Top five vacuum cleaners for 2021
Don't get stuck with a vacuum cleaner that fails to clean properly, leaks allergens back into your home, or is a nightmare to use. We've rounded up our top vacuum picks for 2021 - and the models to avoid - to help you find the right one for you.
Our recommended vacuums have all gone through our rigorous lab tests, so you can be sure they'll do a great job of leaving your floors and other surfaces clean and dust-free. Whether you're after a bagged, bagless, upright, cylinder or cordless vacuum cleaner - or even one for your car - we've picked out the best options below.
On a budget? Some cheap vacuum cleaners can be really poor at cleaning, but we've got the inside track on the ones worth buying. Our top five includes a brilliant option for less than £100.
We've also listed three of the worst vacuum cleaners from our recent tests. They are all disappointingly poor offerings from major brands, and one picked up less than 20% of the dirt in its path.
Best cylinder vacuum cleaner
Best upright vacuum cleaner
Best cheap vacuum cleaner
Most versatile upright vacuum
Best cordless vacuum cleaner
Best lightweight vacuum cleaners
Sick of lifting a heavy vacuum up and down the stairs? Vacuum cleaners can weigh anything from 2.5kg to 11kg, though the average is around 7kg. Even this can feel heavy to carry up and down the stairs, so it's worth considering lighter options if you find this a struggle. Here's our top pick if you want a light vacuum cleaner:
Tips for buying a light vacuum cleaner
- Don't take stated weight at face value - it often excludes accessories. We weigh each vacuum with all of the tools attached, so you know the true weight.
- Consider push force - some vacs need extra effort to push them across carpets. We test this and let you know if it's too high to be comfortable.
- Look for less than 7kg - you can check weight and push force in our , and filter by weight so you can compare lighter options.
- Consider cordless - cordless vacuums tend to be much lighter, weighing 3kg on average. See our guide to or head straight to our .
Best car vacuum cleaners
A good car vacuum cleaner will have the necessary tools and attachments to clean under seats, in crevices and in a tight glove compartment. It will also have a long and very flexible hose, as well as a lengthy overall reach from plug socket to suction nozzle. If you want to give the inside of your car a good clean, this is our favourite option:
Tips for buying a good car vacuum cleaner
- Cylinder vacuum cleaners tend to be easier to use in tight spaces than uprights. They have more flexible and longer hoses which help you stretch across the back seats and deep inside pockets and crevices.
- can be the easiest and most convenient way to vacuum your car. They are much lighter and the lack of cord makes them easier to use in small spaces. Make sure you opt for a model with a handheld mode if you want to clean your car.
- If you're happy with your main vac, you could opt for a , which is a good car cleaning accessory.
Vacuum cleaners to avoid
Cheap vacuum cleaners can be tempting, especially when they look similar to fancy rivals, but it's a risky business picking a budget vacuum cleaner.
A rare few are excellent, but there are plenty of rubbish vacuums around that fail to pick up dust - or leak it back out once sucked up. They'll often also be noisy and a nightmare to use.
Spending more, or opting for a well-known brand, doesn't always mean you get good results though - we've also found pricey and big brand vacuums that disappoint. Here's our pick of three vacuums to steer clear of:
Useful features to look for when buying a vacuum cleaner
- Variable suction power - this can make it easier to clean different surfaces. If suction is too high on some surfaces, you'll find the nozzle sticking to the floor and you'll need to use some muscle to get it moving. Variable suction lets you dial it down to a level you can clean comfortably with. In our tests we check how much effort it takes to vacuum, and test dust pick up on reasonable levels, so you know you'll get good cleaning without needing the strength of a weightlifter to push the vacuum.
- Combination floor tool - these are suitable for both carpets and hard floors and mean that you don't need to change nozzles every time you move from one surface to another. Some models come with multiple accessories fine-tuned to specific floor surfaces. While this can be helpful, in reality you want a combi tool that does a good job across different floors so you don't have to chop and change constantly while cleaning.
- Mini pet turbo tools - often the only difference between 'pet-friendly' vacuum cleaners and the standard version, these are mini tools with a brush bar that can help to remove engrained dust, dirt and hair from sofas, stairs and other fiddly areas.
Why our vacuum reviews are better
Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, so you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about a product.
As part of our vacuum cleaner tests, we spread super-fine sand from Arizona over a thick carpet and grind it in. We then strap each vacuum cleaner onto a rig and run it over the carpet five times to see how much dust it sucks up. Bad vacuums pick up less than half, while remove twice as much.
We also measure how much noise the vacuum cleaner makes and how easy it is to use, whether suction is lost as the machine fills up, how well it tackles hair, fur and fluff, and whether it can suck up larger debris. To find out more, head to .