The Best Play Vacuums (Toddler Toy Reviews) – 2019 Edition
When you want to get your children started early with good habits like cleaning, play vacuums are an asset. Play vacuums teach your child to pay attention to detail, maintain a clean habitat, and to pitch in with household tasks.
But, some play vacuums can do more than engender your child with good habits. Some play vacuums can teach your child other lessons like how to name colors and how to use other cleaning tools.
In this article, we’ll examine a group of the best play vacuums on the market so that your family will know which play vacuum is the best choice for your family’s newest addition.
Play Vacuum Reviews
Our #1 Choice – Hello Kitty Vacuum Cleaner
With a cheerful Hello Kitty aesthetic, this Hello Kitty play vacuum is sure to delight your young cleaner.
- Beautiful design
- Lights up and makes vacuum sounds
- Great for 3-year olds
- Sounds may be annoying
The Hello Kitty vacuum has everything that you’d expect from a play vacuum: a kid-friendly look, rolling dust-busting, and vacuum noises. The vacuum also lights up when it plays sounds, which may be a nice addition for your child.
The main draw of this vacuum is definitely its Hello Kitty branding. While the vac is easy to maneuver for young children, it might be a bit heavy for the youngest of children. So, make sure that your child is larger than the vacuum itself when they’re standing and everything will be fine.
Our #2 Choice – Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Light-up Learning Vacuum
The Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn light-up play vacuum is the prototypical play vacuum for kids.
- Cheerful blue exterior
- Great tilting action
- Teaches songs during play
- Doesn’t roll very smoothly
The Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn has all the features that define play vacuums: great aesthetics, tilting action like a real vacuum, and delightful switches and knobs to play with.
But, your child will get more than the bare basics when they use this vacuum. The vacuum also lights up and plays three different songs which your child can sing back to the vac while they work.
The songs are classics like Mary Had A Little Lamb, but they’re conveyed accurately by the diminutive speaker inside of the vacuum. The more your child likes to practice the songs with the vacuum, the more that you will need to replace the batteries, but it isn’t a major issue.
The only problem that your child may have with this vacuum is that the wheels are not very mobile. While your expectations for the mobility of play vacuums should always be low, the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn borders on having mobility issues as a result.
Our #3 Choice – Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Vacuum
Much like the other Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn vacuum we’ve reviewed today, this play vacuum is one of the classics as a result of its good aesthetics, durability, and the potential for learning songs during play.
- Compact form factor
- Three different sets of songs to learn
- Great wheel mobility
- Weak tilting action
Unlike the prior Fisher-Price play vacuum, the Smart Stages vacuum has nine songs to learn instead of only three. This means that your child can move from learning easier songs while vacuuming to more complex songs.
The three levels of songs mean that even musically inclined children will have difficulty keeping up, which makes this vacuum a better learning tool than many of the others on the market.
Likewise, this vacuum has excellent mobility as a result of its smooth wheels. However, the Smart Stages vacuum can’t pivot at a hinge like its companion Fisher-Price vacuums can. This is a minor qualm for most children, so you shouldn’t let it dissuade you from picking this vacuum.
Our #4 Choice – Kidzlane Kids Cleaning Set for Toddlers
The Kidzlane Kids Cleaning Set isn’t technically a play vacuum, but it has all of the ingredients that your child will need to learn basic cleaning skills.
- Contains five different cleaning tools
- Great for teaching complex cleaning routines
- Doesn’t contain a vacuum
In the Kidzlane Kids Cleaning Set, you’ll get a broom, a mop, a duster, a brush, a pan, a bucket, a Wet Floor sign, and two mock floor cleaning bottles. This means that the set can be used to teach your child how to clean up all sorts of messes.
In fact, you might consider the Kidzlane set to be the way to introduce your child to cleaning routines that don’t involve a vacuum. You could start your child off with sweeping, then proceed to mopping and cleaning. Don’t forget to have them set up the Wet Floor sign before they start!
The drawback to this set is that you’ll need to find another toy if you want to teach your child how to vacuum. Otherwise, it’s a comprehensive approach to floor cleaning and a great introduction to responsible housekeeping.
Our #5 Choice – Melissa & Doug Wooden Let’s Play House
The Melissa and Doug Let’s Play House set has everything that your child will need to clean all of the floors in your home — and the Melissa and Doug standard of quality means that they might be able to pass the set on to their children, too.
- Constructed from durable and safe wood
- Contains five household cleaning toys
- Comes with a convenient hanging stand
- Pretend mess pieces may become strewn around the house
The Melissa and Doug set contains a wooden play vacuum, a broom, a mop, a brush, a dustpan, a duster, and five pretend messes.
The pretend messes range from peanuts to Band-Aids, so they’re a great way to teach your child which things they should pick up from the floor. Thanks to the duster in the set, you could teach your child how to clean areas of your home that are not floors, which is valuable.
Everything in the set is made from beautiful and sturdy wood. The only frustration that you may have with the set is that the pretend messes don’t have a convenient storage location.
And, you guessed it — your child may leave the pretend mess pieces around the house for you to step on, which in effect makes them indistinguishable from real messes.
Our #6 Choice – Melissa & Doug Wooden Vacuum Cleaner Play Set
When your child needs a beautiful vacuum, but you don’t want to put up with the endless noises which digital play vacuums can make, the Melissa and Doug wooden vacuum cleaner play set is a great choice.
- Includes seven pretend mess pieces
- Comfortable handle
- Doesn’t make any sounds
- Doesn’t make any sounds
- No carrying container included
Much like the other Melissa and Doug cleaning set, this set is very high quality. But, the pretend messes are more numerous with this set — and the lack of a storage container for the pretend messes can become problematic very quickly.
So, you may want to provide your child with a carrying case for the pretend messes if you decide to purchase them this vacuum set. Interestingly, while this play vacuum isn’t digital, it does have a cool feature which other children’s vacuums may not.
When your child rolls over one of the pretend messes with the vacuum, it gets picked up and deposited inside the vacuum’s bucket.
This means that it is a helpful way to teach your child how to pick up after themselves without giving them the idea that anything which enters the vacuum is removed from existence.
Our #7 Choice – VTech Pop and Count Vacuum Push Toy
The VTech Pop and Count Vacuum Push Toy is a traditional play vacuum which creates delightful popping noises while your child pushes it around the living room floor.
- Batteries optional
- Has 35 different songs
- Can teach basic counting skills
- Interface may be confusing for adults
The VTech Pop and Count Vacuum Push Toy is great because you don’t need to provide it with batteries for your child to find it entertaining.
While batteries will unlock the vacuum’s songs and teaching capabilities, it’s easy to envision your child being pleased by the mechanical popping noises produced by the vacuum when it’s pushed around.
Even the youngest children will find the VTech vacuum easy to push around thanks to its lightness. Likewise, the vacuum can be used with children who are younger than age three, so you can use it with younger children than with most other play vacuums.
Despite the fact that the vacuum is intended for the youngest children, adults will likely find its interface difficult to navigate. The buttons aren’t labelled very effectively, and it isn’t clear which button and which switch corresponds to which song and which learning activity.
Your toddler will probably pick up the basics of the vacuum’s interface in no time flat, however.
Our #8 Choice – Disney Minnie Bowtique Vacuum Cleaner
This Minnie play vacuum is extremely cute, and your young Minnie fan will love to use it to pretend to putter around the house and help with cleaning.
- Pink princess aesthetic
- Good for older toddlers
- Realistic handling
- Clunky handling for a child’s vacuum
Minnie is an idol for many small children, and so using a vacuum which features Minnie is practically a gift of its own to them. This Minnie vacuum lights up, makes Minnie sounds, and has a huge storage container for whichever tidbits your toddler vacuums up during play.
You’ll need to supply this vacuum with plenty of batteries, and you’ll also need to ensure that your child is capable of moving it around without too much trouble. Much like vacuums for adults from a bygone era, this vacuum is tough to push. Making tight corners is nearly impossible.
But, your child will get a good workout while they use the vacuum. Likewise, they’ll need to learn to be persistent while trucking it around.
Our #9 Choice – PlayGo 2 in 1 Household Vacuum Cleaner
The PlayGo 2 in 1 Household Vacuum Cleaner is a tall and maneuverable play vacuum which your child will enjoy using to clean the home at high speeds.
- Streamlined aesthetics
- Easy to store
- Great for energetic children
- Doesn’t look great
With this vacuum, your child will vacuum as quickly as they desire. The vacuum’s high-quality wheels and lightness make it great for children who run around the house while vacuuming rather than walking.
The PlayGo can also play some songs during vacuuming, but the song selection isn’t extensive.
The PlayGo 2 in 1’s only drawback is that its aesthetics are forgettable. It doesn’t look very cheerful, and adults will find it to be typical of a children’s toy in terms of its visual appeal.
Importantly, you shouldn’t give this vacuum to children who are under age three, as it has some small parts which may be choking hazards.
What should I look for in a play vacuum?
When you look for a play vacuum for your child, you should be on the lookout for three core features:
- Learning potential
The learning potential of a play vacuum is an obvious factor because your child will be spending a substantial amount of time using the toy. The best play vacuums help your child to learn songs, counting skills, and even colors. This means that the best play vacuums are often digital.
Likewise, the play vacuum will get dragged around your house, and young children aren’t known for being very careful with their toys. So, if their play vacuum isn’t durable, they’ll quickly cause it to accumulate dents and chips.
Finally, the size of the play vacuum is critical because it determines when and for how long your child can gracefully use the toy. If the vacuum is too big and you purchase it for your child too early, they won’t be able to play with it very well.
But, on the other hand, if you give your child a vacuum that is the right size for their age, they’ll get a lot of play time out of it. So, make sure that your play vacuum choice is age-appropriate. This is double true for the few play vacuums that have choking hazard parts.
Are there any play vacuum brands to avoid?
No, there aren’t any particular play vacuum brands that you should avoid. In fact, you may be tempted to purchase artisanally crafted wooden play vacuums produced by small toy companies. You can feel confident that play vacuums are of reasonable quality.
When should my child get a play vacuum?
Most children start with a play vacuum at age three, although some children can start using them as early as age one. The correct age depends on the child’s level of activity, independence, and size.
More energetic and independent children can probably approach a play vacuum much earlier than withdrawn children or those who show less inclination towards active play.
You should put some effort into making sure that your child gets a play vacuum that is appropriate for their age, activity level, and size because it maximizes the chances of your child using the toy to the largest benefit.
What skills can a play vacuum teach my child?
Play vacuums are great for teaching your child a few basic skills, including:
- Keeping a clean household
- Cleaning up after themselves
- Responsibility regarding chores
- Identifying which items are garbage
The extent of the learning opportunity in a child’s vacuum varies substantially depending on the vacuum in question, however. Most play vacuums teach basic cleaning and responsibility, but only digital play vacuums will teach them how to count or sing.
The degree that your child can learn to count or sing with the help of their play vacuum will vary substantially depending on which vacuum they are using, but you should not have very high expectations.
Your child will almost certainly need additional tutelage to learn these concepts comprehensively. But, for simpler concepts like repeating a song, toy vacuums are effective learning tools, especially when used in many repetitions.
Toy vacuums can also help your child to learn about object permanence, as they can observe items disappearing from the floor and appearing in the container of their toy vacuum.
As always, your child will learn the most from their play vacuum when they have your guidance.
You can potentially increase the learning potential of your child’s play vacuum by providing your child with a few new objects to pick up as trash or by having them follow you when you clean around the house.
Are play vacuums good for active play?
Yes, vacuums are great for active play because the only way to use them is to be up and active. There’s no way to play with a toy vacuum in a sedentary way.
When your child uses their play vacuum, they have to learn a lot of the key motor skills that will sustain them throughout life. First, they’ll need to hold themselves upright, which takes energy for a toddler.
Second, children playing with toy vacuums will need to exert themselves as they push it around the house. The vacuums themselves are often heavy in comparison to what a toddler is capable of easily lifting, so they will also gain body awareness and proprioception while playing.
While the calorie burn of playing with a toy vacuum isn’t anything that you need to be worried about, it will help your child to appreciate active play, especially if they enjoy the learning aspects which are incorporated in many toy vacuums.
Are play vacuums safe?
Yes, most play vacuums are safe, if you give them to children who are in the age group that the vacuum is intended for. But, there are a few concerns which you need to be aware of if you want to get the perfect toy vacuum for your child.
Some play vacuums have small parts which may be choking hazards for children younger than age three. Others may be far too large for young children, which means that they may accidentally hurt themselves if they overturn the toy onto themselves.
Play vacuums should be constructed with child-safe materials, so you shouldn’t need to worry about any potentially contamination from the manufacturing processes. But, if you want to be totally safe from the possibility of any chemical contamination, you should buy a wood toy vac.
The wooden toy vacuums are typically treated with a child-safe finish, but these finishes are safe. Because wood is all natural, your child can enjoy the play vacuum experience and you can avoid concerns about chemical exposure.