Consumer Reports: Kenmore Vacuum Sucks In A Good Way, Dirt Devil Just Sucks

Consumer Reports’ vacuum cleaner test results are in and there’s bad news for Dirt Devil. Their pretty “Kone” vacuum poses a safety risk.

Here’s what CR had to say:

The best-selling handheld vacuum, the Dirt Devil Kone, has been touted as an elegant, sculptural form, but Consumer Reports found issues with the Kone M0213, $45, and M0212, $43. Four of the M0213 and two of the M0212 test samples threw some of the fine silica sand Consumer Reports uses to test cleaning for all vacuums out their exhaust ports and towards the faces and eyes of the testers. Both models also released small particles of sand found in many backyards and glass from broken lightbulbs in the same way.

If you have one of these vacuums and want more information about the test results, click here. They also had some harsh words for the Roomba 560, which was among the worst at “cleaning edges and corners, and it sometimes roved beyond its electronic borders.”

There was some good news, however, from the world of vacuuming. Here are CR’s new “Best Buys”:

For most consumers, Consumer Reports found that the Kenmore (Sears) Progressive 35922, $350, which is quiet and excellent on carpets, the Kenmore (Sears) (Sears) Progressive 36932, $350, which is a bagless option, and the Eureka Boss Smart Vac 4870, $150, which is inexpensive and impressive on bare floors, are the best choices. All three of these models are designated CR Best Buys.

Vacuum Buying Guide [Consumer Reports]


Edit Your Comment

  1. pockygt says:

    well, that sucks

  2. I would rather shoot sand in my eyes than deal with Sears.

  3. Canino says:

    *sigh* Weren’t we supposed to have fully functional robotic house cleaning machines by now?

    Thanks for nothing Popular Mechanics.

  4. kahri says:

    So they’re telling me that $43 -$45 vacs suck and the $150 – $350 vacs are a “good buy”? got it.

    • Indecent says:

      @kahri: You beat me to it.

      Seriously…I dont expect a 40 dollar hand held to be able to deal with fine grained sand. And I certainly dont expect it to be a $350 upright vacuum.

  5. ncboxer says:

    The Eureka Boss “is” great on bare floors. I had a previous model of the Boss that wasn’t that great on floors but powerful on carpets- on floors it shot dirt away from it. I gave it away to a friend who’s vacuum broke and they had no money for a new one. The new Boss sucks dirt and debris towards it on bare floors, and it is still powerful on carpets.

    • trixrabbit says:

      @ncboxer: ummm, were you not able to turn off the brushes when you used it on floors?

      mine, around 2 yrs old, has a lever to disengage the brushes when you use it on bare floors/tile. otherwise, the brushes fling stuff around.

  6. dorrdon says:

    Aren’t Kenmores just rebadged from other manufacturers? AFAIK, Sears doesn’t have any factories…

    I know with kitchen appliances, the Kenmore could really be a GE or a Fridgadaire (sp).

  7. superchou says:

    I am on my second Eureka Boss and find it to be the best vacuum I have owned – very happy with it and for the price you really cannot beat it. I had my first one for about 10 years and just bought a new one a couple months ago.

    Good to know about the Kone. I have been wanting to pick up a handheld… will keep considering other options.

  8. b612markt says:

    I was perfectly aware that the roomba wouldn’t be that great in corners and edges and I bought one anyway. I simply sweep corners and edges once in a while. I wouldn’t trade my robot vacuum for any Sears product or any other vacuum for that matter.

    Roomba just WORKS.

  9. Scoobatz says:

    We use the Kone everyday and have no complaints. Of course, it’s used only in the kitchen for vacuuming up small crumbs of food that fall into the grout lines of our tile floor. Without it, I don’t know how we would manage to properly clean up after our small kids. And, the design is attractive enough that we leave it plugged in, ready to go.

  10. mobilene says:

    Kenmore vacs are made by Panasonic, according to the vac repairman who didn’t want to fix my 15-year-old Kenmore canister. He says Sears changes the Panasonic specs slightly every year, making parts hard to get for “older” ones (didn’t know 15 was old in vac years).

    Replaced the dead Kenmore with an old Hoover Convertible I got on eBay. It cleans better than the Kenmore ever did and it is built like a Sherman tank.

  11. lannister80 says:

    Just to chime in, Eureka “The Boss” is the best upright vacuum I’ve ever owned. Fantastic device.

  12. picardia says:

    I have a Dirt Devil upright, not the handheld, and it works just fine. I do think wistfully about a Roomba, but what happens when Skynet takes over and the Roombas turn against us? What then?

  13. billin says:

    Ditto b612markt’s comments about the Roomba. Yes, it doesn’t always get corners. But the rolling bristles clean the rest of the floor better than most vacuums I’ve owned. Plus, effort for vacuuming the floor = pushing a single button and leaving for an hour or two to find the Roomba happily reparked in its charger. It’s a bit facetious to compare the Roomba to non-automatic vacs, IMHO.

  14. Psychosocial says:

    I hate my Dirt Devil. It was one of my more disappointing purchases.

  15. ECEGatorTuro says:

    I have a scheduling Roomba so I don’t even have to push the button… it just goes off every day at the same time. I will say this… if you have a huge mess of hair and other crap on the floor, Roomba will not do a good job getting it (especially in one cleaning).

    However, Roomba does a FANTASTIC job at maintaining our floor clean! We have two large dogs that shed like crazy and the Roomba was worth every penny!

    I highly recommend one to anyone who has pets!

  16. dwarf74 says:

    I have a Kenmore Progressive HEPA-filtered bag vacuum that I picked up during a sale many years ago. I went with them because Consumer Reports actually recommended it over the more-expensive Dyson models.

    I haven’t regretted that decision once. It’s a great, powerful vacuum.

    I’d trust CR’s results here, too.

  17. Athenor says:

    I’d recommend following through and watching Consumer Reports’ video on the subject. Not only does it demonstrate what they are talking about, but it goes further and has CR contact the people who make Dirt Devil, who then acknowledge the problem and offer a free fix, as well as how to check for newer models that have the fix pre-installed. That’s pretty snazzy on their part, although it would be better if they informed everyone who registered their warranty on the product instead of only shipping the new part “when asked.”

    Still, good on Dirt Devil for being proactive.

  18. tkozikow says:

    We bought the Sears Kenmore two years ago based on the CR review and recommendation and agree that it is an outstanding vacuum. It works TONS better than the $500 Miele we bought a few years earlier. The only downside is that the high efficiency bags are pricey, but I think that I have found an alternative online source.

  19. losrocks says:

    agree with b612markt and billin regarding the roomba.

    it may not do quite as good a job as an upright, but shouldn’t really be expected to. it DOES do an admirable job, and my apartment is much cleaner with it than it would be with an upright, because of time and effort.

    before the roomba i simply did not take time to vacuum until the dust bunnies attacked. now i just turn it on right before leaving for work a couple times a week, and it’s job is done by the time i get home. end result? cleaner apartment, easier life.

  20. Xerloq says:

    I second (or third, or whatever) the Eureka Boss. We got ours for $99 on sale at Wally-World, and it’s been fabulous. We moved into a new apartment and the landlord had a Dyson he’d used to clean up a bit after the remodel. I promptly filled a bag in the Boss with the stuff the Dyson missed. We liked the Kenmore, but $350 was $250 more than the Boss for negligible performance increase.

  21. FLConsumer says:

    I normally disagree with Consumer Reports, but I have a Kenmore Progressive canister vac, a Panasonic canister vac, and a 2nd generation Roomba. Very impressed with all of them.

    Let’s be honest here. The Roomba is a glorified sweeper. I’m very impressed with how well it picks up dust and dirt, but I know it’s no substitute for proper vacuuming. Because it gets run more frequently than I’d vacuum, it does fill a niche.

    The Kenmore & Panasonic canisters are absolutely great. Quiet (my main concern), picks up dirt well, thin vacuum head that fits beneath furniture. Very pleased.

    • wellarmedsheep says:

      Never pay 350 for the Sears Progressive, if you go in and see it for that price wait a week, its generally on sale for either 270 or 250.

      @FLConsumer: Panasonic makes all the canisters for Kenmore so its not surprising you like both

    • ScottCh says:

      @FLConsumer: You normally disagree with Consumer Reports. Right, that makes sense. Is it their punctuation? Word choice? Or maybe their detailed scientific testing regimens?

      For many years, they were a lone voice in the wilderness protesting the public from head-splitting lawn darts, leaded indoor house paint, and processed sugar confections disguised as part of this complete breakfast.

      I ain’t saying they’re perfect, but many of us would be much deader without them, and many more would be much worse off.

  22. baristabrawl says:

    I wouldn’t own a Sears product. I don’t care for them.

    I own the DirtDevil Kone and lemme tellya it’s douchetastic! I could suck more dust thru one nostril than this does. The vacuum hole opening is just too small. Cute? SURE! But I would like form and function. I thought it would be great for vacuuming up kitty litter. Don’t try. You’re better off to lick a finger and press it into the litter like crumbs.

  23. karmaghost says:

    Wait, a vacuum in the shape of a circle doesn’t go well in corners? Appalling! :P

    But seriously, I’ve always wanted a roomba and I still want one, especially now that I have a cat.

  24. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    Great for evicting spiders and other uninvited critters.

  25. Aeroracere says:

    Buy a Roomba. They are awesome.

  26. Joey_Brill says:

    I went back to my 35 year old Rainbow with a water tank. I’ve found two backups at the Goodwill in case I need backup (had to dig through many discarded dirt devils to get at them BTW).

    I gave my roomba to my sister-in-law. It ate too much of my cheap carpet. I pulled more carpet fuzz off the bristles than anything else.

    The Scooba, however, is great. Big dogs with beards are frightened of Scooba.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:


      Did you have the new version of the Roomba? It’s much better. FWIW, They rated the Scooba as being worthless because it “couldn’t ‘even’ clean behind a toilet”….

      All I know is, my wood floors have gone from being mopped once a year before an xmas party, to once or twice a week – and it does a great job!

      I was amazed that they didn’t review Bosch vacs – bought one awhile back and it’s amazing – was about $250, and they thought of everything – plus it looks awesome. The only neg. on it is that they originally wanted to call it the “Zyklon” (German for Cyclone) but failed to realize that – especially considering that they’re a large company that was rather active during the Holocaust – it was a terrible idea until some court in the EU got involved.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:


      Oh, and dogs may be afraid of Scooba, but my ferrets just fight each other to see who gets to hitch a ride on it!

  27. unleashed says:

    The Kone is probably the worst vacuum you can buy on the market. The fact that it’s apparently popular, blows my mind. Actually working was sacrificed for stupid design.

  28. Ben Popken says:

    What good is an elegantly sculpted form if you’re blinded by broken lightbulb shrapnel?

  29. highmodulus says:

    Love how the pricey Dyson’s actually are not really all that good. Used the Consumer Reports recommendations last year to get a new canister vac- and it worked as good as they promised and I avoided the poser tax the Dyson’s require.

  30. suebob says:

    I love my Sears Progressive vac. Works great. The powered hand-held tool that comes with it is great for upholstery and stairs and small places. The only complaint I have is that the plastic door that covers the spare tools is kind of flimsy.

  31. snoop-blog says:

    no kirby fans out there? And btw, I’d rather lick my carpet clean than lug around a rainbow and empty a bucket of water (which looks like a dead rat is in their somewhere) and have to clean that thing out. you do realize if you don’t clean it out real good after every use, you just blowing mold and germs around your house at the same time as you vacuum. I could show you in about 20 mins, why rainbow is the worse vac ever made. I use to sell kirbys, and it’s thee best as far as power and filtration goes, and that was lab proven on it’s hepa bags. It sucks more cubic feet of air through it than any other vac, also lab proven, And the dirt does not run through the motor (as most store bought vacs do) so that’s why the last FOREVER. Plus they come with a free manufacturers rebuild warranty (like you’d ever even need it though). I will say the the best store bought vac (and i made a 2 year career out of going toe to toe with ALL vacs) was the Eureka Boss. Pound for pound, was thee best competition against the kirby. So that equals a lot of value for your dollar. Sure the kirby is better, but honestly unless you have over 20k worth of carpet in your house to protect, it’s not worth spending the extra money on one. Most people are just satisfied with their vacuum picking up the dirt they can see and aren’t so much worried about the dirt you can’t see (which is deeper in and under your carpet).

    btw- rainbow owners try this to test your filtration, (which they tout to be good, but notice they won’t compare to hepa filtration). Put some baking soda on your carpet and rub it in real good to the point where you can barely see it, (and I’m talking about at least a cup of soda) vacuum it up, and take a flashlight to your exhaust side, and just watch the dust fly!

  32. snoop-blog says:

    btw- you’ll probably need me to come over with my kirby afterwards to get out the rest of that baking soda that you can’t see (because it’s under your carpet). But When I did it with the kirby all the time, I’d put one cup in, and pull one cup out, and measured to prove it to you.

  33. GoVacuum says:

    Consumer reports misses the boat on their vacuum recomendations every year. Kenmore canisters have been #1 for 10 years (this seems very odd to me). Kenmore canisters are made by Panasonic for Sears. One year consumer reports made the claim that Kenmore canisters clean pet hair better then Panasonic canisters. LOL. They are the same identical vacuum cleaner, no differences! As a vacuum mechanic, I am alway so frustrated with Consumer Reports. Here’s a video showing this;

    + Watch video

    • snoop-blog says:

      @GoVacuum: I totally agree with you on C.R. missing the boat with vacs every year. I’ve been telling people this ever since I sold kirbys.

    • snoop-blog says:

      @GoVacuum: great video!

    • narf says:

      @GoVacuum: Yeah, I found it ironic that the Panasonics were rated lower than the similar Kenmores too. Not that I’m too particular about CR ratings anymore anyways; it’s been years since I subscribed, seeing how it’s not like I afford new products all the time anyways.

      My 20+ year old Oreck may not be pretty, or the most convenient, but it works fine enough for me.

  34. madog says:

    I know it’s a bit pricey but I love my miele. Small and powerful with the greatest addition ever: a retractable power cord.

  35. ScottCh says:

    OK, I understand now. People who either buy or sell overpriced, heavily marketed vacuum cleaner products that are primarily sold through testimonials and infomercials do not believe that CU’s product comparisons are correct.

    I guess the detailed letters sent by Oreck and Kirby explaining why they’re so wrong got lost in the mail… :-/