this model vacuum self-propels in Carpet/Low Pile mode. Although this makes it easy to vacuum, it can be challenging to avoid hitting furniture.
It’s also worth noting that turning on this vacuum isn’t intuitive. There’s both a top and bottom button that must be turned on. After a few minutes of feeling frustrated, we had to consult the manual to figure it out.
- Form factor: Upright, handheld
- Cord: Yes
- Weight: 16 pounds
- Excellent suction
- LED lights
Picked up small pieces of debris impressively
- 3 modes
- Turning it on is a bit tricky
Get the Shark Vertex Upright Vacuum With TruePet Upgrade from Shark.
To really clean dust, dirt, debris, pet hair, and other allergens from hardwood floors, this Shark vacuum has a powerful 1,200W motor and a built-in LED lighting system on the floor nozzle. The vacuum has a low profile that’s ideal for cleaning hardwood and other nonfibrous floors, and it has a swivel steering head that’s easy to maneuver on carpet or across hardwood.
The Shark Rotator Professional vacuum includes a dust collection bin that can be lifted away from the base and used with the included upholstery tool or crevice tool. The dust collection bin has a HEPA-rated filter and is sealed to keep allergens and dust from escaping. This model weighs 15.5 pounds and has a 25-foot power cord.
While it was just a touch heavier than we would have liked, this vacuum truly lives up to the “Rotator” name. It swivels with ease around edges and corners. We particularly liked using it to vacuum around the edges of our round dining table. It felt very comfortable in the hand and really got the job done.
- Form factor: Upright, handheld
- Cord: Yes
- Weight: 15.5 pounds
- Easy to swivel
- LED lights make it easy to see small particles and hair
- Very good with edges
Get the Shark Rotator Professional Upright Vacuum on Amazon.
For those who have small spaces to clean, who have mobility issues such as a bad back that makes using a heavy upright uncomfortable, or who simply love the convenience of a cordless vacuum, the Shark Vertex Ultra Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum with DuoClean PowerFins checks all those boxes.
One great advantage this product has over other stick vacuums is that it comes with an extra battery, giving 80 minutes of total runtime. So if a home is larger, simply swap out the battery and keep going. Another unique feature is that this model folds over for more compact and easy storage.
There is just one caveat to keep in mind before clicking “add to cart.” At 300 watts, the motor on this vacuum isn’t the most powerful (which is to be expected with most stick vacuums anyway), but the Turbo Mode makes up for this.
- Form factor: Stick
- Cord: No
- Weight: 9.04 pounds
- Lightweight, so it is easy to maneuver
- Great at picking up in small spaces and crevices
- The sound level is very low
- Not as much suction as a typical upright
Get the Shark Vertex Cordless Vacuum with DuoClean PowerFins on Amazon or from Shark.
For a powerful robot vacuum that does it all, the Shark AI Robot Self-Empty XL may impress. It picks up everything from pet hair to small bits of food like oatmeal and larger pieces like kibble. There’s also a HEPA filter, making this an ideal vacuum for anyone who really doesn’t like to vacuum.
One of the best things about this robot is that it self-empties at the base. Just press a button, and seconds later, the vacuum is clean. The base is also large enough to hold quite a bit of debris, so it doesn’t need to be emptied after each use.
However, as with all robot vacuums, AI isn’t perfect. This one wasn’t able to avoid all the furniture in the room, at least the first and second times we used it, so there may be a bit of a learning curve.
- Form factor: Robotic
- Cord: No
- Weight: 20.9 pounds
- Has a base so the vac itself doesn’t need to be emptied
- Controllable with an app
- Comes with extra side brushes
- Doesn’t always recognize furniture
- AI voice is a bit loud
Get the Shark AI Robot Self-Empty XL from Shark.
Those who prefer a corded vacuum and have homes with pets and a variety of flooring types may want to consider the Shark Vertex Ultralight Corded Stick DuoClean Vacuum. With a 30-foot-long cord, it’s easy to go from room to room without needing to unplug the vacuum often.
However, one downside of this vacuum is that the dirt cup is very small, especially considering Shark touts it as being extra large. For a 1-bedroom apartment with two pets, it needed to be emptied after one use. If used often, this can become an inconvenience.
Still, this vacuum is a great option for many surfaces, like hardwood, laminate, tile, carpet, and upholstery. A built-in handheld vacuum can be removed from the base and used independently for vacuuming stairs, furniture, and hard-to-access locations. It also comes with a dusting brush, crevice tool, a self-cleaning pet power brush, and an onboard storage clip.
- Form factor: Stick, upright, handheld
- Cord: Yes
- Weight: 9.05 pounds
- Very good suction
- Easy-to-clean dirt cup
- Super lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Dirt cup is disappointingly small
- Doesn’t stand up very well even when leaning
Get the Shark Vertex Ultralight Corded Stick DuoClean Vacuum on Amazon or at Best Buy.
To supplement a main vacuum, this handheld Shark model is convenient and effective. The 1.4-pound device has a 115W motor, providing a strong solution for cleaning vehicles, furniture, upholstery, and even a ceiling or other areas around the house where dirt and cobwebs can accumulate.
The WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum is powered with a lithium-ion battery, but the power output is intended for short bursts of strong suction for small cleaning jobs, which depletes the battery in only 10 minutes. Once finished cleaning, just place the handheld Shark vacuum on the included charging dock so that it is ready when needed again. The vacuum comes with a washable filter, a crevice tool, and a pet hair tool to help keep the house clean.
This vacuum is sleek and, frankly, a pleasure to use. Lightweight and powerful, it’s everything we want in a handheld vacuum and more. The accessories are incredibly helpful, especially the pet hair tool, which instantly sucked the hair right off our fabric sofa. The dust crevice tool is also great for removing dirt from floor moldings. Better yet, it empties with the push of a button.
- Form factor: Handheld
- Cord: No
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Sleek and very lightweight
- Empties with the push of a button
- Very useful accessoires
- Must be emptied after every use to maintain suction
Get the Shark WANDVAC Handheld Vacuum on Amazon, from Shark, or at Best Buy.
If you’re looking for a budget model to clean both hard and fibrous flooring in a typical home, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional is a reliable choice because it’s easy to use and has a powerful motor. For those who prefer a vacuum that is lightweight, mobile, and cordless, the Shark Vertex Cordless Vacuum with DuoClean PowerFins is an excellent option.
How We Tested the Best Shark Vacuums
We tested Shark vacuums in a 1-bedroom apartment that was smaller than 800 square feet on several types of flooring: two types of laminate hardwood floors, tile flooring, regular carpeting, and an area rug.
Every product was tested the same way, picking up a combination of oatmeal and dog kibble as well as lots of pet hair from both a Chihuahua–pug mix and an English bulldog.
In addition to picking up these things on the various kinds of flooring, we also maneuvered each vacuum around the space, tried each accessory, and cleaned out the canister, performing eight hands-on tests.
Continue reading below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Shark vacuums.
Q: How do you clean a Shark vacuum filter?
It depends on the type of filter. Some filters are disposable and should not be washed but rather replaced when they lose their effectiveness. Washable filters can be carefully removed from the Shark vacuum, but take note of the order of removal because they must be replaced in the same order.
Take the filters to a sink of warm, soapy water and hand-wash them thoroughly without being so zealous as to damage them. Once they’re clean, rinse them and allow them to air dry before replacing them in the correct order.
Q: How do you empty a Shark vacuum?
To empty a Shark vacuum, follow these simple steps:
- Ensure the vacuum is off; either unplug it or remove the battery.
- Hold the handle on the top of the Shark vacuum dustbin.
- Press the button on the front of the dustbin and pull up to remove the bin from the vacuum.
- Open the dustbin and pour it into a trash can.
- Put the dustbin back on the vacuum.
Q: How do you replace a power cord on a Shark vacuum?
Do not replace the power cord on a Shark vacuum without previous experience working with electric equipment. To replace the power cord on a Shark vacuum, follow these steps:
- Unplug the Shark vacuum and place it on a surface that is at a comfortable height.
- Take apart the vacuum head—including the brush, belt, and motor housing—but be sure to sort each piece and the corresponding screws so they can be put back in the correct places.
- Loosen the fasteners on the old power cord and remove it.
- Use wire strippers on the new power cord to ensure enough metal is showing for an adequate connection.
- Connect the new power cord in the same position and configuration as the old power cord, and reinstall the motor housing, belt, and brush with the corresponding screws.
- Test the power to the Shark vacuum to ensure it is working correctly.