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Dyson Small Ball Allergy review: A corded upright vacuum cleaner that’s powerful and effective

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £199
inc VAT

The Dyson Small Ball Allergy is a powerful corded upright vacuum cleaner that’s ideal for those with allergies


  • Affordable
  • Good cleaning performance
  • Manoeuvrable for an upright


  • Cumbersome hose
  • Corded
  • Tripped up by large particles on hard floor

If you’re looking to get Dyson’s famed cleaning power into your home on the tightest budget, look no further than the Dyson Small Ball Allergy.

Although you don’t get the cordless convenience of Dyson’s stick vacuum cleaners, this mains-powered upright comes with its own set of advantages, including a large capacity collection bin, a wide motorised floor head that’s ready to tackle larger vacuuming jobs, and a plethora of attachments for reaching difficult places.

Also, the Small Ball Allergy is ideal for asthma and allergy sufferers, with a sealed construction designed to capture tiny dust particles and trap them inside the cleaner.

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Dyson Small Ball Allergy review: What do you get for the money?

At £199, the Dyson Small Ball Allergy is £50 cheaper than any other Dyson floor cleaner, with even the oldest V7 series of cordless sticks starting at £249. The only other Dyson you’ll find for the same price is the Dyson V7 Trigger (£199) but that’s a handheld cleaner and of little use if you want to clean a house full of carpets and hard floors.

Don’t let the “Small” in the name fool you, either. This is a vacuum cleaner with significant heft and size: it weighs 6.9kg and measures a not-inconsiderable 281 x 384 x 1,057mm (WDH). However, it makes good use of its size, housing a generous 1.6-litre collection bin.

The cable is a respectable 9.4m long, so you can reach multiple rooms from a single socket. I found that, with the vacuum plugged into a central landing wall socket, I was able to reach all corners of the first floor in my four bedroom house without unplugging. The Dyson Small Ball Allergy also has a long 4m hose, which unfolds from the base of the unit and gives enough reach for cleaning stairs and upholstery.

The vacuum comes with four accessories: a stair tool; a similar but larger mattress tool; a soft dusting brush; and a multipurpose tool that incorporates both a crevice tool and a smaller dusting brush. These can be attached directly to the hose or used in conjunction with the extension wand to gain extra reach.

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Dyson Small Ball Allergy review: What is it like to use?

The ball on the base of this and other Dyson uprights is a steerable multidirectional connection point between the floor head and the rest of the vacuum. It means that, unlike traditional uprights that can only flex backwards and forwards, the Small Ball Allergy can be steered much more easily into tight spots. Using it on the floor like this is a pleasure. It’s easy to control, rolls around smoothly and does a great job of picking up dust and detritus.

I was less fond of the handheld element, however. The hose can’t be accessed without first unwinding all the mains cord and removing the extension wand, which is a bit of a pain if you’ve only got a small job to do. And although there’s plenty of reach on the hose, particularly when you add in the wand, it’s quite cumbersome and not nearly as easy to use as a separate handheld or a vacuum that lifts away from the floor head, such as the Shark DuoClean with Lift-Away NV702UK (£199)

I tried it out on my stairs, which go around a corner and back on themselves, and although the hose could very nearly reach the top step with the vacuum cleaner still at the bottom (which is excellent), I was constantly wrestling with the tube’s desire to concertina back into the base unit.

The collection bin unclips from the body of the vacuum with a press of a button and the same button is used to then empty it out into your dustbin. The mechanism used to achieve this doesn’t look particularly robust but I had a good go at trying to break it and it seems sturdy enough.

Unlike Dyson’s cordless vacuums, there’s no control over the suction power of this model; it stays on full-pelt throughout a clean. You can, however, disable the rotating brush bar, which makes it gentler on delicate hard floors.

Another thing this vacuum doesn’t have is a hair-tangle management system and by the time I finished testing the vacuum there was a significant build-up of longer hair wrapped around the roller brush. If you’re not a fan of regularly detangling, Shark is the leader in this field with its Anti Hair Wrap floor heads, while Dyson has introduced a similar concept to the Dyson V15 Detect (£599)

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Dyson Small Ball Allergy review: How well does it clean?

Dyson’s cordless sticks have a tendency to blitz the standard set of tests we perform at Expert Reviews, so I was intrigued to find out whether the cheaper corded Small Ball Allergy would perform as well.

On short-pile carpet, the vacuum lived up to my expectations. It collected all but 1g of my 50g flour spillage on a single pass and another pass was enough to tease out that last bit of dust. It also performed well with Cheerios on this surface. On a single pass it collected all but one Cheerio of a 26g spill, with that one particle hitting the rotating brush at an awkward angle and flying off out of reach. It was certainly no problem to chase down and gather up with a subsequent pass.

On hard floor it performed even better with flour, clearing all 50g in a single pass, with no visible residue left behind. It wasn’t quite so good at collecting Cheerios here, though.

While on carpet there’s enough friction for the head to push the cereal into the pile and roll over the top, on hard floor it simply pushes most of those particles in front of it, only managing to collect half the 26g spill. Even subsequent passes didn’t really help and I had to switch to the hose to finish the job.

Synthetic benchmarks tests are one thing but, in regular use this cleaner felt like it could easily tackle a whole house clean with a minimum of fuss. The floor head is large, it’s easy to push around, and it didn’t appear to leave anything visible behind when we were putting it through normal use.

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Dyson Small Ball Allergy review: Should I buy it?

Although the Dyson Small Ball Allergy was beaten by the hard floor Cheerio test, I think it’s still well worth considering, particularly if you want a Dyson level clean on a relatively low budget.

You don’t get the convenience of Dyson’s more expensive cordless stick vacuums but you do get a whole house cleaner at one third of the price of the V11 Outsize (£649) Those with a lot of hard floor might want to consider something with a soft roller but if you have larger areas of carpet to cover and don’t mind compromising on a device with a cable, the Small Ball Allergy is great choice.

If you have a good mix of carpet and hard floors and don’t mind the cord, the Shark Anti Hair Wrap with Flexology and TruePet HZ500UKT (£179) is another option and costs around the same price as the Small Ball Allergy. Because it’s a stick vacuum, it doesn’t have the bin capacity of the Dyson – and you have to fold it over to get it to stand up on its own – however, it’s easier to manage in handheld mode and its DuoClean floor head is better at clearing larger particles from hard floor.

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