Vacuum cleaners are one of the most essential household appliances to have in the home. They'll banish crumbs, remove dust and tame pet hair all with ease. You'll also now find that many can convert into a nifty handheld vac for reaching up into those ceiling corners so any fear of cobwebs can be faced head-on and sucked away, too. But with so many options out there, where can you find the best vacuum cleaner for you? That's where we step in...
In this guide which we have pulled together for you, the Real Homes team have conducted real-life comparisons to highlight the very best vacuum cleaner reviews which have all been tried and tested in the home of our appliance experts. We've considered all shapes and size of vac – think cordless, stick or bagless vacuum cleaners – from top brands such as Dyson, Shark and Miele which you may, or may not, be familiar with so you can buy with confidence. Nothing less than 4 stars (out of 5) has made it onto our list and believe me, our experts know what makes a good vac. The best bit? Our handy pricing widgets will serve you only the best prices around, so your search for a vacuum cleaner could not only start but finish here, too.
If you know you want to go wire-free, head straight to the best cordless vacuum cleaner guide, or keep a look out for how they shape up against all vacuums below.
These are the best vacuum cleaners you can buy
For a large house with a few pets, this Dyson vacuum cleaner is simply the best vacuum you can buy. Its clever brush heads pick up all the hair our furry friends leave behind, without getting tangled up, and the motorised brush bar gets out stubborn dirt from muddy paws.
This cylinder model from Dyson is a firm favourite with anyone who wants a quick but highly effective clean. The pneumatic cleaner head automatically adjusts to different floor types for the most efficient clean we have seen. The vacuum is preset to easy mode with a max mode for extra stubborn dirt, but our reviewer found the easy mode was more than enough – in fact, the suction was so good that it did take a little bit more of a push over carpets. However it brought carpets up looking good as new, so you can't complain too much about a bit of additional effort.
Great range of attachments
Stairs and furniture are easily cleaned with the right attachments. Rotating heads pick all manner of fluff and debris from surfaces and it has a turbine head for finer dust which is great for hard floors. The generous hose makes it easy to reach every nook and cranny.
Dyson's signature ball makes this vac very easy to move. Although it is not the lightest, the compact design means it can be carried with ease – even up and down stairs which can be tough with a cylinder vacuum.
This cordless vacuum gets our vote for the best cordless vacuum cleaner. It has almost three times more suction power than any of their other cordless vacuums – it lifted everything it was faced with, even mud, when our reviewer put it to the test!
Ideal for those with pets or anyone who regularly finds hair scattered around the house, it has a special head designed to pick up every bit of dirt including leaves, bits of small paper and big crumbs. This model also have DustTracker LEDs so you can easily see what else needs a clean.
Quick and easy vacuuming
The floorhead of the Blade 4 easily rotates which means that getting it exactly where you want it to go to is never a struggle. It's also low enough to glide under furniture, and light enough to carry up and down the stairs. The handheld doesn't drop is power, nor is it heavy either: it weighs just 2kg.
It does the job and more, and only needs three hours to charge, after which it will run for 45 minutes. As with slightly older Vax models, additional batteries can be bought which is great if you need a longer run-time. In our opinion, this is the best cordless vacuum cleaner you can buy right now.
This vacuum cleaner is a real classic, and it’s not hard to see why. If you're looking for the best vacuum on a budget, we recommend the Henry.
So user friendly
With specs like 620W or 1000W of power and a hefty 6 litre capacity, Henry is ever the under-rated wonder. Perfect for those who want a simple vacuum that just works and works well, it's a name you can trust to have your cleaning done in no time.
Expert cleaning on a budget
There is a reason Henry and his Numatic family are so widely used by professional cleaners. They can clean for hours and hours before they need emptying, and the bags are easy to fit and empty. The range or attachments is good too, so he’s an all-round brilliant buy for homeowners on a budget. Quite a few of the Real Homes team have a Henry as a second vac for the really tough jobs. Think renovation dust, giving the car a deep clean after a muddy dog walk, or filthy carpets. If you have the room, he is a great back up for the nasty jobs.
While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend him for those with mobility issues, as he can be a bit heavy to lug around, Henry is certainly built to last. This is a vac that will stand up to everything life throws at it and if you do a lot of DIY and need a heavy-duty buddy for dust busting, he's your man.
Prefer another Henry? We have more on our Henry vacuum 2020 guide who could fit into your lifestyle just fine.
If you want the freedom of a cordless vacuum with the power and style of your old upright, then this Shark vacuum cleaner is for you.
A new breed of cordless
Most cordless vacuums come in stick format which some people find a little hard to get used to. They might be much lighter than your average vacuum, but you essentially have to carry them like a massive handheld. If you prefer an upright – something you can push – then this will really suit you. It can also be unclipped and, as the name suggests, you lift away the dust canister for use on stairs or those hard to reach places.
The style does make the unit heavier than most cordless vacuum cleaners, but it is at its heaviest when you have it in upright mode in which case you would be pushing it anyway.
Power and charging
The battery life is on the generous side for a cordless at 50 minutes. This gives you plenty of time to whizz around and you can buy a spare battery to charge while the other is in use. The power is impressive and it is surprisingly quiet.
Dust and hair busting
It also comes with a great range of tools and has a button to adapt from hard flooring to carpet. And as the name suggests, it is designed to work well on pet hair, either with the main foot, or the attachments. Our reviewer noted that longer hair did get tangled in the brush, but it can be easily removed.
Using the boost button does shorten battery time, but for keeping on top of dirt and fluff every couple of days, this won't be a problem. Just make sure you have a second battery charged for a deep clean. It has a light too that is great for illuminating pesky dust particles.
This is our favourite Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner, and it scored five stars in our vacuum cleaner review, but it has narrowly missed out on our top spot for the best cordless vacuum cleaner because of that steep price tag.
It has twice the suction of the others, easily power around the whole home on a full charge and, with a long running time, won't need recharging until you've finished the job.
As well as high suction, the filter captures allergens with ease offering as thorough a clean as much larger vacuums. It has a good range of attachments and is well designed for the car or spot cleaning – thanks to its ability to transform into a handheld, compact vacuum – so you could happily have it as the only vac for a small household, or a portable back-up in larger homes. It will hit the floor running for up to 60 minutes, so as long as you have time to charge it (4.5 hours a pop), and its nifty LCD screen will let you know just how much running time you have left so you're not left out on a limb.
Whether you have a lot of stairs or mobility issues, this vacuum is suitably lightweight. Despite it being lightweight, the power, battery and dust capacity have not been compromised. The style also means it will clean all those high up corners and crevices with little fuss.
It is great in standard mode, but you will need to switch it to max power for tougher jobs. This gives it super suction but does result in a couple of drawbacks. Firstly, it cleans so well you find yourself emptying the bin and cleaning the filter very regularly. Secondly, max power does decrease the battery life so you can only use it in short bursts. This isn't a problem if you keep on top of grime every couple of days, but if you are more of a fortnightly/monthly deep clean kind of person, you probably shouldn't get a cordless.
If you prefer a bagged vac and/or have pets, we highly rate the Hoover Telios Extra TX50PET.
Great suction, across all floor types
The floorhead on this Hoover is suitable for carpets and hard flooring. It can be easily adjusted by a Floor Type Selector Pedal which is on the floorhead – this raises the brushes when you go onto wooden or ceramic flooring.
As for the suction, our reviewer was very impressed with just how much was picked up. You know it's good when it gently lifts the carpets and rugs as your vacuuming!
Plenty of attachments
Arriving with a Crevice tool, Furniture nozzle and Dusting brush, you'll be able to clean all areas of the home with ease. The attachments all get stored on board, too, so you always know where they are.
The Hoover has a (very) useful 360 degree oscillation of the telescopic tube, which itself is extendable. The power cord can extend out to give you a cleaning radius of up to 10m.
If you're looking for a lightweight stick vac then the Dyson V7 could fit the bill very nicely indeed.
Tools and attachments
The Dyson V7 Absolute comes with a suite of attachments, including the newest attachment: the reach under tool. This creates an angle that allows the floorhead to reach far back underneath the furniture with less bending down on your part than is normally involved when you want to zap the dustballs that have found themselves a home under the sofa or bed. Very handy.
Other attachments is the mini-motorized tool, soft dusting brush, crevice tool and a combination tool.
Our reviewer found that this vac did a FAB job at lifting dirt and dust, and even pet hair, from carpets and hard flooring. One thing to bare in mind though is that the battery life was dramatically reduced using the max mode on the more stubborn of things to vacuum away.
Sure it's not the cheapest cordless stick out there, and it may lack the extra features and running times of the top models, but it’s still a powerful vac which is easy to store and delivers impressive cleaning results.
If you're looking for a cordless vacuum cleaner that can stand up to any corded model, and budget allows, this Samsung vacuum is for you. It's the latest cordless offering from Samsung can also be bought with spinning floor sweepers for an extra £50.
Alarmingly powerful and quiet
Yes, our reviewer said the suction on this was 'alarmingly' powerful as it sucked up dust and hair from a recently vacuumed floor that the model before had missed. It excelled on carpet where it got right into deep pile. The turbo action brush lifts every last speck of dirt and despite the power, the Samsung POWERstick Jet is surprisingly quiet (even cats are unperturbed by the noise).
The digital display shows the power with mid, max and the minus option – this is used to reduce power for delicate cleaning. On mid power the battery lasts 30 minutes comfortably, but the battery has an hour of life when used in combination with the lower power mode. Later this year, Samsung will be making the battery available to buy separately so you can have one charged and ready to go when the other one runs out. This will make this model a viable replacement to corded vacuums for larger homes as you will be guaranteed more cleaning time.
Very easy to move, carry and use
Some people find cordless vacs a little tricky to get used to, especially if the suction is so great that it makes the foot hard to sweep over the floor. This is not the case with this model, which moves with ease – despite its strong suction. It is of average weight for a cordless vacuum with the weight towards the head, but what is really smart with this model is the telescopic pipe that can be adjusted for the user's height. It can also be converted into a handheld which is perfect for tackling stairs, furniture and high areas.
Emptying the dust tank is a doddle. It is bagless so just detach the tank, empty over a bin, and you can even rinse it under the tap if you like. The five-layer HEPA filter means this vacuum is even suitable for homes with allergy sufferers.
Versatile tool kit – including pads for mopping and charging stand
The attachment selection is just what you need, but it comes with the added bonus of a wet brush for mopping floors. This can be used with reusable, multi-use pads for cleaning hard floors. For £50 more you can get the Samsung POWERstick Jet with spinning sweeper for buffing hard floors. With the standard model you get a combination tool, crevice tool and a mini motorised tool. There is a flexi hose too for reaching awkward spaces.
The Z Station is the POWERstick's charging stand. It keeps your cordless tidy and upright – along with all the tools – as it charges. It is very handy but unless you have a utility room or a large cupboard with a socket inside, you will find the charging station ends up in a kitchen or hallway as it charges.
This vacuum cleaner is the first (ever) cordless vacuum from Miele... If you are looking for a powerful cordless which has an incredible suction and epic battery life, then this is the vacuum cleaner for you.
What's it good at?
This cordless vac has a 3-in-1 design which will solve multiple cleaning conundrums around the home. It has three cleaning modes: compact, range and comfort, which can reach high and low to give you a result to be proud of.
It does a fab job when cleaning carpets, and our reviewer found that it worked well when tackling dust, feathers, dog (and human) hairs, too. This vac even has an automatic detection when you glide over different floor types, so it adjusts its suction accordingly.
What do we like about it?
What we like about this vacuum cleaner is that, like the Dyson, it has incredible suction power, and is achieved without sacrificing battery life. And it's this battery life, with a run-time of up to 120 minutes, which rivals the high-end vacuum cleaners on our list so we feel it is very well suited to large, busy family homes.
The Triflex HX1 Pro comes with three attachments; a crevice nozzle, dusting nozzle and upholstery brush, all with a home on the wall mounting unit, which covers all cleaning bases.
What don't we like?
Although it is not the smallest capacity on our vacuum cleaner comparison, for the run-time the 0.5L the dust cylinder is annoyingly small and needs emptying far too often. The emptying action is easy enough, though, if a little stiff so if you don't mind frequently emptying the cylinder then you'll have no other quibbles.
This Dyson vac has clever brush heads which pick up all the hair our furry friends leave behind, without getting tangled up, and the motorised brush bar gets out stubborn dirt from muddy paws. Expect cleaning power comparable to the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 above, but in an upright package instead of cylinder.
This vacuum cleaner is a great all-rounder that delivers on hard flooring, carpet and stairs with ease. Our reviewer found it handled both normal and deep pile carpet, but did mention that the strength of the suction can make it an effort to push.
This vac handles mud and light debris without scattering it around, leading to a quick and thorough clean where muddy paws have been.
The Dyson Ball Animal 2 comes with a two-in-one tool for dust and cobwebs, a stair tool and a turbine tool that is tangle-free – perfect for handling all types of pet hair. The latter will help get fur (and other debris) off upholstery, too.
Ease of use
The cleaner head reaches right to the edges of the room. It is also low profile so it fits under furniture with ease. Its telltale ball means you can manoeuvre around obstacles with ease and the generous cord (over 10m) speeds up the process as you do not need to keep moving the plug to different sockets. The handle allows for ease of use in high corners and makes cleaning the stairs an easy job.
This cordless vac was awarded the 'best vacuum cleaner' in our Real Homes Awards from earlier this year. It ticked all the right boxes for us which we look out for when reviewing cordless cleaners AND it's easy to manoeuvre and empty, too.
The H-FREE 500 has a rotating brush bar which is ideal for deep cleaning carpets, and there is a turbo mode, too, for when you need an extra boost of power. The Hoover vac can be used on carpets and hard flooring, easily transitioning between them.
It comes with three handy accessories which are stored onboard: the crevice tool is good for cleaning skirting boards and edges; the dusting brush on ornaments and worktops; and the upholstery tool to vacuum your cushions or sofa.
It has a run-time of up to 40 minutes on auto mode. When you need to charge it, there's a handy LED ring which turns red to let you know when it's time to return to base.
The H-FREE 500 is under 70cm in height so it will easily fit in most upright cupboards. It can stand up unaided, too, it can be stored whenever or wherever you need it to be.
How to choose the best vacuum cleaner
About our reviews – and our reviewer
Our vacuum reviewer is Sarah Warwick, a homes, property and interiors writer with 20 years experience in the industry. Sarah is a serial house revamper who has written for nationals, magazines and websites. She gives the vacuum cleaners she reviews a serious run for their money over various surfaces, from floors to upholstery.
When you start for search for the best vacuum cleaner, deciding which type of vacuum cleaner you would prefer which go a long way in honing in on what is the best make and model for you.
Handheld vacuum cleaners are always cordless, but you can now get larger cordless vacuums which do more than just sucking up a few crumbs off your car seats. Their battery life is much better than a decade ago and they make quick cleaning very convenient. Cordless are a good buy for small homes; they're often lighter and smaller, so easier to store and whip around than bulkier models. Larger, more powerful vacuum cleaners tend to be corded, and these are what you want to choose for larger homes or if you need a really powerful vacuum cleaner (you have, for example, kids who tread biscuit crumbs into carpets or dogs that shed like you wouldn't believe).
Cylinder vacuums, although occasionally less energy-efficient, are best for:
- Small homes lacking storage space to keep an upright (cylinders can often be taken apart so the cylinder can be stored in a low cupboard and the pipe and foot stowed elsewhere if needed);
- Getting into corners or under beds;
- Easy use on stairs and landings.
Upright vacuum cleaners are usually heavier, although there are lightweight models available, but they tend to have a larger capacity, meaning you have to empty them less frequently than cylinder or, of course, small handheld vacs. They are therefore best for:
- Prolonged use in larger spaces;
- Easy use – you push the whole unit, rather than needing to tug the cylinder along after you;
- Quick use – the larger foot (often with rotating brushes) makes quick work of cleaning up pet hair and dust.
Bagless vacuum cleaners can be messy to empty (we'd advise doing so outside, near the bin), but the ongoing cost of bags for traditional bagged models will make them more expensive in the long run, so this comes down to preference and budget.
On top of all this, you should also look out for the following special features:
- HEPA filters for allergy sufferers;
- Advanced filtration systems for pollen and dust;
- Best vacuum for pet hair (extra powerful suction and a non-tangling brush);
- Deep clean: some models specialise in this.
How we test vacuum cleaners
We test the latest, the trendiest and most innovative vacuum cleaners out there. We're talking everything from the best cordless vacuums for those who like stick format, to the best robot vacuum cleaners for a handsfree clean and the best vacuum for pet hair – so we can help YOU find the most suitable make and model for you.
When we conduct our vacuum cleaner reviews we use them around our own homes and look out for everything you would expect from this sort of appliance. We look for how well they lift dirt from deep pile carpet, if they can easily manoeuvre around furniture, whether or not they can be easily carried up and down the stairs and how they perform on hard floors. We also take into account the attachments, price and delivery so you get the complete overview of exactly what you can expect.
Cleaning your vacuum cleaner
This might sound like an odd one, but don't forget that to maintain max suction you need to keep your vacuum cleaner clean. Emptying the bag or tank regularly is key, so you may prefer a larger capacity that allows you to clean more of the house before this needs doing.
Most vacuums also come with a filter that may need washing every so often. This needs doing well in advance of use so that the filter is completely dry in time. If this sounds like a faff, check out filterless vacuums.
Not sure where to start with a new vacuum?
Use our guide on how to vacuum like a pro before you buy to ensure you choose the best vacuum cleaner to suit your cleaning needs.
Which is the best vacuum cleaner to buy?
To recap... if you want to buy the best vacuum cleaner (in our opinion) we wouldn't hesitate to buy the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 Vacuum Cleaner which has consistently been one of our top favourites for a while now. It's perfect for cleaning large homes, especially if you have pets.
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