A great canister vacuum with a hose will clean your stairs and nab the cobwebs in the corners of the ceiling, an upright vacuum is best for the bedroom carpet and a strong, cordless hand vacuum will fill in the gaps for all the small (or not so small) messes in the car or in between regular vacuumings. But the reality is that most of us probably don't want multiple vacuums cluttering up the broom closet. A single vacuum that can take care of all of your home cleaning needs is not an easy find, but this two-in-one upright and canister vacuum from Shark gets us just a little closer to a one-vacuum household living.
The Shark APEX is currently our top pick for the best vacuums you can buy in 2022 after putting it head-to-head against 20 other models in a total of 320 side-by-side cleaning tests. We in the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab have tested hundreds of vacuum cleaners over the years, evaluating each one for suction power and performance, maneuverability and general ease of use. Read on to see if the Shark APEX is the right vacuum cleaner for your household cleaning needs.
At a Glance
- Cord Length: 30 feet
- Weight: 16 lbs
- Cleaning Modes: Hard floor, carpet/low pile, thick carpet/area rug
- Dust Collection: Bagless dust cup
- Filter: Pre-motor foam and felt filter, post-motor HEPA
- Warranty: Five years
What We Love
All of the vacuums that come through our Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab are put through the same rigorous performance and ease of use tests where our experts simulate, as best as we can, all kinds of home cleaning situations across tile, vinyl, hardwood and carpeted floors. The Shark APEX earned high scores in our bare floor and carpet pick-up tests picking up more than 94% of the distributed debris across our test floors. With perfect scores in our Lab’s air suction and sound tests, the APEX proves that a vacuum with strong suction doesn’t have to disturb your peace
In our Lab’s ease of use tests, it earned good scores for its straightforward controls, comfortable handle and easy-to-empty dust cup. Weighing in at 16 pounds, it was one of the heaviest models we tested, but it was nonetheless easy to push and pull along bare floors.
The powered lift-away feature allows you to clean the areas you would normally clean with a canister vacuum like stairs and under tight furniture without compromising suction power or cleaning range. Plus it's a convenient-to-store model that can be easily tucked away in the back of a closet without taking up too much floor space. The APEX has a 30-foot cord — no more finding another outlet to clean the other side of the room — plus three attachments to tackle a variety of cleaning needs: a crevice tool to get into all the nooks and crannies, an upholstery tool for your furniture and a pet brush to take care of the seemingly never-ending stream of hair from your fur babies.
The APEX is a bagless vacuum with a dust cup that one consumer tester says has a “button that is easy to find,” and we agree. All of the buttons on the handle and main body are clearly labeled, and the dust cup has a wide opening that releases all of the debris the vacuum picks up every time. While bagless options are often not a favorite for allergy sufferers, the APEX might be the exception. The entire vacuum is sealed for total dust retention. With washable foam, felt and HEPA filters, your dust and debris are sure to stay where they belong, in the device, not circulating back into the air. For these reasons, the Shark APEX also tops a second of our expert-picked lists — the best HEPA vacuums.
Rounding out its impressive list of features are a dual bristle brush and a soft brush roll to deep-clean carpets and give bare floors a polished look. Maintaining the brushes is easy with Shark Zero-M technology that removes hair wrapped around the bristle brush while you clean.
What floor types is the Shark APEX best for?
The Shark APEX has three cleaning modes for hard flooring, low-pile carpet and thick carpets/area rugs. We tested the Shark APEX in the Cleaning Lab on hardwood floors, vinyl and tiled floors and low- and medium-pile carpets. It performed well on all of these floor types, picking up oatmeal, rice and faux pet hair with very little debris left behind. We found that the suction increased significantly when the vacuum was switched to one of the carpet modes, and the brush rolls spun noticeably faster too. The soft brush roll is great at picking up small pieces of debris from hard floors without causing any damage to more delicate floor types like hardwood.
Can the Shark APEX handle pet hair?
Yes, it did in our Lab test! In the Cleaning Lab, we use rayon fibers that mimic the feel of fluffy pet hair to test each vacuum cleaner's ability to pick up pet hair from carpets and hard flooring. The APEX handled our "pet hair" very well, especially with the pet power brush attachment that suctioned hair that wasn't even in its direct path. It was, however, very loud and we didn't love that some of the hair became stuck to the lint strip and the bottom of the pet power brush instead of being suctioned into the dust cup. Some of the more embedded hair was left behind on the first pass, but the second time around took care of the stragglers.
Note that we didn't test the APEX using longer hairs that often become tangled around the brush rolls of many vacuum cleaners, but this vacuum's brush roll is designed to help minimize those tangles. That said, even with all of our years of experience testing vacuum cleaners, we haven't found a model that totally eliminates this hair-tangling problem.
What to keep in mind before you buy
We found that it was necessary to push with a little extra force when attaching the handle to the main body of the vacuum. Even after hearing the handle seemingly clicked into place, it sometimes detached when we were ready to start our next test which was unexpected and a bit annoying. It didn't happen all the time, so make sure it's secure whenever you reattach it.
The APEX is also heavier than many other models we've tested in the Lab so keep this in mind if you have to carry it across long distances or up and down stairs. It also tips over easily. We noticed it most when we used it as an upright and pulled on the hose without detaching the main body from the motorized floor brush. The swivel neck on this vacuum makes it easy to maneuver around corners, but also a bit difficult to keep on a steady, straight path and it required a pretty significant push to get across thicker carpets.
The soft brush roll is great for leaving hard floors spotless, but our experts noted that this vacuum doesn't give you the option to turn off the brush rolls or control the suction power beyond the three floor mode options. Note that the 0n-board storage only holds two of the three included attachments.
The bottom line: Is the Shark APEX Vacuum worth it?
If cutting down on the number of cleaning appliances you have at home is your goal, a multitasking vacuum like the Shark APEX Powered Lift-Away Upright Vacuum is a solid option. It has powerful suction, a small footprint so it's easy to store and it's loaded with many of the features we look for in the best vacuums like a HEPA filter, the ability to clean different floor types and attachments to help tackle messes in hard to reach areas in your home.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Jodhaira Rodriguez has been testing and writing about cleaning appliances like robot vacuums, uprights and stick vacs in the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab since 2021. During her time in the Cleaning Lab, she conducted the Lab's first-ever test of wet dry vacuum mops and tested many of the vacuums that were submitted for consideration in this year's Cleaning and Organizing Awards. For this story, she personally tested the Shark APEX vacuum in the Lab, repeating many of the tests that were originally conducted with this model when it was first tested by our cleaning experts years ago.
Jodhaira (she/her) is a product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Care & Cleaning Lab, where she tests and writes about home appliances, cleaning products and cleaning tips. Prior to joining GH in 2021, she graduated from Hofstra University with a bachelor’s degree in forensic science and spent two years as an analyst in an environmental lab in Queens.