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Best vacuum cleaner 2021: We've tested the finest corded, cordless, bagged and bagless vacuums


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. 

Best vacuum cleaners: At a glance

How to buy 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.

READ NEXT: The best Dyson vacuum cleaners

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

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.

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.

READ NEXT: The best vacuum cleaner deals this month

The best vacuum cleaners to buy

1. Dyson V15 Detect Absolute: The best vacuum cleaner

Price: £600 | Buy now from Argos

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

Buy now from Argos

2. Dyson Small Ball Allergy: The best vacuum cleaner for £200

Price: £200 | Buy now from Argos

The Small Ball is Dyson's cheapest upright vacuum cleaner. At only £199, it's more affordable than some of the company's other cleaning products. Lightweight and quiet, this particular model is certified asthma and allergy friendly by Allergy Standards Limited, so it's a perfect choice for homeowners with dust allergies.

Despite being limited to 700W, this vacuum cleaner picks up a lot of dirt. Not only does it clean well, but it can also do it on a variety of different floors. If you're looking for the best upright, corded vacuum cleaner for under £200, then this is it.

Key specs – Dimensions (WDH): 281 x 384 x 1,057mm; Weight: 6.9kg; Bin capacity: 1.6l; Vacuum Type: Cylinder; Bagless: Yes; Vacuum power: 700W

Buy now from

3. Henry Hoover: A superb budget choice

Price: £130 | Buy now from 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

Buy now from John Lewis

4. Eufy RoboVac 15C Max: The best robot vacuum cleaner

Price: £250 | Buy now from 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. Dyson V7 Animal: Dyson's cheapest cordless

Price: £250 l Buy now from Argos

It might have started showing its age, but the Dyson V7 Animal is a superb choice for the budget buyer. It's actually managed to stand the test of time remarkably well, and is just as good as Dyson's newest fleet of vacuums, without the back-breaking price tag.

With a 30-minute battery life, the Dyson V7 Animal is ideal for flats and small homes, but the small 0.54l bin size might mean you have to make multiple trips to the bin. Still, in testing, we found it managed to cope with a variety of floor types, from hard floors to carpet areas, without breaking a sweat – although you might have to do multiple passes on particularly thick carpet to get it completely rid of stubborn debris.

If you want a lightweight cordless vacuum that can be stored neatly in a small space, and don't want to spend a small fortune, then the Dyson V7 Animal is an ideal choice.

Read our full Dyson V7 Animal review for more details

Key specs - Dimensions (WDH): 1,243 x 250 x 210mm; Weight: 2.3kg; Bin capacity: 0.54l; Vacuum type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Vacuum power: 100W

Buy now from Argos

6. Shark Cordless Handheld: The best handheld vacuum

Price: £100 (single battery), £179 (twin battery) l Buy now from Argos

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

7. Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute: Another fantastic cordless

Price: £400 | Buy now from 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.

It also offers a big improvement on the Dyson V7 Animal (listed above) if you fancied spending a bit more for better performance. 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

Buy now from Argos

8. Dyson Micro 1.5kg: Dyson’s lightest vacuum cleaner

Price: £300 | Buy now from Argos

Big, heavy vacuum cleaners aren’t ideal for everyone and Dyson seems to have embraced this with the featherweight Dyson Micro 1.5kg. This smaller, lighter Dyson, which weighs a mere 1.5kg even with its main motorised head attached, keeps the familiar pistol grip configuration of recent V-series models but replaces the trigger with an on/off button.

The reduction in size brings a smaller collection bin (only 200ml), shorter run time (20 mins) and a reduction in raw suction power, but the cleaning ability is as good as you’d expect from any Dyson.

It comes with a range of handy tools for converting it into a light and effective handheld, and a soft roller motorised head for vacuuming hard floors. It doesn’t have a carpet brush for doing a proper carpet clean but you can still use the handheld attachments for spot cleaning on rugs, small areas of carpet and upholstery.

Read our full Dyson Micro 1.5kg review for more details

Key specs - Dimensions (WDH): 207 x 220 x 1,200mm; Weight: 1.5kg; Bin capacity: 200ml; Vacuum type: Cordless stick; Bagless: Yes; Suction power - stated (AW): 50

Buy now from Argos

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