“I need a new vacuum…but all the brands and models are confusing. Where do I start?”
Buying a new vacuum is a big decision. A high-quality model can make cleaning your home easier and less stressful – while the wrong choice can be an expensive mistake that can even affect your health.
That’s why we’ve created this website - to provide vacuum cleaner reviews, price comparisons and guides to help you make an informed decision.
But how do we judge each cleaner? And what makes one vacuum a joy to use and another clunky, difficult and frustrating?
There is more info about our review process below. But some of the things we look at are suction power, dust capacity, filtration and accessories. The brand is also important. Some brands, such as Dyson and Vax, have a reputation for producing durable vacuums that last a long time, while others are less reliable.
Of course, price is a major factor in any purchasing decision. The good news is that the most expensive, feature-packed models on the market aren't always the best choice. The continuous development of new technology and features has also reduced the overall cost, so you can now get high quality models for very reasonable prices. We've listed all the most important considerations when learning how to buy a vacuum cleaner below to help you make an informed decision.
Why Spotless Vacuum?
You might be wondering why we’ve decided to put so much time and effort into making a site about vacuum cleaner recommendations – and it’s a fair question!
The simple answer is we realise how stressful buying a vacuum cleaner can be. There are hundreds of options, and it’s easy to waste hours trying to find the best vacuums in the UK. We wanted to do the research and analysis for you, so you can quickly get an overview without having to slog through hundreds of pages of reviews, comments and manufacturer descriptions.
Navigating This Site
You probably came here to find the best vacuum cleaner for your needs - and there's a good chance this is out of necessity rather than passion! While you can take your time exploring the different sections, here’s a quick overview of how to get started for those in a rush.
There are several different sections of this site. Each is designed to help you make a quick and stress-free decision when choosing a vacuum. Here’s an overview:
- Best vacuum cleaners of 2018 – this is a chart of our top rated vacuum cleaners in each category, including upright, cylinder, handheld and robotic. If you don’t know where to start, this is the best place.
- Price guides – If you're looking for the best vacuum on a budget, we have several guides for choosing the top models in a certain price ranges. Take a look at our best vacuum cleaners for under £100 and best vacuum cleaners for under £200 if you have a fixed budget.
- Specific features - sometimes you want a model for a specific purpose or with a certain feature. We write pages of reviews for a variety of features, including quiet vacuum cleaner reviews and vacuum cleaners for pet hair. We also pages for the best car vacuum, garden vacuums and even USB keyboard vacuums.
- Brand pages – if you already know which brand you want to buy, whether it’s Dyson, Hoover or Vax, check out our brand pages for more information about each manufacturer’s best models.
- Category listings – we also have categories for all the major types of vacuum cleaner, including cordless, handheld, robotic, wet-dry and upright.
- Individual vacuum reviews – once you’ve decided on the category, brand or price range, the next step is to read individual reviews. We provide in-depth analysis of all the major features of a model, including its weight, price, warranty and usability, before awarding a ranking out of 10.
We update each of these sections regularly. So make sure you check back for the latest reviews and top-rated vacuums.
What to Look for When Buying a Hoover, Dyson or Any Other Brand?
One of the hardest things about choosing a vacuum is the amount of variables to consider. There are almost endless features, specifications and other considerations – and each brand will tell you that their latest model is the “best” or “most advanced.” That’s why it’s important to understand the main buying considerations before you start looking at reviews.
Don’t worry though – you don’t need to spend hours becoming an expert. The section below provides almost everything you need to make an informed decision, and our reviews for vacuums make it easy to compare models.
Types of Vacuum Cleaners
Probably the most important decision is which type you want to buy. There are several primary categories of cleaner, each with its own strengths, weaknesses and price ranges. So before you start looking at individual models, you need to know which type you’re looking for. Here’s an overview of the most common vacuum categories and their strengths and weaknesses.
A cylinder vacuum cleaner from brands such as Miele can be a good choice if you need a small, lightweight model that is easy to move around your home. They can also be easier to store due to their small size, and have a range of attachments for different jobs. The lightweight nature of cylinders also makes them great for stairs. While they are probably more popular in Europe, they are still regularly used in the UK.
There are some downsides to owning a cylinder instead of an upright model though. Firstly, the long hose attachment can be fiddly to store. They also often don't have as much suction power as alternatives, which can make them struggle with pet hair.
An upright vacuum cleaner usually consists of a single stick/handle and a container to hold dirt and dust. The bottom usually has a rotating brush to gather dust while loosening its grip on carpets. Basic uprights are built with a simple drive-belt, while more expensive models may have two belts so you can turn off the rotating brush.
Upright cleaners from brands such as Dyson and Morphy Richards are the most popular vacuums in the UK – and for good reason. They are probably the best option for home cleaning, especially if most of your floors have carpet. Other advantages include a large dust capacity, excellent hair suction (which is great if you have pets) and efficient floor coverage. You’ll generally spend less time vacuuming with an upright than a cylinder, as they can cover large amounts of floor quickly.
It’s not all good news for upright cleaners though. They are notoriously noisy (although this has changed with the introduction of new EU regulations in 2017), which might be an issue if you want to clean at times where other people might be asleep. Uprights can also be difficult to use on stairs, but this is partly counteracted by attachments (see our page on the best stair vacuums). Still, uprights are often the best choice for basic cleaning.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of upright vacuum. The two most common are direct fan and fan-bypass. For power efficiency, direct-fan is the best option, although this comes at the cost of suction power. If cleaning power is important to you, fan-bypass models are often the better option.
Sometimes you don’t need a large, bulky upright or cylinder. If you’ve just spilt some crisps or noticed a patch of carpet you missed, a handheld vacuum could be the perfect option. Handheld cleaners are also great for vacuuming those “hard to reach places” you just can’t get to with a regular model.
The obvious downside of handheld vacuums is the same as their strength: the small size. Handhelds have a small dust capacity and a small motor. This means they need to be emptied regularly and usually don’t have a large amount of suction power. Even so, they can be a handy addition to your cleaning toolbox.
If you need a cleaner that can handle spillages, a wet-dry vacuum is the best choice. These are designed to clean up liquid stains, and can be used outdoors as well as inside your home. Most can be put in “reverse” mode to blow rather than suck.
While it’s true that wet-dry vacuums are more common in retail locations, they are extremely versatile which makes them worth considering for your home. These models are usually powerful, able to deal with heavy objects and can be used for tasks like clearing snow from your porch (on the admittedly rare occasions we get proper snow in the UK).
Robot vacuums have been seen as an unnecessary novelty for a while now, but they are finally starting to become a real alternative to a regular model. Robotic vacuums have sensors and learning systems that allows them to clean an entire floor quickly and efficiently, before returning to their “home” base to recharge. You can set robotic cleaners to clean whenever you want, meaning you’ll never have to worry about vacuuming the floor again.
Of course, robotic models aren’t able to go up or down stairs, and there are sometimes corners they can’t reach. Even so, if you’re looking for a “set and forget” way to clean your floor, they are worth considering. Check out the video below of the iRobot Roomba 980 if you haven't seen one in action before.
As the name suggests, cordless vacuum cleaners (sometimes called battery powered vacuums) don’t need to be connected to a plug socket while in use. This means they are less powerful, but also makes them convenient and easy to use. Cordless models are especially useful on stairs, and a single charge can often last up to 60 minutes (or longer for some Bosch models) – which is usually enough for a cleaning session.
The main problem with cordless cleaners is the price. They are a relatively new technology, compared to upright models, so are naturally more expensive. While there are some cheap models available, these are often low quality and not recommended. It’s also important to check the suction power of a cordless before you buy as this varies greatly.
What Are The Most Important Features?
Now you know about the different types, the next step is to look at specific features. While there are seemingly endless ways vacuum brands can position similar features, there are only a few you really need to worry about. Here’s a brief overview of what to look for.
It sounds obvious, but you should set a budget before you start looking for a vacuum. Vacuum cleaners vary in price, from cheap £20 models right up to £500 and above, so without a budget you'll have a hard time finding value for money.
But how much do you need to spend to get a high-quality cleaner? At Spotless Vacuum, we recommend spending at least £100. More expensive models aren’t always better, but it’s hard to get a reliable, powerful and easy to use model for less than £100. Inexpensive vacuum cleaners might seem tempting, but there's nearly always a cost when it comes to performance and reliability.
On the other hand, we don’t recommend buying the most expensive models just for the sake of it. While there are some excellent models available, you need to find a vacuum that provides the right balance between the features you need and your budget.
For example, if you only have hardwood flooring, you probably won’t need a powerful upright that’s designed for carpets. And if you have a dog that sheds, you probably shouldn’t buy a cheap vacuum that doesn’t have the power or accessories to handle pet hair.
To sum up this section, there's a big difference between finding an affordable vacuum that matches your requirements, and a cheap model that's main selling point is that it doesn't cost as much as others! If that sounds confusing then don't worry - this is exactly why we've provided reviews of many of the top models.
At its most basic level, a vacuum creates suction via a pressure difference between inside and outside. The greater the difference in pressure, the more suction power and the more effective a vacuum will be at picking up dust and other objects.
Unfortunately, most manufacturers only provide the power in watts. This is the electric power a vacuum uses – not the suction power. It’s true that there is a correlation between the power in watts and suction power, but it’s not always the case that a higher wattage means more suction. In fact, since EU regulations have forced manufacturers to increase suction within a strict wattage guideline, the raw power of a vacuum is becoming even less useful as a gauge of suction strength.
In the EU, all vacuums need to show an energy use rating and must be built with motors that consume a maximum of 900W. The energy label should also show a rating between A to G for dust emissions and cleaning performance.
Bagless or Bagged
Bagless vacuums aren’t a new technology any more, but that doesn’t mean bagged models have disappeared entirely. The main advantage of bagless is clearly that you don’t need to buy and empty bags, but they are also less likely to suffer from suction power reduction as they fill up.
However, bagged vacuums are often cheaper and more hygienic. So if you suffer from asthma, a bagged model may be the better option.
Filtration doesn’t affect how effectively a machine can suck up dust. Instead, the type of filter affects the quantity and size of particles in the air via exhaustion from the pump. The better the filter, the fewer micro-organisms and dust particles will pass into the air – although it’s impossible to stop every particle. While filtration is important to everyone, it’s vital for people who suffer from asthma or dust-related allergies.
There are several main types of filters used on vacuums in the UK. These are:
- Standard/Stage filters. Standard filters are usually found on cheaper vacuums. Typically, a stage filter has a minimum of four stages, including a filter between the motor and bag – but some models have up to seven.
- Charcoal filters. These filters include a layer of charcoal, which can reduce unpleasant smells. For this reason, charcoal filters are often recommended for people with pets.
- HEPA filters. A HEPA filter is designed to remove microscopic particles from the air before it is released from the vacuum. This makes HEPA filters a great option for people with allergies or asthma. It is often quoted that HEPA filters are capable of removing 99.97% of dust particles.
There are other factors to consider when choosing a filter, including whether it is a disposable or lifetime filter. Disposable filters need to be replaced every few months, which can be costly. Lifetime filters last much longer and can often be washed.
Other Things to Look For
Dirt and Dust Capacity
While some people might argue the capacity of a vacuum isn’t as important as other factors, it’s still something to keep in mind – especially if you have a large house. Most models become less efficient at picking up dust when the canister or bag is close to full, so a small capacity can mean you’ll need to empty it regularly.
Attachments and Brushes
It’s much easier to thoroughly clean your home if your vacuum has multiple attachments for different purposes. Most models have several tools – particularly dusting, upholstery and crevice tools – but there are a variety of others that may make your life easier. A turbo-brush, for example, is great at getting pet hair out of carpets. Other tools are useful for wooden floors and stairs, while extendable attachments are great if you have high ceilings.
The weight of a vacuum cleaner is often overlooked, but it’s important to be aware of how heavy a machine is before you buy. This is especially important if you have a bad neck or multiple sets of stairs in your home – lugging around heavy vacuum cleaners can be tiring. This is why we try to include the weight in all of our vacuum cleaner reviews.
Similarly, a it's important to look for a durable vacuum cleaner. Some models are built to withstand heavy use and even the occasional collision, while others are likely to break easily.
A high-quality model can be expected to last at least 5-7 years, but it’s still important to know whether a manufacturer offers a warranty. Most vacuums come with a warranty of at least a year, but longer warranties often indicate higher quality.
Our Approach to Reviewing and Rating
To write our vacuum cleaner reviews, we go through an extensive process that involves reading the manufacturer's specification, comparing features to similar models, assessing the price range and reading customer reviews from around the internet. Once we have a good idea of how a vacuum performs in relation to its price and competitors, we give it a score in several categories.
It’s important to point out that we don’t personally use all the vacuums we review. It is simply not possible for us to buy and test every model. However, we don’t believe this is a handicap. In fact, we think you get a better overview of a vacuum’s performance from reading hundreds of reviews from other buyers, and then condensing this information into a short article, than you would from using a vacuum for a few hours in a situation that isn’t similar to real life.
You’re probably wondering how we rate each model. Here’s a list of some of the factors we consider:
- Suction power and motor reliability (according to reviewer feedback)
- Filter system
- Ease of use (according to reviewer feedback)
- Warranty length
While it’s not possible to devise a universal rating system, due to the significant differences between various types of vacuum such as upright or robotic, we try to be as consistent as possible when judging a model. Even so, we recommended reading reviews in full so you have a deeper understanding of the advantages and drawbacks of a certain model.
Why Rate Out of 10?
The reason our ratings of vacuum cleaners are listed as an average of several categories (value, ease of use, cleaning power, features and accessories), rather than just giving each an absolute rating, is because the best vacuum for you depends on your requirements. We still provide an overall overage, but a 9.2-rated model may be a worse choice for you than a 7.5-rated model if the 7.5 model is a better fit for your home and requirements. That’s why we recommended using the ratings in your most important categories, not the overall average, to pick a few vacuums that match your criteria, and then reading the reviews to understand the pros and cons of each in more depth.
So there you have it – a complete overview of how to choose a vacuum cleaner in 2018. Now that you know the basics, it’s time to start looking around at our vacuum cleaner reviews. We regularly update the site with new guides, reviews and other content, so make sure you check back.
If you have any questions about choosing a model or the site in general, just leave a comment below or contact us via our contact page and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!