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Vacuum Cleaners: How To Choose the Right One

Few people actually enjoy vacuum cleaning, but this necessary chore can be made so much less of a hassle if you get the right product to match your needs.

Knowing what type of cleaner is right for you and your home means you could clean up, save time, save money and save stress.

Finding the perfect model simply comes down to asking yourself the right kind of questions before heading down to the store – and that’s where our Buyer’s Guide to Vacuum Cleaners comes in.

Where am I going to use the vacuum cleaner?

This might sound stupid, but some people do have multiple vacs for different parts of their home or if not, then they have special attachments for certain jobs around the house.

Is this a vacuum cleaner to clean the whole house, or just to clean upstairs? Maybe, you simply want to suck up small things like crumbs in a kitchen?

If you want one to do the job across your whole home, you need to consider an upright vacuum cleaner. This could be the most powerful option, and is far easier to move around than a cylinder.

But a smaller cylinder vacuum cleaner may be more practical for keeping in a cupboard upstairs to save lugging an upright up those flights or to use in a flat where storage space is at a premium.

Quick cordless cleaners such as the Dyson Digital Slim or an AEG stick can be handy for dealing with food spillages or smaller areas of dust and dirt. These work on a battery charge
rather than being plugged into the mains.

And for cleaning a worktop, car, or getting into tight spaces, a mini battery-powered handheld vacuum cleaner might be the best idea.

Does the surface I’m cleaning matter?

Yes, to an extent. A wood floor will require a different kind of cleaning action to a carpet. For example, on carpet a brush would rub against it to loosen the dirt but you wouldn’t want that happening on wood floor otherwise you’ll scratch it.

Many uprights have an option to turn off the brush, so if your house has both types of surface, look for one of these. If you have the brush on while cleaning a wooden floor you’ll find
the dust is just pushed around too rather than sucked up.

What about bagged or bagless?

This is a crucial choice to make whether you’re going for an upright or a cylinder and it requires some thought.

An obviously advantage of a bagless cleaner is that you don’t have to keep buying new bags, which can be expensive. You will also be able to see how quickly the canister or chamber is
filling up, making it easy to know when you need to empty your vacuum.

But bagged cleaners have advantages too. They’re very hygienic as less dust may escape when you empty them compared to dumping the waste from a bagless chamber.

Many models also have self-sealing bags so you won’t have to have any contact with the dust.

Sadly you’ll always have some kind of contact when emptying a bagless cleaner so if you suffer from allergies, a bag is an option.

If you do go for bagged, and do a lot of vacuuming, look for a model that takes larger bags to save you having to constantly change them.

I have allergies and/or pets?

If you suffer from allergies, asthma or have an animal around the house, look for vacuums with special filters, known as HEPA. These are designed to capture the smallest particles of
dirt and get rid of them. Cleaners without HEPA filters may not manage to suck up so closely.

Where am I going to store my cleaner?

Even the smiley red face of a Numatic Henry vacuum cleaner is ugly when left out in your living space, so storage is another big consideration.

Do you have a cupboard to fit this new vacuum cleaner in? If not, you can get compact designs for minimal storage as well. It is worth looking at how the hoses and accessories to your
new vacuum cleaner are stored. Some wrap around, others don’t.

You also need to consider if your accessory tubes collapse down and slot into the cleaner or have to be stored separately.

What accessories will I need?

For many, who just want the basics, the standard attachments with most cleaners will do the job effectively.

But there are often extra ones, with Dyson being a brand that offers a wide range of additional attachments to buy.

Little turbo brushes come with many quality cleaners and make short work of tricky dirt such as pet hair. A mini upholstery attachment and maybe a mini duster brush might be an idea too if they aren’t standard.

Turbo heads with a rotating brush bar will also groom the pile of your carpet as you clean, getting deeper down and helping to keep the quality of the carpet itself. They are also very
handy on stairs.

What else do I need to consider?

Weight is important, particularly if you’re going to be carrying the new cleaner up and down stairs regularly. There has been a real emergence recently of lightweight cleaners.

The smaller Dyson models and the Vax Air range are lighter and easier to store. But remember, if you are investing in a compact range, the canister will be smaller and will need emptying more often.

Hose length is also important, especially if you have a long staircase and need to reach to the top while keeping the cleaner on the floor below. The same goes for the length of
the power cord.

When it comes to power, the higher the number of watts the more powerful the vacuum is but other features such as filters will impact on the cleaning so it doesn’t always mean the more power you have, the more dirt you’ll get rid of.

Do I have to spend a fortune?

With vacuum cleaners, you tend to get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend the earth.

Upright cleaners can cost as little as £40 or as much as £350 with cylinders starting lower (around £18) and as much as £480 for a top-of-the-range one. Expect to pay about £100 for a
decent handheld.

Look out for the guarantee offered by each manufacturer. For example Dyson promises five years worth of peace-of-mind.

Jargon Buster


A steering device, common on Dyson models, to make it easier to navigate trickier corners of your home.

HEPA Filtration

A type of filter that traps tiny dust particles that other vacuum cleaners might simply recirculate back into the air of your home.

Cord Rewind

Press a button and the lead will automatically retract into the device, to save you fiddling with it and getting in a tangle.

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