The ever-expanding world of vacuum cleaners can be a minefield. With sticks and cylinders, handhelds and uprights, and not to mention the rise of the robot models, the range of vacuum cleaners available on the market right now is seemingly endless. But finding one that’s suitable for all your cleaning needs – whether you’re dealing with carpets, hard floors, stairs, pet hair, or all of these – shouldn’t have to be stressful.
We made it our mission to take away all the hard work from you, having tried, tested and reviewed no less than 92 models to find the best vacuum cleaners. We’ve weighed them up to find the best your money can buy.
We covered key areas including performance when cleaning a range of different floor surfaces, ease of use, design and instructions. This handy guide will help you find the right vacuum for your space.
Types of vacuum cleaner explained
It can be difficult to know which type of vacuum cleaner would best suit your needs. So, we’ve detailed the pros and cons of each category:
Upright vacuum cleaners tend to be the best option for larger, carpeted households. This is because they usually feature a turbo brush in the floor head, which makes them particularly effective at picking up hair and residue from carpets. The wide floor head also means they can cover a greater area more quickly and effectively than other vacuums.
These models are more stable and easier to manoeuvre than cylinders as you’re pushing them forward rather than dragging them behind you. There’s also no need to bend when using an upright, which makes them a good option for those with back issues.
This design can be awkward to use on stairs and can also be too bulky to reach under furniture, and the weight of some can also take its toll after prolonged use. They’re typically neat to store though, and can usually hold the tools on the body so you have them to hand as you clean.
Cylinder vacuums are typically lighter and more portable than an upright as the main body sits on the floor and is pulled behind you as you vacuum. They can be bagged or bagless, depending on your preference, and often come with a good selection of tools. They’ve been around for many years thanks to their lightweight and convenient design, making them ideal for those who struggle with heavier vacuums.
They tend to be better for reaching under and around furniture and make cleaning a flight of stairs simpler with a long, flexible hose. Care needs to be taken when pulling it around the home though, as it can knock into walls and furniture. Some designs can also be a bit bulky and more awkward to store than other types of vacuums, especially as they come with a long hose.
Stick vacuums are now becoming increasingly more popular thanks to their cordless design and them getting more powerful, almost rivalling corded models. In fact, while they were originally designed for quick spills, they’re now being used to clean an entire household.
At the core, their design offers convenience, typically featuring a lightweight “stick” body and a smaller canister to be regularly emptied. They also tend to come with attachments such as a crevice tool, upholstery tool and in some instances even a motorised pet brush for pet hair. Although, as they are cordless, they are dependant on battery life, so be prepared to have it on charge when not in use.
They’re compact to store (some can be mounted on the wall) and more lightweight than upright and cylinder vacuums, which generally makes them more comfortable to use.
While a robot vacuum won’t replace your standard vacuum, it will drastically reduce how often you need to get your other one out, giving you more time for yourself. These little machines work by using sensors to avoid bumping off furniture and map where they’ve been around the room, ensuring no area is left neglected.
Robot vacuums have come a long way in recent years. They now offer greater pick-up power, have larger dust canisters, and are more high-tech than ever. Most models are wifi compatible, meaning you can set your vacuum to clean even if you’re not at home. With many models, you can now set no-go areas or block off rooms you don’t want to be cleaned, too.
A handheld vacuum cleaner is ideal for cleaning quick spills as well as tight and awkward spaces such as car interiors and staircases. Being cordless, they’re convenient to grab and go, but they do depend on battery life and tend to have a smaller dust capacity than upright and cylinder vacuums, so it’s important to check these specs before you buy.
As a general rule, look for at least 20 minutes of battery life (this will give you ample time to get around a car) and a dust capacity of at least 0.3 litres if you don’t want to empty it often. It’s also worth noting that many cordless upright vacuums can also function as handhelds, so you may already have one in the home.
But if you’re looking to invest in a new handheld, as well as battery life and dust capacity, you should also consider the weight. It may feel light at first, but it can feel heavy and tiresome after a short while. The weight should be around 1-1.5kg on average.
The included tools can also vary. Some, such as a crevice tool and a pet tool, may be essential for your cleaning. Think about what you’ll be using this vacuum for and whether any accessories will help you.