It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to buying a vacuum cleaner. With so many different options, all with a million different accessories and features and huge differences in pricing, you’d be forgiven for ending up bamboozled.
So the first thing we did was investigate the different types of vacuum available
and then narrow them down, which meant we tested a range of models at a range of prices. We were left with a shortlist of 15 models, including uprights, cylinders and cordless.
After we finished testing these 15 vacuum cleaners, we were informed of the new Vax Blade 2 Max. We were so impressed with it's claims that we felt we had to try it out, so we got in touch with our original tester and put it through the same tests as the others.
Which vacuum cleaners did we test?
- Vax Blade 2 Max – Best Vacuum Cleaner 2018
- Gtech Pro – Best for Pet Owners 2108
- Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 – Best Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner 2018
- Shark Duo Clean Lift Away – Best Upright Vacuum Cleaner 2018
- Hoover Enigma Bagged Pets – Best Value for Money Vacuum Cleaner 2018
- Vax Blade 32V – Originally chosen as Best Vacuum Cleaner 2018, but with the entrance of the Blade 2, we've awarded it Best Budget Cordless Vacuum Cleaner instead.
- Vax Air Lift Steerable Advance
- Bosch Unlimited
- Miele Blizzard CX1 Cat and Dog
- Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute
- Dyson Ball Animal 2
- Hoover Discovery Pets
- Hoover Vision One-Fi
- Numatic Henry Cordless
- Sebo Felix ePower
Our tester used each vacuum for everyday dirt, but also put them through their paces with a range of more specific tests. Six vacuums triumphed – the overall Mumsnet Best, best cylinder, best cordless, best upright, best vacuum for pet hair, and the vacuum that offered the best value for money.
Who tested the product?
For continuity, we think it’s best to get one tester to use all the models. This means our results are based on like-for-like comparisons and reduces the potential variables during the testing process.
Our tester lives in an average-sized three-bedroomed house, which has a variety of floor surfaces – solid sealed wood, ceramic tiles, lino, carpet and rugs. She has two dogs and a cat (so there’s plenty of pet hair to deal with every day) and also has two children to provide plenty of mess and dirt.
The results are based on how well the vacuum works in real situations in a real home, and how it performs on a daily basis. You’ll be using your new vacuum in your home, so we believe it’s best to put the vacuums through their paces in a real household too.
How did you test for assembly?
We looked at how easy the vacuum was to unpack, particularly by one person, and whether there was a lot of packaging to get rid of. We also took note of how clear the instructions were and how quick/easy it was to put the vacuum together (without help).
How did you test for ease of use?
We tested changing heads, changing settings for different floor types, and attaching accessories. We looked at cord length on uprights and cylinders, charge length and run time on cordless vacuums, and hose reach. Over the week-long testing, we assessed how easily the vacuum moved around and under furniture and compared the weight from model to model. If its weight made it difficult to use, particularly when vacuuming the whole house and when vacuuming the stairs, we flagged it. We even looked at the positioning of the on/off switch.
When testing each vacuum on the stairs – 13 steps with a quarter turn, in fact – we looked at the different issues that cropped up with each type. Did our tester have to take the upright vacuums with her up the stairs? If so, how difficult was this? Did the hose reach far enough that she didn’t have to?
When it came to cylinder vacuums, we wanted to know how easy it was to take the cylinder up the stairs, how heavy it was and if it had to be held during cleaning. Did it rest safely on a stair half-way up or tumble down at the slightest tug?
We also looked at whether our tester needed to change heads to vacuum the stairs, how easy it was to do this, and whether the models included tools to get into awkward corners.
How did you test for performance?
As well as daily use – which afforded plenty of opportunities to judge performance – we devised specific tests for different floor types and different types of dirt. Our tester vacuumed hard floors, carpets, rugs, upholstery, pet bedding, skirting boards, ceilings, blinds, and underneath furniture. She checked how close to the edges each cleaner went and how many sweeps it took to pick up large pieces of debris like spilled cereal and crisps, and small pieces of debris such as toast crumbs, coffee granules and dust.
She also tested for efficiency in picking up pet hair from different floor surfaces, including hair ingrained in carpets, balls of pet hair in corners and under furniture, from floor edges, from pet bedding, and from upholstery.
How did you test for emptying/cleaning/maintenance?
As each vacuum was used day-to-day, we could evaluate how often the vacuums needed emptying, and how easy or messy this was. We also looked at how the tools, brush bars, filters and other components could be cleaned and how often this needed to be done.
What about value for money?
We included vacuums from a broad price range. Using a standardised scoring system, we were able to clearly see how the less expensive vacuums compared to those that cost more and could decide whether it was worth spending the extra money. We also looked at whether there were compromises to be made with the less expensive models and, if so, if those compromises were worth making. What would you actually get for the extra money?
How did you choose the top five?
We scored each vacuum using the same tests and evaluated value for money, giving each vacuum a score. This included scoring from our targeted testing and for day-to-day use.
The highest scoring vacuum was our overall winner. The majority of vacuums we tested performed very well, and the difference in scores was often marginal. As the overall winner was a cordless model, we’ve also chosen the best cylinder vacuum, the best upright vacuum, the best model for pet hair (also taking into consideration its performance in other areas too) and the vacuum that we think is the best value for money.
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