Best Vacuum Cleaner 2019: 7 best vacuum cleaners you can buy


What’s the best vacuum? We reveal all

The vacuum cleaner has to be the most essential bit of kit that any homeowner buys. As the fastest and most simple way of keeping your house clean, it’s important to buy the right type of vacuum cleaner, picking the model that fits into your home: you need the right combination of power, accessories and manoeuvrability. Here, we’ll help you make the right decisions.

Here, we’ve focussed on corded cleaners (those that you plug in), although we have listed a growing number of cordless cleaner as battery technology is catching up rapidly and we’re seeing more battery-powered vacuums designed for cleaning your entire house. The short version is, here’s the list of vacuum cleaners that are capable of cleaning everything, being your primary cleaner.

Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner Deal

Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner [IF200UK] Single Battery, Blue

Change the way you feel about vacuuming with this 2-in-1 Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner. It has the ability to bend under and around furniture as well as convert into a hand-held vacuum. Also comes with a 5-year guarantee.

Top rated vacuum cleaners in this guide

For other types of cleaner, we’ve got our more focussed best cordless vacuum and best robot vacuum guides if you’re after something specific or need a complementary cleaner to your main model.

Before we get into the main reviews (listed below), we’ve got some essential buying advice to help you choose the right type of cleaner for you. We’ll take you through all of the key questions that you need to answer, so you can buy the model that suits you best.

Do I still need a regular vacuum cleaner?

Many companies are moving to make cordless vacuum cleaners only. In many ways, this makes a lot of sense, as cordless cleaners are more convenient, ready when you need them, and they’re now offering performance similar to a plug-in cleaner. They’re not the only answer, though, and a traditional plug-in vacuum has some advantages over its battery-powered rivals.

First, there’s the price. Cordless vacuum cleaners are typically a lot more expensive than plug-in ones, particularly the models designed for whole-home cleaning. This is largely because of the expense of the battery technology uses, and the additional engineering required to make these models more efficient. For around half-the-price of a top-end cordless model, you can buy a corded model with more features.

Power is also worth thinking about. Corded models are more powerful, so they suck up more dirt and can deal with bigger jobs, such as sucking up some DIY mess. If you’ve got bigger jobs to deal with, you’ll find a corded model is better.

Of course, there’s also runtime, with corded models able to run as long as you need them too. If you’ve got a larger house, then a corded model will probably make a lot more sense, as you’ll be able to clean in one go without having to wait for batteries to charge.

Finally, corded models tend not to have automatic cutouts, so they keep on sucking regardless. If you want to use a vacuum for vacuum bags or with use with DIY tools, such as drill attachments that suck up the dust as you drill, you’re more likely to get these features with a corded model.
None of this is to say that cordless models don’t have a place, but the right vacuum cleaner is more about getting the model that suits your life, your lifestyle and the types of jobs that you have to do.

What’s the best type of vacuum cleaner?

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. The wire-free convenience they offer is a growing trend in the market, and well worth considering. 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.

With the latest technology, cordless vacuum cleaners are now exceeding the capabilities of corded models. In fact, Dyson has announced that it will no longer be developing new corded models, focussing its attention on cordless. Existing Dyson corded models will still be sold, but cordless is clearly the future.

Can a vacuum cleaner help with allergies?

If you suffer from allergies, a vacuum cleaner can be a helpful tool to suck up anything that may irritate you. There are some things to look out for, though. First, look for a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter for preventing small particles from escaping your clean and being blown around. This will ensure that everything that may irritate you will be deposited into the bin or bag.

Next, it’s worth looking at you empty a vacuum. A bagless model is really convenient, but when you’re ejecting the dirt, it’s possible for the dust to fly up into the air and spread around your home. A bagged model, although it can lose suction, could help those with severe allergies as the dust is contained and thrown away with the bag.

Is vacuum cleaner power important?

Vacuum cleaners will be rated by the amount of energy that they use, but don’t be fooled into thinking that a cleaner that uses more power is more powerful. Rather, it’s efficiency that counts, and the amount of air that a cleaner can pull through it. Look for the Airwatt rating instead, which is a truer description of how powerful a cleaner is. Even then, Airwatts doesn’t tell the entire story. After all, what’s the point in a vacuum cleaner that suctions itself to the floor, so that you can’t push the head along? A vacuum like that won’t be sucking up much dirt. The most important thing is how well a cleaner picks up dirt, which is what we focus our in-depth tests on. By comparing each cleaner’s ability to pick up dust we can tell the real differences, letting you get the best vacuum cleaner regardless of specifications.

What is a wet vacuum cleaner?

We’ve reviewed a few wet and dry models of vacuum cleaner, but what’s the difference? Well, a wet and dry vacuum cleaner can handle dry spills (normal dust), as well as liquids. So, what’s the point of being able to suck up liquids? The main reason is that you can clean up practically any spill or handle a wider variety of jobs.

If you’ve just dropped a bottle of wine, for example, your wet cleaner will suck up the spill quickly, saving on paper towel. Have you got a blocked washing machine waste pipe? Just suck up the mess with your wet vacuum cleaner, and you’ll clear the blockage with no problems faster than you thought. These models are also best for handling any damp materials. For example, if you do a lot of DIY, sawdust, brickdust and plaster can all be damp and clog the filters of a normal vacuum cleaner; a wet model will make light work of this kind of mess, letting you tidy up pretty much everything.

Typically vacuum cleaners need to be converted from one mode to the other, removing a bag (if installed) to go from dry to wet mode. Still, if you’ve got a lot of jobs involving spills, you should go for one of these models rather than a traditional vacuum cleaner.

Bagged vs Bagless – Which is best?

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.

Upright vs Cylinder Vacuum Cleaners

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 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.

Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner Deal

Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner [IF200UK] Single Battery, Blue

Change the way you feel about vacuuming with this 2-in-1 Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner. It has the ability to bend under and around furniture as well as convert into a hand-held vacuum. Also comes with a 5-year guarantee.

How we test vacuum cleaners

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 test after three sweeps, where one sweep is up and down across the area.
  • Edge cleaning – This test looks at 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 – 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, while others have lots of tools that make them open to more variety.

Other details we check include the cord length on corded vacuum cleaners, the battery life on cordless models and how easy it is to empty bagless models.