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Which? tests uncover cheap Best Buy vacuum cleaner for less than £100

If you want brilliant cleaning on a budget, we've just found our cheapest Best Buy on test - but beware, we've also uncovered two dreadful Don't Buy vacuums in the same price bracket

Which? tests uncover cheap Best Buy vacuum cleaner for less than £100

Our latest vacuum cleaner tests have revealed a bargain Best Buy that cleans better than some vacuums costing five times more – but we also found three cheap vacuums so poor we’ve labelled them Don’t Buys to avoid.

Our new Best Buy vacuum will set you back less than £100, and is currently the cheapest model we recommend. It impressed us by giving both carpets and hard floors a really thorough clean, and managing to suck up both larger debris and fine dust with ease – a combination that many vacuums really struggle with. It’s also great at removing fur and fluff, and it’s quiet too.

We tested five vacuums costing less than £100 in this round of tests, including a cordless model, and three were terrible at cleaning, scoring less than 45% overall. The worst model scored just 21%, struggling to pick up anything effectively. It also leaks what little dust it does pick up back out through poor filters.

Find out which cheap vacuum we recommend, and the models to steer well clear of, by checking our vacuum cleaner reviews and cordless vacuum reviews.

New vacuum cleaners tested for August 2018

We’ve just put some big 2018 launches and bestselling models through our tests. Find out more about three of the latest vacuums to go under the Which? microscope:

Bosch Unlimited Premium BCS122GB cordless, £500


Bosch’s new cordless vacuum claims to offer unlimited cleaning power, and is the first from Bosch to switch to the convertible handheld design pioneered by Dyson. It’s priced the same as the top-end Dyson V10 model too.

So what does it offer to tempt you to switch allegiance? It comes with two swappable batteries – which can also be used across the whole range of Bosch cordless power tools – and an extra-speedy charger. This means you can charge the spare battery while using the other one. Assuming you use the vacuum on its minimum setting (it lasts 60 minutes on minimum but considerably less on max), that basically means unlimited cleaning time.

While we would hope you aren’t stuck in an endless cycle of cleaning your home, it’s good to know you won’t run out of juice mid-clean.

Can this pricey model clean well even on minimum power though, and is it actually better than a Dyson? Read our full review of the Bosch Unlimited Premium BCS122GB cordless to find out.

Vax Air Lift UCSUSHV1, £100

This corded vacuum cleaner from Vax’s popular Air range of upright vacuums has a lift-away canister to make tricky jobs such as cleaning the stairs or your car easier. We’ve seen this feature before on various Shark vacuum cleaners, such as the Shark NV801UKT DuoClean True Pet, but it’s not often this cheap. This vac also comes with a wide selection of tools and accessories, including the usual crevice and upholstery cleaning tools, a mini turbo pet tool, mattress cleaning tool and ‘up-top’ tool.

You wouldn’t normally expect all of these great features on such a cheap vacuum. Is it a steal or are you sacrificing cleaning power for features? Read our full review of the Vax Air Lift UCSuSHV1 to find out.

Vax Blade Ultra TBT3V1P2 cordless, £200

If you like the look of the latest Dyson, but not the price tag, then you might be tempted by this Vax Blade Ultra cordless vacuum. As with the Dyson V10, the dust canister has been rotated 180 degrees so that there is a direct path from the floorhead to the bin, a feature said to improve suction and make emptying the bin easier.

This is the latest model in the popular Blade range, which has been around longer than the V10. There is also a 24V version with a shorter runtime, and a 32V Blade Pro version which we tested last year. The battery on this model should last you 50 minutes on standard and 21 minutes on turbo, which is pretty decent.

Vax did it first, but did they do it better? Read our review of the Vax Blade Ultra TBT3V1P2 cordless vacuum to find out how it measures up to pricier rivals.

What lets the Don’t Buys down?

We put vacuum cleaners through more than 70 individual cleaning and ease of use tests, based on how you use your vacuum at home. We’ve seen thousands of different models pass through our labs, but it still surprises us that some fail to get even the basics right – especially when they are made by brands that have also made some really good vacuums.

Here are three common failings that consistently crop up among the worst vacuum cleaners we test. Each are a swift short cut to Don’t Buy status:

  • Carpet cleaning: It’s pretty essential for the average UK home, but we see plenty of vacuums that can’t cope with carpets. We’ve tested models that pick up less than 20% of dust in thick carpets, whereas the best guzzle up more than 80%.
  • Filtration: With so many allergy sufferers out there, it’s amazing that we still find vacuums with poor filters, or poor filter housing that lets dust and allergens escape straight back into your home from the exhaust.
  • Ineffective minimum power settings: Some cordless vacuums will claim a lengthy battery life of over an hour, based on the minimum power setting (and a much shorter time span on maximum power), but that’s only good if the vacuum can actually clean on that setting. We test how well they clean on both, so we’ll let you know if the minimum setting is about as effective as a dust pan and brush.

Stay in the know with our full list of the Don’t Buy vacuum cleaners and Don’t Buy cordless vacuums to avoid.

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