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Your top 10 Dyson vacuum cleaner questions answered

By Liz Ransome

We answer your burning questions about Dyson vacuum cleaners, from how to empty them to which model is best.

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Whether you have a Dyson already, or are trying to choose which one to buy, we've got the answers to your top questions.

We’ve been testing vacuum cleaners for more than 50 years, and that includes Dyson vacs - right from the very first DC01 model in 1993. So we know a thing or two about the ins and outs of vacuum cleaners, and to how to choose the right one for your home.

We've rounded up the most popular questions about Dyson vacuum cleaners, based on Google search data from 1 January 2016 to 1 January 2017 (source: Google Trends), and brought you the answers. You can browse through the page, or use the list below to jump to the question you’re most interested in.

Just want to see how different Dyson models compare? Head to our Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews.

1. How to empty a Dyson? 

All Dyson vacuum cleaners are bagless, so you won’t need to change or buy dust bags. Instead, you’ll need to empty the clear dust container once the dirt inside reaches the max line. This is often well below the top of the canister, so beware of overfilling it, as this may affect suction power.

To empty your Dyson, first remove the canister from the vacuum itself, which you can do by pressing the 'bin release' button/lever. This may be in a slightly different place depending on what type and model of vacuum cleaner you have. On some models it will be labelled, while on others it will be a distinctive colour, usually red. For cordless and handheld models, removing the cleaning wand or nozzle will make it easier.

Once you've done that, hold the canister over your bin and press the button/lever to open the base and let the dirt out. It's best to do this over the bin or directly into a bag to avoid dust spilling back into your house.

Dyson says its bins are hygienically clean and, therefore, great for allergy sufferers, because you don’t have to handle dusty bags. However, opening the bin will still inevitably allow some dust and dirt to float up into the air, potentially more so than if they’re contained in a bag. You may also find you need to reach inside the container to get all the dirt out.

Some Dyson models have a 'hygienic dirt-ejector' feature to help push dirt out of the canister

From 2017, some models, such as the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball vacuum and Dyson V8 cordless, have a ‘hygenic dirt-ejector’ mechanism in the dust container. This is essentially a silicone collar that slides down the inside of the bin when you press the release lever, scraping off any remaining debris.

Read the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball review or Dyson V8 cordless review to find out what we thought of this feature.

1. How to clean a Dyson? 

Cleaning the dust container

Dyson vacuum cleaners are bagless, so dirt goes directly into the see-through canister. This means the bin might need cleaning from time to time to ensure you can see how full it's getting.

To do so, simply remove it from the vacuum itself by pressing the release button and opening the bottom, as you would do to empty it (see above). You can then use a damp cloth or cleaning wipe to clean the inside. You can also remove the outside of the canister from underneath the cyclones so you can clean the trunk.

Cleaning the floorhead and brush bar

  1. Remove the floorhead from the vacuum cleaner, either by clicking the release button, or removing a small 'collar' where the floorhead is connected to the vac, and then pulling it off.
  2. You can then clean it and the brush bar (the part that rotates to help the vac pick up more dirt) with a damp cloth, and use scissors to carefully cut away tangled hairs. 
  3. If you're finding it difficult to clean the brush bar like this, you can remove the soleplate - the piece that glides over the floor. Depending on the type of vacuum cleaner you have, there will be two circular discs or levers on the floorhead. Turn or pull these to release the soleplate. 
  4. If you want to completely remove the brush bar, you can. How you do this differs for each machine, but it usually involves removing screws. 
  5. On some models, such as with the new cordless vacuum cleaners, you can slide the bar out through the side by twisting a similar circular disc.

Cleaning the filter

Regularly cleaning filters helps to keep your vacuum cleaner working as it should. Most Dysons have at least one removable filter that will need cleaning every so often. On many models the filter sits within the middle of the cyclones. You can remove it by lifting a 'lid' (usually under the handle) on the top of the vacuum cleaner.

On newer models, filters are usually brightly coloured (often purple) to make them more obvious.

Most upright and cylinder models will have a second filter in the 'ball' of the vacuum cleaner. Some cylinders also have a filter in the back of the machine, and some uprights have one between the vacuum cleaner itself and the floorhead.

For cordless and handheld models, the second filter is sometimes in the main handheld unit. Because the filter's location differs so widely between models, it's worth taking a look at your instructions to confirm how many filters your model has and where to find them.

Once you've removed the filters, rinse them under a cold tap using just water, and allow to dry fully (ideally for 24 hours) before replacing them.

Some of the latest Dyson vacuum cleaners don't have filters at all

Dyson's Cinetic vacuum cleaners don't have filters at all. The dust cyclones on these vacs have soft rubber tips, which oscillate at high speed as the vacuum cleans. Dyson says this separates more tiny dust particles from the air than other vacuum cleaners, flinging them into the bin and removing the need for additional filters.

We've tested several Dyson Cinetic vacuum cleaners. See our reviews of the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal upright and Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Musclehead cylinder to find out whether the Cinetic technology results in brilliant cleaning and less maintenance.

3. Which Dyson is best? 

We’ve tested all the major Dyson vacuum cleaners over the years. We found some models that excel, and some that don't live up to their high price and are outperformed by cheaper rivals.

Currently (June 2017), our highest-scoring Dyson got an impressive overall test score of 80%, making it a Best Buy. It costs a very respectable £200 on average. Not all Dyson vacuums do so well, though – we've found two that scored a less-impressive 65% and cost more than the top Best Buy.

Visit our Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews to compare models find out which ones we recommend.

Dyson makes cylinder, upright, cordless, robot and handheld vacuum cleaners, so which one is best depends on what you need it for.

Cordless and handheld vacuums are the lightest and most nimble, so are great to have to hand for small, quick jobs. Some high-end cordless models can replace your main vacuum if you want to go cord-free.

Visit our guide to how to buy the best Dyson to find out all you need to know about the different types their pros and cons.

4. How to take a Dyson apart? 

If you need to take your Dyson apart to clean it or identify a problem, first follow the steps for emptying the bin and cleaning the floorhead and filters in question two (above).

This should allow you to look for blockages, identify damage or to clean it. If you have a problem with your machine that these steps haven't resolved, you might also want to inspect the hose. 

If you can't see anything when looking down the hose when it's in position, you can remove it from the base. This will allow you to look into the bottom, called the 'duct' or 'U bend' on different models.

How you do this will differ from model to model, but you'll usually need to press a button, squeeze a lever/s or twist the hose/base to release it (see example from older DC17 model below).

The support section on Dyson's website (www.dyson.com/support) contains troubleshooting guides and instructions for each model.

Be careful with how you take your Dyson apart, as this may void the warranty. You shouldn't attempt to adjust any parts that are contained within the main body, including the motor. 

If there is an issue with your machine that you can't easily solve, even after following Dyson's instructions, it's best to contact the retailer or Dyson to organise a service - see below on how to do this.

5. Which is the best Dyson cordless? 

There are three ranges of Dyson vacuums - V6, V7 and V8 - with a few different options in each range. All cordless Dyson vacuum cleaners share the same basic design, but the newer V7 and V8 models have extra features and bigger claims around cleaning performance and battery life. 

You'll pay dearly for these extras, though. Find out if we think it's worth trading up to the premium models, and how all cordless models compare, by checking our Dyson cordless vacuum reviews.

6. Why does my Dyson pulse? 

If your Dyson vacuum cleaner is pulsing on and off, it might be that there's a blockage somewhere. Follow the instructions in question two and four to help you check for blockages or damage to the hose, bin, floorhead and filters. 

If you do find something and are unable to fix it yourself, contact the retailer you bought it from, or organise a service directly with Dyson (see question eight).

If you have a cordless vacuum cleaner, it may simply be that it's run out of battery power and needs recharging.

7. How much is a Dyson V8? 

There are two different Dyson V8 models: the Dyson V8 Animal, which costs around £335, and the more expensive Dyson V8 Absolute, at around £400.

They're the most expensive cordless vacuum cleaners we've tested. Most cost between £100 and £200, and the cheapest models are around just £70.

But we've found that price doesn't always accurately reflect how good a model is - we've found two Best Buy cordless vacuum cleaners for less than £190.

Visit our cordless vacuum cleaner reviews to find out whether the Dyson cordless models are worth the high price.

8. How to service a Dyson? 

If you have a problem with your Dyson, first check your guarantee, as it may be that you can get it fixed through the retailer at no cost. If it's out of warranty, then you can organise a service directly through Dyson.

A service of the whole machine is £99, or £79 excluding the motor. Parts and labour are included (minus filters and accessories) and guaranteed for 12 months. You can book a service by calling Dyson on 0800 954 0154. 

£99how much a full Dyson vacuum cleaner service costs

There are a few older machines that Dyson no longer services. These are: DC01, DC02, DC03, DC04, DC05, DC11 and DC16. If you have one of these models, Dyson offers a discount on a newer Dyson vacuum instead.

9. Which Dyson do I have? 

If you’re wondering which Dyson you have, you can use the serial number to find the model on the Dyson website in its support section (www.dyson.co.uk/support).

The serial number is in different places depending on the model you have. For upright Dyson models, the number will be either:

  • on the back behind the hose
  • on the base between the wheels
  • on the main body behind the bin.

On Dyson cylinder models, it will either be on the underside of the vacuum between the wheels, or on the main body behind the bin. For handheld and cordless models it will be behind the bin or handle on the main part of the machine (see image below to help locate it).

10. Why does my cordless Dyson keep cutting out? 

There are two reasons why your cordless Dyson might be suddenly stopping while you’re using it. The first is that the battery is running out. Most cordless vacs can’t clean for very long before the battery needs recharging. If you use the turbo/max setting, your Dyson will last less than eight minutes, so you may get caught out.

8 minutesThe max cleaning time in turbo mode with the Dyson V8 cordless

If you have fully charged the battery and it’s still cutting out, there could be a fault. The first port of call would be to contact the retailer you bought it from and explain the situation. If the machine is still within warranty, you should be able to get it fixed without charge. You can also contact Dyson directly to have it serviced (see how to do this above).

We've found that not all cordless vacuum cleaners live up to their claimed battery life. Some last for less than 10 minutes - even on standard mode - while others can power on for 40 minutes or more. If you opt for a model that takes an age to recharge as well, you might find getting the cleaning done becomes a race against the clock. Pick from our list of the best cordless vacuum cleaners to get a model that cleans brilliantly and lasts the distance.

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