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Home & garden.

5 October 2021

Best vacuum cleaners for 2021

From the best cheap vacuum cleaner to which Shark is best, we recommend the top models to buy in 2021.
JP
Joseph Perry

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 favourites from our full list of the best vacuum cleaners, including our top cheap vacuum, the best option if you're keen on Shark and the one to buy for dealing with a dirty car.

We've also pulled out three models that are so terrible, we think you should avoid them no matter how good their prices may seem.

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

Best upright vacuum cleaner

  • 78%
    £179.00

    This upright vac is excellent at cleaning carpets and floorboards, and great for removing larger debris and pet hair, so you won't have to spend quite as long cleaning up after your furry housemates. As well as busting dust, it also does a brilliant job of retaining it, which is vital if you’re particularly sensitive to allergens.

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Best cylinder vacuum cleaner

  • 81%
    £239.47

    This is the best cylinder vacuum we've tested under our current test programme – and one of the quietest too. It's superb at removing dust from floorboards and great for vacuuming pet hair. Plus, it still cleans brilliantly if you need to reduce the suction to make vacuuming your carpet more comfortable.

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Best cheap vacuum cleaner

  • 70%
    £49.99

    This cylinder vacuum doesn't clean to Best Buy standards, but we still think it's fantastic value for money. It easily removes dust and debris from floorboards and it comes with pretty decent filters too. And while it might only be average at cleaning carpets, you'll struggle to find a better vacuum at this price.

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Best lightweight vacuum cleaner

  • 64%
    £79.99

    If you're after a lightweight vacuum, you're better off going cordless. This 5.5kg upright vacuum sets the standard for lightweight plug-in models, but it's nowhere near as good as the cord-free competition. Although it works well on floorboards, it struggles to remove dust from laminate floors – and isn't much better on carpets.

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Best cordless vacuum cleaner

  • 85%
    £599.00

    This is the best cordless vacuum we've tested. It's brilliant at cleaning, has a lengthy battery life, and is really easy to use. What's more, it has nifty extras like a digital display that tells you how much cleaning time you have left, automatic suction control so you don't need to worry about changing settings when you switch surfaces, and a little accessory clip so you can take mini tools with you as you clean. It isn't cheap, but it's the one to go for if you want the best of the best.

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See more of our cordless recommendations: best cordless vacuums for 2021.

Best car vacuum cleaner

  • 75%
    £199.99

    This vacuum has a staggering 13-metre plug-to-floorhead reach, so it’ll have no problem reaching your car from the plug socket in your house. It comes with a crevice tool for vacuuming particularly hard-to-reach places and an upholstery brush for the dashboard. It can struggle with larger debris though, so you might need to go round with a dustpan and brush after vacuuming if you want your car to be spotless.

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Table last updated: October 2021.

Not found the vacuum for you? See all of our vacuum cleaner reviews

Three vacuum cleaners to avoid

Spending more, or opting for a well-known brand, doesn't guarantee good results, while buying a cheap vac can be risky. Our tests have uncovered pricey vacuum cleaner's from big-name brands that struggle to pick up dust, leave pet hair on carpets and are a nightmare to use. See below for three models to steer clear of.

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

  • 33%
    £78.29

    This vacuum struggles to fit under tables and chairs, and the floorhead snags – sometimes causing the power to completely cut out – whenever it comes across a height difference, such as a raised door threshold. As a result, it's exhausting to use in a furnished home.

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  • 36%
    £199.00

    This vacuum is expensive and it’s also one of the worst models we've ever tested. It can't clean carpets, it can barely clean hard floors, and it lets far too many fine dust particles escape back into the air.

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  • 43%
    £129.00

    This upright vacuum is a dreadful option for homes with floorboards. Its suction power just isn't strong enough to lift dust from the crevices between them – and as the dust container fills, the suction power gets even worse.

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Table last updated: October 2021.

See our full list of Don't Buy vacuums

Useful features to look for when buying a vacuum cleaner

Tools and accessories

Useful tools and accessories can make a basic vac much more versatile. But as most models are sold with bundles of attachments, a few useful ones to look out for include, a combination floor tool, mini pet turbo tools and a furniture brush. 

Sometimes you can source accessories separately, but they can be expensive and hard to find.

Filters

If you suffer from allergies or a respiratory condition, it's important that your vacuum adequately retains fine dust. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters alone are no guarantee of a good filtration system. 

The best way to find out how efficient a vacuum cleaner's filters are is by reading our vacuum cleaner reviews – each model we test is given a star rating for allergen retention.

Variable suction power

If suction is too high on some surfaces, you'll find the nozzle of your vacuum sticking to the floor and you'll need to use some muscle to get it moving. According to our tests, pushing some models on carpet requires the same amount of force as it takes to throw an Olympic shot put. Variable suction power allows you to reduce the suction to a level that you can comfortably clean with. 

The best vacuums maintain cleaning performance even with the suction reduced, so you can keep your carpets dust-free without needing the strength of an Olympian. 

For more advice, see our vacuum cleaners buying guide.