How do I compare quiet vacuum cleaners?

Updated July 20, 2017

Most vacuum cleaner manufacturers provide specifications for their products, such as motor power, power consumption and loudness. Typically, specifications for noise levels are given in decibels (dB), a measure of environmental noise.

Room acoustics also play a role in how loudness is perceived. Bare floors and walls will make noise seem louder, while a room with heavy carpets and drapes will reduce its intensity.

Here's a brief guide that will help you compare the quietest vacuum cleaners --- and achieve greater health benefits.

Visit vacuum cleaner manufacturer websites. Review the specifications of models that interest you, paying specific attention to the noise rating. Look for vacuum cleaners that offer noise reduction technologies without sacrificing cleaning power.

In general, the lower the dB rating, the quieter the vacuum cleaner. The average noise level in a quiet library is about 30dB. By comparison, the average vacuum cleaner generates about 70-77 dB. A jet engine at full power generates an ear-shattering 140dB. Sounds above 80dB are hazardous to your hearing.

Visit websites that offer consumer-oriented buying guides. Online forums can be useful in helping you learn vacuum cleaners and associated problems with loudness.

Visit stores that offer the vacuum cleaners you have researched. Test several models to determine which ones purr and which ones have you reaching for the power switch right away.

If two vacuum cleaners seem equally quiet, turn them both on at the same time. You might find one is actually louder than the other.


You can make more accurate comparisons by testing each vacuum cleaner in a quiet, carpeted room. Bare floors reflect noise, and thereby amplify the vacuum, while carpet absorbs noise. Ask the retailer if you can return the vacuum if it proves to be too loud after you take it home; the acoustics in the store might be different from your home. Consumer Reports has a long record of providing unbiased buying guides for many consumer products. Their Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide is well worth a look and will help you compare manufacturer claims with real-world information.


Some vacuum cleaner makers do not publish specifications in their brochures. Check user manuals for detailed specifications if they are not available in a brochure. Noise perception can be a subjective matter. What's loud to one person might not be loud for someone else. Let your ears and personal preferences be your guide. The more powerful a vacuum cleaner is, the louder it is likely to be. One drawback of a really quiet vacuum cleaner is that it may sacrifice cleaning power in favour of low noise levels. Look for vacuum cleaners that have high motor power ratings and low noise. Water lift, or suction, is a measure of cleaning power and a function of motor power. It may also affect noise ratings. Note that some manufacturers use amps or horsepower instead of watts to indicate motor power. The higher the amp rating, the more powerful the motor is.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner ratings and specifications obtained from manufacturer websites, brochures, or magazines
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About the Author

Steve Struthers has been writing professionally since 1992. His articles appear in business newsletters and on various intranet websites. Struthers also regularly creates and edits custom business correspondence. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Western Ontario.