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Which? tests uncover 11 Don’t Buy cordless vacuum cleaners

Has the switch to cordless vacuums left our homes dirtier?

Cordless vacuum cleaners have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional vacuums, but choosing the wrong product could leave you bitterly disappointed, as we’ve found a record number that do a terrible job of cleaning.

In our latest lab tests, we uncovered 11 cordless vacuums that are so poor at sucking up dust and dirt we’ve named them Don’t Buys. One model picked up just 1% of the dust we put down on floorboards, and a measly 10% of dust from carpet.

But it’s not all bad news. Some cordless vacuums proved themselves worthy additions to your home, cleaning brilliantly and delivering on the ease of movement that cordless vacs are noted for. Four made the grade as Best Buys.

Find out which cordless vacuum cleaners will keep your home free of dust, and the ones to avoid, in our cordless vacuum cleaner reviews.

Top cordless vacuum reviews

We have just tested 23 cordless vacuum cleaners, ranging in price from £60 to more than £400. Here’s a rundown of the big 2017 launches that have gone through our tough lab tests.

Dyson V7 Animal, £320

The Dyson V7 sits between the older V6 range and the pricey V8 range of Dyson cordless vacuums. It has a 28-minute run time – better than the relatively short 20 minutes you get with the V6, and just a little under the 32-minute run time of the Dyson V8.

Like the V8, it has Dyson’s bin-emptying feature that pushes dirt out from the dust container when you empty it. This is a welcome update, as we found you can end up scrabbling around to retrieve trapped debris on the V6. Which cordless Dyson is best? See how the V7 compares in our Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews.

Vax Blade 32V Pro, £300

You can pick up the Vax Blade 32V Pro for less than £200 when it’s on special offer, which makes it a tempting prospect. Like the Dyson cordless models, this Vax has a detachable handheld unit that can be used for fiddly cleaning jobs. Vax has also taken the unusual step of turning the dust canister on its side so it meets the cleaning tube at a right angle. Vax says this provides a clear path from floor to dust container, allowing for better cleaning.

We found the battery lasted for 51 minutes on its standard setting, which should be more than enough for a thorough clean of most homes. It won’t be a bargain if it leaves your floors strewn with dust, though. Read the full Vax Blade 32V Pro review to find out if it’s worth buying.

Numatic Cordless Henry HVB160-12, £300

Most cordless vacuums have a slim stick design and a small dust capacity to match, typically around half a litre. Not so for the Cordless Henry vacuum cleaner. It uses dust bags and has a market-beating 2.3-litre dust capacity. This could be handy if you want the convenience of cordless but don’t like bagless cleaning.

The Cordless Henry comes with two battery packs that each last for just under 30 minutes, giving you almost an hour of cleaning time on the standard setting. The battery slots into the top, but otherwise this vacuum looks and feels very similar to the original Henry. Find out how the Cordless Henry fared in our tests in the full Numatic Henry HVB160-12 review.

How corded and cordless vacuums compare

We compared the average dust pick-up scores on three key cleaning tasks for recently tested vacuum cleaners and found that, on average, cordless vacuum cleaners are still some way behind traditional models when it comes to the basics of cleaning.

Most cordless vacuums will do a decent job of tackling dusty laminate floors, but they struggle to do the same on other floor types, such as carpets. Results vary wildly, though: some stand-out cordless vacuums rival corded models for cleaning power, while others leave more dust behind than they actually pick up. One of our Don’t Buy cordless vacuums sucked up only 1% of the dust in our floorboard cleaning test, 10% in our carpet test, and 57% in our laminate floor test.

It’s not just dustbusting that the worst cordless vacuums fall down on. Plenty of them can’t keep hold of the dust they actually do pick up. While most traditional vacuums will trap nearly all of the fine dust and allergens they suck up, we’ve found that some cordless vacuums will leak as much as 11% back into your home.

Should you buy a cordless vacuum cleaner?

If you find a traditional vacuum cleaner cumbersome, a good cordless model can make life easier, but you’ll need to choose wisely to ensure you get the best clean.

The best cordless vacuums are easy to use and can clean up all manner of dust and debris with ease. You don’t necessarily need to break the bank, either, as our Best Buys start from around £180. See all the cordless models we recommend in our round-up of the best cordless vacuum cleaners for 2017.

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