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Best Vacuum Cleaner 2021: Upright, cylinder, wet and dry and more

Trusted Reviews reveals the best plug-in vacuum cleaner you can buy right now, including, bagged, bagless, cylinders and uprights, based on our vacuum cleaner reviews.

Introduction

While the world may be pushing more and more towards cordless vacuum cleaners, a traditional plug-in vacuum cleaner, as I have listed here, are still a good choice in a lot of situations.

Without having to worry about batteries, regular vacuum cleaners can give you their full power for as long as you need it, and you don’t have to pause to recharge along the way.

For those that want a deep clean and don’t want to pause, a plug-in cleaner gives that flexibility. There are plenty of vacuum cleaners to choose from, with all sizes and shapes available, including upright and cylinder models. Not sure what’s best for you? Here, I’ve listed a range of vacuum cleaners for all uses and prices, so that you can find your perfect model.

Trusted Reviews has reviewed hundreds of vacuum cleaners, putting them all through our paces in our dedicated lab, making this the definitive best list.

How we test

Learn more about how we test vacuum cleaners

We put every single vacuum cleaner through the same set of tests, so that we can tell the good apart from the bad. We measure all vacuum cleaners for suction in air watts (AW), which is a combination of both airflow and vacuum suction. This is the only true measurement of a vacuum’s ability, with the higher the number the better.

While that figure tells you how powerful the vacuum cleaner is, it doesn’t tell you how well it performs in real life. For this reason, our real world tests show you before and after pictures of dust collection on carpet, hard floor and at the edge of the room, using a combination of dust from flour and rice grains to pet hair.

If you want to learn more, read our detailed page on how we test vacuum cleaners.

Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Powered Lift-Away and TruePet NZ850UKT

An extremely flexible and powerful vacuum cleaner for all jobs
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Pros

  • Clever control placement
  • Excellent cleaning
  • Lift-away mode is powerful

Cons

  • A little bulky in upright mode

After impressing with last year’s NZ801UKT, this year we have the improved Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Powered Lift-Away and TruePet NZ850UKT.

For this model, Shark has moved the controls to the top of the handle, so that you can adjust everything with your thumb. It’s so much easier to start and stop a clean, or adjust power settings.

There have been some minor improvements, elsewhere: the attachments are easy to clip onto the storage clips and the hose now more securely locks into place.

Otherwise, it’s business as normal, with the DuoClean head making short work of mess on all surfaces and Anti Hair Wrap technology stopping hair from clogging the rollers.

With Lift-Away mode, you can pull out the main cylinder, giving you a more nimble cleaner for stairs or for getting under furniture. For most homes, this is the perfect vacuum cleaner.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full review: Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Powered Lift-Away and TruePet NZ850UKT review

Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner XL with Powered Lift-Away & TruePet PZ1000UKT

An extra-large vacuum cleaner for bigger homes
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Pros

  • Clever control placement
  • Excellent cleaning
  • Lift-away mode is powerful

Cons

  • A little bulky in upright mode

For those with larger homes, the Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner XL with Powered Lift-Away & TruePet PZ1000UKT is a great choice. This oversized vacuum cleaner has a wider brush roll and a larger bin, so you can clean faster for longer.

As with Shark’s other recent cleaners, this model has the controls on the main handle, so you can adjust everything with your thumb as you go around, including toggling power and using the slider to adjust the mode between hard floors and carpets.

Performance is exceptional, with the DuoClean roller picking up dirt fast from any type of floor. And, it’s Anti Hair Wrap, too, so you never have to unclog the rollers.

This is a big cleaner, but Lift-Away mode makes it more nimble, with the main cylinder coming off to give you a neat way to tackle stairs or furniture. If you need to clean hard and fast, this is an excellent choice.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full review: Shark Anti Hair Wrap Upright Vacuum Cleaner XL with Powered Lift-Away & TruePet PZ1000UKT review

Bissell SmartClean Pet

A large and powerful cylinder cleaner that’s ideal for larger homes
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Pros

  • Very powerful
  • Adjusts power on the fly
  • Excellent dirt pick-up
  • Large bin

Cons

  • Large
  • No mini motorised tool

Although it’s big and heavy, the Bissell SmartClean Pet is easy to move around thanks to its large wheels. With its long reach, you won’t have to pick it up too often, either. The main advantage of the large body is that there’s a 3-litre bin, so you can clean a large house without having to empty the cleaner too often.

This cleaner is the Pet version, which means that it has an anti-tangle motorised brush head, which really works: we didn’t end up with any hair clogging this cleaner up. Performance on carpet and hard floors was excellent, and this is one of the most powerful vacuum cleaners that we’ve tested. Our one minor complaint is that there’s not a mini motorised tool for dealing with upholstery.

If you’re looking for a large and powerful bagless cylinder cleaner, then this is the one that we recommend.

Review: David Ludlow
Full review: Bissell SmartClean Pet review

Hoover Telios Extra TX50PET

A neat and powerful bagged cylinder cleaner for all surfaces
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Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to manoeuvre
  • Powerful
  • Cleans well on all surfaces
  • Easy to store

Cons

  • Too many floor heads
  • Carpet Optimax head is hard to push

You don’t see a lot of cylinder vacuum cleaners any more, which is a shame going by the quality of the Hoover Telios Extra TX50PET. This vacuum cleaner is very powerful, easily managing to suck up dust in all of our tests. Sticking with the two-in-one floor head is best, as the special carpet head had far too much suction and made it hard to push.

There’s a handy compartment in the vacuum cleaner for taking the extra tools, so you can carry around the brush and crevice tool everywhere. For sofas, the pet tool is excellent at picking up pet hair, getting you clean results quickly.

Hoover has made it easy to store the Telios Extra TX50PET, and it can stand upright or flat, with the floor head slotting into a holder, and the hose wrapping around the body.

Emptying the cleaner is easy, as the EPA bags just lift out to be thrown away. Note that these are HEPA bags, so homes with allergy sufferers may want to look elsewhere. Anyone looking for a neat, well-priced cylinder vacuum cleaner for homes with pets will like this well-priced option.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full review: Hoover Telios Extra TX50PET review

Dyson Small Ball Allergy

A powerful and flexible vacuum cleaner for allergy sufferers
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Pros

  • Easy to manoeuvre
  • Powerful suction
  • Lots of tools

Cons

  • Bin is fiddly to empty

Dyson had originally said that it wasn’t planning to release any new corded vacuum cleaners, so the Dyson Light Ball Allergy is nice to see. This model uses Dyson’s ball technology, which makes the upright cleaner super-easy to push around and get between furniture. We’d go as far as to say that this is the most manoeuvrable cleaner that we’ve used.

It comes with Dyson’s standard floor head, which did a great job picking up mess from carpet and hard floors alike. When you need a bit of detail cleaning, the wand can be removed and there’s a combination crevice tool and brush, and a soft brush for finer jobs. As this is the model designed for Allergy sufferers, it also comes with a mattress tool to keep your bed nice and clean. There’s only room on the cleaner for two of three tools, though. You also get Dyson’s premium filtration, including dual washable filters, to keep allergens trapped inside the bin.

We found the bin a bit stiff to open at first, but it should loosen over time, giving you one-finger emptying directly into your main bin, without spilling dust everywhere.

For allergy sufferers, the Dyson Small Ball Allergy is certified asthma and allergy friendly, making it a great choice. There are some slightly more flexible cleaners on this list if allergies aren’t your main priority.
Read our full

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full review: Dyson Small Ball Allergy review

Hoover H-Upright 300

A super light upright vacuum cleaner
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Pros

Cons

If you want good-quality cleaning for less, you could do a lot worse than the Hoover H-Upright 300. This more budget-friendly upright vacuum cleaner gets most things right and is available as a pet option with a motorised mini brush, too.

One of the things that makes this vacuum cleaner stand out is its light body (4.94kg), which makes it easy to move around. The bin on the front does mean that you can’t get the main floor brush under all furniture.

Fortunately, you can pull out the wand and hose (although you do have to attach them together manually), so you can go for some detail cleaning.

Performance was generally good, although I found that pick-up on carpet mode wasn’t that good; switching and using hard floor mode on most surfaces made up for this.

What’s impressive about this cleaner, though, is it’s low price. If you don’t to spend a fortune on a top-of-the-range model, this simple and effective low-cost model is a good alternative.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full review: Hoover H-Upright 300 review


FAQs

What style of vacuum cleaner do you want?

Cylinder cleaners have the power in a wheeled unit that you pull around behind you. There’s less weight in your hand, as you hold the wand and hose only, and you only occasionally need to drag the cylinder where you need it. They’re not quite as quick to get going with as an upright cleaner, which you plug in, pull back on and get going with. Upright cleaners are generally more popular as a result.

Do you need a bagged or bagless cleaner?

A bagged cleaner adds running costs into the mix, but you get a simple bag that you pull out and throw away, which can be better for allergy sufferers. With a bagless cleaner, you get a removable bin that needs emptying, which saves on cost but can lead to dust spreading in the air as you empty.

What accessories do you need?

All vacuum cleaners come with a floor head. Given the power available, some don’t require a spinning brush, but look out for models that do, as motorised brushes can make dirt pick-up more efficient, particularly when dealing with pet hair. You’ll also want to get a crevice tool and dusting tool, at the minimum, for close-up work; look out for a mini motorised brush if you have pets and want to tackle furniture.

How much power do you need?

Most plug-in models are limited to 750W of power, but the actual suction available and cleaning quality differs from vacuum to vacuum. Read our reviews to find out which vacuums clean the best.

Do you need a wet and dry vacuum?

Wet and dry models can tackle wet spills as well as dry, although you may need to do a bit of conversion before switching modes. These models can have more powerful motors, but they’re specialised tools that excel at tough jobs, such as DIY mess, and cleaning out a blocked washing machine.

Specifications Compared

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