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Choosing the best cylinder vacuum cleaner

By Matthew Knight

Cylinder vacuum cleaners can be light and good for cleaning stairs. But they can also be worse on pet hair than uprights - so should you buy one?

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Lighter and more compact than upright vacuum cleaners, better for tackling stairs, upholstery, under furniture and in hard-to-reach areas, usually quieter.
The hose section can be difficult to store tidily, generally not as good at picking up pet hair, can be more difficult to control and manoeuvre, with the potential to damage furniture.

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Cylinder vacuum cleaner checklist

Cylinder vacuum cleaners are pulled along behind you as you clean. Most are supplied with a universal floorhead, which has bristles you can lower when cleaning hard floors and retract when you're vacuuming carpet.

You'll find everything you need to know about cylinder vacuum cleaners below. But not all cylinders are born equal - in our tests, cylinder vacuum cleaners have been awarded some of the highest, and lowest, scores that we've ever seen.

You won't be able to tell in the shop which cylinder vacuum cleaner sucks up dust and which simply roll over it. So before you buy make sure you head to our .


Cylinder vacuum cleaner size and storage

Think about where you'll be storing your vacuum cleaner, as this will often dictate the size of vacuum cleaner you go for.

Cylinder vacuum cleaners may appear to be more compact than upright vacuum cleaners, but unwieldy hose sections can be difficult to store neatly. Look for a cylinder vacuum that comes with a side clip to attach the nozzle to the body and keep the hose upright.


Using your vacuum cleaner

Consider how and where you'll be using your vacuum cleaner. Cylinder vacuum cleaners are usually lighter than uprights, so are easier to get up and down stairs. They're also good at tackling hard-to-reach areas such as under furniture, and for getting into corners.


Weight and reach of your vacuum cleaner

Cylinder vacuum cleaners are, on the whole, lighter than their upright counterparts. This can make them a good option if you'll be using your vacuum cleaner both upstairs and downstairs.

10.1mThe average reach of a cylinder vacuum cleaner
Our tests have found that a vacuum cleaner's reach can range in length from six to 15 metres - a big difference when tackling a large room. Cylinder vacuum cleaners have an average reach of 10 metres, which is pretty decent and bigger than the average reach of upright vacs - 8.6m. Look for a vacuum cleaner with a long power cord so you don't have to keep stopping to plug it in elsewhere around your home.

Type of flooring

We test vacuum cleaners on carpet, laminate and wooden floors to see how well they cope at cleaning different floor surfaces. And we frequently see that vacuum cleaners prefer one type of floor over another - something you won't be able to tell in the shops.

Our reviews reveal just how well suited a vacuum cleaner is to cleaning the floors in your home. But if you're looking for an all-floor pro, have a look at our Best Buy vacuum cleaners - these models are the best and most versatile vacuum cleaners on the market.



Many of the latest vacuum cleaners are fitted with Hepa (high-efficiency particulate air) or S-class filters, which are designed to prevent allergens escaping and to pick up extra dirt that would otherwise remain on the floor.

But simply having a filter doesn't guarantee the performance of the vacuum cleaner. During our tests, Which? uses specialist machinery to test how much dust and fine particles each model retains.


Picking up pet hair with your vacuum

Cylinder vacs are generally not as good at picking up pet hair as uprights, which use motorised brush bars, although there are some cylinder vacuum cleaners that are just as good as uprights. Some cylinders come with a full-size turbo brush that's 'recommended for pet hair' but this doesn't always guarantee good pet-hair pick-up.

Our tests show that some cylinders do just as good a job with their carpet nozzle as with a turbo brush - but whenever a vacuum is supplied with more than one floorhead we test them both, so we can tell you which is best for each job.

If you've got pets, we recommend choosing a cylinder that scores at least four stars in our tests for picking up pet hair.


Vacuum cleaner wattage

Good vacuum cleaner performance is about design and suction, and not a high-wattage motor.

Find out more about wattage and energy labels in our guide to choosing your vacuum cleaner.


Noisy vacuum cleaners

Cylinder vacuum cleaners are usually quieter than upright models - but some models are significantly louder than others. We've registered readings of 80dB during our vacuum cleaner tests - that's equivalent to a busy road. Our give a star rating for each vacuum cleaner model, according to how much noise it makes, so you don't get a nasty surprise the first time you use your new machine.


The cost of cylinder vacuums

Cylinder vacuums cost around £170 on average, although you can sometimes get a Best Buy cylinder vacuum cleaner for around £100. Upright vacuum cleaners tend to be a little more expensive, although you can still find some good ones at around the £150 mark. When you are considering spending this type of money it is worth reading our to make sure that you get a model that will do the job for you.


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