Vacuum cleaner reviews: FAQs
Is it worth spending more to get a good vac?
We've tested hundreds of vacs in the last decade and have found few that meet our gold standards of excellent cleaning ability on a range of surfaces, effective filtering that stops dust and allergen particles escaping and a good record for reliability.
The bulk of our Best Buy models cost more than £150, with around half pushing £200 or more. But while our most expensive Best Buy has been an eye-watering £400, we regularly have recommendations for under £100 so use the filters in our compare vacuum cleaners tool to find a Best Buy vac for your budget.
In our experience, it's worth spending at least £75 on a vacuum cleaner. We rarely test models below that price point as the vast majority of models we've seen under £75 hover around our Don't Buy score range. But we've also seen some very expensive models score poorly.
Also, think about what your home is like. If you only have hard floors, there’s no point shelling out for a vacuum cleaner that works well on all types of floor surfaces.
Our extensive, rigorous lab testing is the only way to make sure that it's worth investing in the pricier end of the market and avoiding disappointment. Watch our video explaining what makes a Best Buy vacuum cleaner to find out more.
Should I get an upright or cylinder vacuum cleaner?
There are pros and cons for each type, but a lot comes down to what your home is like. For example, cylinders are useful if you have stairs and hard to reach spaces, but although they appear smaller, they aren't that easy to store because of the unwieldy hose. They are generally quieter but don't pick up pet heir as well.
Upright vacuum cleaners are good if you have large areas of floor to cover, but are larger and harder to store in small spaces. To help you make your decision, take a look at our buying guides to upright vacuum cleaners and cylinder vacuum cleaners.
Is vacuum cleaner wattage important?
Manufacturers often use the wattage or power of a vacuum cleaner to as a selling point. But a good performance is about design and suction, not how high the wattage is. A high wattage doesn't mean you will get a better vacuum cleaner and it means you will use more energy.
Should I get a bagged of bagless vacuum cleaner?
There isn't a difference between a bagged or bagless vacuum cleaners in terms of cleaning power, so it's more down to personal preference.
Bagless vacuum cleaners cut down the need to buy bags, saving you money, but emptying it can be messy.
Bagged vacuum cleaners are a hygienic and allergy-friendly way to clean as they securely hold dirt. Take a look at our buying guide to bagless vacuum cleaners to help you make your decision.
Is it true some vacuum cleaners can help allergy sufferers?
It's estimated that about 40% of us suffer from allergies at some point in our lives. And one way of keeping dust-mite allergy at bay is to use your vacuum cleaner regularly.
But it's important to choose a vacuum cleaner that can retain the contents of its dust bag or canister, and not let it leak back out. Some vacuum cleaners that are poorly built or have poor exhaust filtration allow tiny particles to escape back into the room, wreaking havoc for allergy sufferers.
Our allergen retention tests show there are significant differences between models in how well vacs can retain allergens. The worst vacuum cleaners retain less than 10% of the tiny allergen particles compared with the very best which retain more than 99% of them. Look carefully at these ratings in our reviews if you suffer from allergies.
Vacuum cleaners that have Hepa (high-efficiency particulate air) or S-class filters, designed to retain the particles that cause allergy attacks, should also make a difference.
Is the vacuum cleaner's capacity important?
The average vacuum cleaner has a capacity of between two and three litres, but the recommended maximum fill level or the amount of dust the cleaner can actually hold before suction decreases may be far less.
As a general rule, if you have a large household that needs lots of cleaning, choose a vacuum cleaner with a high capacity – you'll have to buy fewer new bags and do less fiddling around.
But remember for many vacuum cleaners pick-up can diminish as the bag or canister fills up, so it's a good idea to change the bag before it's bursting at the seams. This can prove pricey with some models, though.
You might want to take a look at our vacuum features explained page to see more information about capacity, filters and storage.
Do vacuum cleaners that claim to be more energy efficient really use less energy?
Which? has tested a few vacuum cleaners claiming low energy use, and levels vary. Some recorded low levels in our test, others proved average. Vacuum cleaners need the power to clean floors and as yet we’ve not found a vacuum cleaner that balances excellent all-round cleaning with very low energy use.
Average energy consumption is around 0.27kWh to vacuum a 10m2 area of carpet at full suction – that’s about the same area as three king size beds. We've seen energy-sapping models use in excess of 0.15kWh more energy than the less power hungry ones - the difference is enough energy to boil a litre of water in a kettle.
What kind of bags should I buy for my vacuum cleaner?
Vacuum cleaner manufacturers usually recommend buying replacement bags sold under their own brand names. But you can also buy bags – especially from online shops – from third-party suppliers, such as Airflo, Unifit and Vivanco. These companies make the 'official' bags for some vacuum cleaner manufacturers as well as providing their own-branded alternatives.
Generally, you're unlikely to see much difference. But the Which? tests show some alternative bags tended to let small particles of dust escape, which might mean you'd need to change the vacuum cleaner's filters more often.
I get static shocks from my vac - what can I do?
It's possible to get electrostatic shocks from a vacuum cleaner if earthed surfaces are touched. Various factors determine the likelihood and severity of shocks, but the main things at play are humidity, the kind of dust that's being sucked in, the material of the floor and the material of the shoes you're wearing.
One practical tip to reduce the likelihood of receiving shocks would be to lie the handle or hose of the vac down on the floor at regular intervals to discharge any build up of static.
I’ve heard about robot vacuum cleaners, are they any good?
Robots that vacuum while you take it easy have been around for several years, and more are coming with prices substantially cheaper than the first models. We're keeping an eye on the market which, as yet, remains small so we're not planning any full-scale lab testing. But take a peek at the concept by watching our videos on some of the latest robot vacuum cleaners.