Looking to keep your floors and carpets dust and dirt-free? Check out our guide to the finest vacuum cleaners from handhelds to Henry
While nobody enjoys grabbing the vacuum cleaner and dragging it around every room in the house, the best vacuum cleaners can make a tedious task a little more bearable. Whether you’re searching for a super-powered full-sized vacuum cleaner or a lightweight cordless handheld model that you can take from the kitchen to the car, there are plenty of great models to choose from. Here, we’ll explain the key features to look out for, and provide quick summaries of our in-depth reviews to help you choose the best vacuum cleaner for you.
If you’re a bit overwhelmed by the different models, our buying guide will run you through all the key features and technologies you need to know about. If you just want to get stuck in and start shopping for the best vacuum cleaners to buy, then you’ll find our favourite models further down the page.
How to choose the best vacuum cleaner for you
Should you buy a cylinder or upright vacuum?
The first thing to decide is whether you want a conventional cylinder vacuum or an upright. Cylinder vacuums actually come in various shapes but they’re generally squat things with multiple wheels that you drag around behind you as you vacuum. An upright has a handle at the top and you push it around in front of you.
Cylinder vacuums typically excel when it comes to bag or bin capacity compared to their upright cousins, which require emptying more often. However, uprights usually take up less space so can be easily stowed away in a utility closet for those short on room, and they generally aren’t as cumbersome either.
Which is better: bagged or bagless?
The next consideration is whether you want a bagged or bagless vacuum. Bags are great because they’re neat and tidy; once the dirt and dust go in, you never see it again and changing the bag is a breeze. Bagless vacuums store their dirt in a transparent container that you have to empty into the bin, which can be a bit messy. Although the key benefit of a bagless vacuum is that you don’t need to buy bags, which hugely reduces running costs.
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Should I buy a cordless vacuum?
For those needing a particularly agile and nimble vacuum cleaner, it might be worth looking at a cordless vacuum. Battery-powered cordless vacuums have improved over the years, meaning operating times are far longer than before. Having said that, most battery-powered vacuums aren’t designed for constant full-home cleans. Instead, they’re designed for multiple smaller jobs and general upkeep.
READ NEXT: The best cordless vacuums to buy
EU vacuum regulations: why wattage doesn’t matter
If you find yourself replacing a decades-old vacuum, you might find that today’s vacuums sound like they’re less powerful than the vacuums of old. This is because the manufacturing or importing of vacuum cleaners above 900W was banned within the European Union in September 2017. Post-Brexit, cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has headed the campaign to remove this limitation, but as of yet, no progress has been made.
However, wattage isn’t a good precursor to suction performance in any case. Our tests have shown that a vacuum’s rated power wattage has little real-world impact on suction performance. Motor and cylinder design often have more of an effect in this instance.
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Does it matter what accessories it comes with?
Yes, definitely. It’s well worth checking what accessories come with each vacuum. Some vacuums are better designed for hardwood floors, whereas some are better suited for carpet. This is usually based on whether they have a rotating head to get in between the carpet fibres or just a simple suction head.
Accessories and additional nozzles can also make a vacuum far more versatile for vacuuming other surfaces such as cobwebbed ceilings or bookshelves or for better dealing with difficult dirt such as pet hair.
How we test vacuum cleaners
Vacuum cleaners are put through a series of rigorous hands-on tests as part of our reviewing process. All vacuums are tested in a domestic setting, and used for the kinds of everyday cleaning tasks they are intended for. However, we also run a series of technical tests, which vary slightly depending on what type of vacuum cleaner we’re reviewing.
To test the cleaning ability of corded and cordless vacuums, whether they’re upright or stick models, we test how well they pick up a series of measured spills. We use flour and Cheerios to test both powder and larger particles. We run these tests on both short-pile carpet and hard floor. By weighing how much of each spill ends up in the collection bin after a single pass, we can compare how well the device cleans compared to its rivals.
We also measure the suction on both cordless and corded cleaners, and test the battery life of cordless models by timing how long it runs from a full charge before cutting out. This test is performed on both the most powerful and the most efficient settings, where available.
When testing robot vacuum cleaners, we use flour and rice, and perform the tests on the same short-pile carpet and hard floor as the regular cleaners. We also run every robot in the same space, from the same location. This lets us compare their ability to navigate the space and tackle any obstacles they encounter, and how long they take to clean the area.
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The best vacuum cleaners you can buy in 2023
1. Dyson V15 Detect Absolute: The best vacuum cleaner
Price when reviewed: £700 | View deal at John Lewis
Dyson has done it again with the Dyson V15 Detect Absolute, a cordless stick vacuum cleaner that trumps everything else on the market. Although it looks remarkably similar to its predecessor, the V11, Dyson has improved and built on this solid base, boosting the power and adding new features.
The V15 Detect Absolute gets its name from one of its primary new features: a laser on the Slim Fluffy motorised head that’s designed for cleaning your hard floors. It lights up even tiny dust particles on your floor, so you know where you’ve been and where you still need to clean. Its High Torque and smaller motorised heads now have anti-tangle technology, to stop the roller brushes collecting hair and needing regular cleaning.
These new features don’t come cheap: the V15 Detect Absolute is one of the most expensive vacuum cleaners money can buy. If you can afford it, though, there’s no doubt that you’re getting the best cordless vacuum in the business.
Read our full Dyson V15 Detect Absolute review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 250 x 252 x 1,264mm; Weight: 3kg; Bin capacity: 760ml; Vacuum type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Suction power – stated (AW): 240
2. Henry Hoover: The best budget vacuum
Price when reviewed: £180 | View deal at John Lewis
Henry is something of a British institution, but while he looks like little more than a cheap plastic bin on wheels, his hoovering talents are a force to be reckoned with. The most recent HVR160 model has halved the power rating of the previous generations – it’s dropped from 1,200 to 620W – but suction is still more than respectable. Effective dust-gathering is matched with pleasingly quiet performance, and the huge 9l bin capacity dwarfs that of other vacuum cleaners in this lineup.
The enormous 26.8m mains cable can become a bit of a tangle if you’re not careful, but it’s a boon if you’re one of those people who hate plugging and unplugging your vacuum every few minutes. Henry’s biggest appeal is value for money, though: replacement bags and filters are relatively cheap, and the overall performance is fantastic for a vacuum that costs as little as this. The best budget vacuum cleaner by far.
Read our full Henry Hoover HVR200 review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 340 x 360 x 370mm; Weight: 8kg; Bin capacity: 9l; Vacuum Type: Cylinder; Bagless: Optional; Vacuum power: 620W
3. Shark ICZ300UKT: The best cordless-upright hybrid
Price when reviewed: £329 | View deal at Amazon
The Shark ICZ300UKT is the perfect cordless vacuum for a whole house clean. Its battery runs for 60 minutes, which should be plenty of time to clean a modest home. However, if you need more time, the battery is easy to remove and recharge, and you can add a second battery to double your vacuuming time for around £100.
Its versatile DuoClean floor head works wonders on both carpet and hard floor, with both a soft roller and a regular brush roller in the main unit. Shark’s Anti Hair Wrap tech keeps hair from getting tangled around the rollers, and it comes with a great selection of tools and attachments to cover all the key vacuuming jobs.
Read our full Shark ICZ300UKT review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 260 x 250 x 1,080mm; Weight: 6.2kg; Bin capacity: 0.6l; Vacuum type: Cordless upright; Bagless: Yes; Vacuum power: 450W
4. Eufy RoboVac 15C Max: The best robot vacuum cleaner
Price when reviewed: £250 | View deal at Amazon
If you aren’t too keen to put in the elbow grease, or simply want something to help out with your chores, a robot vacuum cleaner is fast becoming a solid household companion. The Eufy RoboVac 15C Max is easily is the best robot vacuum cleaner you can buy. It offers the best value we’ve tested so far, by a country mile.
Costing a fraction of the price, the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max might lack some flashy features – like the ability to map your room and infra-red object avoidance – but with solid performance across a variety of flooring, you really can’t do wrong. Most importantly, due to its small size, the RoboVac 15C Max is capable of covering almost every inch of your floor with little effort on your part. And, in the end, that’s the dream scenario, right?
Read our full Eufy RoboVac 15C Max review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 325 x 325 x 72mm; Weight: 2.7kg; Bin capacity: 0.7l; Vacuum type: Robotic; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: 2,000Pa
5. Numatic George: The best wet and dry vacuum cleaner
Price when reviewed: £290 | View deal at B&Q
Few vacuum cleaners are one-trick ponies, but hardly any perform as many functions as the George from Numatic. This innocuous-looking cleaner vacuums just as well as its bright red brother Henry, but, with a few adjustments, it can also wash carpets, hard floors, and upholstery, with a mixture of water and detergent, sucking up the dirty water afterwards to leave the area almost dry.
While its vacuuming isn’t necessarily the best clean – it relies solely on suction and lacks the carpet agitation of a motorised roller brush – it does the job and is reasonable for the price.
However, when it comes to wet cleaning, George is an absolute marvel. In our tests we found that it did a very good job lifting dirt out of carpets and tricky upholstery – such as car mats – and it works on hard floors, too. If you want both vacuuming and wet cleaning in a single unit, it’s tough to beat.
Read our full Numatic George review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 360 x 370 x 510mm; Weight: 11.2kg; Bin capacity: 15l; Vacuum type: Cylinder; Bagless: No; Vacuum power: N/S
6. Henry Quick: The best cordless stick with bags
Price when reviewed: £300 | View deal at Argos
Most cordless stick vacuum cleaners are proud to be bagless, but the Henry Quick takes an opposite stance. The Henry Quick’s bags sit in the collection bin, acting as an extra filter, keeping the inside of the device spotless.
They also mean that emptying is a much cleaner process. Emptying the canisters of bagless cordless stick vacuums can often create a large dust cloud. However, with the Henry Quick the entire bag, with all the dirt contained within, is jettisoned into the bin – all but eliminating those annoying dust clouds.
The vacuum doesn’t come with many of the fancy features of more expensive vacuums, such as a soft roller for hard floors, but if you want an affordable stick vacuum that creates minimal mess when emptying, it’s hard to beat.
Read our full Henry Quick review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 240 x 270 x 1,220mm; Weight: 3.2kg; Bin capacity: 1 litre; Vacuum type: Cordless upright; Bagless: No; Vacuum power: N/S
7. AEG QX9: The best cordless stick/handheld hybrid
Price when reviewed: £352 | View deal at Amazon
If you want the versatility of both a handheld vacuum and cordless stick in one package, AEG’s QX9 range is a very strong contender. The main handheld vacuum cleaner unit is a traditional-looking device, with a choice of attachments depending on your needs. When you want to get some serious vacuuming done, it can be clipped into a larger frame, which has the motorised floor head permanently attached.
The frame sits in a floor dock when not in use, making it convenient and easy to charge without having to fumble around with cables. It also stands up on its own – a surprisingly rare trick for a cordless stick – so you can easily leave it around while you do something else without having to find somewhere to lean it. Overall, it’s a great all rounder and it performed very well in our tests as well.
Read our full AEG QX9 review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 256 x 132 x 1,102mm; Weight: 2.8kg; Bin capacity: 0.3l; Vacuum type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Suction power: 30W
8. Samsung Bespoke Jet Pro Extra: The best self-emptying cordless stick
Price when reviewed: £649 | View deal at John Lewis
If you’re not a fan of emptying your vacuum cleaner, your best bet used to be an upright or barrel model, with a voluminous bag that holds a lot of dust and carpet fluff. Samsung has changed that with the Bespoke Jet range, which takes some inspiration from robot vacuum cleaners and arrives with its own self-emptying station.
The capable Bespoke Jet Pro Extra comes loaded with attachments and extras, including two batteries, all the usual crevice tools and brushes, and a handy tree on which to hang them. This also doubles up as a charger for the spare battery. It even has a mop attachment, which is ideal for lifting muddy footprints from hard floors.
It’s the self-emptying station that sets this vacuum apart, though. Once you’ve finished cleaning, you hang the unit on the station and a secondary vacuum empties the collection bin into a concealed bag. This has four times the capacity of the collection bin, so can take several cleaning sessions to fill. It’s then a lot cleaner to remove and dispose of than most rival cordless sticks.
Read our full Samsung Bespoke Jet Pro Extra review for more details.
Key specs – Dimensions: 250 x 210 x 1,000mm (WDH); Weight: 2.7kg; Bin capacity: 0.5l (vacuum), 2l (emptying station); Vacuum type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes (vacuum), No (emptying station); Stated suction power: 210W
9. Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual Pet & Car: The best-equipped all-rounder
Price when reviewed: £409 | View deal at Amazon
Most homes have a mixture of hard floor and carpets which can be a challenging test for any vacuum cleaner. The Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual Pet & Car handles the transition between them with a dual-action floor head. It contains both a brush roller to agitate the dirt out of your carpet, and a fluffy roller at the front to efficiently sweep hard floor.
Its versatility doesn’t end there. This Pet & Car model lives up to its name with a generous selection of accessories designed to tackle the trickiest cleaning environments – furniture you share with your hair-shedding pet, and the barely accessible nooks, crannies and carpets in your car.
To round the package off, it also comes with two batteries, so you can have one in use and another fully charged and ready to go. This is ideal if your cleaning tasks often last longer than your vacuum cleaner’s battery.
Read our full Vax ONEPWR Blade 5 Dual Pet & Car review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 270 x 260 x 1,040mm; Weight: 3.9kg; Bin capacity: 700ml; Vacuum type: Cordless; Bagless: No; Vacuum power: N/S
10. Dyson Omni-glide: The best vacuum cleaner for hard floor
Price when reviewed: £300 | View deal at John Lewis
Not everyone lives in a cosy suburban house filled with carpet and soft furnishings. For city dwellers, living in apartments with hard floors throughout, Dyson has developed a specialist vacuum cleaner that’s phenomenal at its job.
The motorised floorhead is cleverly designed with two soft rollers. These float above four omnidirectional coasters, which can be pushed effortlessly around a flat, dodging chair legs and lunging under low furniture. It charges from a wall mount and is small enough to hang in the narrowest spaces.
The Omni-glide doesn’t have the capacity, the suction or the features to be the main vacuum in a multi-surfaced household but if your living space is suitable this is the perfect hard floor vacuum cleaner.
Read our full Dyson Omni-glide review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 206 x 91 x 1,077mm; Weight: 1.9kg; Bin capacity: 200ml; Vacuum type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Suction power – stated: 50AW
11. Dyson V12 Detect Slim: The best Dyson for smaller homes
Price: £530 l View deal at John Lewis
A full-sized Dyson cordless stick might be overkill for smaller houses and flats. However, that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on Dyson’s unrivalled cleaning power and versatility. The Dyson V12 Detect Slim has all the tools and features you expect from a flagship Dyson cordless stick, but in a smaller, lighter, more convenient format.
The vacuum comes with a power button on the front rather than the usual trigger. This means you have to press it to activate the vacuum but, unlike other Dysons, you don’t have to maintain a rigid grip on a trigger button to maintain the power.
The V12 Detect Slim comes with a brush roller for carpet and a fluffy roller for hard floors, each built into its own floor head for easy switching. The fluffy roller floor head illuminates dirt and dust particles with a green laser so you can see where you’ve cleaned. The vacuum also measures and counts particles and displays the results live on its screen, which also doubles up as a control panel and battery-life indicator.
Read our full Dyson V12 Detect Slim review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 250 x 252 x 1,234mm; Weight: 2.5kg; Bin capacity: 350ml; Vacuum type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Vacuum power – stated: 150AW
12. Shark Cordless Handheld: The best handheld vacuum
Price: £129 (single battery), £179 (twin battery) l View deal at Amazon
If you’re after something small for the car, or simply prefer something that’s better suited for smaller tasks, then Shark’s Cordless Handheld is your best bet. Its small size is a dream, allowing you to reach tricky crevices with minimal hassle and despite having the smallest motor on this list, it still packs one heck of a punch.
Small in size but not in nature, the Shark Cordless Handheld is the perfect accompaniment to your full-size vacuum. Tipping the scales at only 1.3kg, it’s remarkably lightweight, and we were particularly pleased with the even weight distribution in testing. So much so, that you can vacuum those pesky cobwebs on your ceiling for the entire eight-minute runtime without getting a sore arm. The small battery life is the only sticking point, but a twin-pack bundle is also available if you don’t mind spending a bit more.
Read our full Shark Cordless Handheld review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 95 x 220 x 385mm; Weight: 0.6kg; Bin capacity: 0.25l; Vacuum Type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Vacuum power: 110W
13. Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute: Another fantastic cordless
Price: £430 | View deal at Argos
If you’re in the market for a top-end cordless, but you don’t fancy spending the £600 for the Dyson V11, then the Dyson Cyclone V10 is the next best thing. Significantly cheaper than Dyson’s latest and greatest, the V10 Cyclone is still rather costly, but it’s a remarkably powerful vacuum that does just as good of a job at tackling stubborn dirt and annoying spillages.
The dust bin is 43% larger, at 0.77l, and it has twice the battery life in normal mode. The suction and cleaning power is also massively improved, although it is a bit heavier, tipping the scales at a hefty 2.61Kg. Still, provided you have the budget for one, the Cyclone V10 remains a powerful, upright-replacing vacuum.
Read our full Dyson Cyclone V10 review for more details
Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 250 x 256 x 1,249mm; Weight: 2.61kg; Bin capacity: 0.77l; Vacuum Type: Cordless handheld; Bagless: Yes; Vacuum power: Unknown