The Ultimate Guide for Choosing a Commercial Vacuum

From hotels and restaurants to schools and office buildings, a reliable vacuum is an essential piece of hardware. In fact, it’s estimated around 15-25% of the total cleaning cost of any building is allocated to vacuuming. Which means that when it comes to selecting commercial and industrial vacuum cleaners, you need to not only be prudent about your selection but should also plan to have multiple types of vacuums on hand to ensure every possibility is covered.


This is not the time to take a wild guess at the kind of vacuums you need or skimp on inferior products that could leave you sweeping up a back-breaking mess that needs a vacuum. Less expensive vacuuming equipment is a false economy. It needs to be either repaired or replaced regularly and is often more costly in the long run than purchasing the right equipment at the outset. So, choosing the right vacuum(s) for your business is crucial.


But if this all sounds like a headache, don’t worry. We’ll take you through the applications of vacuums, the types of environments they’ll be facing, and what kind of vacuums you’ll need to get the job done well every time.



Most residences have one go-to vacuum cleaner that does the bulk of the cleaning, and they’re usually upright or canister vacuums that can handle most kinds of flooring relatively well. (Some households also have a “shop vac” for the garage and car/truck).


However, in a commercial setting you can’t rely on a jack-of-all-trades solution. Not only will it result in a poor job on some surfaces, it will also put heavy strain on that one machine. So, you need to look at the types of flooring your particular facility or business is dealing with. There are several main kinds:


Bare Floors 

Also known as non-carpeted areas, these kinds of floors include hardwood, tile, laminate, vinyl, and concrete. These floors vary greatly in usage, from gyms and kitchens, to shop floors, loading bays and showrooms.


Carpeted Floors


Carpeted floors (including carpet tile) require vacuums with motorized brushes that can lift dirt and debris from the pile. In offices and schools, you’re more likely to encounter hard-wearing short pile carpet, whereas homes and hotels will have a deeper pile that’s more comfortable but is also harder to clean.



In general rugs are decorative and usually have a much deeper pile than carpet. In some instances, the motorized brush will struggle with rugs and you may need to have a vacuum that allows you to disengage it. Delicate rugs, on the other hand, may require the use of handheld tools.


In all these environments you also need to consider the kind of traffic and wear & tear the floors will encounter. For example, office buildings and schools will not get the same kind of abuse as places that house animals or manufacturing equipment. Take that into account, as some vacuums are built specifically to deal with heavier clean-up duties.


The ultimate Guide for choosing a Comercial Vacuum


Vacuum Cleaner Types


Now that you know what you’re up against, it’s time to choose the vacuum(s) best suited for the environments you’re working with. In almost all of these examples you now have the option to choose either corded or cordless vacuums.

Corded vacuums usually (but not always) have much stronger suction as they’re powered by the mains. They’re also heavier, so if portability is key then a cordless model may be better suited to your needs. However, keep in mind that you won’t have the same kind of suction and it will also lose some of that sucking power as the battery begins to deplete. In short, it’s a trade-off between convenience and suction strength.


Backpack Vacuums


A very popular choice in commercial settings (particularly for office cleaning crews), backpack vacuums are lightweight and ergonomic, making it easier to clean for longer periods of time. They also allow the operator to use their hands to manage the wand without needing to move the cleaner, and this makes moving trash cans, chairs, and other obstacles much easier, too. Most come with long cords, eliminating the need for an additional extension cord, and a changeable HEPA filter.

Robotic Vacuums


Ideally suited to large flooring spaces in warehouses, offices, cafeterias, schools, hospitals, gymnasiums, and convention centers, the automated robotic vacuum requires no user. Just turn it loose and let it do its thing at any time you see fit. Usually powered by Lithium-Ion batteries for extra strength and longevity, this handy tool comes with boundary tape so that you can specify exactly which areas to clean.


Upright Vacuums

No doubt the kind of vacuum you are most familiar with, an upright vacuum is a self-contained, all-in-one design that the operator pushes around the floor. A great general-purpose vacuum for hotel rooms, offices, homes, and restaurants, they are easy to push from room to room. However, heavier models can be tough to take up staircases so keep that in mind.

Wet/Dry Vacuums

Looking for a jack-of-all-trades vacuum? This is the one for you. Very popular in garages and at construction sites, these wet/dry vacuums can go from picking up dirt and debris to cleaning up liquid spills in a flash. This can be a time and money-saving option, but the slight drawback is the noise. They are usually much louder than the other vacuums in this list. Also look for models that are easy to empty as tipping over a vacuum filled with 20+ gallons of water can be difficult.


Canister Vacuums


Well-suited to hospitals, schools, restaurants, airports, hotels, and government buildings, the two-piece design of the motor/dirt container and cleaning wand makes the canister vacuum easy to maneuver around/under furniture and other obstacles. If you’re dealing with environments that have a lot of seating, tables, and staircases you’ll find this vacuum the handiest on the list. 


Handheld Vacuums


If you’re going to be vacuuming a lot of hard to reach or tricky places (drapes, upholstery, small/tight spaces, a handheld vacuum is a great alternative to a larger model. They’re also easier to store as they are much smaller. Just bear in mind they aren’t suited to cleaning large areas and they don’t have the same kind of dirt capacity as full-size vacuums.

Other Factors to Consider


As well as the different kinds of vacuums available you also have other features to bear in mind. Let’s quickly run through some of these choices:


HEPA Filters


High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters trap small particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and even smoke. If this is important for employees, guests, or customers, make sure the vacuum you purchase has a HEPA filter.   


Bagged or Bagless?


Bagless vacuums are commonplace these days, but they’re not always the best choice. If you have to take allergies, asthma, or other health conditions into account, a bagged model has an extra level of filtration. It’s also more efficient and typic ally holds a greater volume of dust, dirt and debris.


Edge-to-Edge Cleaning


Simply put, this feature allows you to go right up to the walls, equipment, and furniture on the very first pass. It’s convenient and a popular feature in uprights.


Cord Lengths


How far from the outlet will you need to go? That can be crucial in choosing a cord length, especially in environments that have a lot of ground to cover. Of course, you can always choose an extension cord if the ideal model doesn’t have the cord length you need.




More power = more weight. So does a larger dirt/debris capacity. If your operator has to negotiate stairs or needs to carry the machine for extended periods of time, choose a lightweight model.


Additional Tools  


Almost every vacuum will come with some kind of tool set for accessing different surfaces and hard to reach places. Check the tools of the model you’re interested in to see if it has everything you require. If not, you may need to order those tools separately.


Noise Level


Finally, another trade-off you may have to make is just how loud your vacuum is. If you’re in areas that are already noisy, or where noise isn’t even an issue, a more powerful machine will usually have a higher decibel level. But if you’re cleaning around people in offices, libraries, or schools, take that into account and look for a quieter vacuum.


So, Ready to Take Your Vacuuming to The Next Level?  

Global Industrial has a wide range of many different kinds of vacuum cleaners, ranging in price, power, and usage. Talk to our friendly experts today and we’ll make sure you get the best possible vacuums for your business.


The information contained in this article is for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations. If there is any question or doubt in regard to any element contained in this article, please consult a licensed professional.  Under no circumstances will Global Industrial® be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on this article.



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