A good vacuum cleaner can make an unbearable chore a breeze. Our Best Vacuum Cleaner Round-up covers all types of vacs, including bagged machines, bagless models, cordless vacuums, cylinder vacuums and uprights.
Our round-up includes several brands, such as Miele, Shark, Dyson and Vax. All the models in our round-up have been tested by our expert husband and wife reviewing team, Richard and Jackie Stevenson.
The round-up includes summaries of their full reviews, but you can click the read more link on each to read the full review and see before and after photos from each machine.
Hit the Next arrow above or click here to start the list now, or read on for more advice and information on which type you should buy, how we test and a useful summary of the best vacuum cleaners we’ve tested.
Watch: First look at Dyson's new robot vacuum cleaner, the 360 Eye
There are two key choices to make here. First, you need to choose between bagged and bagless vacuum cleaners; secondly, are you better off with an upright or a cylinder vacuum cleaner? We’ll get to those in a moment.
But there’s one further option – cordless vacuum cleaners. They’re a new trend in vacuum cleaners. Most aren’t as powerful as corded vacuum cleaners, but they make up for that with versatility and simplicity. Ridding yourself of the cable makes spot cleans much easier, so they’re a great alternative if you already have a decent corded vacuum cleaner for tougher jobs.
Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog Powerline at Amazon.co.uk | Was £270 | Now £199.99
Vax Air Cordless Lift U85-ACLG-B at Amazon.co.uk | Was £190 | Now £167
Vax Air Cordless Lift U85-ACLG-B at Amazon.com | Was $299 | Now $189
Gtech AirRam Cordless at Amazon.co.uk | Was £229 | Now £194.99
Dyson V6 Fluffy Cordless at Amazon.co.uk | Was £315 | Now £268
Dyson popularised bagless vacuum cleaners, but there are clear advantages and disadvantages to both types. The main benefit of a bagless vacuum cleaner is no loss of suction, or at least a smaller reduction, as your cleaner fills up. Performance varies from brand to brand, depending on the quality of their systems, but that’s the key selling point.
The problem with bagless vacuum cleaners is that they can send dust back into your room when emptied unless you’re very careful. That’s where bagged vacuum cleaners are best, particularly the self-sealing kind used by the likes of Miele. A bagged vacuum cleaner is a better option if you’re an allergy sufferer.
Another advantage of bagless vacuum cleaners is that you don’t have to buy bags, saving some money in the long run. However, most bagless cleaners need to have their filters cleaned once a month or so, which means leaving them to dry for at least 24 hours. The only exception are some new Dysons, which are among the first to have no filter whatsoever.
Whether you choose an upright or a cylinder vacuum cleaner largely comes down to the style of cleaner you prefer. Cylinder cleaners are normally easier to store, but pulling them around can become annoying. They’re not the best for people with bad backs, either, due to you having to bend down often to pick them up.
A good upright will breeze around your floors with ease, and they normally have wider cleaning heads that cover a larger area in one sweep. It can be tricky to get under furniture with an upright, but some are designed to avoid this problem.
If you’re unsure, see if you can try some out first.
Every vacuum cleaner in our round-up has been individually reviewed – each summary includes a link to our full, in-depth review of the product where you can read about the pros and cons, and see how well it cleans in our before-and-after photos.
When we review vacuum cleaners we look at the following things:
Manoeuvrability –Here we look at how easy it is to steer, pull and lift the machine. We test on carpets and hard floors and look for problems such as overbalancing on upright machines, flexibility and common issues like “sticking” heads on hard floors due to poorly designed cleaner heads.
Carpet cleaning – We test using white powder on dark carpets and include before-and-after photos of carpet cleaning after three sweeps, where one sweep is up and down across the area.
Edge cleaning – Our carpet test also includes how well the machine cleans up to the edge of skirting boards before you have to resort to specialist crevice tools.
Hard floor cleaning – We conduct similar tests on hard floors and look at how well the vacuum cleaner sucks dust up from crevices and gaps in flooring.
Pet hair cleaning – We test how long and how many sweeps it takes to clean a 40cm-diameter circle of combed-in pet hair.
Cleaning on stairs – We see how easy it is to clean on stairs using the tools provided. We pay particular attention to how long the detachable hose is and how easy it is to carry the vacuum cleaner if you need to.
Noise – We measure how noisy the machine is in decibels recorded at head level.
We also check to see what accessories are included, how well they work and how versatile the machine is. For example, some vacuum cleaners are good at specific jobs or have small capacities that mean they're only suitable for smaller homes, while others have lots of tools that make them suitable for a variety of jobs.
Other details we check are the cord length on corded vacuum cleaners, the battery life on cordless models and how easy it is to empty bagless models.