Best vacuum cleaners 2018: top models ranked

The very best of dust-sucking tech

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Whether you've got a small flat or a palatial home, it won't clean itself.

While we wait impatiently for somebody to invent do-everything domestic robots, we’re stuck doing the vacuuming ourselves - but that doesn’t mean technology can’t take some of the drudgery out of it.

We think the best vacuum cleaner for general purpose cleaning is the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Upright. It's a do-anything vacuum cleaner that won't let you down. But if that's not to your taste, there are other options below. 

Read on for our pick of the best vacuum cleaners to buy today.

How to buy a vacuum cleaner

From delicate dust-busters to dazzling Dysons, there are vacuums to suit every space and every budget. When looking for the best vacuum cleaner for your needs, there are three key things to think about here, other than price.

There’s the power and energy rating - don’t let certain newspapers fool you; Europe’s energy efficiency rules don’t mean vacuums aren’t powerful enough any more – which tells you how effective it’ll be; there’s the length of the hose and power cord if you’ve got a lot of space to cover or stairs to sort; and there’s the adaptability of the device.

Make sure you’re comparing like with like in the spec sheets: some vacuum cleaners list their power in watts (W), which is how powerful the motor is; others prefer to list suction power in air watts (AW), which tells you how much suction the device delivers. Inevitably there’s going to be some compromise. 

Cordless devices tend to have less power and considerably less storage than corded ones; vacuums with big motors and big dust canisters can be heavy; and entirely automated vacuums take forever and need emptied frequently.

It’s also a very good idea to check out YouTube real-world demos to hear how they sound. Here are the five best vacuum cleaners money can buy:

The 5 best vacuum cleaners you can buy today

1. Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal Upright

The do-everything upright that’s the appliance of science

RRP: £419
Power: 1200W / 120AW
Cord length: 10.8m
Operating radius: 15.25m
Battery life: n/a
Weight: 8.7kg
Reasons to buy
+Exceptional engineering+Huge reach
Reasons to avoid
Today's best Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal deals

If you’re looking for the cutting edge of cylinder technology then the upright version of the Cinetic Big Ball is the best vacuum cleaner out there at the moment. It’s so good at what it does that it doesn’t even need a filter, and the air it expels is cleaner than the air you’re breathing. 

Dyson’s Big Ball means it’s considerably more manoeuvrable than it looks, and the brush bar and Turbine tool are brilliant for picking up after shedding pets. It’s good for stairs too, with a maximum reach of 15.25m. Like all big Dysons it’s on the heavy side at nearly 9kg, but that ball makes it feel a lot lighter when you’re using it.

2. Miele Complete C3 Comfort Boost EcoLine

The Rolls-Royce of vacuums for big-bag believers

RRP: £300
Power: 800-1200W
Cord length: 7.5m
Operating radius: 11m
Battery life: n/a
Weight: 5.4kg
Reasons to buy
+Very quiet+Very powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Not great for carpets-Not everyone likes bags
Today's best Miele Complete C3 Comfort Boost EcoLine deals

Dyson may hog the headlines but domestic gods and goddesses know that Miele make magical appliances too. They’re just not so flash or showy. Its cylinder vacuums put almost all of their weight on the floor instead of on your arm, and the Comfort Boost EcoLine offers 800W of suction with a boost to 1200W for particularly strong spider removal. It’s exceptionally quiet, glides around hard floors and offers a great combination of cleaning power, energy efficiency and quiet operation. Don’t put this one on carpet, though: its little castors aren’t designed for that. These vacuums are bagged for mess-free emptying, which is handy if you don’t fancy visiting the wheelie bin every time you need to empty them. See more Miele vacuum cleaners at Amazon

3. AEG SilentPerformer Cyclonic Silent ASPC7160

The bag-free cyclone that doesn’t need to shout

RRP: £249.99
Power: 800W
Cord length: 6m
Operating radius: 9m
Battery life: n/a
Weight: 7kg
Reasons to buy
+Very quiet+Brilliant on hard floors
Reasons to avoid
-Rivals offer longer cords-Heavy for its size
Today's best AEG SilentPerformer Cyclonic Silent ASPC7160 deals

Few people would describe the sound a vacuum makes as pleasant, but some are actively unpleasant: we had one bag-free upright that sounded like we’d opened the very gates of Hell, which you don’t really need on a hungover Saturday. Hurrah, then, for quiet cyclones such as AEG’s SilentPerformer, which promises not to exceed 72dB. That’s the volume of a shower, or a dishwasher. It’s triple-A rated on hard floors (there’s a multi-floor model if you need to do a lot of carpet work too) and the 6m cord means you can cover a lot of space without having to find a plug socket. The fact that it looks like a space marine’s helmet is a bonus.

4. Dyson V8 Absolute

If you want the very latest cordless tech, you’ll have to pay for it

RRP: £520
Power: 425W / 115AW
Cord length: n/a
Operating radius: n/a
Battery life: 40 mins
Weight: 2.6kg
Reasons to buy
+The best cordless vacuum cleaner+Converts to a handheld
Reasons to avoid
-Tiny dust container-Not so tiny pricetag
Today's best Dyson V8 Absolute deals

If you thought the Dyson Big Ball was pricey, wait until you get a load of this: with an RRP of £520, the V8 is extraordinarily expensive even by Dyson standards. But it’s extraordinarily good too, with twice the suction of any rival stick vacuum and a battery that’s good for up to 40 minutes (25 minutes with the motorised floor tool or 7 minutes if you go for the high-suction mode). It converts to a handheld so it’s great for cars and caravans, but its small size does mean that you’ll be emptying it a lot. It’s best suited to stylish flats and other relatively small spaces, we think: it’s not really designed to hoover an entire three-bed semi.

5. Dyson 360 Eye

If you really want a robot vacuum, this is the one to get

RRP: £799.99
Power: 20AW
Cord length: n/a
Operating radius: n/a
Battery life: 45 mins
Weight: 2.4kg
Reasons to buy
+It's a robot!+A robot! In your house!
Reasons to avoid
-Rooms need robot-proofing-Taller than rivals
Today's best Dyson 360 Eye deals

Dyson wasn’t the first firm to make robot vacuums - the likes of iRobot and Electrolux have been making them for ages - but for our money we think the 360 Eye is the smartest robot vacuum around. Let’s accept the fact that robot means incredibly expensive and concentrate on what it can do: it runs for 45 minutes between charges, it has tank tracks to cope with every kind of floor, and it offers truly outstanding cleaning in the places it can reach. That’s because it’s taller than a Roomba, so it can’t get under radiators or low sofas. There’s an app too, which you can use to bore people at dinner parties by showing them maps of where your robot has roamed.