5 Tips for Choosing the Best Vacuum Cleaner For Your Space

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iStock.com/97

For those who hate housecleaning, choosing the right vacuum is essential. Some models are better suited to certain tasks and surfaces than others, and picking the right one will save you the hassle of having to skim the same section of carpet five times. There’s a lot to consider, so we’ve detailed the advantages and limitations of the five main types of vacuum cleaners.

1. UPRIGHTS TACKLE THE BIG JOBS.

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Pet parents love their fur babies, but it would be nice not to have tufts of hair littered throughout the house. The upright model is perhaps the most familiar type of vacuum, and its powerful suction makes it one of the best options for picking up pet hair. If you have lots of carpets or rugs, an upright vacuum cleaner with a generously sized bag or filter is a safe bet. These models tend to be cheaper than canister vacuums, but they’re often heavier, making them harder to push around. If you do opt for an upright vacuum and have hard floors to tend to, be sure to get one with a brush roll feature that can be turned on and off at will (on for carpets, off for hard floors). The best-selling upright vacuum on Amazon—a bagless Eureka NEU182A PowerSpeed—is selling for about $60. Traditional bagged vacuums collect dirt in disposable bags, while bagless models use filters to whisk crud into an onboard receptacle. Both need to be manually emptied from time to time, and bagless models may need to have their filters replaced after long-term use.

2. CANISTERS ARE EASY TO MANEUVER, BUT HARD TO STORE.

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This is the other type of vacuum that pet owners ought to consider. Unlike upright vacuums, these models are better at handling hardwood or tile floors. Some can even clean carpets as effectively as an upright—and they do so with less noise, too. The only real downside is that they tend to be bulkier and harder to store neatly in a closet because the hose is attached to a separate tank. On the other hand, attachments help you get in those hard-to-reach places, and they’re ideal for cleaning curtains, ceiling corners, upholstery, staircases, and the underside of furniture. Some models cost hundreds of dollars, but the best-selling bagless Bissell Zing sells on Amazon for about $50.

3. STICK VACUUMS HANDLE QUICK CLEAN-UPS.

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Named for their slender shape, stick vacuums are good at getting into tight spaces like the crack between your refrigerator and wall. They’re lightweight and often battery-powered for convenient, cord-free use. However, they’re not great at cleaning carpets and tend to have the least powerful suction of all five types. There are situations where they come in handy, though. Consumer Reports recommends using stick vacuums for quick clean-ups, like spilled cereal. “They are mainly suited for picking up surface litter and aren't intended as a replacement for a conventional vacuum,” the product review site says. If you have kids or pets running around at home, you may want to buy a cheap one and keep it near the living room or kitchen, while storing a more heavy-duty vacuum elsewhere. One of Amazon’s best-sellers is the Eureka Blaze 3-in-1 vacuum, which costs about $30.

4. HANDHELDS FIT IN TIGHT SPACES.

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Like the stick vacuum, surface cleaning is the handheld vacuum’s specialty. In fact, aside from their size and shape, they’re similar to stick vacuums in terms of their suction power, weight, and function. So which one should you choose? Good Housekeeping recommends using a stick vacuum for floors and spots underneath furniture, while handheld vacuums are better at cleaning the furniture itself and windowsills. Many handheld models are also lightweight and cordless, making them great tools to have around when it comes time to deep-clean the interior of your car. One of Amazon’s best-selling hand vacs is a $55 cordless Black & Decker. But if you want the best of both worlds, opt for a stick/hand combo that comes with nifty attachments like a dusting brush.

5. ROBOTIC VACUUMS DO (SOME OF) THE WORK FOR YOU.

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While robotic vacuums promise to take care of business while you lounge on the couch, they may not be as low-maintenance as they sound. They’re able to squeeze into tough-to-reach spots like under the sofa, but they don’t have the power of an upright or canister vacuum—so if you do use a robotic vacuum, you’ll still probably need to use a broom or more traditional vacuum to finish the job. However, they’re great for touch-ups in between cleaning sessions, especially when you’re busy doing something else. Newer models can be programmed with smartphone apps and voice assistants, so they tend to run a little pricier than other vacuums. One of Amazon’s best-sellers is the iRobot Roomba 690, which connects to Wi-Fi and costs about $300.

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

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These 15 DIY Model and STEM Kits Will Be Your New Favorite Hobby

Time for Machine
Time for Machine

Put those fidgeting hands to good use with one of these beautiful DIY kits for adults and children. The kits range from standard car and plane models to STEM-based robotic and gaming projects. When you’re done building the intricate models, you can enjoy your creation as a desktop decoration or toy.

1. Heavenly Hercules Metal DIY Model Kit; $120 

Time for Machine

This DIY replica of a real-life visionary plane includes eight motors you can watch work. When you’re done building, plop it on your desk for the perfect conversation starter.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

2. Dazzling Steamliner Metal DIY Model Kit; $160

Time for Machine

Get your dieselpunk and steampunk kicks with this sleek steamliner model powered by a spring mechanism.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

3. Mysterious Timer Metal DIY Model Kit; $55

Time for Machine

This DIY clockwork timer will measure up to an hour of time, sound an alarm, and make a timeless decoration after you assemble it.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

4. Sunfounder Nano DIY Robot Kit; $47 (21 Percent Off)

Sunfounder

Give a younger pal an introduction to robotics programming with these robots you can build and train to walk, dance, and kick.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

5. DIY Bionic Robot Lizard; $55 (16 Percent Off)

Sunfounder

Trade the time it takes to care for a real reptile pet for some STEM education. This kit teaches kids to build their own bionic lizard using engineering, robotics, and programming skills.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

6. Sunfounder Picar-V Kit V2.0 Raspberry Pi 4; $105 (8 Percent Off)

Sunfounder

This STEM kit for beginners is the perfect way to learn Raspberry Pi, robotics, and electronics with easy coding tutorials.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

7. Glorious Cabrio Metal Diy Model Kit; $60 

Time for Machine

Under the hood of this stainless-steel model car is a spring-powered mechanism that allows it to travel across floors in style. There's even a functional steering wheel, trunk, and hood for added authenticity.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

8. Hot Tractor Metal DIY Model Kit; $25

Time for Machine

Build a real-life prototype of the heavy K700 tractor, complete with opening cabin doors and a working hood.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

9. DIY Robot Curiosity Kit For Ages 8 to 10; $70 (41 Percent Off)

Twin Science

Make playtime educational with this introductory STEM learning kit that teaches kids to build modules that are LEGO-compatible for even more exciting play.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

10. Bondic Pro Kit With Extra Refills; $22 (45 Percent Off)

Bondic

Toss that Scotch tape and glue, because this liquid plastic uses a UV LED light to harden and connect model pieces together.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

11. Makerbuino Educational DIY Game Console (Standard Kit and Tools); $80

CircuitMess

Get kids away from their screens for a bit with this kit that teaches them to actually build their own handheld gaming device.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

12. Royal Voyager Metal DIY Model Kit; $80

Time for Machine

Let nostalgia take the wheel while you build this retro, disco-era sedan with a wind-up handle that starts the engine.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

13. DIY Robotic Art Kit For Ages 6 To 9; $30 (56 PERCENT OFF)

Twin Science

Give craft-loving kids a lesson in STEM with this kit that explores art, science, and robotics while designing tons of projects.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

14. Silver Bullet Metal DIY Model Kit; $55

Time for Machine

This unique model design was inspired by international sports cars and includes intricate engine gears to tinker with beneath the hood.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

15. Marvel Tank Metal DIY Model Kit; $70

Time for Machine

This steampunk-style self-propelling tank can overcome obstacles or sit pretty on your desk.

Buy it: The Mental Floss Shop

Prices subject to change.

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