Watchdog's cordless vacuum cleaner test reveals fascinating results. Which came out top?

Thursday night's Watchdog investigation saw three cordless vacs tested by an expert and by homeowners. Which came out top: the Dyson, the Shark or the Vax?

Vax Blade 2 Max on sofa
(Image credit: Vax)

Anyone see Thursday night's Watchdog cordless vacuum cleaner test? I did and it was fascinating. In it, three real families and professional vacuum expert Leslie Davies gave three cordless vacuum cleaners – the Dyson V7 Motorhead; the Shark Duoclean; and the Vax Blade 2 Max – a rigorous testing. The results were fascinating because the three families chose a different 'best vacuum' to the expert.

How can this happen? Well, the three families tested the vacuum cleaners at home, while the expert tested them for suction and cleaning results in a lab setting, using a precisely measured combination of glitter, sand and pet hair (from memory) to give each a fair and equal testing.

It reminded me of how we test all our best vacuums  here at Like Watchdog's expert, our vacuum cleaner tester, Sarah Warwick (with whom I tested the first Dyson vacs back when we worked on Ideal Home magazine more than a decade and a bit ago), creates lab-like conditions with an equal mix of soil, cereal, hair – and other muck she can get her hands on. 

But unlike the lab test, Sarah tests the vacuum cleaners in her own home over a period of days, and that's what gives us the best of both worlds for our vacuum cleaner reviews. It also explains why the families chose a different favourite vacuum to the expert – because what produces the best results isn't always the most comfortable, easiest to use, simplest to stash away at home.

As the BBC show's presenter Steph McGovern said, and we paraphrase, 'People are way more bothered by the ergonomics than the suction. It’s not all about suction'. 

So which cordless vacuum cleaner came out top? Leslie Sharpe rated the Dyson as doing the best job in the quickest time, the Vax as the next best and the Shark as the least effective. 

The families liked 'some of the features of all three appliances', but also found 'short battery life an issue across the board'. However, all three chose the Shark as their favourite vacuum cleaner, liking its ease of use and storage. 

Funnily enough, we've rated the cheapest of the cordless vacuums, the Vax Blade 2 (opens in new tab) (top) as our favourite in our best cordless vacuums buyer's guide (see our full review of the Blade 2 here). 

It's closely followed by the Shark DuoClean (opens in new tab) – again, see the review here

We've not tested the Dyson V7, but we do rate the Dyson V8 (opens in new tab) as our third favourite cordless vacuum cleaner – you can see our full review here

Why might we have a differing opinion to both the expert and the families? For us, there's a third consideration, which was mentioned by Vax in last night's report, but not by the testers: price. The Vax sells for around £150 less than the other two models – and that is something we think carefully about when we report back. 

Our opinion? All three vacuum cleaners are good, but one is more affordable than the others.

You can see Watchdog's full report here (opens in new tab).

Lucy is Global Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of in 2018 then moving to Homes & Gardens in 2021. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.