Finding the best vacuum cleaner depends a lot on just what type of home you have. Do you have pets? How bout dirty kids? Is there a difference? We jest, but in all seriousness there are a lot of options out there nowadays when it comes to vacuum cleaners. But just what IS the best vacuum cleaner? The market is changing, and battery-less vacs are now outselling corded vacs (in terms of market value, if not unit sales). As living spaces are getting smaller, they're getting ever more powerful. The result is that corded vacuum cleaners no longer have many advantages.
Dyson has supposedly even stopped developing new corded vacs entirely, focusing instead on its growing range of Dyson cordless vacuums. It still sells them, though, and clearly there's still a lot to be said for traditional vacuum cleaners when it comes to sucking stuff up at full power for more than 20 minutes at a time. However, right now, I would recommend a cordless over corded for most users. Unless you live in a castle, with carpet pile up to your armpits, it's all you need. Some day soon, we may not even need to have a separate list of best cordless vacuum cleaners because they'll be the only vacuum cleaners.
Looking for a cheap vacuum? There are online sales and deals all year round, and you'll see today's best prices below. If you're specifically interested in Dyson deals, we have a separate page for that, too. Or how about the best robot vac? So many vacs to choose from…
The best vacuum cleaners, in order
Dyson has refined its cordless vacuum formula yet again, and this is the T3 Award 2021 winning result. Cleaning power has been improved across all surfaces but the real headline improvement is the addition – finally – of a headlight. But in true Dyson fashion, it's no ordinary headlight. It's a laser mounted at an angle on the front of the hard-floor head and it reveals a borderline horrific amount of dirt and dust.
There's another excellent cleaning head for doing your carpets, although this 'High Torque' head does not contain a laser. Among the various smaller heads the pick is a powered one for doing upholstery that is almost totally resistant to getting tangled in long pet or human hairs.
Dyson really has thought of everything with this vacuum cleaner. It's the complete package, the best cordless vacuum cleaner in town, and now a T3 Award winner, to boot.
• Find out more in our full Dyson V15 Detect review
The best absolutely-no-frills-at-all vac with a rictus grin, this is a close relative of the vacuum cleaners used by office cleaners absolutely everywhere – not that they get to choose them. Henry is the exact, diametric, dictionary opposite of Dyson and Miele's machines in practically all ways, apart from its ability to suck up detritus.
That is to say, it's cheap and totally not stylish or sophisticated. Nor does this version have any setting other than 'on', or any clever brush heads.
However, Henry sucks up a storm, is engineered incredibly simply but well, and has never knowingly let anyone down. Okay, he does topple over at times when pulled around, at which point his permanently leering face does seem ever so slappable. But for cleaning anything that isn't delicate, he's great.
True story: I once left a Henry (not this model) outside on a damp balcony for two years, then used him to clean up shards of broken glass from a broken lampshade – not only did it work, I was also not electrocuted to death on the spot.
I've also sucked up wet plaster, gravel and damp stuff out of wall cavities with him. You're not supposed to do any of those things of course, but Henry, as his Satanic fixed grin suggests, is seemingly impossible to kill.
I wasn't sure if Henry's rather meat-and-potatoes approach to cleaning would work as well at the lower power ratings now required but this one seems to suck well enough.
• Read our Henry Allergy review
The Hoover H-Upright 300 Pets comes with a cord, but don't let that put you off if you're firmly in the cordless camp. For starters, there's lots of cable - 8.1 metres no less, which means quite a lot of freedom. Better still, you can keep vacuuming without fear of a battery pack going flat, which is the curse of the cordless world.
Secondly, the Hoover H-Upright 300 Pets is lightweight and agile, with a fully flexible cleaning head that lets you get into all manner of tight spots. Thirdly, it comes with come great accessories, with the highlight being its mini turbo brush. This is like a smaller version of the main cleaning head and it picks up lots of dirt, dust and fluff thanks to 800W of suction power.
This model is aimed squarely at pet owners and can tackle any amount of discarded hair and fluff you throw its way. Granted, the bin isn't the biggest, but it's so easily detached and emptied that's a very minor issue. There's a washable H13 HEPA filter to deal with allergen issues and an adaptable design that lets you engage or disengage the brush within the cleaning head in order to clean hard floors.
Overall, the Hoover is an excellent all-rounder, with the 80° steering angle allowing you freedom to roam and that plentiful supply of power cable means you can keep cleaning for as long as you like. It's keenly priced too, which means the H-Upright 300 Pets represents top value, especially if you're plagued by pet hair.
• Read our Hoover H-Upright 300 Pets review
Considerably more affordable than the Big Ball Animal 2, this nonetheless offers a great mix of excellent cleaning as an upright vacuum cleaner – it's main job – with a side order of handling smaller jobs in a more cylinder vac style, via a choice of accessories that attach to a removable suction tube.
A simple button system alternates between carpet and hard floor modes, or you can easily pull the suction tube out of the handle of the Light Ball Multi Floor and get stuck into stairs, 'crevices' and miscellaneous surfaces.
It's hard to get fully accurate statistics on, but this Dyson is probably the UK's top seller, and it deserves that status. It's lightweight, turns on a dime – well, okay, on a £50 note – and is quiet and energy efficient. I'd recommend it more for mainly carpeted abodes, and Dyson has also toned down the colour scheme compared to the previous model, which is something of a plus.
If you want something considerably heftier and more powerful, you should consider the Dyson Ball Animal 2. Our reviewer found it altogether too hefty, but he's quite a little fella.
• Read our Dyson Ball Animal 2 review
This is a rather more staid looking device than the Dyson, but maybe you have enough style and excitement in your life already. It's also lighter than the Dyson and has a longer cable, but is a bit more of a pain to haul about due to its smaller casters. A variety of speed settings and heads – including a turbo floor brush and swivelling hard floor head – foot controls and integrated tool storage make it as versatile as it is easy to use.
It’s a tough old bird too: Miele actually crash tests its vacuums to make sure they can handle life’s lumps and bumps. although a D energy rating is the price you pay for cleaning this good. As with Dyson's Big Ball 2, there are several versions of the C3 PowerLine, including ones for pet owners and allergy sufferers.
One thing to note about this Miele – most Mieles, in fact – is that on carpet the suction can become so powerful that you may actually find it hard to move the brush head. In Miele's native Germany, most of the floors are hard, you see.
Shark makes a range of unique, ugly-but-effective hybrid vacs, where the bin and motor lift away, transforming from an upright to a cylinder. The NV801UK is the current flagship for this dual-purpose approach and also features 'Duo-Clean' technology, to keep the theme of duality going.
Viewed as a pure upright vac it's an excellent performer. The unusual, DuoClean brush works very well on both carpet and hard floor. The searingly bright headlamp is another big plus, although the amount of dust it reveals in my place when used is faintly terrifying.
I am not convinced by the 'Lift Away' concept - it's just too unwieldy, and when in cylinder mode, we're talking about a cylinder with no wheels, which is a tough sell. However, you can operate it more like the Dyson and Miele uprights further up this list, attaching brush heads to the tube coming from the cleaning head. Being able to Lift Away the dustbin and motor is also handy on stairs and trickier to reach areas.
The dustbin could do with being bigger, and perhaps the NV801UK could have been bashed with the Ugly Stick just a couple of times fewer, but it's a very good machine. Pet owner and allergy sufferers may want to step up to the double-sealed, Pet Power version of the vac, which has both a HEPA filter and a Fort Knox-esque dustbin seal.
This latest cordless Blade from Vax is generally at least £100 cheaper than a Dyson V11. That's a handy saving when you consider that it comes to battery life and ability to clean floors, it seems at least as good.
On both hard and carpeted floors, in my view, the Blade 4 narrowly outperforms the old Dyson V10 and is not far off the V11 Absolute. Its spinning brush bar is highly effective, apart from a few occasions when it sprays stuff around rather than diverting it down the Vax's suction tube, and suction is good enough to mean it's effective even if you turn it off. The pet hair brush on this Pet version of the vac is also excellent.
Perhaps the OnePWR Blade 4's real pièce de résistance is its headlight, which activates alongside the brush bar and really helps with cleaning in dimly lit areas. The bin mechanism isn't as ingenious as Dyson's but it's easy enough to empty.
There are drawbacks to the Vax Blade 4 OnePWR Pet and its close relative Vax Blade 4 OnePWR. Compared to the Dyson V8 in particular, its bulk and awkward handle arrangement mean it's much less fun to use as a handheld, when cleaning surfaces other than your flooring. It also doesn't feel as solidly built, perhaps not surprisingly – although that's not to say it's outright flimsy. Also, the Blade 4 is a bit uglier than the Dyson, and it makes a much more unpleasant noise.
Even so, if you want an affordable cordless vac, this splendid Vax stands above the many other, excellent and affordable cordless vacs out there.
Achieving Peak Dyson, the Big Ball 2 cylinder vac now comes in just one variant – Animal – now that the Total Clean and Cinetic have been discontinued. What Dyson has got spot on here is the weight of the Big Ball cylinder and how it navigates and balances. Should it fall over, it will actually right itself, greatly reducing incidences of vac rage.
Suction is exemplary and while you do have to swop heads to get the absolute best results, you could probably slap on the turbine tool and use it for 80% of what you need to clean. The bin is easy to empty and the filters easy to clean, if you're one of the few people in the universe that actually does that. Unless you have great, sweeping vistas of deep pile, this is among our top recommendations. It's just so easy to pull around, looks good, and cleans more than admirably for the price.
• Read our full Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 review
Also consider: Dyson Small Ball Allergy. As the name suggests, it's like the Big Ball but smaller, lighter and more manoeuvrable. Read our Dyson Small Ball Allergy review to find out if this the one for you.
Hoover Telios Extra Pets comes with a plethora of tools and nozzles, including a pet-hair-chomping turbo head, and has a very handy, extendable arm for doing curtain rails or removing cobwebs from corners. It's also nicely lightweight, compact and quite stylish. I think one could diplomatically say that it has 'taken some design cues' from Miele vacuums costing considerably more.
The Telios is a lot of vacuum for your money, then. It is not the most powerful – it's certainly not comparable to a Miele in that respect – but it gets the job done and is very easy to pull around, with a fairly long power cord. It's also got QuietMark certification although I wouldn't go so far as to say it's 'ultra quiet', as Hoover claims. Excellent VFM all round, though.
If you're not just serious about cleaning but very serious indeed about it, the VK200 is something you should consider investing in.
Only sold online or via representatives who visit your home and give demos, this is £750 in its most basic form, with a vacuum head that detects whether it's on hard floor or carpet and instantaneously adjusts its suction and mechanised, spinning brush accordingly. This doesn't seem 100% necessary, but it is very clever, and you can't argue with the results, which are unfailingly excellent.
It also removes 99% of allergens from the air, boasts a A+ energy efficiency rating, and isn't ear-splittingly loud either.
Fall further down the Vorwerk wormhole, however, and you can end up spending a lot more. The brand doesn't just do specialised heads for mattresses, glass (!), carpet dry cleaning, crevices and upholstery, it also sells cleaning solutions, stain removers and more.
Perhaps the best combo is the VK200 and SP600 set (available from Vorkwerk here). This adds a head for hard floors which simultaneously mops and vacuums, with water and cleaning solution siphoned from a small tank. This tends to need topping up after each room, but that's fine. The mop heads (there are different ones for parquet, laminate, etc) are a cinch to attach and easy to clean after use in your washing machine.
I'd go so far as to say that for people like me who have a bit of carpet and a whole lotta light-coloured wood flooring, this is a game changer, a revelation and an Exceedingly Good Thing. Yeah, it's a bit on the pricey side, but what price clean floors, eh?
You can also go the whole hog and buy a VK200 with this and a plethora of other heads. There's even one head that is specifically just for spreading dry carpet cleaner onto your carpet. Yes, that's right: just for putting it there, in an even way. You then use a different head to massage it into your carpet, before eventually vaccing it off.
You can call this genius or OCD depending on your point of view but again, the results are hard to argue with.
If I had to quibble about this set of products, it's that the level of complexity is probably above and beyond what a lot of people want to deal with, and the way the bags are attached is both unnecessarily fiddly and also doesn't feel very robust.
Miele does mainly bagged vacuum cleaners but the bagless CX1 range is also available, presumably in part to tempt Brits away from their Dysons. With this version, the Germans have done a great job.
In terms of pure cleaning power, I'd say this beats any Dyson. That's undoubtedly true on hard floors, where the impressive suction, allied to a massively wide parquet head that wrenches dirt from the gaps between old boards, makes hard floor cleaning almost pleasurable. Almost.
On carpet, it's less straightforward, for quite an amusing reason. Yes, the Blizzard CX1 does a good job here too, but with its 'EcoTeq Plus' head on, it actually sucks so hard onto carpets and rugs that it can become quite hard to push it around. On Amazon, there's even a few people complaining they literally cannot move it, or that it starts to suck the carpet up off the floor… although I think they might be exaggerating a touch (and you can turn the power down).
So if your home is mainly carpets, another option might be advisable. If you have old wooden floors with multiple crannies – or even just laminate, with tiling in the bathroom – this is a fantastic vac.
The bagless container isn't huge at 2 litres, but it's easy to empty once you've had a few practice goes. The on-handle speed controls, although hardly essential, are pleasing. They operate via something like Bluetooth, meaning you will have to change the watch battery in the handle every 18 months or so.
One slightly annoying quirk is that the cylinder neatly houses the crevice tool and small upholstery attachment, but for whatever reason can't find room for the dusting one. That doesn't seem like a great example of German efficiency.
The model we reviewed – the Powerline – has a HEPA filter, but those who are allergic to both bags and pet hair should consider the Miele Blizzard CX1 Excellence Cat and Dog, which comes with tools for removing things that animals leave behind.
• All of the various CX1 models are worth considering in fact – check out the best prices on the whole range below:
Which is the best vacuum cleaner to buy?
This is a question that can only be answered once you've got an understanding of what you are looking for out of your new vacuum. If you're a pet owner for example, you'll want to get something that either has pet attachments or a more powerful motor for improved hair and dirt pickup.
Carpet and flooring type also come into play, too. If you have high-pile carpet for example, getting a corded may be ideal as these can provide a bit more power for those thicker carpets. Maybe you're house has all hardwood floors, then a solid Dyson cordless or the like may just give you what you need.
If you're not quite sure just how to answer these questions, though, read further on. We'll help you figure out what will work best for you, from motor types to cordless, suction type and more!
Are corded vacuum cleaners good?
Hell yeah! Aside from the obvious cable – which we admit can be a pain in the butt when moving from room to room – the main differences between corded and cordless vacuum cleaners are weight, suction power, muck capacity and, as pointed out above, the corded vac’s ability to suck crap up for as long as there’s electricity coming out of the wall socket.
Weight isn’t something the manufacturers worry about too much given that you’ll be either pulling or pushing the main housing along and not holding it in your hand as you would with a cordless model. As a consequence, corded vacs are generally heavier but not ungainly so.
Corded vacuum cleaners aren’t hamstrung by a battery that quickly runs out of juice or a motor that isn’t powerful enough. With our good friend Mr Electricity providing the power source, most corded vacs are equipped with motors powerful to swallow everything in their path, while some models like the Miele and AEG reviewed below create enough suction to actually lift the carpet off the floor. No really.
When it comes to dust capacity, most corded vacs beat the bejesus out of their battery-powered peers because, well, their dust collectors are usually a lot bigger. And that means fewer trips to the bin.
Now we’ve got those startling facts out of the way, the next thing you need to consider is the style of vac to suit your home, and in this arena you have two choices: upright or cylinder (commonly described as canister in the USA).
Upright or cylinder?
Unlike the majority of cordless battery vacs which adopt the ‘stick’ design method with a battery, motor, dust collector and handle placed at the top of a rigid tube, corded vacs come in two main styles: upright and cylinder.
Upright vacuum cleaners (of Hoovers as only anyone over the age of 60 still calls them) are great for covering large carpeted areas because they are nearly all equipped with roller brushes that dig deep into the pile. They’re very easy to push and pull and a doddle to steer around obstacles. However, they’re not remotely practical for cleaning stairs and, in most cases, under low furniture. They’re also incapable of dealing with corners, shelves and upholstery unless, like some Sharks and Dysons, the model comes with a removable hose and a pile of attachments. Their mains cables aren’t especially long either and you will also need to manually wind them onto the unit when finished. On the other hand, they’re easy to store in an upright position under the stairs.
Cylinder vacs are usually smaller in stature and equipped with a long flexible hose. In many ways they can be more awkward to use as they often get caught on furniture legs as you pull them along behind you. On the plus side they usually have longer cables than uprights and the cable automatically rewinds back into the main housing when finished. Many cylinder vacs are equipped with stiff brushes which aren’t as easy to push on carpets but on the other hand they rule the roost when it comes to cleaning stairs and under shallow furniture. Most cylinder vacs also come with a variety of accessories for cleaning edges, corners and other areas beyond the reach of most uprights. The majority of cylinder vacs have a mount on the side of the housing to clip the brush head to, but there’s no getting away from the fact that they’re a pain to store away in tidy fashion. That snaky hose will drive you round the twist.
Bag or bagless?
There are two types of dust collection systems to choose from: bag and bagless. Bagged vacuum cleaners usually have a larger capacity – enough space for two or three cleaning sessions if used on a small property. When full, you simply throw the whole bag away – a good thing if you’re an allergy sufferer because very little dust escapes. The downside is that you have to keep buying bags for the life of the unit.
Bagless vacs have a smaller capacity which means frequent trips to the bin – and possibly loads of allergy-inducing dust when you flick the ‘empty’ latch. Nevertheless, they are cheaper to run in the long term. On the plus side, you can see the results of the cleaning session – quite satisfying, it has to be said – and also have a better chance of finding the wedding ring you heard get sucked into its maw.