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Best vacuum cleaners 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

From the best cheap vacuum cleaner to which Shark, Miele, Dyson and Beko is best, we recommend the top models to buy in 2022.
Manca Virant

Each year we put dozens of vacuum cleaners through our rigorous lab tests. The best models sail through every task, gliding over carpets and leaving surfaces dust-free – but other vacs come unstuck on even the simplest cleaning jobs.

To help you avoid a substandard vacuum, we've highlighted our favourite Best Buys including our top cheap vacuum, the best option if you're keen on Shark, Dyson or Miele, and the one to buy for dealing with a dirty car. 

But if you're totally new to vacuum cleaners, don't worry: we've also included some expert buying advice on the different types available, how much you should spend, and the features to look for.

Best vacuum cleaners for 2022

Only logged-in Which? members can view our Best Buy recommendations in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Best upright vacuum cleaner

    • best buy
    • Carpets
    • Laminate
    • Pet hair

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Best cylinder vacuum cleaner

    • best buy
    • Carpets
    • Laminate
    • Pet hair

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Best cheap vacuum cleaner

    • Carpets
    • Laminate
    • Pet hair

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Best lightweight vacuum cleaner

    • Carpets
    • Laminate
    • Pet hair

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Best cordless vacuum cleaner

    • best buy
    • Carpet cleaning
    • Laminate floor cleaning
    • Pet hair removal

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Best cheap cordless vacuum cleaner

    • best buy
    • Carpet cleaning
    • Laminate floor cleaning
    • Pet hair removal

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See more of our cordless recommendations: best cordless vacuums for 2022.

Video: how to buy the best vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaner types explained

There are three main types of vacuum cleaner:

  • Upright vacuum cleaner – good for larger homes. You push the vac in front of you and don't have to bend down to clean. Most have turbo brushes.
  • Cylinder vacuum cleaner – traditional vac you pull behind you. They have long flexible hoses, and tend to be cheaper.
  • Cordless vacuum cleaner – usually a lightweight stick vacuum that converts into a handheld cleaner. Very convenient but only a few are genuinely good at cleaning, and you're restricted by how long the battery lasts.

These can be either:

  • Bagged vacuums – trap all the dust in a disposable bag. Usually have larger capacities, so less maintenance and contact with dust, but you'll have to buy ongoing replacements.
  • Bagless vacuums – have a reusable container that you empty. No ongoing costs but can be messy to empty.

Some vacs are designed mainly for cleaning floors, while others have smaller cleaning tools for jobs such as crevices, stairs and even the car. 

Upright vs cylinder vacuum cleaners

There are pros and cons to both types, but a lot comes down to the size and layout of your home.

Vacuum cleaner

Upright vacuum cleaners

Upright vacs are good for covering large floor areas, particularly carpets. You can vacuum in a more upright position and easily weave round furniture. They're generally better for getting hair and fluff out of carpets too.

They can be harder to use on stairs, in tight spaces and under low furniture though, and are often noisier than cylinder models. You can't usually clean as far from the plug socket as you can with cylinders (8.6 metres on average).

Cylinder vacuum cleaners

Cylinder vacuums tend to be more compact, and better for getting under low furniture and into small or awkward spaces. They'll reach further from the plug socket too (10.1 metres on average). The long, flexible hose and small body usually makes cleaning stairs easier. They're usually quieter, too.

They tend to be harder to push over thick carpets though, particularly if there's no turbo brush attachment, and the long hose and tube can be awkward to store. They're also more likely to bump into walls and furniture as you drag them along.

Upright vs cylinder: what to buy

On average, cylinder vacuums tend to get higher scores in our tests, and there are better value options. But whichever type you prefer, we've found Best Buys for each, so check our list of vacuum cleaner reviews to see all the models we recommend.

Bagged vs bagless vacuum cleaners

With bagless models you don't have the ongoing cost of replacement bags, but they may not be best for allergy sufferers.

Vacuum cleaner

Bagless vacuum cleaners

Pros: No need to buy replacement dust bags, which can be expensive.

Cons: Tend to have a smaller dust capacity, so you'll need to empty them more frequently. Easy to overfill, as the maximum level is often lower than it looks. Can be messy to empty, as dust and fluff can get wedged inside, and dust escapes into the air when emptying.

Bagged vacuum cleaners

Pros: Tend to have a larger capacity than bagless models. Dust and dirt are safely contained in bags, which are thrown away – minimising exposure. Branded bags often have extra filtration to prevent allergens escaping, and some bags self-seal. Cheaper alternative bags are also available (although these usually don't offer the same filtration benefits, so you may need to clean your vacuum's filters more often).

Cons: You need to remember to buy replacement bags, which will be an ongoing cost.

Bagged vs bagless: which type should you buy?

Manufacturers of bagless vacuums often claim that bagged models lose suction as the bag fills up, whereas bagless vacs don't. Some also claim their bagless systems have hygienic emptying features.

However, we've found that both bagged and bagless vacuums can lose suction as the bag or container fills up. We've also tested bagless vacs with hygienic emptying features, and found they still released much more dust into the room when emptied than bagged models.

If you don't want to pay out for bags, you can take steps to prevent dust escaping back into your home after cleaning. Empty bagless vacuums outside, ideally into a bag, and use gloves and a mask if you have serious allergies. If you'd rather not have the hassle, opt for a bagged model.

Allergen retention

It's also important to choose a vacuum cleaner that doesn't leak dust and allergens back out into the room while cleaning. This can happen if the internal system is poorly sealed, or the dust filters aren't effective. We test this in our lab, and have found both bagged and bagless models that excel at keeping allergens locked up while cleaning, so check our vacuum cleaner reviews for the models with five-star allergen-retention scores.

Should you go cordless?

Cordless vacuums are quick and easy to use, but can be pricey, and many struggle to match corded vacuums on cleaning power.

Vacuum cleaner

Cordless vacuum cleaners are increasingly popular. They tend to be light, bagless, stick-style models with smaller dust capacities, plenty of accessories, and an option to convert into a handheld. There are high-capacity and bagged versions, however, such as the cordless Henry vacuum.

Pros of cordless vacuums

  • Usually very light, as little as 1.2kg compared with around 7-8kg for a standard vacuum.
  • Compact and easy to store.
  • No cord makes it much easier to get around.
  • Often good for cleaning cars, stairs and other awkward spots.

Cons of cordless vacuums

  • Smaller dust capacity means more frequent bin emptying and filter cleaning required.
  • Can be expensive compared with corded models.
  • Lots of very poor models on the market.
  • Cleaning time is limited by battery life (although some models have swappable batteries).

Our test are exhaustive. Each cordless vacuum travels 411 meters in our lab – that's further than the length of an Olympic running track.

Cordless vacuums: what to buy

On average, corded vacuums are still a better bet if you want a good-value deep clean, or have a larger home. But the best cordless vacuums are just as good as corded equivalents, and many people are converted by how light and manoeuvrable they are.

However, you need to choose carefully. We've found more than 20 Don't Buy cordless vacuums - models which are so poor at cleaning we recommend you avoid them. Check our cordless vacuum cleaner reviews before you buy to be sure you're getting one that can actually clean your home.

Where to buy a vacuum cleaner

You can expect to spend anywhere between £25 and £700 for a new vacuum cleaner. In the past, our rigorous tests have uncovered Best Buy corded vacuum cleaners for as little as £50, although you'll usually need to spend £100-200 to get a decent one.

Cordless vacuums tend to be more expensive, particularly if you want decent battery life. Plus, you'll be looking at around £200 for a good model. Paying more doesn't guarantee you a quality product, though – we've found good and bad vacuums at every price.

Popular online retailers that sell vacuum cleaners include:

  • Argos stocks a wide selection of vacs from brands including Dyson, Shark and Vax. One of its most popular models is the Vax Air Stretch Max Pet at £99. If you buy online before 5pm, the retailer says it'll deliver by 10pm the same day for £4.95.
  • Currys has a solid mix of upright vacuum cleaners and cordless alternatives, with popular models including the Dyson V8 Animal and Shark Anti Hair Wrap IZ201UK Cordless.
  • John Lewis sells vacuum cleaners from AEG, Dyson, Miele, Shark and Vax – prices start at £99 and rise beyond £500 for premium Dyson and Miele models. The retailer offers free delivery over £50.
  • AO.com is home to a large selection of upright, cordless and handheld vacs. Some of its most popular models include the Shark Anti Hair Wrap Lift-Away Pet NZ801UKT and Miele Complete C2 PowerLine. This retailer offers a free refund if you return an unused purchase, or 'up to 50% off' if you've tried it out.
  • Amazon has a massive mix of vacuum cleaners, although you'll want to consult seller reviews before parting with your money. Featured brands include Henry, Shark and Vax.
  • B&M focuses on affordability, selling vacuum cleaners under £200 from brands including Blaupunkt, Goodmans and Hoover. Although all of the retailer's vacs are listed online, some models (including the £150 Henry Turbo) can only be purchased in-store.

To see which retailers are rated highly by Which? members, consult our expert guide on the best and worst shops.

Tools and accessories

Vacuum cleaners come with a range of whizzy extra features and accessories, but which ones do you really need?

Vacuum cleaner

Floor-cleaning tools

Most vacuum cleaners with come with a basic combination floor head as standard. This works across all floor types, and can either be adjusted when switching from carpet to hard floor, or, on more premium models, self-adjusts as you move across different surfaces.

Floor tools with spinning brush bars, or powered turbo brushes, can be handy for picking up pet hair and dislodging dust from carpets.

We test each tool on the surface it's designed for to ensure it does a good job cleaning where it's supposed to. Check our vacuum cleaner reviews to see the models which perform well across all areas, or to find a vacuum that is brilliant on your main floor type.

Vacuum cleaner attachments

Extra mini tools

Most vacuum cleaners include a basic set consisting of a crevice tool, upholstery tool and dusting brush, or a combination tool which does several of these jobs. Here are some other tools to look out for:

  • Mini turbo tool – the most common extra, which will usually add around £30 to the price of the vacuum. This compact cleaner head has a spinning brush bar, and can be great for sucking up pet hair, lint and fibres from sofas, stairs and other tricky spots the main floor tool won't reach.
  • Up-top tools – flexible wands that allow you to vacuum the tops of doors and on high shelves.
  • Mattress tools – let you more easily vacuum up the dust particles and skin cells left in your mattress.
  • Extension tubes – can give you extra reach to tackle things such as ceiling cobwebs or long flights of stairs.

Other features to consider

Vacuum cleaner attachment

Variable suction

If you have lots of different floor surfaces in your home, or carpets of different thickness, then you'll want a vacuum that has easily variable suction so you can push it easily over different floor types without it sticking down. The best models have an adjustable dial that lets you change suction to the desired level. Cheaper models might rely on vents that you can open or close on either the floor head or the suction tube. 

Position of controls

Some vacuums have a lever on the floor head that you flick to adjust suction, or to switch from carpets to hard floors. Pricier ones tend to have shortcuts to these controls on the handle, or self-adjusting tools, so you can change the controls without having to bend down.


These prevent fine dust particles and allergens from escaping back into the room when cleaning. Some can be washed clean, others have a self-cleaning action, and others need replacing periodically. Doing this is important, as it affects how well your vacuum works, so it's worth checking how easy this is to do.

We test how well each vacuum's filters prevent dust escaping back into the room. We've found some that let out almost as much dust as they pick up, while others retain more than 99% of small dust particles, so be sure to check our vacuum cleaner reviews for the models you can rely on to keep dust locked up.

Vacuum cleaner

Ease of use

To get the best vacuum cleaner for you, it's worth considering the following factors:

  • Weight – this can range from as little as 2kg to more than 10kg. If you know you'll have to carry it around a lot, for example up and down the stairs, opt for a lighter model.
  • Noise – some models make a real racket, equivalent to standing next to a busy road, while others are whisper-quiet. For a more pleasant vacuuming experience, and to avoid disturbing the household, pick a Best Buy vacuum that gets a good rating for noise.
  • Push/pull force – unlike weight, this depends on the design of the floor head. Some vacuums can be almost impossible to push over floors, particularly on thick carpets. We mark down the models that will leave you with worn-out arms every time you clean.
  • Reach – if you opt for a corded model, check how long the cable is. It's often shorter on cheaper vacuums. Cord lengths vary from just six metres to more than 15 metres, which makes a big difference to how often you have to switch plug sockets.
  • Capacity – depending on the type of vacuum you buy, capacity can vary massively, from just 0.5 litres (enough for one small home-clean) to more than four litres. If you have a large area to cover, opt for a larger capacity, so you aren't constantly having to empty your vacuum.

What about the energy label?

Vacuum cleaner and energy label

From 2017 to 2019, all vacuum cleaners made or imported in the EU could have a motor of no more than 900W, and had to abide by minimum performance, noise and durability restrictions. The rules were annulled after a successful appeal by Dyson. The EU is working on a revised version, which could have its remit broadened to include cordless vacuum cleaners.

All vacuum cleaners must display an energy label, stating how energy-efficient they are, as well as showing data about their cleaning performance and dust emissions.

Some people have concerns that lower-powered vacuums won't clean as well, but our independent tests have shown that vacuum cleaners don't need to be powerful to be brilliant at cleaning.

Are robot vacuum cleaners worth buying?

Robot vacuums can't match the real deal for cleaning power, but can be a useful top-up option, especially in smaller homes with hard floors.

Robot vacuum cleaner

Robot vacuum cleaners are small, automatic vacuums that clean your home unaided. They can cost anything from £150 to as much as £1,500, and many can be controlled via an app on your phone.

Unless you live in a small home with mainly hard floors, a robot vac is unlikely to be able to replace your main vacuum cleaner. Even the best robots struggle to match a standard vacuum for cleaning power, especially on carpets, and they can't tackle tricky areas such as stairs, corners and crevices. However, they can be a convenient way to keep your floors free of everyday dust and hair in between deeper cleans.

We've tested models from all the major brands, including Dyson, iRobot, and Samsung. We've found several brilliant options, and some models you'll want to avoid – including one that picked up just 4% of the dust in front of it. See our robot vacuum cleaner reviews to find out which models we recommend.

Four things to check before you buy

If you're in the shop, here are a few quick checks you can do to find out if the vacuum you're considering is suited to you.

  1. Turn it on – if the shop allows, switch the vacuum on. This will give you a real impression of how noisy it is, and how easy it is to use and manoeuvre. If you find it sticks to the floor rather than gliding across, and you can't adjust the floor head or suction to help this, it's best to choose another model.
  2. Pick it up – if you're going to be lugging your vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs, make sure you don't buy a model you'll struggle to carry.
  3. Lay it flat – if you've got low-lying furniture to get under, check the vac can lie flat and get into tight spaces. Some models won't be able to do this, meaning you'll need to shift furniture around when cleaning.
  4. Check the bag/canister and filters – check how easy it is to replace the bag, or empty the canister if it's a bagless model. Then make sure you can get to the filters and remove them easily; they'll need washing or replacing to keep your vacuum in working order.

What you can't check in the shops

You won't be able to tell how well a vacuum cleaner will clean your home, or if it will lose suction as it fills up. We've uncovered models that are so bad they simply skip over dust, choke on pet hair and leak allergens back into the room.

We test every vacuum cleaner on a range of floor surfaces, including carpets, hard floors and floorboards. We also rate how well they suck up different types of mess, from fine dust to larger crumbs, lint and hair.

See how we test vacuum cleaners to discover the lengths we go to to uncover the best models, and use our independent vacuum cleaner reviews to buy a model that will do the job properly.

Buying a vacuum cleaner that will last

If longevity is a key consideration for you, check our guide on which vacuum cleaner brand to buy before you start to consider specific models.

We've pulled together all our historic testing insight, along with data gathered from owners, to bring you our unique guide to the vacuum cleaner brands that will last once you get them home, and the ones more likely to break down early.

Helping your vacuum last longer

It can be tempting to see your vacuum cleaner as a catch-all solution to all the mess and spills home life can throw at you - but there are a lot of materials that can harm your vac’s performance or even break it.

Liquids, sticky materials like glue or glitter, soil and plant debris, small sharp objects like glass, coins, paperclips or small stones can jam your vacuum cleaner’s motor, filters and dust container.

Some forms of dust should also be left for the dustpan and brush to handle. Ash, sawdust and plaster dust have particles so small that even the best filtration systems will get clogged up and become unusable.

The best way to help your vacuum cleaner last is to make sure you only suck up the usual household dust, debris and hair, and keep on top of cleaning your filters.

Make sure to flick through the user manual on your vacuum cleaner and read the instructions on how best to clean or replace the filter, as different models have different requirements.

Having trouble sucking anything up? Our handy guide on how to fix a vacuum cleaner that's lost suction can give you step-by-step instructions on how to sort it out.

Or if you're ready to buy, head straight to our vacuum cleaner reviews.