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Watch out for dodgy cordless vacuums this bank holiday

Don't overpay or get landed with a dud. We reveal why its risky to buy a cordless vacuum without doing your research first

Watch out for dodgy cordless vacuums this bank holiday

Keen to bag a bargain cordless vacuum cleaner this Easter to help with the spring cleaning?

You’ll need to have your wits about you. Our research shows that many cordless vacuums can’t do their job properly, and some sales deals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

More than one in three cordless vacuums we test are Don’t Buys, meaning you have a high chance of picking a dud if you take a chance on a special offer. These vacs will leave your carpets dusty and blast a trail of allergen particles in their wake, despite having positive reviews on some retailer sites.

It’s not just dodgy cleaners you need to watch out for either. We’ve seen prices for popular models vary by hundreds of pounds, so make sure you’re armed with the facts before shelling out on any supposed deals.

Read on to see two big brand Don’t Buy cordless vacs to avoid, and to get the lowdown on getting the best price in the sales.

Best cordless vacuum cleaners – get straight to our top picks for pristine homes 

Don’t Buy cordless vacuums: what makes them so bad?

Our Don’t Buy cordless vacuums all have one major drawback in common – poor carpet cleaning. Many struggle at this key task and lack the power to pull fine particles out from within the pile, leaving dust lurking in the fibres.

  • The worst cordless vacuum we’ve tested managed to suck up a measly 10% of the dust in its path, so it’s hardly worth getting it out of the cupboard
  • The average dust pick up on carpets for cordless vacuums is just 41%, though the best models suck up more than 86%
  • It’s not just carpets: some cordless vacuums picked up less than 3% of dust on creviced floors – such as floorboards – in our tests, and 2% of larger debris on laminates

Vacs that leak allergens

Another key failing with many cordless vacuums is poor allergen retention, which is particularly important to anyone who’s sensitive to these tiny particles.

The best vacuums trap more than 99.9% of the pollen, dust mites and pet dander, locking them away safely inside the vac once sucked up.

The worst allow more than 30% of these little irritants to float back into the room on the exhaust air. That means nearly a third of what you do manage to suck up is going straight back out again.

Revealed: the big brands that let you down

Our tests show that opting for an established brand or paying more isn’t any guarantee of good cleaning. Here are two examples which highlight why you need to choose carefully:

Don’t Buy: Hoover H-free HF18RH cordless, £120 – 35%

The Hoover H-free HF18RH is a cheap and cheerful £120, making it a much more affordable option than brands such as Dyson. It even has some features to match the pricier brands, such as a rubber stopper than means you can lean it against walls or furniture when cleaning.

It has four out of five stars based on reviews on the Currys website, and 4.5 stars overall on Argos. With comments such as ‘picks up well’ in the reviews, it certainly sounds tempting. What’s more, it’s made by a brand synonymous with vacuum cleaners, so you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on safe territory here.

But in our independent lab tests, this Hoover scored just one out of five for cleaning carpets and floorboards, and a measly 35% overall, putting it firmly in Don’t Buy territory.

See the full Hoover H-free cordless vacuum review.

Don’t Buy: Philips SpeedPro Max Animal, £400 – 44%

Think that spending more will guarantee a better vac? Think again. The Philips SpeedPro Max Animal costs a cool £400 and has lots of tempting-sounding features, including a 360-degree suction floorhead that’s designed to pick up dirt from every angle. It’s got a Dyson-beating 69-minute runtime and innovative built-in mini tools too.

It scores 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon, so you might think it’s worth buying, especially when backed up with comments like ‘Absolutely fantastic’ and ‘particularly effective on pet hair’.

But our tests show that, while it does do a good job on creviced floors, it’s dreadful at cleaning carpets, poor for pet hair and leaks allergens back into the room.

See the full Philips SpeedPro Max review, and check our Don’t Buy cordless vacuums for the full list of 37 models to avoid.

Which cordless vacuum should you buy?

It’s not all bad though. We’ve found more than 15 cordless vacuums that will give your home a proper deep-clean, while still giving you freedom from the power cord – and some cost less than £250.

See our top cordless vacuums for the ones worth buying.

Get the best deal on popular cordless vacuum brands

The Easter holidays are coming up and retailers are beginning to advertise tempting deals on popular products, but don’t get stung by a sales offer that isn’t a genuinely cracking deal.

Prices for popular vacuums can vary dramatically depending on where or when you buy. We’ve seen prices on some Dyson and Samsung vacuums jump around by several hundred pounds, and others from Shark and Vax that regularly cycle between an offer price and full price.

Make sure you don’t pay over the odds with our cheat’s guide to pricing and the big brands:

Dyson cordless vacuum deals

Dyson’s V10 and V11 models tend to be pretty price-stable but older V6, V7 and V8 models can jump around so much that they sometimes cost almost as much as the newer models.

Don’t Buy a Dyson at Littlewoods

We’ve noticed that prices a Littlewoods in particular can be much higher than the common price elsewhere for Dyson vacuums. For example, it is currently selling the V7 Animal for £379 – the same price as it is selling the V8 Absolute, which has a longer runtime (and is also cheaper elsewhere – it’s £300 at Dyson.co.uk).

The V8 Animal, at £439, costs more at Littlewoods than the newer and higher spec V10 Animal model does elsewhere (£400).

Here’s a quick guide to prices to look out for on the Dyson range. Based on historical pricing data, we think these represent good value compared with the usual retail price:

For more detail on how the different Dyson vacs compare, historic pricing info, and how to get the best deal, see our full Dyson cordless deals guide.

Shark cordless vacuum deals

Shark vacuum cleaners always seems to be on special offer somewhere or other, with prices cycling between full price and special offer throughout the year. If you’re prepared to wait we don’t think you shouldn’t ever have to pay full price for a Shark. Here’s a guide to the pricing over the past year for popular cordless Shark vacuums, based on Pricerunner data:

Model Lowest price Common price Highest price
Shark DuoClean Powered Lift Away IC160UK £339 £349 £379
Shark DuoClean Powered Lift Away TruePet IC160UKT £237 £349 £379
Shark DuoClean Flexology IF250UK £275 £349 £449
Shark DuoClean Flexology IF250UKT £279 £379 £479
Shark DuoClean Flexology IF200UK £189 £249 £349
Shark DuoClean Flexology IF200UKT True Pet £199 £279 £369

It’s worth understanding how the different models stack up too. For example, the Pet versions come with an extra mini turbo pet tool, and are often a similar price to the model without, so you could get more for your money.

See how Shark cordless vacuum cleaners and Shark corded vacuum cleaners fare in our tests.

Vax Blade cordless vacuum deals

Prices for the older Vax Blade models tended to cycle between full price and an offer price, but the Blade 2 and Blade 2 Max have remained stable at £200 and £250, respectively, since launch. This means that if you find these two for less than this you’ll be getting a good deal.

Bear in mind that if you buy direct from Vax you get an extra tool kit, which includes a flexible crevice nozzle, dusting brush, stretch hose, and a tool for removing tough dirt, so it’s worth weighing this up against any retailer offers.

Here’s pricing over the past year for popular Vax Blade models:

Model Lowest price Common price Highest price
Vax Blade 2 Max VBT3ASV1* £249 £249 £249
Vax Blade 2 VBB2ASV1* £200 £200 £200
Vax Blade Ultra TBT3V1P2 £148 £169 £169
Vax BladePro TBT3V1P1 £159 £169 £169

*Blade 2 prices since launch (October 2018), rather than over past year.

See how Vax Blade cordless vacuums fare in our tests, and how the cheaper versions compare to the new ones, in our Vax cordless vacuum reviews.

How to get the best deal on a cordless vacuum this Easter

With vacuum cleaners, as with many other products, the fact that it’s marked as ‘special offer’ doesn’t mean that it can’t be found cheaper elsewhere, and we advise you to ignore ‘before’ prices – sometimes these are pure fantasy.

Our research into Black Friday sales in 2017 found that 87% of the deal items we investigated were actually available for the same price, or even cheaper, at other times of the year, so don’t feel pressured into making a snap decision. Shopping around and keeping an eye on the price for a few weeks can reap rewards, potentially saving you hundreds of pounds.

And of course, always read our reviews to make sure the product you’ve got your eye on is fit for purpose.

Four things to check when choosing a cordless vacuum

1. Runtime

If you have a large home to clean you’ll want a model that lasts the distance. Runtime can vary dramatically, from less than 15 minutes to more than an hour. Swappable batteries are handy so you can charge one while using the other, but make sure the vac also cleans well, as there’s no point having it running for ages if it doesn’t pick anything up, and longer runtimes can really add to the cost.

2. Charge time

Some batteries are super speedy and only take an hour or so before they’re ready to start work, while others take ages and could leave you stuck if your vacuum dies halfway through cleaning. Removable batteries take up less room than those charged on the vac, so this could be something to consider if you’re short of space near your plug sockets.

3. Accessories

Make sure the model you choose comes with the right accessories for your needs. Most cordless vacuums have a detachable handheld cleaner that you can remove for cleaning stairs or inside the car, or maybe you want one that’s easy to lift to reach a cobwebby ceiling, or has some flex for getting under furniture. See our guide to choosing a cordless vacuum for more.

 4. Maintenance

Cordless vacuum cleaners tend to have a small dust capacity, meaning you may need to empty the dust container nearly every time you clean. If you have allergies, it’s worth looking for models with bags or larger capacities, or that are easy to empty. Check that the brush in the floorhead and filters are easy to remove for cleaning, too. Neglecting these jobs can cause a big drop in suction power.

See our guide to maintaining your vacuum cleaner for more.

Pricing information correct as of 12 April 2019

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