Dyson Small Ball Allergy review: a powerful, corded upright vac that allergy sufferers will appreciate

The Dyson Small Ball Allergy provides powerful suction and spotless cleaning results

Dyson Small Ball Allergy review
(Image credit: Dyson)
T3 Verdict

If you or someone at home are prone to allergies, the Dyson Small Ball Allergy Upright Cleaner is the best option. It will handle all your cleaning needs without any allergens lurking about, offer exceptional power (without fail!), and it's also kind to your wallet

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great for asthma and allergy-sufferers

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    Powerful suction for carpets

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    Affordable for a Dyson

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    More attachments than ever

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Ball too big to clean under many sofas and beds

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    Tricky to retract wand from hose easily

Welcome to our Dyson Small Ball Allergy review. In brief, this may well be the best Dyson upright corded vac for smaller homes.

Dyson may be all about high-spec cordless vacuum cleaners, but for many people the best Dyson vacuum cleaner is still a good old upright, corded one. This may come as a surprise to many – after all, Dyson announced that the V10 cordless cleaner marked the end of its corded cleaners back in 2018. Despite that, 2019 saw the arrival of this latest plug-in vac, the Dyson Small Ball Allergy.

Following its predecessor, the Dyson Light Ball Animal, the new Dyson Small Ball Allergy is not that much different in design and features. However, the key feature here is it’s specifically certified for asthma and allergy sufferers in the home, which is a plus for pet owners too.

The best thing about this model is that it’s cheap and cheerful (as far as Dyson prices go), costing just £199. Which is probably the average price of a premium, upright vacuum cleaner nowadays. But will it still deliver the optimum performance and experience of Dyson’s more innovative cleaners? We put it to the test.

DYSON SMALL BALL ALLERGY REVIEW: DESIGN AND FEATURES

Assembling the Dyson Small Ball Allergy was a tad confusing, trying to figure out the complicated wand attachment into the retractable cord. There are red buttons to press to insert and release parts like the wand and dust cylinder. And while everything should be just a simple slot and click (in theory!) this ended up being a bit finicky .

Design-wise, it’s well-built, ergonomic and equipped with a bagless, 1.6 litre dust cylinder. Enough to get all your heavy-duty cleaning chores done without taking several trips to the waste bin. The one-click bin emptying function is designed to be quick and easy to empty with a simple push of the button.

It’s fairly heavy though, weighing in at 6.9kg. And while it’s not the heaviest of upright vacs, I can imagine this would soon become an issue if you live in a big house or when going up and down flights of stairs. However, it’s neat, looks good and compact enough to fit nicely in a storage cupboard. The solid plastic structure is strong and sturdy, without the odd wobble.

The main feature of the Dyson Small Ball Allergy is in the name. Specially designed with a filtration system that is certified asthma and anti-allergy friendly by Allergy Standards Limited. As an allergy sufferer who has often struggled with the musty aroma in the air that vacuuming can often leave behind, this is a huge bonus!

Dyson Small Ball Allergy review

(Image credit: Dyson)

Of course, there is Dyson’s signature ball feature which is ideal for easy movements and navigation around the room. One downside though, the ball is too big to fit under the sofa, bed or any other low furniture to give it a good clean. For this, you’d have to detach the wand and use a suitable attachment to handle those unreachable spots. Slightly inconvenient when you just want to give your floors a thorough once-over.

Equipped with a high reach wand with quick release, this makes it handy to switch from cleaning floors to ceilings and walls. And the extendable cord is LONG, with a never-ending stretch to reach the most awkward of places.  

It comes with a motorised floor head with an adjuster for airflow. The rotating brush bar can also be turned off when on hard flooring. In addition, it has an array of attachments that include a handy stair tool, combination tool, soft dusting brush (which is super soft!) and a useful mattress tool. My only gripe about accessories is where to store them – especially when you already have a full utility cupboard! And while the Dyson has a handy accessory holder at the side where you can stack a few tools on top of the other, you still have to find a space for the other two attachments. Nevertheless, at least you know there is a tool to tackle every cleaning need.

It’s also equipped with a 9.4 metre-long cord, which coupled with the extra-long extendable hose, is useful for cleaning the stairs (without it tumbling down). Having said this, I do miss the instant convenience a retractable cord brings.

DYSON SMALL BALL ALLERGY REVIEW: PERFORMANCE

The Dyson Small Ball Allergy is easy to use. Once upright, you simply push the Power button, tilt the handle back so it slides away from its stabilising wheels, and ready to roll (no pun intended!). 

As to be expected from Dyson, there is no question about the extreme power and suction for both hard floors and carpets. On hard flooring and tiles, it quickly sucks up dust, crumbs and anything else for that matter, in seconds. Its exceptional power is thanks to its 700W motor and Radial Root Cyclone technology, that picks up dust successfully. In particular, the soft brush tool was a handy bit of kit in removing dust build-up inside and around the fireplace, bookshelves and window sills.

It’s smooth and easy to push across the floor, and the ball allows more flexibility and movement. However, it was quite a challenge to navigate the head into tight corners or around furniture. In addition, I couldn’t vacuum under my sofa, due to the ball in the way which is inconvenient.

Dyson Small Ball Allergy review

(Image credit: Dyson)

In any case, the Dyson Small Ball Allergy worked exceptionally well on low-pile carpets, with enough suction power to remove ground in dirt, dust and hard-to-remove hair strands. Deep cleaning the stairs was a breeze and on Maximum mode, you could even feel a slight tug/pull from the suction. In fact, alongside the stair tool, my worn-looking beige carpet looked brighter, and could pass for brand new. Very impressive!

If you want to utilise the handheld tools, you have to pull out the extendable hose from the body. Now this should be a quick and easy process but retracting the wand from the cord can be tricky and a bit of a faff. But this is something you’ll soon get used to. For those hard-to-reach places you can pull out the wand and add the right tool, or you can remove the wand completely to attach directly to the hose. Bear in mind, the hose can be stiff and awkward to extend at first – so you’ll have to give it a good tug to get your desired reach.

Emptying the bagless bin isn't as easy and the catch doesn't always lock properly (which could potentially be a dust disaster) so just be mindful when emptying. Best of all, the air was noticeably fresher without the ‘just vacuumed’ aroma floating in the air.

Perhaps the only downsides worth mentioning are its weight, and awkwardness to navigate around low furniture or tight spots. However, I can easily overlook these issues thanks to the excellent and superior results, and the very impressive allergen filtering.

DYSON SMALL BALL ALLERGY REVIEW: VERDICT

Dyson Small Ball Allergy review

(Image credit: Dyson)

When it comes to performance and power, the Dyson Small Ball Allergy certainly doesn’t mess around. Designed with asthma and allergy sufferers in mind, the suction capabilities will deep clean your floors to perfection without leaving potential allergens in the air. The selection of attachments is very handy, although you’d probably require a bit of patience to easily retract the wand from the hose. And the roller ball is far too big to properly clean under the sofa or any low furniture.

However, this doesn’t take away its impressive power and flexibility to vacuum just about anything in the home. Overall, the Dyson Small Ball Allergy is a worthwhile, upright vac. It may be one of the last vacs standing, during the cull of its corded comrades, but it’s an excellent machine and, especially by Dyson standards, great value for money.

Cynthia Lawrence
Cynthia Lawrence

Cynthia Lawrence is a freelance lifestyle journalist and digital editor for national publications. She also has a rather unhealthy obsession for Homes & Interiors, and loves a good bargain.