Aug 30, 2023
Shark vs. Dyson Vacuums 2023: Which Vacuum Brand is Better?
We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process. These popular brands always
We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.
These popular brands always meet head-to-head in our tests. Here's how they stack up.
We know from experience that buying the best vacuum cleaner is a confusing proposition no matter what brands or models you are considering. In fact, I'm often asked by friends, relatives and visitors to our Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care and Cleaning Lab to recommend the best vacuum cleaner for pet hair, the best stick vacuum or the best robot vacuum. And inevitably, I'm also asked my opinion of two very specific and very popular vacuum cleaner brands, Shark and Dyson.
When we test vacuums in the GH Cleaning Lab, cleaning performance is our number one concern. We want to know how well each model picks up dirt and debris embedded into carpet, sprinkled on bare floors and trapped along wall edges. We test how adept each vacuum is at removing pet hair stuck to carpeting as well as ease-of-use concerns like how heavy it is to carry. And, let's face it. If a vacuum isn't easy to use, you won't use it. We assess the ease of removing and emptying the dust cup or bag, the usability of the attachments, a vacuum's maneuverability and more.
Overall, both Shark and Dyson vacuums perform well in our tests and we have recommended them both often. But is one better? Read on to see the differences between them that we've found through testing and brand research and that you should know before choosing.
Full-size upright vacuums are best for cleaning homes with mostly carpeting or a mix of carpet and bare floors. Some upright models automatically adjust the height of the nozzle to accommodate different flooring types while others need to be manually adjusted. They usually come with an onboard hose, wands and attachments for cleaning above the floor or into tight spaces. Uprights usually provide the best cleaning performance on deep-pile carpets.
This model most closely resembles and sports many of the same design features found on the Shark upright vacuums we've most recently tested, so we'd expect the same great carpet, pet hair and bare floor cleaning performance here. A double-roll power head (a feature that other brands have now copied) cleans carpets and picks up dirt, debris and hair from hard floors without the need to switch nozzles. Its impressive sealed system and HEPA filter capture and retain even the tiniest particles and an odor-neutralizing capsule limits dank and dusty odors inside the vacuum. Shark's Lift Away pod conveniently and easily transforms the upright into a portable canister or low-reaching stick vacuum, and the dust cup and filter are easy to remove, clean and replace.
Dyson introduced its Ball vacuums many years ago, and while the brand has mostly shifted its focus to cordless models, Dyson still has a few corded uprights in its line. Though we haven't tested one in a while, the last time we did, it had great suction and pickup performance. The ball made it easy to maneuver, though a bit clunky to carry around and store. Like Shark, this vacuum has a sealed system, HEPA filter and an easy-to-remove and clean dust bin. The extra-long stretch hose and wands provide incredible reach and telescope back into the body of the vacuum for neat storage.
Though the price for this Dyson, especially at Walmart, is hard to beat, we have to give this one to Shark for its versatility, its metal — not plastic — wands and the fact that Shark continues to innovate its upright vacuums while Dyson is focusing its efforts more on cordless stick vacuums.
The new darling of the vacuum cleaner industry, cordless stick vacuums are lightweight and convenient appliances to easily grab when you need to clean in a hurry, spruce up the kitchen floor after dinner, zap pet hair on stairs in handheld mode or just don't feel like lugging out and plugging in a full-size vacuum. They now offer multiple power levels, more powerful and longer-lasting batteries and innovative attachments that may just put your full-size vacuum out of business.
In our tests, this Shark stick vacuum had great run time and was comfortable to hold, easy to use and very maneuverable. The battery can be charged separately, though we wish it had a light to alert you when charging is complete. Nice extras that we didn't see on other stick vacuums included a capsule to neutralize odors and a wand that flexes in the center to reach under low furniture. The flex wand also allows you to fold the vacuum in half for more compact storage or to stand it on its own without the need for wall mounting. Its cleaning performance on bare floors was very good, but this Shark model struggled with our carpet edge cleaning and pet hair pickup tests.
This Dyson model was a star in our recent test of 22 cordless stick vacuums. It aced all of our cleaning tests with its powerful suction and great brush action, removing virtually all of the pet hair we spread across our test carpets in just one pass. We applaud Dyson for switching from its trigger on/off switch (something many users complained about) to a traditional on/off button for this model. The laser light on the fluffy floor head is a game changer when it comes to cleaning in dark corners and other places where dirt is difficult to see. It's lightweight and easy to maneuver and the only hiccup we found is that it doesn't stand up on its own unless you put it into its wall-mounted caddy.
Hands down, Dyson is the winner here, especially at this price. Its stellar cleaning performance, light weight and easy-to-use features and attachments all make it a standout. We're not fans of having to wall-mount stick vacuums to get them to stand on their own, but we're willing to overlook that for how well the Dyson cleans and all the other plusses it offers.
From the launch of the very first Black & Decker Dustbuster in 1979, we've had an affection for handheld vacuums. Charged and ready to go at a moment's notice, they are the perfect tools for quickly picking up dry spills. They make it easy to clean small messes, in tight spaces and even the car. For the most part, battery performance and run time have improved over the years and many now come with attachments to tackle more cleaning tasks.
In our last test of 19 handheld vacuums, we found the Shark WandVac to be compact and super lightweight and ideal for quick cleanup jobs. The accessory caddy attaches to the charging dock, keeping the combination duster/crevice tool and multi-surface pet tool right where you need them. It performed very well in our cleaning tests and was especially good at picking up large debris and pet hair with its multi-surface pet tool, though fluff did get caught on the brush and had to be removed by hand. We like its washable filter and that it recharged faster than other slimline handheld vacuums we tested.
With its powerful battery and sealed HEPA system, the Dyson Humdinger operates more like the top half of a Dyson stick vacuum than a traditional handheld vacuum. While we haven't tested this specific model, we've tested Dyson's previous Car & Boat handheld vacuum along with enough Dyson stick vacuums to know how well they clean and how easy they are to use and maintain. Great suction along with its innovative hair-grabbing tool make it especially effective at removing pet hair from upholstery and other fabrics, though its overall size and shape may make maneuvering into tight spaces tricky.
We have to go with Shark on this matchup. The whole point of a handheld vacuum is that it's compact and easy to use and store. Sure, Shark's run time could be longer and its dust cup could be a bit bigger, but handheld vacuums are most often used for quick pickups, and we think the Shark's light weight and slim design give it the edge here. Plus, it's less than half the price of the Dyson, and if you already own a stick vac, you can convert that to a handheld for jobs that need longer run times or more power.
It depends. Both perform well and have pluses and minuses, so which to choose hinges on what type of vacuum you're looking to buy and how much you want to spend. The only category where the two brands really overlap right now is stick vacuums, though we expect to see a robot and maybe even a vacuum mop from Dyson soon. Shark vacuums provide very good cleaning and filtration along with smart design features and great value. Dyson's strength is its cleaning prowess, filtration and battery and motor technologies. We recommend shopping for sales and buying the most high-end vacuum you can afford. If we had to pick one right now, it would be Dyson for a stick vacuum and Shark for everything else.
Carolyn Forté brings more than 40 years of experience as a consumer products expert to her role as executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Care and Cleaning Lab. Using deep analytical testing and writing expertise in appliances, cleaning, textiles and organizational products, she produces cleaning and home care advice for GH, has authored numerous books and bookazines for the brand and partners with the American Cleaning Institute to co-produce the Discover Cleaning Summits. She holds a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from Queens College, City University of New York.
8 Best Vacuums for Hardwood Floors
9 Best Vacuums for Pet Hair of 2023
How to Attract and Kill Fruit Flies, Instantly
9 Best Fabric Softeners of 2023
5 Best Stackable Washers and Dryers 2023
7 Best Cordless Stick Vacuums of 2023
8 Best Granite Cleaners 2023
10 Best Pressure Washers of 2023, Expert-Tested
How to Clean Your Hairbrush
7 Best Carpet Cleaners of 2023
How to Clean and Re-Season a Cast Iron Skillet
How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets Until They ShineBoth brands Shark Dyson's Both brands Shark Dyson PriceSharkDysonShark DysonTest #1: Upright VacuumsTest #1: Upright Vacuums DysonShark vacuums provide very good cleaning and filtration along with smart design features and great value. Dyson's strength is its cleaning prowess, filtration and battery and motor technologies.