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Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

We know it’s not the most enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but with the right tool, you can clean floors without the faff. This guide makes sense of all the latest tech, so you can pick a vacuum that’ll help you clean quicker… and relax for longer.

Types of vacuum cleaners

Cordless vacuum cleaners

Zoom around the whole house without cords holding you back. These battery-powered models offer total freedom.

Shop cordless vacuums

Lightweight

With sleek models from as little as 2kg, stairs are no longer an uphill battle. Cordless models like the Russell Hobbs Sabre are great if you struggle hauling around a bulky upright, but if your only motivation for cleaning is getting a good ol’ workout, a lightweight cordless can’t help.

Wireless

The future of floorcare is all about freedom. Why does the power always seem to cut out because the plug’s been yanked out of the wall just as you’re getting into a rhythm? Do away with searching for sockets and get all the benefits of battery powered.

Detachable handhelds

Lots of cordless models can be transformed into small handheld vacuums at the touch of a button. It means you can clean tight or awkward spaces – anywhere! So whether it’s in the car or down the side of the sofa, dust has nowhere to hide.

Extra tools

Modern day life means dust finds its way everywhere. Most models come with a crevice tool, which lets you get stuck into those nooks and crannies, while a dusting tool will make sure your delicate parquet and wooden floors stay scratch-free.

Key Features

Run time

Cordless vacuums don’t need to be plugged in - they run off a battery that you’ll need to charge every now and then. Run times vary, with some models running for 15 minutes for super-speedy tidy ups, and others running for up to 50 – perfect for doing the whole house.

Battery

All cordless batteries are removable and rechargeable and some even come with wall-mounting charging docks for complete convenience. Lithium ion batteries are able to be recharged hundreds of times, and have a lower self-discharge rate than some others - which means they’re better at retaining the amount of charge between uses.

Digital display

The Dyson V11 sends real time performance updates to the LCD display on top. You can use it to switch between Eco, Medium or Boost modes to suit the surface.

Anti-Hair Wrap technology

Shark Anti-Hair Wrap technology was invented to solve one of the main causes of loss of suction – tangled hair around the brush roll. Cordless vacuums with this tech mean you can stop manually untangling, because the brush design does it for you. Look out for this feature if hair is causing havoc with your vacuum.

Flexibility and collapsible storage

Cordless vacuums are already much more compact than uprights or cylinders, and with added features that make them fold or collapse the handle, they can be great for fitting into small storage cupboards. If you’re short on space, check out the Hoover H-FREE models.

LED lights

Ever finished vacuuming for someone to say “you’ve missed a bit”? Look out for vacuums with bright LED lights on the front. They illuminate dust and dirt, so there’s no more guesswork. Check out cordless vacuums from Shark and AEG.

Upright vacuum cleaners

Uprights are easy to push around and loved for their pulling power – especially on carpets.

Shop upright vacuums

Powerful

The upright has many years of evolution behind it, which means you can now expect strong suction backed by a reliable motor, as standard. Upright vacuums also have belt-driven floor rollers that are particularly effective for ingrained dirt.

Ergonomic

Designed to be comfortable to use when standing up, an upright vacuum is perfect for floors. Plus, with foot controls to switch between surfaces you won’t need to bend down to go from carpet to hardwood.

Great for carpets

A heavier upright is ideal for carpets, as the full weight of the vacuum sits over the front of the cleaner, making it easier to push down into the pile and really get to that deep-down dust.

Easy storage

With no assembly required or setting up needed, uprights are ready to go whenever you are. With many designed to be compact, they don’t take up too much room in the store cupboard either.

Key Features

Pet hair removal

As much as you love your pets, their hairs can be a nightmare to clean without the right tech. Specialist pet hair removal technology uses a unique air-driven bristle bar to help pull out hairs. Shark, Hoover and Bosch all have uprights with features for dealing with pet hair.

Anti-Hair Wrap

Shark Anti-Hair Wrap technology was invented to solve one of the main causes of loss of suction – tangled hair around the brush roll. Cordless vacuums with this tech mean you can stop manually untangling, because the brush design does it for you. Look out for this feature if hair is causing havoc with your vacuum.

Detachable canisters

Upright vacuums are no longer just for floors. Simply lift the main unit of a Shark Lift Away away from the floorhead to transform your corded upright into a portable vacuum cleaner. It makes it easy to clean stairs, ceilings and along skirting boards in total comfort.

Swivel steering

Swivel steering is great for manoeuvring around furniture and navigating corners without scratching the skirting boards. The Dyson Ball™ has patented technology which means that you can change the direction of the cleaner with just the turn of your wrist.

Wall-to-wall cleaning

There’s no need to get the crevice tool out to get right up against the skirting boards with a Sebo L-Shaped floor head. They also have a low profile that makes them great for getting underneath radiators too. So, for a floor brush that does a whole floor clean, look out for the L-shaped floor head.

High power

Look out for vacuum air flow (usually measured in CFM) to learn more about the suction power. And remember, a higher wattage does not necessarily mean a better performing vacuum.

Cylinder vacuum cleaners

Neat and compact, these little vacuums are ideal for navigating smaller rooms and don’t need much storage space.

Shop cylinder vacuums

Compact

With their lightweight and compact design, cylinder vacuums make cleaning days a breeze. With a little cylinder following you around, going from room to room is easy.

Great for small spaces

With a small main unit and a flexible hose it’s easy to navigate small spaces like apartments and studio flats. Plus, they don’t need much storage space either.

Multi-surface

If you have wooden floors or even delicate parquet flooring, you’ll need a vacuum that can zap dust while still being gentle. A cylinder vacuum with a dusting brush will care for your beautiful flooring and keep it looking spotless.

Quiet

Knocked your midnight snack on the floor? With a quiet cleaner, you can get it sorted without worrying about waking the neighbours up. The quietest cylinders on the market are between 65 and 75dB.

Key Features

Pet hair removal

After dog-walking at the beach, you need a cleaner to sort out sandy paw prints easily. So, look out for cylinders with special pet hair removal tools, like the Hoover TELIOS EXTRA, Bissel SmartClean PetHenry Pet and the Eureka Swan MultiForce Pet.

Cyclonic suction

Cylinder vacuums with clever multi-cyclonic technology promise powerful suction every time. They separate any dust and dirt particles from the air. This means that more dust can be captured, so you’ll get spotless results every time.

Floor detection sensors

Smart sensors on models like the Bissell SmartClean cylinder vacuum recognise a carpet or hard floor surface and adjusts to offer the best suction. It means you don’t have to mess around with different modes or worry about damaging your vac on different floor types.

What is a HEPA filter?

A HEPA filter captures more particles than standard filters. In fact, they remove 99.97% of particles from the air – including ones you can’t see, like pollen and mould spores - making them really beneficial for people with allergies.

Common Attachments

What are the attachments for?

Turbo brush tool

Fitted with a rotating brush to agitate fibres, this is a great choice for cleaning the stairs.

Crevice

Clear dust out of all those tight spots, including down the side of cupboards and underneath radiators.

Dusting

Gentle bristles dislodge dust on more delicate fabrics like curtains and lamp shades, without any scratching.

Upholstery

Usually fitted with red microfibre strips, this little tool will draw out lint, as well as dust and hair. It works wonders on mattresses and cushions.

FAQs

Which are the lightest vacuums?
Which are the quietest vacuums?
Which vacuums are best for stairs?
Which vacuums are best for carpets?
Which vacuums are best for hard wood floors?
Which vacuums are best at picking up hair?
Which vacuums are best for allergies?
Are cordless vacuums all bagless?
How do I empty my cordless vacuum?
Do cylinder vacuums come with different length hoses?
How do I empty my cylinder vacuum?
Why is my vacuum making a strange noise?
How do I empty my upright vacuum?